Saturday – A nice day for a swim

Actually the hotel last night had an indoor pool and Elaine had a swim before dinner. I saw her face as she entered and decided it was too cold for me.

We had a good day. As we started we had very steep push of just a km then down down down a 15% hill into the plain for the Rhine. Before the Rhine we had to pass through Rastadt. This was about 10 km end to end and heavily populated by traffic, road junctions and traffic lights. We used the pavements and got end to end faster than the cars.

As we left town, the signs pointed towards the Rhine tunnel. But Lola had us turn left and we then spotted signs for a bridge. All goods traffic was sent via the tunnel, people and bicycles could take their choice. We passed the board announcing FRANCE just before the bridge and Elaine celebrated by buying an orange and tomatoes at the nearby busy fruit stall.

The bridge was of the old unattractive, rusty metal type. There was a narrow island in the middle of the river and for the first half it was possible to cycle along the narrow pedestrian walkway, but for the second half it was bicycles, two way cars and people all sharing the narrow roadway with the unused old railway lines.Once in France we stopped for a coffee (2 euro now instead of 3) and were talked to continuously by a waitress who had lived in Chichester 20 years ago and wanted to practice her English.

We were headed towards Saverne but as that would be 100 km for the day it was too far. We completed our 80km in a small town Hochfelden and spent an hour discovering a. It was a long weekend, b. It was the local feast day,  c. all accommodation in the town was full. 

So we booked into a hotel in Saverne and set off to get there before the threatened thunder storm. We made 5 minutes down the road before putting on our rain jackets for the first drops of rain. Another 10 minutes and the heavens opened. It was raining so hard the drops hurt. There was nowhere to shelter so we pushed on. So did the thunder and the rain. The only good news was that we could not get any wetter. Thank goodness most of the 20 k was flat or slightly downhill.

We eventually arrive bearing a close resemblance to 2 drowned rats. The hotel receptionist did not even blink, just showed us where to put the bikes and helped carry our bags to the room.

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Friday – a nice day for a walk

We walked up 3 mountains today. The navigator on this trip seems to have landed us in the Schwabian Alps. The downhill runs are wonderful, the short bits in between climbs are fine. But the climbs are 5 km and more long. There is no chance we can ride them so we are walking and pushing for almost 2 hours at a time.

The towns all seem to be spa towns and to be major tourist attractions. Lots of people strolling around in the sunshine. I’m not sure what else you can do in a spa town unless you are seriously into hill walking.

At Bad Herrenbad we had an afternoon beer and decided that as we had only managed 50 km so far we should go a bit further. As we set off there was thunder rumbling in the hills we had just descended from. Once again we had a couple of km along the valley bottom but then our route turned West and of course uphill. We began our third climb of the day. As we climbed out of town we potted the local golf course below us

And the golfers were mostly caring their bag of clubs.

We listened to the thunder get nearer. Then put on our jackets for the first few drops of rain, then walked as fast as possible between the shelter provided by the larger trees, the dashed as fast as we could through an absolute downpour to a very welcome bus shelter.

Here we sat and located a hotel only 2.5 km ahead of us. Uphill of course. Actually that is not true. The rain had slacken off a little and we pushed up through the village for about a km and then cruised in the rain down to the hotel. It was quite large, probably 30 rooms, but the door was locked and we had to ring, bang and shout for 5 minutes before we could rouse the owner. Seems that she is busy during the week but we appeared to be the only guests on a Friday evening. We were served a nice dinner outside on the terrace. When we suggested 7:00 for breakfast she looked horrified so we rapidly agreed that 8:00 would be better.

Which it was because it has given me time to catch up on the blog.

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Thursday – A good start

I had received an email pointing out that there never seems to be a day where everything goes well. Until lunchtime we thought that today could be that day. A couple of gentle, rideable uphill stretches and lots of long lovely downhill runs including another steep ride round hairpin bends. At one point we asked if it was possible to keep going down any longer.

The countryside is getting much more populated as we get close to Stuttgart. The villages are small towns, the roads are busy. Riding along the busy main road we were shouted at by local drivers because the was a cycle path but it was well away from the road and we had not spotted it.

Then of course the climbing started again. 

First a steep but relatively short climb out of the village then 15 km of gentle climb up a valley towards the town of Waldenbuch. We changed our routine halfway along here and stopped for a full lunch at a cafe.

