This was the last day of our tour and would be the shortest at around 45km.
We breakfasted and then made ourselves ready. Once again we left for our morning’s ride around 9am – we have been very consistent about this!
I was relieved to find that my motor did indeed work this morning, that the battery was still functional despite a loose metal pin.
Here is our route for the day.
We had of course ridden this way yesterday. Well, it was not all the same as yesterday we did a section on the other side of the river and today we would stay on the left hand side. But that meant that 70% was just retracing our steps/wheeltracks.
But travelling in the other direction does show you some new things. It helped that the weather was a bit warmer today.
Here is the section on the way to Winningen where we are sandwiched between the railway on the left and some rocky walls on the right.
And here’s what it is all about… the grapes! A bit early for them, but there is some promise showing.
A few times on our tour we have seen the ADAC helicopter which is some kind of rescue helicopter I believe (like an air ambulance). We saw it set down in a very small field – there can’t be that many flat landing places in the Mosel valley!
I find it very interesting considering the age of the terraces which we were riding past. The Mosel has been used for viticulture for ever, and sometimes you come across something like these steps made out of stone which could be hundreds of years old.
The Mosel is, of course, a castles and wine river. Here is Klaus with a castle in front and some vineyards to his right.
On our journey to Koblenz yesterday we whizzed past this small area which had been planted for the bees. As we were going uphill to it today we stopped and had a look.
At Löf we stayed on the same side of the Mosel rather than crossing over and so had a short section with some new impressions. I liked this tower – I of course started quoting “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!” and it turns out the German pronunciation of Rapunzel is quite different.
Here is a pic Klaus took of me. Notice I just have one pannier at the back – travelling light, the other pannier was in his car in Cochem.
We decided to stop for cake after 35km in Treis Karden. We found a nice café and had a Schmandkuchen with a nut base. This is slightly more Keto than all the food we had eaten so far on this holiday! It tasted good, too!
We were looking across at this pretty church whilst enjoying our cake. The church had a sign saying it had been built in 1699.
From Treis-Karden we had just 10km back to Cochem, although we had a couple of dodgy cyclists to contend with. One was a time-trialler doing at least 40 km/h on the cycle path (normal maximum is 15 km/h) and it was a path we were joining after crossing under the railway so visibility was bad. I think we gave him a bit of a shock but he should have been on the road, he was way too fast for the cycle path. We also had an idiot chap who just wheeled his bike across the path, blocking it – I think he had forgotten it was a cycle path in use and just thought it was part of the parking area where he was standing. Fortunately we have good brakes and Klaus can sound authoritative in German!
And then we arrived back in Cochem which was REALLY busy. The car park which had been almost empty yesterday morning was full now – presumably with visitors for the bank holiday weekend. In the final 5 metres of the tour, when Klaus had to ride up a steep slope to get to the car, he managed to put so much power through the pedals that he twisted the boom around. Clearly the boom quick release bolts weren’t quite tight enough. He was then stuck as he couldn’t get up from the bike as his brakes probably wouldn’t hold him, so I came to the rescue and stood behind the bike so he could get up.
We disassembled the bikes and managed to tetris them into the car again. I managed to get oil all over my hands and some on my face too, but this is normal.
We headed away from Cochem through the crowds of tourists. I don’t imagine there will be another June opportunity to tour the Mosel without hordes of other cyclists. We had noticed more every day as it was, and this reminded us why we prefer to ride in less-busy places. We are both a bit misanthropic!
Here are the statistics for the day.
And here is the map of the whole tour.
We rode in total 343km and enjoyed ourselves very much! Klaus is already planning future tours, with an eye to the Romantische Straße and also some 1-2 day tours in the Eifel. Of course, I need to get my upgraded batteries before that!
Today we would be back on the road again, but a shorter day than the previous ones at around 60km in total.
But first we took the opportunity to offload some more unnecessary items to the car at Cochem Long Term Parking.
I made a last-minute decision to keep my rain jacket as the weather seemed greyer than the forecast yesterday had suggested.
Then we set off.
Today‘s motor plan was to ride on number 4, using number 5 for any inclines that slowed me down too much. I would try and keep to a relatively consistent speed. Klaus wanted to stay behind me again today to try to match his speed to mine.
I had issues with my squealing brake again (the disc rotor is slightly fouling the brake gubbins, but this will be a bit of a fiddly job to repair). I also had to adjust my seat. But it was OK for Klaus to wait for me to faff about taking off my jacket, etc, as the views were good!
We passed a lot of castles today but the light wasn‘t great for photography. But here is one!
There was quite a strong headwind at times today but then we would round a curve and it would be gone. This mini harbour at Hatzenport had incredibly still water.
We were making good progress today, averaging about 17km/h, and my motor was performing well on number 4. I was also giving a bit more Helen Power to the pedals as I felt more rested and energetic after our day off yesterday.
The route is largely alongside a road but we crossed over to the right hand bank of the Mosel at Treis-Karden for 15km or so. After we crossed back across the river at Löf we headed through Kattenes and then the cycle path crossed under the railway and went up a narrow path the other side of the railway to the road. This was much more scenic but the road surface was pretty rough too.
At another short faffing stop we were overtaken by a big bunch of leisure cyclists so we stayed put for a bit to give them a chance to get ahead so we didn‘t have to overtake them again.
Here we saw lots of the little metal bogies for the viticulture. Apparently they can go up slopes of up to 60%!!
We were making good progress but had been on the bikes for a couple of hours so decided to stop for cake at a likely-looking café in Kobern.
Cheesecake for both of us!
We carried on, crossing under the A61 motorway which is our usual choice of route when visiting Klaus‘s father or other places in the south.
After the bridge we started climbing a little up the side of the hill on the way to Winningen. We watched gliders being launched from Winningen Airfield; my father once flew there with my Mum for a holiday (he was a private pilot).
I wasn‘t sure of the significance of this giant snail shell!
The route takes you down a steep hill in Winningen and at the bottom we saw a lady nearly fall off her ebike. It seemed that the act of turning a sharp corner in it was too much for her!
Along a road in Winningen we saw this amazing building with individual letters formed out of sheets of plate about 1 metre squared.
Very posh for a wine shop!
We arrived in Koblenz-Güls where our hotel for the night was located. I asked if I could drop off my pannier, which was fine – the hotel took it. I said we would be back in about three hours.
From the hotel it was just six and a half kilometres to Koblenz. Klaus and I got split up twice, once when he fell foul of some unhelpful traffic lights and a second time when he chose not to go through the road closed sign that the rest of us cyclists did and ended up on a wild goose chase around Koblenz. But we both knew our destination, Deutsches Eck, and we were both there soon enough.
This meant for Klaus he had joined up 3 river tours – Kylltal, Mosel and Rhein. There are lots of other rivers we need to add to our repertoire though!
We decided it was time for some more food so stopped at the café Wacht am Rhein where we stopped on our velomobile tour. I had crepes and Klaus had Apfelstreusel.
Whilst we were there it began to rain so we had chosen a good time to sit under an umbrella! The rain eased off before we decided to head back to our hotel.
This time Klaus followed me through the Road Closed section as it was actually a lovely smooth new surface.
It felt like just a few minutes before we were back at the hotel in Güls.
We took our luggage off and then when I disconnected the battery from the motor cable – Disaster!
That little metal spike should not still be in there!!! There are four holes in the connector in the photo below, and one is missing its metal widget inside.
Was this Game Over? Klaus said that if necessary tomorrow he would cycle to pick up the car and fetch me, but I decided I would at least try to make a start on the ride back. It would probably be slow but I can ride 45 kilometres without motor assistance, just the Winningen hills would be a pain! I had resolved that I would give Klaus the pannier and the heavy stuff to carry.
I put the battery on charge just in case it would work after all. We then went out for our dinner in the restaurant next door to the hotel, and we had some good food. Klaus enjoyed his last glass of Mosel white wine on the Mosel.
Güls seems to be a bit of a ribbon development along the river but it is good to be close to the water.
When we got back from dinner the battery had fully charged. The suspense was killing me so I decided we would try it out tonight so that I would know if the motor would work for me tomorrow. I was most relieved, after carefully plugging it in, to see the battery was indeed providing power to the motor. We will see if that will be the case for the whole of tomorrow‘s 45km. But we have hope!
We have really enjoyed this tour. We have been lucky with the weather and also it is much less crowded than normal due to Coronavirus. I don‘t suppose the Mosel will ever be as empty again in June, so I am very pleased we have had the chance to see it like that.
We both slept really well, starting to recover from a few difficult weeks at work. It is good to feel rested again!
Yesterday the WiFi was being tricky (we had to use a phone hotspot) so I didn‘t manage to include some photos that Klaus took of Cochem, but here they are now.
