Breakfast at 8 after a long sleep, it seems I really needed 10 hours of sleep. It’s a beautiful day and it’s getting warmer quickly.
I am soon back on Eder radweg and find a Rewe supermarket. It’s my new favorite since they accept Mastercard, also they have the “real” brands and not “Supermarket XYZ – Cola”. I have had some luck finding both restaurants and accommodation that accepts Mastercard so I haven’t been to the ATM in a while. That feels very 2013, if just the availability and speed of Internet would be better it would completely feel like 2013.
The German system for deposit on bottles confuses me, there seems to be two systems for reusable bottles and for once off bottles. Also I have found that shops don’t accept bottles of different sizes than they sell.
So if you have 0.5L Coca Cola bottle a shop that only sells 1.25L Coca Cola will not accept it. Also the low price stores that have their own Cola XYZ will not accept real Coke bottles since they are reusable. I am sure that this is good for the environment in some very far fetched way.
I continue along Eder radweg, it’s very nice and flat. There are so many signs that there is hardly any need for a map or GPS. I stop for lunch, the place is swarmed with wasps, so I hurry out of that village.
The road continues through small villages, there are not so many facilities for tourists. I am having a hard time finding any bakery or similar for a small break. In the town of Wabern I change to Hessen Radfernweg R4.
I had decided that my new method for finding accommodation would be to start looking at 70 km or at 16:00 latest. Then for every hour that passes I will lower my expectations and increase my budget.
I really, really don’t want to end up in some place that sucks really bad and also I want a nice and happy experience. Since I really don’t have a schedule I rather stop early, maybe pay a few Euros more than I could have gotten away with, and sip a cold beer.
So just at 72 km I was on some kind of flooding prevention barrier that run through the landscape. I had a look on google and there was a Gasthaus Zum Adler in the next village. I went over there and once I biked in to their yard I met the super friendly innkeeper, yes there was indeed a room and I had a look.
It was almost new and of hotel standard. He showed me in which garage I could park the bike and helped me carry some of my bags.
They manufacture their own sausages and the meat is from the village. At dinner I look through the menu and find “Peters grillteller – lassen Sie sich überraschen”, I order one of those and sit and wait to be überrasched and I was, the plate is full of meat and sallad, must be 400-500 gram of meat there.
I can hardly finish the plate but I pull through and I am so full that I have to go to bed and sleep.
The food was really great and it was home cooked from fresh ingredients by the innkeeper himself. For the price of a coke and pizza in your favorite Swedish pizzeria.
The Eder radweg and R4 are very nice and flat, but following the river is very ineffective, I only made 35 km as the crow flies today.
It seems the innkeeper collect match boxes, he already has a Swedish solstickan box but seems pleased when I give him my box of matches from KGB bar in Stockholm.
I am still full when I wake up, since I went to bed early yesterday I feel really rested. The morning is cold and clear. I force some breakfast down and pack my bags.
Since my brain is supercharged with protein from last night I spot a shortcut from Hessen Fernradweg R4 onto Hessen Fernradweg R2, by not going all the way south to Alsfeld and then back on R2 I can “save” 40-50 km. The innkeeper helps me with the shortcut and also getting the bags down to the bike. He is a super friendly person.
The R2 rolls through the countryside, sometimes along roads, sometimes through forest. The standard weather pattern continues, cold and clear morning, the heat slowly builds and rain and dark clods in the afternoon.
I am trying to get back to my natural rhythm to have breakfast and lunch early, this is turning out to be a challenge. I end up at Cölber grill and when I see that they throw the deep frozen burger in the deep frier I regret stopping there.
On the excellent information boards for R2 and later Lahntal radweg I see that there is a massive 600 meter high mountain ahead. It looks like the road will go from 300 meter to 600 meter in just 20 km. This does not sound tempting. I have seen this little red train “Kurhessenbahn” several times.
I stop at a station and have a look at the ticket machine to see what it can do for me. It seems the train stops before the mountain and go back, so taking the train would mean a 5 hour train journey to get to the other side of the mountain.
At 70 km I start to look for accommodation, at 16:00 I really start to look. There isn’t much to choose from, I have seen some campings but they either have dead rats lying around or are unappealing in other ways.
Then I spot “Haus der jugend”, great I think, this will be a hostel like a Swedish vandrarhem or something. I bike there and when I get there I find that there are alarming number of kids running around making loud noises. The whole building looks like something from the late 1930′s.
I find a reception and ask if they have a room, and I can get a 6 bed room with toilet and shower and breakfast for 29.50 Euro. Since it was including bed linen and cleaning (I hope) it’s about almost half the price compared to Sweden.
They offer dinner for a few more Euros but I am not so sure I can stand having dinner with these 300-400 screaming kids. I opt for the restaurant next door.