After Waldenbuch we began to go seriously uphill. Sometimes at the side of the road but mostly on gravel paths through the forest. As we were riding along a relatively easy climb, we were passed by a group of 20 plus electric bikes, cruising effortlessly past us. One of the riders even pushed Elaine along for a few yards.

We eventually reached Boeblingen (IBM Gemany’s equivalent to Hursley) and looked on the phone for a hotel. The nearest we could see at a sensible price was 13 km away and after we had booked it and started on our way we realised that yet again we were trudging uphill.

We recovered after a beer and a shower but neither of us to summon the enthusiasm to go out for a meal so we dined in our room off the provisions we had intended for lunch .

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Wednesday – Goodbye Danube

It was with great regret that we left the Danube behind. It had been close to us for over 2000 km. Now we were on our own and with guidance from just Lola. As soon as we left town we recognised on advantage of following the river. This way went uphil. It went slowly uphill all morning. Never very steep but with the strengthening NW wind quite draining. We needed  both a coffee stop and a Magnum stop before lunch.

Godby Big River

As we eat lunch at the roadside in a small village we realised that every one of the small kids walking home from the school bus would say Hello to us. The uphil trudge continued into the afternoon. Beautiful but unspectacular scenery, a small village every 5 km, well kept fields and farm houses. The German government must have a special deal on Solar Panels for farmers. No fields of panels as at home but every possible inch of roof space was covered.

All of a sudden we got back all the height we had gained 3 km down a bendy 10% hill and into a spa town. Bad Dizenbach full of hotels restaurants and tourists. A few km further we gave in for the day and found a hotel in Muhlhausen 30 km from Stuttgart. It looked a bit tatty from outside but our room is excellent. We will see what dinner brings.

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Tuesday – Goodbye EuroVelo

It was not my fault this time – honest. We were out early and had visited Netto to replace my sunglasses. We could see the sign pointing towards Ulm but that was by motorway. We could see the red line in the guide which showed the Eurovelo but try as we might we could not get on the correct road. We eventually found a sign claiming to be the Danube Bikepath and followed it down a gravel track. Some gravel tracks are OK and some are not, this was the not kind. It did not deteriorate but it got no better and as we had not seen any repeater signs we suspected we were not going anywhere good. Lola showed us surrounded by nothing but we managed to spot a road and head towards it. Once on blessed Tarmac we followed Lola’s guidance to Hochstadt. By now we had ridden well over 30 km and the signpost back to Donauworth where we started said 19km. One good thing about Hochstadt, the cafe serves a wonderful strawberry tart with morning coffee.

From a few days ago Elaine was enjoying the White Asparagus this is how they grow it

We decided to give up on the bike route and follow Lola but the bad track surface had left us both feeling tired. We reached Lauingen where we had lunch and then on to Gunzberg where we had booked a hotel. The going in the afternoon had been fine, a nice well surfaced cycle track alongside a fairly busy road.

The further we ride the smaller it gets – hope it does not disappear altogether

 We crossed the Danube yet again and walked up the hill into the cobbled Market Place.Our hotel was one of the many smart medieval buildings lining the pedestrian street. The hotel was part of an Eiscafe with a separate entrance door for the hotel. Ringing in the doorbell got me nowhere so I went in to the cafe while Elaine sat down and ordered 2 beers. When I found a waitress, she led me into the hotel section and gave me the room key.”where can we safely put our bikes?” I asked as I have done every other evening on the trip. No it is not possible – we have nowhere she told me. Can’t I put them here in the corridor, or in our room. No chance. So I retired outside for the beer. A hundred yards down the street was another Gasthaus shown on I walked down and checked they had garage space and  a vacancy. Then went back and said we did not want the room. Much wringing of hands then she said we would have to pay 80 Euro for cancelling. Much shouting later she phoned the owner who immediately said “no charge”.The alternate was excellent but we did have to play musical chairs when our dinner outside was interrupted by a huge thunderstorm and downpour.

We worked out how they keep these small towns so smart and clean. The dustbin lorises and other services arrived at the crack of dawn.

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Monday – 30 Days

  • “I’m gonna give you 30 days to get back home,
  • I done called up the gypsy woman on the telephone
  • I’m gonna send out a world wide hoodoo
  • That’s the very thing that I’ll do to you
  • I’m gonna give you 30 days t get back home”

Not quite appropriate but we have now ridden for 30 days and Google maps says we have “only” 957 km to go. It will be more than that ‘cos we are not going into Paris no matter what Google or Lola tell us.