We had a leisurely breakfast knowing that we didn‘t have anything planned for today. We talked a lot to the Guest House landlord who was discussing all the ebikes and the problems they can cause. We saw this yesterday – many people riding ebikes who perhaps haven‘t ridden much for many years. They have quite a lot of speed and power available to them and tend to often ride on a very high power setting but with a very low cadence. We were regularly overtaken by ebikes and I am riding one myself. Probably we are more careful with energy usage as our journeys are longer – over 80km yesterday, for example.
After breakfast we did a bit of judicious packing for a bag we would leave in the car today. The weather forecast is improving so we don‘t need so much wet weather clothing. As we will just be riding to Koblenz and back over two days, about 110km in total, we don‘t need much with us. We had a full bag which we carried with us to the car park in Cochem where Klaus‘s car has patiently been waiting since last Saturday. It won‘t be moving again until Friday afternoon/evening. We will go tomorrow morning to buy parking for the next two days and I may well drop off my mudguards then too as they are annoying and rattly and if there isn‘t any rain then I would rather leave them. Klaus will probably keep his on as they are as yet rattle-free.
I also took the opportunity to telephone Gerrit Tempelman of Ligfietsshop Tempelman in Dronten. He is the chap who always serviced my Versatile Velomobiles but is also an ICE dealer and has over the last few years developed a new side of the business which is electric motors for recumbents. As I needed a new battery or two (following the discussion between Klaus and I yesterday) but also really wanted my trike serviced (dodgy brakes), it seemed wise to take it to one place.
Gerrit was, as usual, very helpful. He can offer me two batteries that will work with my Bafang motor, although changing to a better socket system (the one for my battery is a bit tricky and I am always afraid the cable will break or bend badly, whereas the one for my Milan seems pretty bulletproof). I also explained that it is really hard to adjust the brakes with the Bafang electronic brake thingie and this is a known issue with these brake levers (with a motor cut-out sensor) and Avid BB7 disc brakes – there is simply too much travel on the brake lever. Gerrit can offer a gear sensor for the motor which is a much better idea (and which I have on Millie‘s motor).
Gerrit has a lot on but we booked for me to deliver Alfie to him in July and he will do a service, provide me with two new batteries, possibly provide me with a seat-mounting system for the batteries (rather than me using the sidepods, although I am happy with that option), add the gear change sensor, change back to my original brake levers (which I still have), provide me with batteries and new cabling for them… and also the basic service. Alfie will enjoy the attention! Hopefully having two good-size batteries means that I can go a bit faster on the longer rides with Klaus and we can maybe tackle some hillier routes too.
It wasn‘t raining so we decided to go out and deliver the bag of things to the car. We found the car undisturbed in its parking place and said a brief hello. We‘ll be back tomorrow to feed another 10 Euro to the parking meter.
We then sat on a bench looking at the Mosel for a bit. Looking behind us and to our right was Cochem castle and it didn‘t look like too high a hill… perhaps we could climb up and have a look.
So we set off walking through the town and up steeper and steeper cobbled roads until we found ourselves at two schools, perched high on a hill. Quite a tough walk to school for the kids! Past the schools was the route to the castle.
It wasn‘t a difficult walk but neither of us are used to hill climbing, living as we do in the flatlands, so it was definitely a bit of effort!
At the top a gateway, we had to wear masks from this point.
The view from the top was worth it!
There was a terrace café but there was a big queue for it, so we decided to walk back down for our cake lunch.
This sort of sign was not around 10 years ago! No drones.
We decided to go down a different way, which took us past a little chapel built in the 1400s.
We were soon walking down steep cobbled streets again.
Cochem is a nice town with lots of pedestrian areas although they also allow cars for residents so you do tend to have to dodge a lot of cars.
We found somewhere to sit for some cake!
Whilst we were enjoying our tea and cake it started to rain, but wonder of wonders we had accidentally managed to sit under a large umbrella so we stayed dry. We watched the people go past for quite a while before heading back to our Guest House for a rest (and for tea and blog-writing for me).
I popped out a bit later in the day to buy a new home card for someone, and a stamp, and managed to blag a free pen as I didn‘t have anything to write with. Card written, we then decided to go out for dinner and did a bit of googling for decent places as last night‘s Italian had been very disappointing. There was a place just down the road from our Guest House which looked good so we went there. I had a very tasty steak and Klaus had a schnitzel. We also had dessert of course!
I‘m contemplating using just my sidepods for our 2 day trip to Koblenz and back. I did a test pack and it is just possible to fit everything I need to take just in the sidepods, which means I can leave my two 25 litre panniers in the car, but it also means the battery will be a bit squashed and, as mentioned above, I think the connector is a bit weak. I will decide tomorrow if I will risk it, but it would be nice to ride without panniers on the back. And of course the mudguards which I will take off as we have no rain forecasted. In fact, the forecast is for sunshine, up to 27 degrees in Koblenz on Friday.
Today has been a nice rest day and it was good to walk around Cochem. Back to the trikes tomorrow!
We woke to rather grey skies with misty hills in the distance – perhaps w would have a wet cycle ride today.
Here is a picture from my bedside table – charging station for phone, iPad Mini, Garmins etc, and some biscuits that Klaus bought yesterday. They worked well dunked in tea first thing in the morning!
Breakfast was served in a lovely room overlooking the hills. Because of Covid-19 the hotels are not allowed to supply a buffet breakfast, instead they deliver everything to your table. This Guest House had everything very nicely set out.
We went back to our room, packed everything and then retrieved the trikes from the garage. I needed to tighten my mudguard again as it keeps coming loose, and Klaus needed to tighten up his seat.
I forgot to mention in yesterday‘s blog that I had noticed part of the general cabling for the Bafang motor had slightly separated apart. I pushed the two sockets back together again and lo and behold my left brake motor cutout was magically working again. That was a relief!
Talking of the motor, I had a comment on my blog yesterday from regular reader antc1946 who said he has the same motor and he uses the 9 levels option, riding mostly on level 3. That means the battery lasts well. So I decided to switch from my 5 levels back to the original 9 levels and try riding on 3 as antc1946 suggested.
So we set off, again pretty much at 9am, assuming it would take us quite a long time to get to Cochem as it was 82km away and I would be using less battery power.
It was a bit grey as we started and we had our jackets on but not our coats as it was warmer than previous mornings.
Today‘s scenery was largely vineyards and there was quite a lot of activity going on as well – we saw lots of people walking amongst the vines, tractors in the vines, people using the funny little railway bogeys and even a helicopter spraying (see the photo below).
We crossed under this very impressive bridge, the Hochmoselbrücke, which carries a Bundesstraße across it.
You can see from the two photos above that the sun had come out and the sky was blue. When stopped to take these photos I took the opportunity to remove my jacket and socks.
It‘s really impressive to see where the vintners are able to place their vines – this area was particularly steep and they squeezed the vines in every nook and cranny.
Whilst on the ride today I reached a mini milestone with Alfie – 3,000km cycled using the motor. I was quite surprised it was that much as I only did a 3 day tour before with Alfie, the rest must have been lots of commuting and leisure rides.
When checking out the route last night Klaus had noticed that we could do a shortcut across the hill which avoids Zell on a river meander. However, the route planner showed it was a mighty hill and we didn‘t fancy it! You can see below the very narrow section we would have needed to cross.
However, we went the long way round, pootling around Barl. There was a sort section which wasn‘t asphalted and which had a couple of roller-coaster ups and downs.
As you can see from the above map, after we arrived at Zell we crossed the river was was our original plan, but you can see our track stops and we have to retrace our steps. It turned out the cycle path beside the road was blocked for bikes. There had been some signs showing diversions but it was not clear that the entire route was blocked.
Klaus and I had ridden up rather a hill to join the cycle path, only to discover it was still blocked at this further point. Here we are in a mirror at the top of the hill.
Looking at the road closed sign.
We ended up crossing back into Zell and then heading up the right hand side bank of the river, which was actually quite nice although the block paving needed to be repaired as there were lots of very lumpy bits due to tree roots.
We also failed to find somewhere for cake. We had been riding for 50km or so but all the places we saw were wine sales shops/cafes. I am a lifelong teetotaller so wine isn‘t anything for me, and as we were cycling anyway Klaus didn‘t want any. However, I know that the Mosel has loads of cafes so we would find one eventually.
After about 7km on the other side of the Mosel to our original plan we crossed back on this impressive double-decker bridge near Alf.
The scenery was still great of course – rolling hills, vines, water…
Fortunately we eventually found somewhere to stop for some food – an Italian which also did ice cream and strudel. Klaus chose the Strudel.
I went for a large ice cream.
