So how far have I got in my journey from Konstanz to Koblenz?
Koblenz is just above Wiesbaden on that map. Still a fair way to go then!
This was today’s trip, from Weil am Rhein to Breisach.
I enjoyed a good breakfast and then fetched Alfie from the garage. I noticed there was a reasonable amount of evidence of where I’d cleaned off all three wheels yesterday after the mudbath!
I headed off at around 9am, taking the main road from Weil towards the Rhein. I very quickly discovered the nice bit of Weil, just a quarter of a mile from my hotel!
There were some road works as I came into the outskirts of Basel which involved a bit of creative mapreading, not helped by things such as this:
But soon enough I was back oin the Rhein cycle path.
I passed this impressive water feature!
And saw the first of the kilometre markers.
James and I discussed yesterday where on the Rhein it starts being used for barges. This was the first sign that maybe they went this far up (although I’m not sure of that at all).
Last night I received an email via my blog from a chap called Garry who said he had cycled the day before the route that I was taking and that there were several diversions where the river had overflowed the path. He’d made a video which I watched on YouTube – the link is here:
His message was that the problem was between Rust and Lahr but my maps didn’t mention either name (it turns out they’re on tomorrow’s route). However, I’d only been riding half an hour when I came upon this sign.
I followed the suggested diversion, mindful of Garry’s video, and was soon able to look down on the cycle path.
I rode down a short slope for a closer look.
In this picture the cycle path goes from left to right. The water isn’t that wide but it was travelling very fast!
Fortunately there was a very decent alternative route up on the bund which separates the Rhein from the motorway, the A5. The diversion was several miles and all the in-between land had been flooded.
The Rhein looked pretty fierce!
As I was riding along the diversion to Istein I had stopped to take a photo of poppies (today is my dog Poppy’s third birthday and they reminded me of her) when a cyclist stopped to talk to me. He was riding a Thorn bike and addressed me in English (the flag on my trike gave me away). He was a Brit doing a tour along the Rhein to the Hook of Holland.
We had a good chat, swapping stories of the mud yesterday at Bad Säckingen, and he took a couple of pics of me with the poppies.
Here is the chappie with this Thorn bike with Rohloff hub gear.
I headed off and was slightly quicker than him but kept stopping to take photos or look at things so he would overtake. Here he is in the distance as I am now going slow due to the grassy strip in the middle of the path. This is on one of the diversions again, it’s obviously not regularly used for bikes.
Past Kleinkems this path continued, getting worse and worse. It turned away from the Rhein and headed towards the motorway. The Thorn Cyclist was ahead of me and he signalled for me to stop – he had reached a barrier and the motorway; clearly we’d taken a wrong turn.
I looked at my Garmin and could see a point where our route passed pretty close to the official cycle route and wondered if there was a way through. I couldn’t remember any obvious point where we could have taken a different path.
The Thorn Cyclist went off ahead again as I was very slow on this track surface. He reached the corner where the cut-through is and disappeared. By the time I got there (a minute or two later) I was feeling confident that this cut-through works as he hadn’t returned. However it was awfully narrow!
Alfie’s at the bottom of a steep downhill there. I made the mistake of pedalling a couple of pedal revolutions when I first turned into the narrow track and consequently got a sprocket and set of jockey wheels chock full of grass.
I had to get off Alfie and drag him along this path for about 30 metres, between saplings which were only just wider than Alfie’s two front wheels. At the end there was an annoying chicane which I had to drag Alfie round, his luggage making him rather unbalanced and liable to tip up on the steep slope. But I made it! There was the cycle path, smooth and not underwater. Phew!
I headed off towards Bad Bellingen, relieved I hadn’t tried to press on to Bad Bellingen yesterday as I would have got really frustrated by the detours at the end of a 70 mile day. At the beginning of a 40 mile day they were just a bit amusing.
After ten minutes the Thorn Cyclist passed me again when I was talking to some other cyclists. I asked him if he’d stopped somewhere for a cuppa but he said no, he’d gone a long way back along the path until it joined up with the main cycle route. He hadn’t taken the cut-through at all. I told him I’d assumed that he had successfully got through there and that’s why I’d attempted it! He must have had to go back a fair way as I’d spent ages on the cut-through and was riding slowly anyway due to photography/sightseeing and he hadn’t caught me up for 10 minutes or so.
