Main/Rhein 2009 – Bamberg to Schweinfurt

Day 3 – Monday 31 August- Bamberg to Schweinfurt.

Distance: 38.25 miles; time: 03:47:00;

Had a wonderful shower this morning, it really sets you up for the day. The clothes I washed last night were still damp so I used my other set of shorts and sleeveless jersey – my Dad had emailed me a weather forecast which said it would be warm and sunny.

Pippa and I met for a healthy breakfast, asked the hotel receptionist to allow us an extra half hour before checking out so we could digest our food, then we set off. The hotel receptionist took a photograph of the intrepid cyclists at the start of our expedition. This was after I’d done some trike fettling – reattaching the mirrors I had removed for the last four of the trains, then sorting out my seat as it was a bit wonky (a common problem). When all was done, off we went in Bamberg’s traffic to find the river Main.

We found the Main/Donau (Danube) canal and set off. The signage was good and our GPS routes were also accurate.

As far as routes go, we had two different ones. I had googled for a Main Radweg route, found one that looked good and that was what Pippa was using. Subsequent to me finding that one I’d located the official German tourist board one and I was using that. We thought it useful to have two different routes in case we got lost or they different (I remember my Mosel Radweg official route was often wrong). As it happens, both of these routes have been very good, but there are occasional variations – usually one of us has the route that matches the signposts.

The signage is also generally good, although the Main River Radweg logo isn’t as clear as the Mosel one. But the Main Radweg has just won an award and we can see why, it’s an excellent overall route with brilliant surfaces and almost complete signage. But I get ahead of myself…

After a mile we realised Pippa’s rear mudguard was rubbing. We stopped by the side of the road and her brand new leatherman tool did the trick. We felt very proud of ourselves, having both fixed our steeds this morning.

The landscape around this part of the Main was flattish with lots of arable land growing sweetcorn (we harvested ours at home a month ago) and cabbage, carrots etc. Houses tended to have impressive vegetable and flower gardens and we also saw several houses whose roofs were covered in solar panels. The Germans went green long before the Brits began to think about it.

We stopped in Haßfurt for lunch. I had one of those weird conversational things with the waitress as I couldn’t understand her explanation of why I couldn’t have a filled roll. When I asked her to explain further she just used the same incomprehensible words (well, the words may have been comprehensible if they had been delivered in a non-Bavarian accent!) There was a German chappie sitting at the table near us who was rolling his eyes but I note he didn’t try to clarify things. In the end I gave up and ordered a Fitness Salad, the same as Pippa. It was salad with chicken and rather nice.

On the way out of Haßfurt we misread our Garmins and didn’t see the road signs so had a 100 metre detour on the wrong road, but we soon worked it out and turned back. That was about the only major navigation issue today – I think having two of us with two pairs of eyes looking for the signs is much much easier than just one.

We carried on through a flat landscape which was also fairly industrial in places. Pippa and I did the obligatory bike swap for a couple of miles – I managed to change gear on hers quite effectively, she enjoyed zooming down hill on mine (very small hills, of course). When we swapped back I dried my clothing from yesterday on the panniers which probably looked a bit silly.

We saw a rider on a recumbent bicycle today but he broke the recumbent code by not stopping to talk to me – unfriendly chap. He said “Hallo” but that’s not enough for recumbenteers! We also saw our first dishy man on a bike (we’re looking out for them); there is a surprising dearth of them, mainly because the other cyclists are mostly pensioners on shoppers. But we keep looking. We have a secret code word we shout to each other when we spot a dishy man… and are hoping to use it a bit more in future.

We arrived at Schweinfurt at 4pm. I found an accommodation guide in the town hall and we chose Central Hotel which is Bett & Bike accredited. I went in to check they had rooms (they did) with the receptionist who was a rather singular woman with a definite hairdo. She wasn’t all that friendly really which was a contrast with the very nice lady in Bamberg.

We spent ages locking up our bikes as there weren’t many locking points, then the lady made us move them as she thought they were in the way of the cars (only for VERY bad drivers). So they ended up just locked to each other, but the hotel lady assured us that they lock the doors at night.

So we went to our rooms, which were a sight to behold. Welcome to the 70s – browns, greens, velour, orange bedding. My bathroom was fetchingly done out with brown tiles and an orange suite, the loo seat being moulded to backside shape (it was actually a very good fit, which was fairly perturbing). Still, the single bed was comfortable and that’s all that really matters – plus quirky can be fun.

We both had our showers and washed our clothes, this time I did Pippa’s towel trick (wrapping the stuff in a towel and wringing it again) which is very effective. The damp clothes from yesterday I had aired on my trike were dry by now, fortunately.

We went in search of an internet cafe. The hotel lady had told us where to find one but we couldn’t locate it and a local shopkeeper told us it had closed. We wandered around asking people and a helpful young lady eventually directed us to one. We couldn’t find it again so went into a local bar (very smoky, full of Turkish chaps smoking) to ask if they knew where it was. Turned out that was the cafe, the computers in the corner rather gave it away! So I wrote up Day 2 (the trains) but the keyboard was so bad I didn’t do today. Pippa tried some of the local beer, Roth, and said it was wonderful.

We ate at an Italian restaurant in the main square which was very nice indeed. I had a huge lasagne, Pippa ate most of her calzone. No room for dessert!

Then back to the hotel for an early night (10pm) as we’re both tired from all the cycling. I’m relieved to be feeling almost back to normal today

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