We headed off again after half an hour with only about 30km to go. As the battery in my motor was doing much better than yesterday I increased the assistance level from 3 to 4, sometimes going up to 5. This was a very good thing as we had been rather too slow before this point, averaging about 14.5 km/h. Klaus had stayed behind me all day to try to match his speed to mine as I had been rather pooped yesterday trying to keep up with him, but it was very slow for him. My battery will not allow me to travel more than about 60km with lots of assistance. So I was experimenting with Level 3 today, which certainly gives me more range but isn‘t really enough help for me to ride at a useful pace. It seems clear I need to get a second battery so that we can do some longer rides at a faster pace.
I saw this impressive ruin on the other bank, not sure what it was!
With about 15km to go we saw some very heavy clouds in the distance and expected we would get rained upon.
However, we were lucky and the wind blew it round a corner. We managed to stay dry on the entire journey, with the rain starting heavily in Cochem about two minutes after we arrived.
About 200 metres from our Guest House I stopped to buy some cake for us to have when we arrived. It was very tasty!
Our guest house is pleasant with quirky furnishings and decor, a kettle in the room (which isn‘t functioning 100%, I have to hold the button down to get it to boil, but it does heat the water with this assistance!) and friendly staff. Our trikes were safely put in the garage.
After the traditional washing of clothes and unpacking we had a few cups of tea and then went out for a meal. As we like to sit outside (because of Covid-19 ) the choice of places wasn‘t that high but we found a generic Italian restaurant. The food was rather mediocre but that‘s often the case in tourist traps. We had a view of the river from where we sat and we were served fairly rapidly.
After the meal we had a short wander around Cochem.
We have a day off tomorrow so will probably spend some more time exploring and if the forecasted rain holds off we might do a short ride too. The following day (Thursday) we will head to Koblenz, staying overnight just outside Koblenz, and then will return to Cochem and our car on Friday and head straight home.
We woke up a bit early – this is the disadvantage of a hotel in a city next to a supermarket. The deliveries for the supermarket come early and there is lots of banging and crashing of trolleys etc. But it was OK as we had had a fairly early night.
Breakfast was at 7:30 in the morning which worked out well – time for a bit of a chill out and to investigate possible hotels for tonight in Bernkastel-Kues.
We extracted our bikes from the bicycle storage room, I did a bit of maintenance on Alfie‘s left disc brake (which is squealing rather) and then it was time to roll, almost exactly 9:00 again, the same as yesterday.
We had a shorter and flatter ride today, only 65km rather than yesterday‘s 90, but I was pleased about this as I felt rather pooped yesterday after the riding with all the hills and an easier day would be good.
We had made a route out of Trier on the right bank of the Mosel (the official cycle path is on the left bank) as we had ridden 10km on the left bank on our way to Trier yesterday and it wasn‘t particularly attractive. After 11km the official cycle route would cross over to join us.
The first 3km coming out of Trier weren‘t particularly attractive either, we were on main roads with Monday morning traffic, but we made good progress and soon found ourselves on a separate bike path.
You can see here the beginnings of the vineyard valley sides which are so typical of the Mosel. And, of course, the river itself!
We were now bumbling along nicely. Interestingly, in order to keep up with Klaus I had to have my motor on number 3 (out of 5), whereas yesterday I had mostly been using number 2. We had a shorter day so I thought that would be OK. If I switched down to number 2 Klaus kept disappearing off into the distance, and if I was ahead and switched down to number 2 he would very quickly overtake me and disappear off into the distance. So Number 3 it was.
The scenery is lovely – lots of vineyards perched onto rocky hillsides, lots of weird machinery to tend the vines (little engines which pull up on almost vertical rails) and we saw lots of tractors spraying stuff; these are extra-narrow tractors which pass between the vines and which presumably have very grippy tyres!
I told Klaus before we started on this holiday that one of the delights of Mosel touring is watching the locks. Sure enough we arrived at Detzem and knew that about 10 minutes behind us was a barge, the Eentracht from Dordrecht. So we decided (well, I decided and Klaus didn‘t demur) to wait for it and watch the lock in action.
While we were waiting we did some photography… or Klaus did anyway (my pics of the bikes were no good)
The barge came into view and the lock gates on the far side disappeared under the water…
We watched them tie the barge to the wall of the lock with just one rope to hold all that weight! And then the lock started emptying below our feet on the bridge over it.
It‘s surprising how quickly all the water is let out and the barge continued. We saw him again just as we reached our evening destination and had seen him right at the beginning of our time along the Mosel so it was interesting to compare our progress. I don‘t think he stopped for cake and photos as often as us!
Talking of cake, it seemed about the right time half an hour after the Lock experience so we stopped at a café which had a sign outside saying „Kuchen“. This was in Leiwen. The café was up some stairs with a view over the hills and the river.
With shade, too, which was welcome as the day had warmed up enough for us to remove our coats and at this point I even removed my socks (so I just had sandals on=.
The cake arrived – it was an extremely tasty cheesecake!
We had a very good leisurely break but eventually it was time to move on. We had done 30 of our 60 kilometres for the day.
In Neumagen-Dhron it started to rain. Not very heavily but enough that we eventually stopped under a tree and I put my waterproof jacket on. More for warmth than to keep the rain off. We carried on a few minutes later and the rain eased off.
One we went, and as we arrived in Piesport I saw a decent location to take a photo for the header for these blog pages.
At Piesport Klaus phoned the Guest House that we had chosen as our favourite option for tonight, and they said that they had a room free. We said we would be there in about an hour and a half.
In Mintrich there was a new cycle facility. I actually remembered having to cross a busy road and then cycle up a hill to get into Mintrich, but this time I saw the track on the Garmin was a bit different – they had built a bridge over the road. How nice of them.
Except… at the end some bright spark had put two planters together as a speed reduction method for bikes. But it was impassable for me with panniers on, I had to get off and shove the bike round the corner. It would be no fun with a trailer either. There must be a better solution!
Klaus was also doing some photography underway. He took this selfie…
And he also took this photo of the vines.
I was suffering rather with range anxiety now. The display on my Bafang controller was flickering down from 2 bars to 1 (from 4). Now I know that the display tends to overestimate the remaining juice, so I was really getting low. We had 15km to go. Riding at Number 3 all day had taken its toll, despite being a flat ride today.
I warned Klaus that my battery was running low and tried to conserve it as best I could, which is tricky when trying to keep up with a speedy trike rider. As we came into Bernkastel-Kues it was showing 1 bar all the time – a bad sign. I resigned myself to possibly having to ride up the hill to the hotel without a motor. Not an enticing thought.
And that is indeed what happened – about 500 metres from the hotel the battery was dead. I was on my own with my own muscle power, which wasn‘t much today as I rather overdid it yesterday. I crawled up the hill, eventually arriving at the hotel where Klaus was waiting for me. I was feeling a bit grumpy as I had to work a bit harder than I wanted – we discussed it later and we will go slower tomorrow, especially as we have 80km to ride rather than 65!
Our Guest House is really nice. We have our own room with a patio and a view over the Mosel. It gave us a great opportunity for a washing line art installation too!
After the usual shower, washing of clothes, cup of tea etc it was time to walk into Bernkastel-Kues for a bit of sightseeing and eventually our dinner.
It‘s a lovely quaint town.
We had a Schnitzel dinner and Klaus enjoyed some local wine.
We shared a dessert!
On the walk back to our Guest House across the river the light was lovely. Here is the Burg.
And here, although not a great photo, you can see the sunlight playing on the contours of the wine terraces.
All in all it was a very nice day, with some grey skies at time and a few minutes of rain but lots of sunshine and great views.
And here is where we went (track up, not north up)
We have looked at the weather forecast and although our ride to Cochem tomorrow looks dry, it seems the following day will be rain the whole time. So we have booked a hotel for two nights, as neither of us wants to cycle in the rain. We have the unusual advantage that Klaus‘s car is in Cochem so if we want to go somewhere else on the rainy day we can leave the bikes in the hotel garage and take his car for a spin!
The plan is the following day to ride to Koblenz and then back again to Cochem the next day, from where we will drive home. So it will be a six day bike tour which is a nice amount of time.
Klaus is now bonding well with Malcolm his trike and is learning again how trikes differ from Velomobiles. He has clearly chosen well, and although there are a few bits and bobs we need to do to Malcolm (and also to Alfie), they are both basically well-built and reliable machines. Alfie has done 45,000km, Malcolm 250, but they will both have a lot more miles on them by the end of this summer I think!
We slept very well and then went down at 8am to a very good breakfast – served at our table rather than buffet-style due to Covid-19. However, they needed to give us a larger table really!