So today I mainly followed the rail road and went about 50 km as the crow flies. This with riding these bike roads isn’t very effective but following another route would probably lead me over mountains instead.
I spend a while on Internet and look for an alternative to going over the 600 meter mountain but I can’t find any appealing ones. I decide to go to the tourist office when they open in the morning and see if they have any input to offer.
My new headphones really pays off since the Internet can only be had in the reception area and the noise level is about 130 dB in there. Once the kids go to bed at 22 all their leaders/care takers gather in the reception to drink beer. By then my 1 Euro Internet is up and I go to my bunk bed.
The house is quiet when I wake up, it seems the kids like to sleep late. I have already decided to try to get breakfast before it officially opens at 8. When I am downstairs I see how the staff already has everything set for breakfast and I stand outside the door and try to look hungry.
It works and I am let in 20 minutes before it opens. I can have breakfast alone and just as I have finished, the first batch of 50 screaming kids arrive.
I roll down to the tourist information that opens at 9, they have lots of information and some ideas regarding the train. But all plans involving the train means going back the way I came and will take at least 2-3 hours.
They show me the topo map of Hessen Fernradweg R8, it’s reasonably flat and follows the river Diete and a rail road. By going this route I can reach Dillenburg which is on a rail line than can take me directly to Bonn.
The R8 is mostly flat, it is not as great as R2 and R4, sometimes it takes detours over ascents just to avoid 100 meters of road. There are some real long small uphills but also some long downhills.
I try to find somewhere to have a cooked lunch but fail, so I end up eating some bread and cheese outside a supermarket. Better than nothing I guess. In Dillenburg the R8 drops me in some nasty industrial area with just a very bumpy sidewalk to ride.
I am going to visit the company Schauff in Remagen just south of Bonn, they are the ones that manufactured my bike. I want to have a look at the new models and also buy some spares like a derailleur hanger.
I don’t know exactly when they are open and their website doesn’t really give any answers. I have a faint memory of that they are only open in the afternoons and that weekends might be closed.
By taking the R8 instead of going over the mountain I am now off the track I have made, I decide that I want to take the train today to get as close as possible to Remagen for a visit tomorrow Friday. I don’t want to get stuck waiting for a company to open again.
I think I have had 5 appointments scheduled in August and it’s really annoying to have to adjust to a schedule. I will make September appointment free.
Once in Dillenburg I visit the Tourist Information office and they are helpful, there seems to be no way around the hills/mountains and in direction Bonn there are plenty of them. They look up which train I must take and print the schedule and changes.
I ride over to the station and find the ticket machine, it quickly relieves me of 20.80 Euro for the ticket and 5 Euros for the one day bike ticket. Then I start to look around for a way to get to the platform.
I am on platform one and the train leaves from platform 5. I can’t figure out how to get over to the other platforms, I see no elevator or even a stair.
I go inside the station building with my bike and there are some steep stairs there but no elevator. I see a train conductor and ask him, there is no elevator so I have to carry the bike up and down. So if you are in a wheelchair don’t go to Dillenburg by train.
He also tells me to change at another station than the computer said, at the one he suggests there is only one platform so no carrying bikes around.
I take a deep breath and hold/carry my bike down the stairs, then I have to lift/pull it up the other stairs. Luckily it’s only 60-65 kg.
The train is just a diesel powered bus on rails and once it starts to move I see that it was a great investment to take the train. Even the rails have a grade and we go through at least 10 long tunnels. Once in Siegburg I exit the train and station, I am on the GPX track I have made and can cycle to Remagen without any problems.
The route takes me in the direction of central Bonn, this is not great from an accommodation point of view. I try some places but they are to expensive. I decide to follow the track all the way to the river Rhein and then turn south out of Bonn.
Down by the riverfront there are thousands of people, I follow the bike lanes that almost are congested. It’s really flat and my bike really wants to go home so I can bike really fast. In Winterköning I find Hotel Schönsitz that is a bit more expensive than I had hoped for but it’s late and it’s hot.
They have cold beer and fast Internet. The friendly owner helps me settle in and suggest that I lock the bike in their garage. I have a late dinner a cross the street and go to bed early, tired from todays adventures.
I have found out that Schauff doesn’t open until 13:30 and I have about 20 km to ride so I check out as late as possible. The day is already hot and there is a strange haze, almost fog in the air.
After a while I have to change side of the Rhein and get a ferry to cross. There are many, many cyclists but no more “Guten Morgen”, “Guten Tag” or “moin moin”. Strange, maybe most of them are tourists that doesn’t understand the German system.
I find Schauff in Remagen, I am there 1.5 hour before they open but they have built a McWifi next to Schauff so I have lunch and my hour of free Wifi.