The people I was talking to were towards the beginning of a 600km tour. They were a couple with electric bikes, the man had a big trailer with their luggage and the lady had a front basket with a passenger, a little Yorkie dog.
She said the dog liked touring but he liked to get out for a run every 20km or so.
The route didn’t actually go through Bad Bellingen, I discovered. It turns out that this bit of the Rhein is surprisingly short on towns. There are very few beside the river and in fact the motorway is between most towns and the Rhein. I saw signs to Bad Bellingen but didn’t detour as although I’d been riding for over an hour and a half I didn’t feel the need for food after my hearty breakfast.
The cycle path continued. I’d been riding on the packed dirt for twenty miles but fortunately it was a reasonable riding surface (it can be a bit variable). My speed wasn’t as good as on tarmac, I think I was averaging about 9.5mph, although this was partly also because I kept stopping.
I decided to stop for a snack at midday in Neuenburg which was just over 20 miles from my start point. My day’s route was about 36 miles so I was making reasonable progress.
Neuenburg had one of the first bridges over the Rhein for a while.
The town itself was the other side of the A5 motorway again but there was a decent, well-signposted underpass and it was just a one mile detour to get to the town.
I was pootling along looking for a bakery when I caugh sight of a sign for waffles. I stopped and saw a nice outdoor seating area with several people drinking coffee. It looked good so I parked Alfie and went in to use their loo first to wash my hands (they were oily from removing grass from the jockey wheels and sprockets). They had a very cool loo roll holder!
I ordered off-menu a pancake to my specification – with fruit and Puderzucker and chocolate and vanilla ice cream. It was fantastically tasty!
I had a very relaxing break there and, whilst drinking my tea I discovered the data on my phone was now working, albeit slowly. It hadn’t worked at all around Bodensee and I assumed there was some weird fault (although it worked really well on the day I rode to Düsseldorf); I can only imagine that Vodafone doesn’t have very good coverage in the Bodensee region.
I headed off back to the Rhein and back to more dirt tracks. When I had ten miles to go to Breisach I came to another bridge and decided it might be nice to do this next section in France. I had never cycled in France before so it would be another new experience!
First of all I had to change the memory card in my Garmin Satnav; I have high-res maps of Germany, Austria and Switzerland on one data card and low-res of the whole of Europe on another card. It was time for the Europe memory card. I did the switch on my trike seat, hoping a gust of wind didn’t blow 4GB of Europe away!
I fired up the Garmin and France appeared – phew! I now felt confident enough to ride the French bit (I hadn’t pre-loaded any of the left hand side of the Rhine tracks) with the help of my Bikeline Book.
The bridge was a single lane for cars (traffic light controlled) and a nice wide cycle path.
I had a good view of the flooding of the river. It’s looked like this for the last thirty miles!
I crossed over to France. Immediately all the road signs were in French (obviously) and things looked different again – roads are painted differently, for example. However they had provided a nice cycle path along the road.
Once you cross the Rhein/Rhin into France you then have to cross the Grand Canal d’Alsace which is in two parts here. I headed up a slope to cross the first bit which has a huge hydro plant.
From the top of this slope I could look across to loads of mountains in Germany – this is the Black Forest region.
Fessenheim had a huge building relating to the hydro plant with a rather weird relief of a naked man on the outside. And lots of EDF Energy advertising.
I consulted my map to work out the best way to join the cycle path on the French side. It went through the middle of Fessenheim so I aimed there, slightly away from the river.
I found the middle of Fessenheim but there was a dearth of cycle path signage. However there were road signs to Neuf-Brisach, which was the opposite side of the Rhein to Breisach, so I followed the road signs and worked out that I was on the route that my Bikeline book gave.
The terrain was really flat – this is clearly a Rhine flood plain – with hills visible the entire way round.