We unlocked the bikes and then put all our luggage on. This was the first real opportunity to check we had our handlebars in the right place, etc.
And then we were off!!!
We had been told by some friends that the Kylltal Radweg was very nice and they were correct! It weaves its way beside the river, crossing it regularly on bridges built especially for cyclists or walkers.
We had gone just one kilometre when Klaus, who was behind me, said „You‘ve lost something!“ He noticed that my British Flag was missing. Oh no, it must have blown away!
As we had only been riding a very short distance, and this was the beginning of several days of touring, I turned round to try and find it.
Phew, I found it! I attached it with a very tight cable tie and hoped that would do.
Onward we cycled, generally in very green surroundings. There was the odd castle or church to be admired.
The nice thing about trike touring is you are slower than in the velomobile and you tend to see more are you waft along. I was really impressed by this large carved bird, simply carved into a tree trunk beside the cycle path.
The path tended in a downhill direction but there were quite a lot of short, sharp inclines. This coincided with the brake motor cutout on my left hand brake on Alfie stopping working. This is an electronic cut-out so if I use the brake, the motor switches off. I have to dab on the brake before changing gear so that the motor doesn‘t damage the Alfine hub; I brake with my left hand and change gear with my right. However, the left hand brake cutout wasn‘t working so I had to brake with my right hand and then do the gear with it – this often didn‘t work well (I forgot which order to do things) and so I had some gear changes where I lost a lot of speed. Not much fun in sharp inclines and no fun for Klaus if he was following me – he ended up stuck in a high gear at one point having had to come to a complete halt as I had ended up stationary.
It worked best if Klaus rode in front in the rolling bits, so he did so a lot of the time.
We rounded a corner and passed an old factory with this most wonderful chimney. The Leaning Chimney of Usch.
It was an impressively tall chimney but everything was very derelict.
And here below is Alfie posing beside the Kylltal Radweg signage.
What was cool on this tour was that we went through two railway tunnels (there would have been a third but there was a detour on the route so we missed it). They are impressive constructions, presumably with two rail lines originally going through them, now single track which leaves space for a bike lane.
The tunnel was cool and dark inside and we discovered that Alfie doesn‘t have many reflectives on the back – Klaus said all he could really see of me was the tiny red LED light from my motor wheel sensor at the back!
We then reached Kyllburg – the name ‚burg‘ gives a bit of a clue, as it means fortress which is usually built on a hill. Kyllburg was indeed hilly.
We winched our way slowly up a long, long slope and near the top I saw this lovely wicker stork with a mask on his beak!
We had a very long, slow climb out of Kyllburg which was hard work! The battery in my motor was clearly taking a beating and was showing a rather lower energy reserve than I would like. We both got really hot by the time we got to the top of the 2km climb.
The view at the top was worth it though!
What goes up must come down… and so we shot down the other side of the hill and I ended up with my highest trike speed for a while – 65km/h. My brakes weren‘t brilliant so after this downhill I fiddled about with the disk pads and things improved a bit, although they were still a bit uneven.
We had decided we would divert to Bitburg for lunch as it is a major town in this region, although was a 4km detour from the Kylltal Radweg. The detour started with a nice bridge.
But then continued with a long, long slow climb. Bitburg, too, is at the top of a hill, and we were grinding our way up slowly. I knew we weren‘t even halfway on our route for the day so I had a bit of range anxiety with my battery.
We arrived in Bitburg and there wasn‘t much open (it is a Sunday) but we did find the Prinz Café with its very friendly proprietor who was keen to speak to me in English.
He also kindly took my battery and put it on to charge whilst we had our cake.
We had a good chat with him and he recommended a few places to visit on our tour.
After about an hour we headed back towards the Kylltal Radweg, this time enjoying a downhill run instead of the tough uphill on the way in.
We were in a quite leafy and green section with lush grass, quite a lot of insects, interesting birds (I saw a greater spotted woodpecker) and more. We saw this chap wheeling around above us – I think he might be a kite (Milan in German)
We were also impressed by a lot of the buildings we saw. This image below shows the railway station building for a small village!
We were mostly riding beside the river on asphalt, but there were a couple of bumpier sections, including a couple of kilometres where it wasn‘t asphalt just forest path. These were OK on the trikes, although I had to tighten up my mudguards a couple of times as they start to swing about with the bumps. There were a couple of more bumpy concrete-type surfaces, such as in the photo below.
Although our mega climb of the day out of Kyllburg was behind us, there were still lots of little ups and downs. And some of the downs were quite steeply down!
And then we would round a corner and see a lovely bridge, or house, or scenery.
Klaus kindly stopped in the middle of this mini ford for the photo below, and then couldn‘t get traction to get out again. I zoomed across and then came and helped him with a good push.
Then it was time for another tunnel, very similar to the first.
After a while the route seemed flatter as we were making our way down from the Eifel. We had the path to ourselves most of the time, as you can see from the photo below. That‘s Klaus in the distance.
At Kordel I felt a bit peckish and we saw a Guest House that looked like it might be open. I rang the doorbell and the lady said she would come, so we sat outside in the sunshine. The grey morning in Gerolstein had improved into a sunny afternoon nearing Trier and we were shedding layers throughout the day.
The lady said she could provide tea and coffee but no cake. That was fine. But then she came out with a slice of Black Forest Gateau and said „something for the lady“, and for Klaus she provided some Rosinen Brot.
She said to us a bit later on that it was actually a slice of cake she had bought for herself, so we were very grateful. It tasted really good!
The lady warned us that the cycle path down to the next town was closed and we would have to go on the main road, so we knew what to do when we reached the closed path sign and took the main road. There was no cycle path and we were of course much slower than the 70 limit but I found the car drivers very courteous and not bullying. A nice change!
And then we were at the point where the Kyll flows into the Mosel. We couldn‘t actually see the point, but it was behind this shrubbery here.
We now had about 15km to go to reach our hotel, but on pretty much entirely flat terrain as we are in the Mosel valley.
We faffed around the Trier harbour area and then eventually crossed the Mosel and made our way slowly through the pedestrian zone to our hotel which was just behind the Porta Nigra.
They had some good secure bike parking for us.
And we had a mini balcony to dry our washing!
After a short rest we went for a walk around Trier, of course having another look at the Porta Nigra.
We had an evening meal of a burger and Klaus enjoyed a beer (although not a Bitburger).
We loved looking at the beautiful buildings in Trier.
And finished up with an ice cream. I hope you can see Porta Nigra in the background!
And our route for today?
And here are the statistics:
90.4 km at an average speed of 17 kph. Total riding time 5:19:06.
And a few more details:
Tomorrow the plan is to cycle along the Mosel to Bernkastel-Kues and see if we can find a nice hotel there. Weather looks good too!
One week ago Klaus bought a new trike. Today we set off for a cycle tour with this trike (and mine).
Klaus had yesterday off work and he spent some of the time doing a bit of trike maintenance, such as fitting a holder for his Garmin GPS, fitting bar tape onto his handlebars to replace the rather grotty foam ones and also fitted two new mirrors. Malcolm the Sprint X was ready to roll.
When I got home from work yesterday we put both trikes in the car – choosing a rather unsuitable time to do it, as we had a massive rainstorm. But we both wanted to get the job done so we managed to load the bikes only getting a little wet in the process.
To load two ICE Sprints in an Opel Insignia is not actually too difficult as it‘s such a large car. We put the back seats down and then pushed Alfie folded up to behind the front seats, then turned him round so his nose was pointing at one back window and his tail the other, and then we could put Malcolm in behind him in the boot proper. We stuffed the luggage in the back seat footwells.
We had been watching the weather forecast for a few days as it wasn‘t ideal – the warm May weather was turning cooler and rainier. But we were putting ourselves under no pressure, if the weather is awful one day we won‘t do any riding. Simple.
Saturday morning dawned rather grey and rainy-looking. We said goodbye to Poppy and set off at about 9:15 on the two hour drive to Gerolstein in the Eifel hills range.
We went through some mega rain storms on the journey to Gerolstein which meant we were slower on the motorway in places than normal. But we arrived safely at the hotel at 11:30am so very early, but I had pre-warned them that we would be delivering the trikes.
The receptionist was very helpful and friendly and showed us where we could park the trikes, in their covered parking area. It‘s not a locked parking area but we were not worried about this – Klaus had a lock for the trikes and they aren‘t as interesting to try out as Velomobiles.
We unloaded the car and rebuilt the trikes, fitting their mudguards as well due to the rainy forecast.
We then took our luggage to the hotel room (Klaus also took Malcolm’s seat with him) and then it was time to me to head off.
I was driving to Cochem to park the car at a possible finish point of our tour. Cochem is easy to access by train so if we don‘t end up there we can easily pick up the car via train. We had also found a very good value parking area – 15 € for a month. I headed off there.