I have a bruise and sore muscles from the bike lugging yesterday, I feel tired and have started to dream about finding a ferienwohnung with washing machine for a rest day. Also I probably should find a map soon, the one I had was for northern Germany and I am south of that now.
Once Schauff opens I get to talk to Herr Schauff himself and after some confusion I get a small bag with the parts I wanted. In their shop I see that they have the new Schwalbe Mondial 50 mm. These are the ones that Schwalbe claims to be the worthy successor of the legendary Marathon XR that I use.
Since my tyres has about 5000 km of heavy load on them I talk myself in to that I need these new tyres. So I leave Schauff with two new tyres and a big smile. The new Sumo bikes only had minor improvements, like breaks with cooling fins and outside frame cable routing.
The bike road along the Rhein wasn’t all that great and between Remagen and Andernach it was real crap. It was so bumpy that my bags almost fell of and I had to ride very slowly.
There is an amazing amount of cyclist along the Rhein, it seems like none of them carry tents or similar. I start to get worried that all of them will have booked all accommodations full.
I start to look for accommodation and after a while I find two hotels next to each other. I choose the left one since they had a garage for bike parking, as it turns out the other one had Internet.
The evening is very hot and humid, as I sit on their terrace and drink a beer out of a frozen mug I think that I am far away from home. But that soon I will enter France and then Spain where I will have a very limited ability to communicate with the locals.
This day was cloudy and cold. The days are getting shorter now and nights are cold. I want to start early to get the most of the day but it’s impossible to get breakfast before 8 in most places. The route along Rhein is real crap, the surface is bumpy, they have just squeezed in the bike path wherever they could find some space.
It’s hard to get any flow in the biking. I can’t find a supermarket, most villages are very steep and I guess they have hidden the supermarkets at the top to hide the cheap stuff from the tourists.
When I get to Koblenz I am somehow lost in an industrial area. There are signs leading in to a roundabout but no signs going out. Luckily I have the GPS and find my way to the bridge that leads over the Mosel.
When I finally get to the bridge it’s closed for bikes. I really don’t want to carry my bike anymore so I try the signs saying “Umleitung” and a bike. After riding in circles for 15 minutes it turns out that they must have had an all-the-crack-you-can-snort party the day they placed those signs.
I ride back to the bridge along the water, I see that there are some bikes on the bridge and decide to take my chances and bike even though it’s VERBOTEN. It works just fine and I meet about 100 other cyclists. The bridge exits at streets covered with cobble stones, another favorite when riding a heavy bike.
The city of Koblenz has really outdone themselves, all signs leading to the “Tourist Information” leads down streets where it’s VERBOTEN to ride a bike (but delivery trucks are OK). The German Red Cross celebrates 150 years and they have blocked every paths that is for bikes.
Some of them looked surprised when I ride straight through their celebrations, but by now I really really don’t want to be in Koblenz anymore so I couldn’t care less.
So now I am on the Mosel radweg along the Mosel river, and it’s crap. The surface is the worst so far on my trip. There are almost no signs at all, there are groups of cyclist here and there looking very confused. The signposted track doesn’t match the one I have and seem to be taking detours.
I am already fed up with this day and start to look for accommodation at lunch. Most accommodation is full and/or very expensive.
Typically, every little village has some map or sign with their accommodation offers, there are some parallel streets along the side of a hill. Most places have this sign saying “Zimmer Frei” outside, in many cases that just means that there is a room there.
I have to park the bike and ring the door to find out that its full or to expensive. Some clever people post a description of the accommodation and price outside the building so it can be read before ringing the door.
Finding accommodation this way takes 20-60 minutes per little village, and when starting tired and fed up like today it’s really depressing. After a while I find a place without Internet and washing machine, just a shit place with a bed. I take the room and just fall asleep on the bed. It feels a little better when I wake up an hour later by some really hard rain showers. Then my shit accommodation felt a little better.
I found a laundromat in Trier that will be my backup plan if I don’t find accommodation with a washer soon.
The next day is cold and clear, I have slept well and feel better than yesterday. I am in need of a rest day soon, I feel exhausted. Since I wake up to early I have to wait for breakfast which is served at 8. The whole place stinks of cat piss and smoke (not in the room), doesn’t feel to great to eat there.
I continue along the Mosel radweg, I am very unimpressed by it. There seems to be hordes of people on MC or car that just drive up and down the river. The land that is flat enough to live on is precious, I regularly stop and look at campings, they seem to be 10-15 Euro for a bike and a tent.
The campings are mostly very narrow and the mosel radweg or some other road often cuts through the camping. I feel very untempted to camp at any of them.
When going along the Mosel radweg it’s like they have built a wall of “touristy” places to shield the tourists from the villages. I cant spot any supermarkets or bakeries. I end up having a very nice lunch at one of the tourist places, nice but very expensive.
