Ruhrtal Tour – Day 1: Journey to Winterberg

Sunday 6 September 2015

It’s a long time since the SPEZI Tour, which finished on 1st May, and as James planned to visit me for a couple of weeks we thought it would be nice to do a short tour together – and the Ruhr valley seemed like a good option as the Ruhr flows into the Rhine just 30km from my Wohnung.

The source of the Ruhr River is near Winterberg so we decided to get the train to Winterberg and ride back.

The summer has been pretty hot in Germany but the forecast, as the holiday approached, looked considerably more autumnal. In fact as this morning dawned the maximum forecast temperature for Winterberg was 9 degrees. That’s chilly, when we had 31 degrees last Sunday! So James and I packed our colder weather gear and set off to ride the 14km to Krefeld from where we would catch the train.

Here’s James and his bike and Alfie as we are about to set off.

And this was our route to Krefeld main station.

We arrived in plenty of time but I needed plenty of time to fight with the Ticket Machine which is remarkably slow and objected to one of my debit cards (fortunately the other worked).

As you can see, the bikes are much cheaper than the humans!

We also then discovered that the lift at Krefeld Station is too short for Alfie so I had to carry him up the stairs to the platform.

The train arrived and we found the bicycle area. There was a chap sitting on one of the folding seats in the bike area and he didn’t move when I clearly needed to put Alfie there (no room elsewhere) so in the end I asked him fairly firmly to move – and he did.

We needed to change trains once on this journey, at Dortmund, and had 45 minutes between the trains. Our train was a bit delayed so the 50 minute journey ended up about an hour and five minutes. When we got to Dortmund we discovered there were no lifts, only an escalator, so once again I had to carry Alfie down the stairs from the platform and then back up again to the new platform. But I am used to this and it was OK.

The train from Dortmund to Winterberg was a little diesel one which was full by the time the train left. I had had to put Alfie on his side to squeeze him into the bike area but once he was in place it was fine and I sat on a chair and watched the world go by.

Winterberg is in the Sauerland which is a series of mountains/hills. Kempen is about 23 metres above sea level but Winterberg is 630ish and we noticed the train was steadily climbing, alongside the Ruhr river a lot of the time. We caught occasional glimpses of the cycle path.

We arrived at Winterberg at 3:15 and stepped out of the train into a cold and drizzly environment. We headed off to find our hotel which we overshot initially – this is the track to the hotel.

It is worth noting that this section of the ride was almost entirely uphill so very slow (we averaged 10 km/h and it was me keeping us to that slow speed, James can ride uphill much faster).


The Hotel was very nice – we were the only guests and had a comfortable room with a huge bathroom. They also provided us with teapots for our tea.

The wifi was rather flaky though which meant I had a lot of issues trying to add photos to this blog so there are far fewer than normal (this is because the WordPress App doesn’t work on my phone so I have to wait for the photos I take to arrive on the iPad through Photostream before I can add them – and it was being very finicky).

Anyway, here is the view from our balcony…

As you can see, Winterberg is a winter sports area with ski slopes and more. In summer it is a mountain biking and walking place. At this time of year it was very quiet and felt autumnal!

I have allowed myself one luxury on this tour – as we’ll probably only be away for four nights I have packed enough clothes that I only have to wash one pair of cycling trousers during the whole trip! What luxury to be able to shower without then having to wash your clothes. James is less fortunate as he came to Germany by bike so couldn’t bring that much luggage… so he’s still doing the clothes washing chore.

We decided to go for a short walk to have a closer look at the Bob Bahn (bobsleigh track) which had been the venue for the Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Championships earlier this year…

We didn’t explore too much as it was perishingly cold. We retreated to a restaurant for food.

I had a Currywurst as you can see above. This is traditional food in Essen which we went past on the train today, so I’ve had it a bit early. But it was tasty!

We walked back and enjoyed the scenery despite the cold!

Unfortunately we had noticed whilst on the train that part of Alfie’s rack had broken – a bolt had sheared on one of the rack supports.

Part of the bolt was still in the rack metalwork.


This was on the side that had the heavier pannier and I surmise that the ride through Krefeld, which has lots of bumpy tree roots across the Radweg, might have caused this problem.

So anyway it was time to try to repair it. It looked like an ideal candidate for a Cable Tie Repair…

Hopefully the cable tie will hold until I get home again when I’ll have to hope that Frank can drill out the old screw and we can molish something else.

Tomorrow the plan is to ride (in the rain) to Arnsberg which is about 70km away. The first couple of kilometres will be uphill to the Ruhrquelle (the source of the Ruhr) and some of it is rather off-road so it might be hard work, but after about 20km it’s pretty much all downhill for the rest of the ride. Phew! The weather seems to be looking better from Tuesday onwards which is also good.

Our rides today were as follows:

Home to Krefeld: 14.46km at 17.52km/h.
Winterberg railway station to hotel: 3.17km at 10.07km/h

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