My journey was along a lot of winding roads around the volcanic Eifel region. There were some good views and some sunshine and blue skies as well as more mega rain. I was briefly on the A1 motorway and saw a nasty-looking accident on the other carriageway. This was in a very heavy rainshower and we all slowed down some more after seeing that!
I arrived in Cochem at 12.48 and the bus was due to leave at 13:13. It was one bus every two hours so I didn‘t want to miss it. But first, the parking.
Strangely the parking signs had a different amount to the 15€ for a month. They said 5€ per day, but a maximum rate for 20 days of 20€ if you had a Cochem (COC) number plate. Which we did not. So for the 5 days I estimated was a sensible amount for our tour, we would need 25€.
The problem was… I had 2 x 10€ notes and 2 x 50€. And the machine did not give change. I didn‘t want to pay 50€ for a 25€ parking charge, so decided to walk to the bus stop to buy my bus ticket and so get change of a 50€ note.
The walk to the bus stop turned out to be longer than I thought as there wasn‘t a cut-through towards the railway station so I had to walk three sides of a rectangle instead of the short side. I arrived at 13:03 and saw a bus waiting at the stop – without any destination written on the front and with the driver eating his lunch.
The bus had a sign on the front door saying you couldn‘t go in that way and couldn‘t buy tickets from the bus driver. OK, so where do I buy the tickets? There was no machine near the bus stop and I went into the railway station and only saw a Deutsche Bahn ticket machine. I had investigated the Deutsche Bahn tickets on the Internet and it displayed the bus route (number 500) but doesn‘t give a price or the possibility to buy the tickets. I had found the price online, 10.80€, but there was no option on that website to buy a ticket.
So I went to the bus door and did an „Entschuldigen Sie“ to the driver, who opened the door for me. I asked where could I buy a ticket for the bus to Gerolstein. He said „not from me“. I said I was aware of this, but where was a ticket machine. He said he had no idea where I can buy them from, but I could just get on the bus if I wanted.
I said I needed to go and pay for my parking and I would see if I could find a ticket machine too. He said he would leave at 13:13.
I went into the café next to the railway station and ordered a bottle of water, simply to break up my 50€ note. I didn‘t actually want to drink anything as it looked as though I had no chance of the loo and had a 90 minute bus journey ahead of me! But now I had some change for the parking ticket machine.
So I went back to where the car was parked and put in my 25€.
So we had to either finish our tour by Thursday lunchtime or at least go past Cochem and buy a couple of days more if we were going to extend it. 5€ a day is a fair price though.
So now I needed to get back to the bus and buy a ticket somehow. Time was marching on, so I semi-jogged back from the car park to the railway station/bus stop. I am no runner/jogger!
I got back to the bus at 13:12. No time to play with the Deutsche Bahn ticket machine in the hall, instead I got on the bus to see if there was a ticket machine inside it (like there often are in trams). No.
So I then asked the people on the bus „where can I buy a ticket?“ They all shrugged their shoulders.
The driver heard this and said „I can‘t sell you one because of Corona“ (which I knew). But then he said „Take a seat.“
I said I would try to download the App and then buy a ticket.
There was a sign right in front of me with the logo of the ticket company:
This VRT is the Trier public transport company. And they had an App!
So I started downloading it (signal wasn‘t great) and we set off about 30 seconds after I had sat down, first driving along the Mosel. It was good to see it – my last Mosel tour had been 10 years ago.
The App eventually downloaded. It seemed I could only buy tickets for bus journeys in the future (not ones I had already started) but I assumed the ticket would be valid for all journeys. So I found it, bus number 100.
„Price not available“. No chance to buy a ticket. Great.
I was unable to buy a ticket from the driver, from a machine on the bus, from the app, and from the non-existent ticket machine at the bus stop. So I gave up. I would be a Schwarzfahrer. I have a suitable colour face mask for this highway robbery.
I did wonder how many other passengers actually had a valid ticket as no-one seemed to know how to buy one. There were 5-6 other passengers on board and we were all wearing face masks. One guy had one he had made out of a cut up face flannel with a bit of string.
The journey was very scenic, climbing steeply up the valley side of Cochem with some great views down to the Mosel. Then it was up and down around the volcanic Eifel region, through towns and villages. The bus driver was very skilled and it was a comfortable journey.
At one point we met the 500 bus coming the other way down a very narrow bit of road and the two buses stopped and the drivers had a five minute chat. All very friendly. These busses were also towing a trailer with a rack to hold up to 10 bikes – there were no bikes on either bus. The cycle tourist season is not going well due to Corona.
We were soon nearing Gerolstein and the rain cleared away to leave blue skies and sunshine. We passed a huge volcano caldera (Maar) and I think there are several others in this region. I think the volcanoes of the Eifel are technically only dormant, not extinct, so we could be in for a surprise on this tour!
I arrived back at the station in Gerolstein, got off the bus and then walked to the hotel. When I got there Klaus wasn‘t there, he had walked to meet me at the bus stop and somehow we had missed each other. I was very pleased to see him as I needed to go up to the room for the loo and he had the key!
After I had had a few minutes to chill out we went out for a very late lunch in Gerolstein which was a bowl of soup for me, a salad for Klaus, and then a crepe as a dessert (Klaus had a chocolate cake).
This was a very late lunch, nearly 4pm, but we still wanted an evening meal a few hours later so walked to a Pizzeria. We had a book with vouchers for 10% off the meal but of course we forgot to take the voucher with us!
And when in Gerolstein…
We walked around Gerolstein a little, including visiting the fountain outside our hotel.
And just around the corner was the river Kyll, which we will follow down the valley to Trier. It‘s not very wide or deep here!
We also saw a huge storage area with bottles of Gerolsteiner Water.
A great German word on this signpost!
And a German false friend. „Shooting“ with your whole family isn‘t generally considered a good thing in English!
Our Hotel Garni am Brunnenplatz is very nice, I can definitely recommend it. The room is pleasant, the staff very friendly and helpful, and we also have breakfast in our room rate too.
Tomorrow we will set off on the Kylltal Radweg. This heads to Trier and is 70km long, with 10km then along the Mosel to Trier. This is a manageable distance in a day on a trike but if the weather is bad we may have a shorter day stage. Trier is a nice place to visit, I have stayed there a couple of times before, and phoned this afternoon to book a hotel near Porta Nigra. We don‘t want to just whizz along, we want to stop and see the scenery – one of the great benefits of the trike over the Velomobile – but we have plenty of time so that should be no problem.
We were both pretty tired by 9pm, not just the driving but also the excitement of starting a tour and also we have both had a fairly tough few months at work. It is good to have a break!
Klaus and I both agreed that we like doing short bike tours as well as the long ones – three days gives you a real chance to travel further and do some exploring, but you only have to take one day off work.
So we had a look at our diaries and decided that the weekend in the middle of August would be suitable for a tour. Klaus put together a route for us, 350km over three days, and we made arrangements.
The tour was to be in Münsterland which is east of where we live, with rolling hills. We had ridden a little in Münsterland a few years ago, but this would be a chance to explore a bit more. Klaus also managed to route our track past lots of different castles, so we decided to call it a Schlössertour (Castle Tour).
This was the planned route for the entire trip:
We were both able to get the Monday off so our tour would be from Saturday to Monday.
Packing for our tours now takes just a few minutes – this is because what you need for a 3 day tour and what you need for a 2 week tour is mostly the same – 3 sets of cycling clothing, 1 set of normal clothing, shoes, wash kit, gadget chargers, iPad. Tools and waterproofs are usually already in the velomobile.
I had split the days up into three similar length days, with just the first day a bit shorter (this was due to a rather meagre choice of hotels).
Day 1: Kempen to Gescher
So on Saturday morning we set off in a leisurely manner after 10:30am, heading to Gescher.
The weather forecast was a bit unfortunate for the tour, with the first two days pretty rainy. Thus we started late, as it was forecasted to dry up as the day wore on. But we didn’t want to leave it too late!
The first fifteen minutes or so were in drizzle but it wasn’t too bad. We were cycling to Rees am Rhein which is a 55km route which we know really well. We also knew that food opportunities weren’t great after Rees, and our route actually bypassed Rees rather than going into the town, so I suggested we tried the café we have ridden past quite often on our way past Uedem – it’s Hochwald-Spargel but they have signs for a café too; we don’t usually stop there as we have already stopped at Büllhorsthof in Winnekendonk, but for a 115km ride Winnekendonk was a bit too soon for a cake stop, at 31km. The one to the east of Uedem would be at 40km and Google thought it would be open, so we decided to give it a go!