We were loading our bikes by 8:00 and had visited Lidle to stock up on liquids and lunch by 8:30. Once again the first part of the day went brilliantly. The wrong farm track I led us down ended quickly and we only went a few hundred metres out of our way. Then came the diversion.

Yesterday we had seen and ignored a Eurovelo diversion sign and as a result had to walk the bikes through an uncomfortable km with no road surface. So we followed this sign. Big mistake. It led us up to the top of the local mountain, then for several km up and down through most of the Black Forest. The final indignity was that we emerged onto a newly laid road, not yet open to vehicles and lost all the height we had earned edging cautiously down the unswept Tarmac.

Despite this we were getting on well. It was a surprise when Elaine announced that we had passed 40 km. Our problem was the sun. The day was getting hotter and hotter. Must have been high eighties. And we found a couple of hills to walk up.

The sweat was running in my eyes at one rest stop and I cleverly left my sun glasses on top of the saddle bag. A fact I noticed 3 miles down the road. Some one is insisting that I admit that is now 2 pairs of glasses and now one pair of sunglasses I have lost in the same way.We had intended getting past Donauworth but at 3:00 were so hot we decided to stay here for the night. Yet another beautiful medieval town with a clean and bustling town centre.

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Sunday – A Danube Cruise

Today was the first day that we set off without our sweaters. By 8:30 it was already warm. We had a nice 18 km ride to Kelheim. From there the river gorge is too narrow for a path down the side and the done thing is to take a 40 minute boat ride to the other end of the gorge. The boat was huge and on a bank holiday Sunday lots of people were using it.
We seemed to be the only cyclist in the queue but an obliging crew member rushed to put down a ramp so we could wheel them on board.

Almost everyone crowded on to the top decks to take in the view but we were happy to enjoy the cool shade in the lounge.

At the far end, Negotiating the narrow path with several hundred pedestrians proved an interesting challenge. Fortunately they were all turning into the snack bar in the abbey and the way was then clear.
The road we were on had little traffic but it was moving fast so I insisted on turning right towards the Danube where I was sure we would find the bike route. We did find a very nice track which deteriorated so that eventually we were crossing a field. But we persisted and after 5 km emerged back on the road about half a mile from where we left it. Mr popular once again!
We spotted a bar for lunch but all the outside tables were full so we rolled on. Eventually we found a picnic table under a tree and the local insects eat more of us than we did lunch.

We continued on on unmade but good quality tracks along the flood dyke. Good riding but now it was so flaming hot. 31 degrees. So we were glad to arrive at our hotel in Ingolstadt. Despite being new and modern the Internet was almost useless but we managed to look up details of local eateries and found a really good Greek Taverna and had a meal surrounded by big families eating together.

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Saturday – Nearly a good idea

I knew there was no way we would have 3 good days in a row. It was already sunny and warm by the time we set out on the 40 km leg to Straubling and within 10 minutes We had shed our morning jumpers. 

The river is getting relatively narrow now. It is just a big river rather than a small sea. We cycled along the flood dyke. To be more accurate we were on the nicely surfaced road at the side of the flood dyke because the path on top was un metalled. When we did see over, the river had many small”beaches” on Both sides and even early in the morning, there were local cars, tents and people at many of them. By 10 we were enjoying coffee in Boden.  Then on to Straubling.From here the river does a big half circle loop to the North via Regensberg before returning south to Ingolstadt. I had worked out that we could save 40 km by leaving the river, the Eurovelo and the guide book and going due West to Ingolstadt. 

I had carefully selected a series of via points to put into Lola to keep us on minor roads. I succeed brilliantly. Trouble was the villages were too small. There were almost no shops or bars and because it was  a bank holiday weekend, absolutely everything was closed. There was nowhere to have a drink with lunch. We could not even find a bush shelter at the appropriate time. So we were forced to sit on the grass at the side of the road, to the bemusement of an off duty policeman who stopped his car to ask if we were OK.

Soon after lunch Elaine began to panic that we would not find anywhere to sleep and forced  me to sit down and start looking at websites via my phone. The village I had selected as our target had 2 gasthause. One had a phone number that did not work and the other rang endlessly. Booking dot com showed nothing in the right place.