I went through Balgau and then my map suggested the cycle path headed off the main road down a quieter road. There was no signage to suggest this on the road but the little chapel Thierhurst Chapelle was a clue that I was on the right route.
This is looking across the plain at Nambsheim. It was amazingly windy, a very strong headwind, which was weird as I hadn’t felt the wind at all whilst in Germany!
I noticed some very strange structures in the fields on the way to Heiteren.
Initially I thought they might be windbreaks (which would have something draped over them when necessary) but it all seemed a bit odd. They were really long, thin frames.
Then I saw this one – it was solid, like it had planks of wood fixed to it (windbreak?)
As I got closer I realised I was mistaken – this one was chock-ful of corn on the cob/maize!
I passed this impressive farm roof.
This is a notable difference between cycling in France and cycling in Germany/Austria/Switzerland/NL, as here I had to give way at junctions on the cycle path, even if it were just a route into a field for a tractor. Bikes tend to have right of way in the other countries I’ve been touring in.
Here I am approaching Obersaasheim.
For the last couple of miles I had been following a pair of touring cyclists. I chose to follow them as they looked like they knew where they were going and the signs for the cycle route were non-existent. My Garmin Europe map had a cycle path marked which was different to that on the Bikeline book but which felt more suitable. Anyway, I arrived at the junction at Obersaasheim and the cyclists were stopped, scratching their heads.
A conversation began where they thought I was Australian (because of the flag) and eventually we worked out we were a Brit and a Dutch couple (after trying a few languages). They were looking for the campsite in Neuf-Brisach, having started their tour this morning from Basel and having had several detours due to navigational issues (or lack of French cycle route signage more like).
When they discovered I had both a map and a SatNav they seemed happy to follow me and I led them through Algolsheim and then to Vogelgrun, where we said our goodbyes as they turned left to Neuf-Brisach and I turned right to cross the Rhein back into Germany.
The Rhine is split into several different channels here and the first one was full of barges so might well be the start of the navigable bit.
There’s also a huge weir.
And the other side of the bridge, downstream, had a couple of cruise boats tied up.
I was back in Germany but the bit of Germany I landed on was hardly attractive – McDonalds, petrol station, casino. Fortunately I was now back in the land of effective cycle route signposting and followed the route towards Breisach Stadtmitte (town centre).
The hotel that I had prebooked was in Hochstetten, a couple of kilometres outside Breisach. I decided to head straight there and found myself cycling along a residential street. Round a corner there was… a very pretty hotel with large outside seating area.
I checked into my room (which was nice if quite small – and had the first toilet with a shelf I have seen on this holiday!) and put Alfie in the garage.
Statistics for today – imperial
Metric for you continental types!
My detour to Neuenburg and to France added about six miles in total to the day.
After showering and washing my clothes I went downstairs to sit in the garden area and write up my blog, enjoying the late afternoon sunshine (it had turned into a gorgeous day).
At half past six I was encouraged to order some food. I decided to go into the restaurant as it was now getting a bit chilly.
Prices were slightly higher than some so I went for the cheap – and foolproof – option of a Wiener Schnitzel. The prices seemed much more reasonable when a succession of things arrived as appetisers, free of charge.
Bread with tomato cream cheese
And finally the Wiener Schnitzel – and it came with gravy!
I did my usual studying of the Bikeline book and it looks as though I will be cycling to Kehl tomorrow. Kehl is the other side of the Rhein to Strasbourg and hotels there are very reasonably priced. It’s 80km (50ish miles) so will be a bit harder work than today, especially as I think I will be going through the flooded section that Garry’s video mentions. Here’s hoping there’s decent signage for diversions or maybe the water level will have reduced.
I”m not sure if I’ve yet mentioned my cycling chum JenM who is doing this ride in reverse (except she’s going all the way to Andermatt, the source of the Rhein). We’ve been swapping texts as we think we might meet up in St Goar or somewhere south of Koblenz for a cuppa as we pass. She’s in Köln at the moment and she says that lots of the campsites have been badly flooded. I’m hoping that with the cessation of the rain that things will improve with regard to the river level – the news footage of Passau and other places looks awful.