So we pootled along in the drizzle but it soon dried up and although the roads were still a bit wet it was fine for us. It was a fairly cool day, maybe 17 degrees, and I was feeling the chill a little from my wet cycling jersey. I hadn’t thought to bring my motorbike neckwarmer and that turned out to be a bit of a mistake on this tour!
In due course we arrived at Hochwald-Spargel and the Hufschen Henn Hofcafé. There was just one other group of people there but it was open and they had a selection of cakes which all looked pretty good.
The people were very friendly and as we sat eating our cake they brought out several new cakes which had been freshly-prepared in house. They all looked good!
We also saw the food that was brought to the other table for those having lunch and it looked really nice. So this café was definitely another good find!
As we left the café the rain started, and it stayed with us for quite a bit of the rest of our journey.
However, we are made of tough stuff and battled through!
Our castles started fairly early in the trip – just after Rees we passed Haus Empel. We couldn’t see it very well through the trees (we were riding fast on the B67) but it looks like this:
It was the first of many “Wasserschlösser” or castles with a moat that we saw over the next three days.
Just a few kilometres further on we passed Wasserburg Anholt which is another impressively-moated castle.
We rode along the border with NL but staying on the German side, past some places with excellent names: Dinxperlo and Spork.
At 86km cycled we crossed into the Netherlands, but there was almost nothing to see – no border post, no change in landscape – the only difference is the road markings and road signs are a bit different.
This section of ride was rather nice as it was through woodland. The 2km of road surface which was brick paved rather than asphalt was a bit annoying, but otherwise we enjoyed our brief foray into NL, crossing back into Germany 12km later at Oeding.
Oeding looked familiar, and indeed it was – I had stayed there on my Berlin to London ride. There was rather more traffic than we had seen so far on our ride, and we were restricted to a cycle path which was mostly OK but had its moments, but we headed east on the B525 between Südlohn and Weseke, eventually turning off to take a back way into Gescher. Riding along Bundesstraßen can be quick but isn’t always very scenic!
We arrived at our hotel and went to check in. I reminded them that they had offered us a room to store the velomobiles, but the chap said “but we have a wedding today! No space at all!” This was rather bad news as a wedding meant lots of people wandering about and if the velomobiles had to overnight out in the open where lots of people were carousing this was not great. The chap then offered some space in a carport (which was at least covered to keep the rain off) but this was, too, open to passers-by. In the end he said that in a couple of hours there would be a storage room inside the hotel free and we could put the bikes in there, but would have to get them out by 9:30am the following morning. That would be no problem, so we said we’d go for that.
We had our showers and then I decided to go for a walk to buy a few supplies to nibble on (we hadn’t bought any nuts with us). As I was walking past reception the man who had booked us in said that he had an alternative option, and what turned out to be the owner of the hotel handed me a remote lock for his garage; this was in his private house, opposite the hotel. It was very kind of him, and we were pleased to take up the offer – Millie and Emily were safely ensconced in the garage where they dripped gently onto the floor as they had taken on a fair bit of water today, although it was mostly just a fine drizzle or mist.
We ate in the restaurant at the hotel and it was very good food with efficient service. We also had some entertainment – not the wedding, there was also a Schützenfest going on which involved lots of young chaps walking around in uniforms carrying rifles and a brass band playing VERY loudly outside our bedroom window. During our meal a chap arrived with a squeeze-box and played some tunes very well, with lots of the restaurant patrons singing along.
This kind of thing happens in Germany!
We didn’t get a great night’s sleep because of the Schützenfest which seemed to involve lots of drumming and very loud brass band music. And to cap it all off, at 6am on the dot we had two marching band songs – and then silence again! Needless to say we were awake at that point.
Day 2: Gescher to Selm.
Early this morning Klaus received a message from a Velomobilforum member who saw that we were cycling in his part of the world and offered for us to pop in and see him to dry off from the rain. This was because the forecast for the day was 13mm rain, pretty much non-stop. Anyway, we said yes, and adjusted our planned track accordingly (we would go closer to Münster as that is where Otfried lives).
We had breakfast in the hotel and then noticed on the rain radar a band of dry weather between two huge rainclouds. Sure enough, the rain paused… and we thought it would be a good plan to get cycling during that break. We extracted the velomobiles, returned the garage remote control, paid the bill and then with the audience of most of those breakfasting (not the wedding party, I guess they were still hung over – this was a lot of pensioners!) we set off. Just as the heavy rain began to fall again!!
At times the rain was pretty heavy and it meant that we were both getting quite wet. Klaus periodically put on the Schaumdeckel but this then meant that he overheated and that when he stopped for a traffic light or something his visor steamed up very badly. So he mostly cycled open…
However, overall we were luckier with the weather than expected as we were able to catch up the band of dry weather we had noticed at breakfast and then cycle within it for quite a lot of the first 40km today.
Our first castle today was Schloss Varlar near Rosendahl, but it wasn’t somewhere we could actually get to.
Which was a shame, as the photographs show it is a beautiful building.
And an unusual shape for a castle, as visible from the aerial photo:
So having just looked at the closed gates we turned round and carried on.
We were making a reasonable pace with views of the gentle rolling Münsterland hills ahead.
We didn’t manage to see this one at all from the road; the rain meant we didn’t feel like getting out of the velomobiles to look at anything anyway!
Our original route had us passing the second Havixbeck castle, Haus Havixbeck, but instead we stayed north of the main town and headed eastwards towards Münster.
Our alternative route to us to Otfried’s routed us near the third Havixbeck castle, Burg Hülshoff.
We arrived at Otfried’s in the dry but it looked like the rain cloud would catch us up soon. There was nowhere undercover to store Millie so Otfried lent me a cover he made for his Quest. It fitted Millie very well, although was no longer waterproof (he had warned me of this). But it’s given me some ideas if I can find a suitable-size tarpaulin – it would need to cover the whole Deckel and the Naca Duct too.
Otfried and his wife had made us a cheesecake. It was warm out of the oven so we got to admire it for the first round of teas while it cooled down.
When it was time for the second round of warming drinks, the Käsekuchen was judged cool enough to eat…
We spent two hours with Otfried and his wife and it was great to talk to them and share experiences of cycling.
The rain was coming down very hard when we left but we weren’t expecting it to improve so there was little point in waiting. We waved goodbye and headed off into the rain.
I noticed some very sweet and amusing road names on our tour through Münsterland, and one was just south of Otfried’s house – a road called Dingbängerweg!
We were now heading south, parallel to the A1, as it curved slightly to the east. We rode through Amelsbüren and then headed towards Rinkerode, where we passed Haus Borg.
Not a good photograph by me at all, here are a couple of better ones!
The amazing thing about this castle is that it seems to now be in use as a Polytechnic (Fachhochschule). What an amazing place to get your education!
Klaus and I were hungry after all this cycling in the heavy rain and we needed something warming so cycled further into the town of Nordkirchen and eventually found a restaurant that was open for hot food at 3:30 in the afternoon – a Croatian restaurant. We had a good meal and then set off for the final 10km to our accommodation in Selm.
We were overnighting in a small Ferienwohnung and the host and hostess were very friendly, letting us store the velomobiles in a store room under one of the apartments.
Both velomobiles were soaking wet but the rain had finally moved away and the forecast for our last day was dry, hurrah!
Day 3: Selm to Kempen
Klaus woke up with a headache, and realised he had not slept very well on the bed/pillow. This unfortunately dogged him throughout the day as the headache was often tending towards a migraine – but we had 120km to ride.
You can see from our reduced average speed that today was harder – not because of the weather (it was dry) or the terrain (less hilly), but as Klaus was feeling under the weather.
We set off at about 9am, enjoying the fact that the sun was shining at last, although it wasn’t particularly warm.
We were very soon at our first castle of the day, Schloss Sandfort. It was a bit hair-raising pulling into the driveway of this castle as there were lots of massive trucks barrelling along the country road to this castle. Some kind of building work was going on, so I quickly got a photo and escaped again!
Here is a better photo, from the inside:
We cycled through Olfen and then continued on roads which were busier than yesterday (Monday morning, to be expected). We used the cycle paths a bit more than we might usually do, partly because of the traffic but also because Klaus wasn’t feeling quite so energetic. Sometimes the cycle path is a bit of a challenge in itself – this one was full of twists and turns for a couple of kilometres:
Approaching Ahsen there was a road closure with diversion, which we followed. It turned out to be OK but one is never entirely sure if it will be a huge detour (it probably added 2km to the total so not too bad). We were riding alongside the wiggly river Lippe, and there is also a canal which had been above the height of the road earlier in our ride today.
We skirted north of Haltern am See but stopped for a coffee and cookie at a McDonalds as Klaus was flagging.