I eventually realised the only solution was to head to the nearest point back on the river. I was able to phone a hotel in Bad Abbach and make a reservation but this was over 30 km away. The day was gorgeous by most standards  – unless you were riding a bike. Full sun, high 80s and no wind. Despite being smothered in sun cream we were cooking. Because there were no shops open we were worried about running out of liquids to drink. And because we were not on the river someone had put hills on the road. I was not a popular person.The last 4 km into Bad Abbach were downhill and halfway down – heaven. An Aldi store that was open. Even that was due to be closed tomorrow so we quickly stocked up with drinks and the makings for tomorrow’s lunch. Then down into the town as we made the last turn we found ourselves on a delightful shopping street – full of open shops. Elaine’s computer just clicked over to 100 km. The hotel is excellent, the dinner was nice and we have booked in, eaten and slept here and I have not shown any document and have no idea how much we are paying. 

We did not save the 40 ks I had planned but did save about 20 and are back on the Danube and hopefully in control for the next couple of days. At least until we get to Ulm.

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Friday – Even Better

Yesterday was a good day. We had glorious scenery and got on well, but the sky was grey all day. Today the sky was clear and blue and the sun shone all day. What a difference, the countryside was flatter and less dramatic but with the blue sky reflecting on the water everything looked a hundred times better.

We were off soon after 8:00 and made good time going into Passau. I would show a picture of the border between Austria and Germany but we never found it. No border post no sign nothing.

We got a bit lost in the town but soon crossed the river Inn and got back to the Danube.

After a few miles along the w side we rode over a dam and watched one of the cruise liners pull into the lock to carry on up the river. A little later we had done our 25 km and were turning off the path towards a cafe 300 m away when Elaine’s chained snapped again. We pushed the bikes to the coffee stop and had our drink before I “fixed” the problem.When we were underway she began to complain of  a clicking noise. After about half an hour we stopped to investigate. I had put it together wrongly. So I had to break the chain again, fix the problem and rejoin it. The bike rode OK better but even I can get the message eventually – we needed a new chain. 

Not much later we decided another drink would help after our tribulations. As it was close to noon this turned into a pizza. And on we went.

she sees a man and i cant’t keep her away

We had probably done anothe 10 km when the route led us through a small town and there on the other side of the road was Eddy’s Bike Shop. Eddy spoke better English than me, was extremely competent and immediately refused to put on a new chain without a new gear cassette. 30 minutes and 60 Euros later, Elaine’s was telling me how much better the bike felt.

We again got lost and did a few extra Km on bad gravel roads following a very attractive bend in the river but soon after 4 we reached a very nice hotel in the town of Deggensdorf.  Elaine keeps telling me it sounds like something from a Harry Potter movie.

The hotel restaurant was closed so we strolled into town to stock up at an Aldi, water, juice and bananas then eat outside at a good but expensive bar/restaurant full of 20 something year olds.

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Thursday – a proper day

Breakfast was 21 euros each – or should have been if it was not also part of the booking dot com. It was fine, especially if you were able to understand the hordes of Japanese tourists we had to fight through to get anything to eat.

Once on the road we were baffled. After the nightmare of yesterday there was almost literally no traffic at all. 

We were through the city, over the Danube and riding west along the Northern bank in no time at all. Our route all day was on cycle paths close to the river. 

Over about 7 hours riding we were passed by about 30 cyclist going our way and 3 million going the other way. Singles, groups families. Everyone, would nod or say hello, except of course if you were a male, wearing Lycra (lots of it in bright colours) and riding five thousand pounds worth of push bike. Then you are to busy concentrating on improving your personal best time to move your head. 

We eventually figured it had to be a bank holiday and of course it was Ascencion day. All day nothing went wrong, we did not get lost, nothing broke, the wind blew at us but not too hard. This is how it should be. We crossed the river 3 more times on ever smaller ferries. We would wait, and watch as the boat loaded with bikers crossed the river towards us, then 5 minutes later we were on our way in solitary splendour. How do they all get back. Is there a massive pile of used cyclists at the end of the Danube?

The Danube from our balcony

Elaine had to have a picture of the little ducklings

We did not quite make it to Passau but stopped a few km short at the first Gasthof that appeared after Elaine’s computer said we had completed 80km.

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