Day 5 of our tour and we have already got in the groove and it feels like we have been on the road for longer.
Today was forecasted to be even hotter than yesterday, and this is not ideal for Klaus, so we decided to set off very early and get the majority of the ride done before it go into the 30s Celsius.
Breakfast was good and we said goodbye to the nice landlady of Gästehaus Adler and got on the road. Although I initially turned the wrong way out of the driveway of the guest house so we had to turn round after 100 metres. Oops!
Here was our route for today.
You can see some very long, straight bits on the route – this was the Canal du Rhône au Rhin which we would be following for over 40km today.
We set off in nice sunshine and with the temperature a reasonable 23 degrees.
Millie’s gearing had been making some rather loud clunk sounds when changing gear yesterday and I was a bit concerned. This morning I re-adjusted my tool bag (which sits next to the gear cable) in case it was causing the issue, but apparently not. As we were rolling through the countryside I did a few tests and discovered if I switched the motor off then the gear change was smooth and quiet as normal; with the motor on setting 3 the gear change was loud. My conclusion is that the motor cut-out sensor is perhaps not enjoying the hot weather and taking a brief holiday. The motor DOES cut out, but I think perhaps not quite quickly enough. But at least I know the cause of the gear change issue and it’s not the dreaded gear cable breaking scenario.
We were heading south today, on our left were the mountains of the Black Forest (as you can see above Klaus’s head).
To the right as we rode were the Vosges Mountains.
The first 20km were in Germany, mostly on roads between smallish villages, but when we were alongside the L98 there was a decent cycle path.
We were approaching the border with France – the Rhein river again, and our sixth crossing of this tour would be over a bridge.
Once over the bridge our route left the main road and we were on more country lanes for four kilometres until we found ourselves at our start point for the Canal du Rhône au Rhin.
This was a beautiful stretch of canal to ride alongside. We rode 42km in total along this canal but did not see a single vessel navigating it (although there were some parked houseboats). There were lots of locks, but the water behind each lock looked fairly static with muck and gunk on it, as if the lock gates are rarely opened. There were also fishermen sitting beside most of the locks, of which we saw dozens.
Mostly the canal was fairly open, but there were some stretches with trees either side which allowed for a bit of shade and for us to be a bit cooler.
We made a conscious choice to cycle more slowly today. Firstly because yesterday was very fast and it was tiring for us both, and secondly because if you ride at 40 km/h you miss a lot of the sights. We were cruising at around 27 km/h today and it gave us more time to enjoy the wildlife around us. It is my impression that there are more butterflies and other insects in France than in Germany, and I also saw at least a dozen little lizards run across the path in front of me!
At each lock gate the path usually went under a bridge and it narrowed and there were poor sight lines so we reduced speed significantly. We than had to accelerate again afterwards, so it wasn’t as easy riding as you might expect considering there were almost no road crossings to navigate (roads were generally on high bridges and we went underneath).
We stopped and relaxed on a bench at this lock, with its beautiful lockkeeper’s cottage.
What a cracking view below, down the Canal.
The day was warming up. We reached the end of our sector of Canal when we got to Marckolsheim and at this point our track went into the town, where we found a bar for a drink with an attached Patisserie for something to eat. I had something that was remarkably like a Linzer Auge but with a French name (which I can no longer remember).
Klaus had a Streusel doughnut-thingie.
We communicated in German with the lady as both of us found our French was too far back in our past to use easily, and they all seemed to speak German anyway.
Whilst sitting in the bar drinking our juice and eating our goodies, Klaus commented that the people around us were not speaking French but instead their dialect. He said its musical tone is very like that of his home dialect, near Mannheim, and although the words are different he could sense the similarities between these two French-influenced regions.
It was time to move on, and so we headed off along roads which were quite busy and also had a rather rough surface. It was getting hot too, so our speed wasn’t as quick as yesterday as we were trying not to exhaust ourselves.
Our track went through Neuf-Brisach which has a very interesting plan:
It also had a large moat and some impressive fortified walls.
Although it might have been nice to have a look around, it was getting a bit too warm. It was also surprisingly windy, which was odd as our weather apps and also a local information board with weather info had said wind 3 km/h or so, but the wind that we had on the nose/side was nearer 25 km/h. Which was also energy-sapping.
We were now heading back towards Germany and the Rhein. We could see in the distance the hills that we would be riding round tomorrow, following the river to the south of them to Basel.
Our final few kilometres involved a bit of a diversion as the cycle path that had been beside the main road suddenly went off on its own route. A few wrong turns and we eventually found a decent way to Bamlach, a small village attached to Bad Bellingen.
We had seen from the elevation profile of the track that Bamlach was up a bit of a hill. It certainly was! We ended up climbing 50 metres in height over just 800 metres. That’s steep! I had to have my motor on maximum, Klaus had to use his Schlumpf Mountain Drive in earnest. Fortunately this replacement unit lived up to its name; we both thought how bad it would have been if the old unit chose today to break down rather than two weeks ago when we were able to get it exchanged.
We were staying at a Ferienwohnung and had already had emails from the host to say they weren’t there. They gave us good instructions about what to do and we found our way in without any problems. And there, in the bathroom, what did we see…. but a washing machine! Hallelujah!!! I had bought some washing powder with us in case we had a chance to do our washing so was delighted we could at least for the next few days have fresh clothes.
So the machine did a full load of all our cycling gear and a few other bits and bobs, and we then had to wait for Klaus’s shirt to dry before we could walk down the road to the café for a piece of cake.
Fortunately the shirt dried in about half an hour, as I was feeling the cake need.
We walked the 150 metres down the road to the café I had spotted as we were toiling up the mega hill upon arrival. They had cake!
We enjoyed a cuppa and some cake, before walking back (uphill this time!). You can see the view from our garden, with the Rhein in the distance and the Vosges Mountains behind.
There isn’t a restaurant in Bamlach and I didn’t fancy cycling up that hill again after a meal so we ordered a pizza online for delivery.
We have a shorter day tomorrow at just 85km but will enjoy having a bit of a rest. We are staying with some people from the Velomobilforum in Koblenz in Switzerland so that will be really nice. We are actually staying three nights in a row with Velomobilforum members, so are really looking forward to spending time with other velomobile users!
Here is a full list of all the blog postings on this tour:
Day 1: Kempen to Drachenfels
Day 2: Drachenfels to Walluf
Day 3: Walluf to Speyer
Day 4: Speyer to Appenweier
Day 5: Appenweier to Bamlach
Day 6: Bamlach to Koblenz (CH)
Day 7: Koblenz to Konstanz
Day 8: Konstanz to Tettnang
Day 9: Tettnang to Bad Buchau
Day 10: Bad Buchau to Eislingen
Day 11: Eislingen to Gündelbach
Day 12: Gündelbach to Viernheim
Day 13: Viernheim to Bacharach
Day 14: Bacharach to Drachenfels
Day 15: Drachenfels to Kempen