I see lots of cars and camping cars from BeNeLux and the UK, even some from the Nordic countries. This is indeed a tourist destination. I meet large groups with Dutch retirees that are out biking along the Mosel, I suspect they have a boat or bus that helps them when they get tired.
When I get to the village Enkirch they have been clever enough to have an information board at the entrance of the village with all their facilities listed. I look for cheap accommodation with Internet and bike garage, I bike there and they have a cheap room. But their Internet is broken so I go to the other one I had looked up on the board.
They have a cheaper room. But their Internet is broken. I go for the third on the list, they are a few streets up in the village but it’s too steep to climb with my bike.
I think that life and this village sucks. I have still not seen any supermarkets so I decide to go to the bakery and buy some bread in case I get stuck on a camping. After eating my pain au chocolate outside the bakery I see that a Landgasthaus is just across the street and they open at 17.
I walk over there and find the owner, room, Internet, bike garage, YES – no problem. I get to see a room and it looks great.
I decide to stay two nights but then it turns out that I cant have that room so I get to see another across the street. It’s twice as big and the same price.
I unload all my stuff and park the bike in the garage next to the Landgasthaus supply of wine. To celebrate I go to the bakery and buy an ice cold beer and drink in my room. I fall asleep early and dream of fitting my new Schwalbe Mondial to the bike tomorrow.
Today was going to be my big bike service day, but I started with a very nice breakfast in the main building.
After breakfast I gathered all my tools and spares and went over to the garage where I had been allowed to thinker with my bike. Since the innkeeper and his family all had nice mountain bikes they had just the foot pump I needed.
Filling my big tyres with the small hand pump is very painful. I remove my old Marathon XR and see that the rear one is quite worn, maybe that could be the reason why it has been skipping sideways lately. I check the rear wheel and all the spokes. It seems like the wheel is holding together, all the spokes seems to have the same tension that they had when I left Stockholm.
So the wheel survived it’s first 1300 km, lets hope it can survive another 10000 km or so.
My rear brake pads were as good as worn out, so I changed those. The new pads will take a few kilometers to wear in so I must remember to brake early in downhills.
I spend the rest of the day planning for France and making routes and checking the ones I have. Jean-Francois whom I met in Örnsköldsvik on day 8 (http://tomascarlsson.info/blog/nesw/2013/05/30/day-7-11-asang-anaset.html) has helped me to create a great route through France.
I will enter France just south of Luxembourg and ride towards Orléans and then Nantes, from there I will turn south and follow the atlantic coast down to the Basque country. I will ride in the countryside and hopefully avoid any big hills.
I will follow Voie Verte du canal d’Orléans to Orléans from where I will follow the river Loire. My Internet voucher ends at 17:00 and I don’t want pay another 4 Euro so I have dinner and go to bed early.
The Landgasthaus is invaded by a bus full of Dutch people, so I will try my trick of going to breakfast earlier than it opens. As it turns out the Dutch know this trick as well. At least I manage to get all the stuff I want and sit at a table before they invade.
Lately it has been hard finding supermarkets, the one I see are always on the other side of the river and I seldom bother to backtrack and find a bridge. But this time I really want to do some shopping so I get of the Mosel radweg and enters normal traffic. It such a difference to Northern Germany, the speed and intensity of the traffic is annoying. Feels like a big city even though it’s just a small village.
The most dangerous is of course the brand new huge camper cars, they constantly ride with a couple of wheels on the sidewalk in every corner, their owners totally unaware about where their vehicle starts and ends. So the only safe thing to do is to ride in the middle of the lane so that they can not overtake and squeeze you off the road.
Several times I meet huge groups with Dutch cyclist on identical Kermit green bikes, them being old and the bike lane being narrow doesn’t seem to slow them down a bit. I really have to watch out as they seem to have little control over themselves and their bikes.
I see lots of “campings” that are just parking lots for camper cars, some just have a machine to insert money and get a ticket from. Just like a real parking place. Doesn’t appeal very much to me.
After a while I see a sign saying Trier 49km, I thought I would hit Trier today but I guess that’s the fun part with riding without a map.
I still dream of finding a ferienwohnung with washing machine, but it looks like it’s going to be difficult. Just before Trier I find the tourist information in Schweich and they are extremely helpful with finding a room. They call the place and make sure that they have a room and then I get two A4 papers with all important information to do something with.
By now I have gotten so far south in Germany that they started to use “Servus” as greeting and I can’t really understand their German that much. I already miss Nordrhein Westfalen and Hessen where life was simple and easy. The accommodation is some kind of wine business, restaurant combined with “Pension”. The room is great, Internet non existent, just like it’s usually is.