Suitably refreshed we carried on through Wulfren and then we arrived at Schloss Lembeck, somewhere Klaus has regularly stayed in the past (it is a hotel). We stopped, of course!
Despite it only being 20km since our McDonalds stop, we couldn’t resist the café…
We enjoyed a good break here, sitting outside in the sunshine rather than hiding from the rain as we had been doing the last two days!
We continued on in due course, once again to stop quite soon at another castle – Schloss Raesfeld. What a lovely place!
As we were having a relaxing day we stopped and had a bowl of soup whilst looking at the castle. It was a really lovely little area with quaint shops, no cars – just lots of people on bikes!
It was time to move on and we were now heading for Wesel, which is definitely our part of the world. The route Klaus had chosen avoided the busy main roads and took us through some lovely rural areas with fields, woodland and mostly good quality roads. It was lovely!
As we approached Wesel we had to stop for ten minutes as Klaus was feeling a bit seedy with his headache. He took another paracetamol and closed his eyes for a little bit, and then we were OK to carry on.
The route through Wesel isn’t particularly nice but eventually we were on the bridge crossing the Rhine.
Rather than the direct route back from Wesel that we had planned we chose a quieter and more scenic route through Menzelen before rejoining our route at Alpen – with a mega hill. The run back to Issum, Sevelen, Kengen, Saelhuysen and then home via Stenden felt like quite a long way for Klaus, I believe, as his headache was getting worse. But we arrived home safe and sound, unpacked the bikes, wrung out the water from the sound-dampening foam in Emily’s side pockets (Klaus was transporting about a kilo of water, I think!) and then it was time for a shower and for Klaus to lie down in a darkened room! He felt better after about half an hour.
Despite Klaus being a bit poorly on the last day, and despite the rain, we had a lovely tour. Münsterland is great to cycle through and we will definitely go back again. Thanks again to Otfried and his wife for their generous hospitality and Käsekuchen.
I woke at 5:30am and read the internet until it was time to get up. We were ready by 7:30am and hoped that breakfast would be served, but there was no sign of it so we sat outside and waited for half an hour. The bikes were fine after their night under the balcony.
Unfortunately at 8:00am there was still no activity. It seemed breakfast would be later! We decided to leave (although I was really annoyed about this as it was one of the more expensive hotels and we had paid for the breakfast!) but just as we were wheeling the bikes towards the road a lady appeared. She said breakfast was at 9, and that it said it on the bit of paper in our room (which we didn’t have), and she then spoke to the manageress, an old lady of 84, who said they would get breakfast ready early. So we did in deed get our breakfast, and Klaus also had a long chat with the manageress who was the owner of this vineyard. She talked about the problems of succession after her, and also that the Königswinter area used to have 3000 people employed in the viticulture, now they just have 70.
We ended up leaving at about 9am and were heading towards Köln. We had three different tracks on our Garmins as we were doing a mix ‘n match of them.
The first track was the reverse of our ride a fortnight ago. We decided to use this track to Wesseling (before Köln) and after this we would head into Köln itself, continuing to Dormagen and then going cross-country home.
The first 5km were on the eastern bank of the Rhein but we soon crossed over.
We were approaching Bonn under blue skies.
It was easy to follow the outward route from a fortnight ago and we rolled well over the cycle path beside the Rhein.
Klaus and I both remembered stopping here with Simon and Joyce four years ago for a photo. This is the kilometre marker of the Rhein.
The route also turned inland at sections, but was overall good.
The final 4km to the centre of Köln were of course slower, and the final 500 metres was very tough. I knew that the Dom was up quite a lot higher than the Radweg, and that there were steps everywhere, so it was a bit of a challenge to find a slope. In the end we did, but had to crawl through hordes of people in order to make our way to the Domplatz. We wanted the one photo to show we had been here with our velomobiles!
The place was way too crowded so we turned to leave almost immediately. I tried to follow our route back to the Radweg as at least I knew I wouldn’t have to go down any steps that way, and Klaus took a different route on the roads. He ended up ahead of me and waited for me a little way along the track.
The road out of Köln that we first took was Kempener Strasse, so it looked as though we were going in the right direction! It was actually not too difficult to get out of Köln and the roads weren’t too busy, but there was a lot of stop and go with traffic lights. It was a warm day and when we sat stationary at the traffic lights it got very hot, especially with the heat rising from the asphalt.
After 60km I felt badly in need of a break. After an abortive attempt to find a bakery (large signposts for it, no bakery to be seen) we found somewhere just before they were closing. It was in the village after Heimersdorf; we would have preferred to stop in Heimersdorf as that is presumably the village belonging to our friend Ralf Heimers (he of the Sprinter fame).
We both chose the strawberry slice. There was no tea available as they had turned off the coffee machine, so we had cold drinks instead.
After we left the bakery my Garmin decided it wanted to give me turn-by-turn directions (i.e. it counts down till the next junction, tells you which way to turn and bleeps a lot). I have actually switched this off but periodically it turns itself on again for ten minutes.
What I hadn’t realised was that my Garmin decided to send me the wrong way. I turned off a nice fast road onto a woodland track… very bumpy, but following the purple line. Klaus was a little way behind me and he actually shouted at me and hooted to tell me I was going the wrong way but I didn’t hear it over the noise of the bumpy track.
There was a closed level crossing after 500 metres and I had to get out to press the button to request for it to be opened. Which it did, after two trains had gone past. I wondered where Klaus was and decided he was looking for an alternative less off-road route.
I turned the corner and there was more off-road. I didn’t fancy 2km of that and so had a look at the map on my Garmin. I then decided to phone Klaus to find out where he was, and he said he was following the track and I had gone off-track. A good look at my Garmin showed me it was the stupid turn-by-turn directions trying to take me a weird route – argh!!! In the end I rode back again to where I had turned off and caught Klaus up eventually.
After Dormagen I was beginning to feel a bit poorly from the heat, so Klaus found a McDonalds where we stopped. He had a burger but I didn’t feel like eating so just had my cold water. I didn’t want to linger there as it was full of kids (I am a misanthrope) and very noisy and bright. I had hoped for a relaxing Biergarten somewhere, but in Neuss and Dormagen that was not likely. But we would be going through Willich soon and that had possibilities.
We had 40km to go after we left the McDonalds and I just followed in Klaus’s wheel tracks and turned the motor up to 3 so I had to do less effort. The route was OK but there were lots of traffic lights so we were constantly stopping and starting.
Eventually we were out of Neuss and we saw the first signs of Kreis Viersen – the car number plates. Then we were approaching Willich and we decided to go to Landcafé Streithof which does good cakes.
They had something on the menu called an Eis Splitter Torte which I thought might be like Grillagetorte so I ordered it. It wasn’t the same, but was nice anyway!
Klaus had a ore traditional Strawberry Quark Cake.
As we decided to have a second round of tea/coffee I decided my meringuey cake wasn’t enough to fill me up after the tiring riding so I had a Fruits of the Forest Mascarpone cake too!
After a fairly long stop I felt refreshed enough for the last 20km. I followed Klaus through the Hoxhöfe route (which I find a bit twisty and turny for the Milan, but it avoids main roads) and we eventually rolled up outside our house at 17:30pm. It had been a long, long ride as our average speed was low.
We were welcomed by Poppy the dog whose hair had grown very long and who now looked like a teddy bear!
The tour was finished! Although it’s great being on holiday, we are both also happy at home and I was very pleased to be reunited with my shower and the washing machine.
Here are the statistics for all the rides on this tour:
And here is the ‘wheel’ showing where we went:
We have had a great time visiting friends and seeing other parts of Germany. We both find the journey between Kempen and Koblenz a bit of a chore so in the future would prefer to hire a van to take us to Koblenz and start from there, and the same for the return trip. We were both also impressed by Klaus’s climbing ability in a loaded Quattrovelo. He enjoyed it, although we both felt that the hot weather made it a bit harder sometimes. We also agreed that the shorter days we mostly had on this trip were a good idea because of the heat or possible rain – it’s a holiday, after all, not an endurance event.
Once again, two weeks spent in Klaus’s company the whole time, trundling our way around Germany. We had a great time, we make a great partnership and we are looking forward to our bike tour to England in September. Watch this space!
Despite the heat last night we slept well. It was very quiet up the valley out of Bacharach.
Breakfast would be served at 8 so we decided to get ourselves completely ready and cycle down to breakfast (in the hotel in Bacharach) and to head off on the road after breakfast without returning to the guest house.
The velomobiles had spent the night in the garage with a 5 litre Mustang for company, but we got them out in the fresh air.
As you can see, the Guest House is quite small but had six rooms and we found it fine. The price was fair and the breakfast was also good.
After breakfast I brushed my teeth and then it was time to set off on our journey to Drachenfels, the penultimate day of the tour.
We were effectively retracing our route of Sunday week ago so we knew what the road surfaces were like and how long it would probably take us. We were in no rush, and the only difference was that we knew there weren’t many good food opportunities near Drachenfels (all a bit pricey) so we would pop into a supermarket in Bad Honnef and buy salads for dinner.
It was a beautiful day for cycling, temperature around 21 degrees and a blue sky. There was also a bit of wind that was refreshing.
We were back on the Castles & Wine route.
We were also riding mostly on the cycle path as it is good and wide here, although we did have to overtake some wobbly cyclists on a more narrow bit. We also kept overtaking two different chaps on bikes, and then we would stop for photos and they would leapfrog us again, only for us to catch up with them a bit down the road.
We had to stop for photos of course.
I’m looking cheerful below!
We rode through Oberwesel, Loreley, St Goar, Bad Salzig, Boppard (where I took a wrong turn and we had some fiddly stuff to get back onto the route), Spay and then as we approached Brey I noticed this rather familiar sight!
From Brey we left the cycle path and went on the road, as on the outward trip. This avoids the appalling cobbles in Rhens. We were then following the path beside the B9 into Koblenz, occasionally actually riding on the road. This does seem to be a good way into/through Koblenz, although once again we did a detour to find cake.
The detour (led by me) ended up beside the Rhein as I thought that was the best spot to find somewhere to eat. We found a lovely looking beer garden but they only opened at 11 (it was 10:40) and the lady was quite unfriendly about it. I didn’t fancy waiting 20 minutes.
So we rode on along the Rhein, I accidentally went onto the pedestrian (not cycle) bit which ended up with some steps, so I had to get out and push. I noticed that the lift handle rope on the back of Millie has partly dislodged the rear brake light. I was a bit concerned about this when Anna fitted the rope; for the short-term I stuck the brake light down with some Leukotape but I will make a longer rope holder so it doesn’t bang on the brake.
Eventually I found a decent café and we had a very friendly waiter who chatted to us about cycling, once he had provided us with the crepe and Käsekuchen of course!
There were lots of barriered sections, it turns out there would be a marathon run a bit later in the day. We were lucky we had missed the closure of the cycle paths!
After about an hour’s break we headed onward, crossing the Mosel. Klaus was nearly taken out by a guy riding the wrong way along the cycle path and completely not looking where he was going. It was a pretty close thing! It’s not that Emily is hard to spot. The guy, when Klaus pointed out he was on the wrong cycle path, compounded his error by placing his bike in the road (on the wrong side of the road). He should just have slowly ridden/wheeled along the pedestrian section of that bridge. His wife was following him too, let’s hope they made it over the Mosel alive.
We then rode through Neuendorf where I holidayed three or four years ago, then made our way to the Koblenz industrial estate. This had been a fast bit of the route on the Sunday when we came through heading to Bodensee, but on a Friday morning it was a rather different kettle of fish. It was very busy and not very relaxing! We used the cycle paths as much as possible but they were pretty bumpy, although the roads too were in a bad state. There were a few dangerous junctions with poor visibility when using the cycle path and crossing a main road. We survived, but it wasn’t very relaxing!
This industrial estate section avoids a bend in the Rhein and going through Sankt Sebastian, Kaltenengers and Urmitz. However, on a busy day it might be better to do the longer route as it would be more picturesque and peaceful!
We rode through and then headed around Andernach. This was fairly fast, but one day I will have to properly visit Andernach as I think it is a rather nice town. All we got to see was the historical city walls!
We rode through Namedy and then Brohl. Between Namedy and Brohl we had to go under the railway again. Klaus went first, as there is a 90 degree blind bend to go up the other side. It was much nicer for me as I knew he would have informed anyone coming that I was on my way. I almost got round the bend in one go too!
From Brohl we headed to Bad Breisig; we had stayed here four years ago and I haves also stayed here at other times, but always taken the cycle path on the riverside. Our track routed us along the main road which was good on the way out but we missed a turning under the railway and so ended up having to go a long way parallel to the railway on the ‘wrong’ side and eventually having to climb up a bit as the road swooped over the town to cross the railway. As Klaus said, a few extra metres of climbing is OK!
By this point our GPS track was right on the riverside cycle path, so all we had to do was make our way there. We could see roads leading to the river on our Garmins but it’s not always so easy! The first road Klaus pedalled down… no luck, stairs at the end to the cycle path. The next road I was ahead and looked down – no, there was clearly a handrail for a staircase. The third road looked more hopeful as it actually had a cycle path sign pointing that way. So I headed down it, although it was Schotter (compacted earth/stones, not asphalt).
At the bottom was a 90 degree bend…
Spot the hand rail in the picture above. But Klaus had also seen some kind of slope… yes, there was a way down to the cycle path for bicycles.
This was a very steep slope with the bonus that if you completely lost control of the Velomobile it would go for a swim in the Rhein. It was very tough for Klaus with Emily’s weight (luggage) as she wanted to roll down faster than he could safely walk with cleats. My rope on the back of Millie was very good in this situation, but it’s tough to walk down such steep slopes with SPD Click Shoes.
But we made it back onto the path and it was time to carry on.
We passed these cormorants sunning their wings – on the SPEZI tour four years ago Klaus got the nickname Cormorant because of his black waterproofs when he stuck his arms out. He also on that tour got the nickname Mr Grumpy which has stuck rather more!
I’ve done this path loads of times, but it’s much quicker in a velomobile. It’s also much bumpier – as Klaus said, you feel a bit seasick going over all the tree roots, falling down the potholes and being vibrated by the brick or cobbled surfaces from time to time.
There was this nice bridge though where the river Ahr joins the Rhein.
The next town was Remagen and we had decided to stop there for a spot of lunch. We found a café and sat down, enjoying a warm lunch and a chance for a cuppa. Shockingly the restaurant didn’t have any cakes for dessert!
We remembered the Drängelgitter at the end of Remagen from our journey in the other direction so didn’t get into the velomobiles before negotiating this obstacle.
We had only 12 or so km to ride, it was 3 in the afternoon and getting pretty warm. From here I could see the Drachenfels mountain and also the ferry that we would take from Rolandseck to cross the Rhein.
We arrived at the ferry and I noticed I was reflected in the windows of the bridge/cockpit at the top.
This ferry is good value!
The guys taking the money said to us, “did you make it to Bodensee?” They had remembered us from our journey last week. We told them we had indeed.
In Bad Honnef we stopped at a Netto and bought some salads, bread, olives, Vla and chocolate for dinner. Very healthy! We then rode the final 4km to Drachenfels, arriving again at the Weingut Pieper. And hooray, today we didn’t need to wash our clothes as tomorrow we will be home!
Here are the statistics for today.
Klaus from Köln had told us about a very good old bakery in Rhöndorf, Café Profittlich, so I decided to walk there for a cuppa and perhaps cake (I hadn’t had a cake today). But when I got there, almost an hour before closing time, they said they were closing early due to the heat. So no cake.
I walked back past all the vineyards – the grapes are starting to show!
I also noticed outside our room a facsimile of an old map. North isn’t quite north on it (the top is more north-west) but it was interesting to see Kempen and some other place names that we know, but others spelled very differently (Murs for Moers, Stralen for Straelen, Lyn for Linn, Duysburg for Duisburg etc etc).
We ate our salad sitting out on the balcony and enjoyed the restfulness of this guest house.
Tomorrow we are trailblazing a new route as we didn’t fancy doing the same ride back again. We will take the risk of riding along the Rhein to Köln and will then head home from there. Perhaps we will try to get a photo of the velomobiles in front of the Kölner Dom, although on a Saturday morning with tourists everywhere it might be a bit of a challenge! But we should be early-ish so hopefully the cycle paths won’t be completely chockablock. The route was planned using the online software Komoot so we will see how it copes with velomobiles and their limitations!
We’ve been talking a lot about touring and the differences with velomobile touring and trike touring. We cover much more ground with velomobiles, most days being at least 100km, some days up to 150. With the trikes 100km was the maximum and we were usually around 70-80. But in some ways trike touring gives you more opportunities – you can ride on more cycle paths, there are fewer issues with parking (partly because the bikes themselves aren’t so expensive if something goes wrong), and you probably see more due to the slower speed, plus you are able to chat more easily. We are both still a bit deafened from the wind noise in our ears from fast cycling. I think we can both imagine in a few years’ time touring again on trikes for that different feel. It also helps that you can get a train one way and so don’t need to do a round trip but can do a straight line!
But we have really enjoyed our tour so far, over 1500km with another 100km tomorrow.