Our goal today was the Bodensee, and we made it in style (mostly).
The alarm went off at 5.45 and we got up straight away 45 minutes later. Setting off at 7.30, the sun was already busy making the air warmer and muggier. We headed out the campsite and straight up a few little hills to get up the side of the valley. This gave us a great view of the straight, flat road we could have been riding on. But at least the cycle path was largely car-free.
We wound our way through little villages and vineyards, then lost the route for a bit but headed for the Rhein and found it again there. At the Rhein, we were greeted by a long, straight river-side cycle path that went slightly downhill with a tailwind. Now that’s what I’ve been waiting for!
We sailed along at 25kph for about two minutes before Dave decided he was going to take the lead and do some serious pedalling. Okay, if you must! Off he went and I just concentrated on sticking on his back wheel. We we doing about 35kph on average, including a short burst of 40 (the average speed on the Tour de France!). It was great fun, especially for me, sailing along at the back!
Soon we’d done 20km and it was time for a break by the river. Then back to it for another 10km that flew by in no time before we had to leave the speedy river-side way and the route took us through some more towns. We stopped in a shop and bought 2kg of fruit that was on offer, scoffed some, packed the rest and carried on. We zoomed through agricultural land in the wide, flat valley floor and stopped again by a canal for more peaches and some of last night’s leftovers.
Next, the path took us back to the Rhein and we zoomed along it some more, just stopping to look at a tributary joining the river that was a completely different colour.
With 70km done, we stopped in the shade and finished off our bread, cheese and chocolate biscuits – it’s hard work, all this drafting!
Then our beautifully smooth, paved cycle way turned into a gravel track. We lost a lot of speed compared to before but still kept up a respectable pace. We stopped at a water fountain for a few minutes and chatted with other cyclists. One kiwi guy seemed to be leading a small group of seasoned riders and we headed the same way for a bit before we took a turning and they carried on.
We ran out of signs, so must have lost the route, but we found the Bodensee! There was a campsite that was packed with weekenders and a path along the lake full of walkers and cyclists. Along we went, wondering what we were getting ourselves into. It’s not exactly the scenic wonder and peaceful idyll of the Swiss National Park.
“Dave, how’s my back tyre looking?”… “Hmm, not great.” Damn, another slow puncture maybe. We pulled over and I pumped up my tyre. We knew it was hot, but without the riding-induced breeze, it was sweltering.
Then on we went to find a campsite. And we found one by the lake, with 90km done. But it was only 1.45pm, there was no shade for the tent pitches, and if you’re going to be hot and sweaty, you may as well be getting somewhere.
So we set off again, stopping for more peaches and tyre pumping by the lake. Perhaps not such a slow puncture after all. Whilst we were sweating with our bikes, there were a lot of people playing in the water or sunbathing on the shore. We watched enviously as one family got sandwiches out of a cool box and tucked in. We need to find a supermarket!
But before we could make it to the shop, my tyre went flat again and really needed sorting. We pulled over at the entrance to a park and set about fixing it. Dave checked the puncture repair I’d done at Zernez and it had a fresh hole right through the patch! He checked the tyre but there was nothing stuck in it. Then he found a spiky piece of metal in the inner tube! Guess that’s it then. New tube, tyre back on and we’re away. That 5km was significantly longer than the ones along the river.
The supermarket had a few discount treats in store for us and we found a suitably busy section of shore on which to enjoy them. We enjoyed a spot of tourist-watching, particularly when one man tried to feed his ice cream cone to an angry swan that was protecting five signets. Unfortunately the swan decided he wasn’t worth attacking.
Now it was coming up for 4pm (how did that happen?) and it really was time to get to the campsite. The thought of a cold shower helped us along the last few kilometres and we arrived at a site with 110km done. We checked in and went to find a pitch. Usually when we turn up at a campsite, the tent section is almost empty, we choose a shady spot and spread our stuff out. But this was something else – a large grassy area by the lake with tents and people everywhere! The tents were all crammed into a few sections, the rest reserved as play areas with kids running around, parents sunbathing, people barbecuing and swimmers in the lake. Everywhere to pitch up was in the sun.
We found a spot that we suspected would get some evening shade and I went for a shower whilst Dave set up the tent. After cold showers, we were pretty much immediately hot and sticky again, and sat about feeling clammy for a few hours, watching the family dramas unfold around us.
At 8pm we made dinner and by 9pm it was just getting to a temperature where we could stay still in t-shirts and shorts without sweating. I’m not sure how we’re going to sleep! There are too many mozzies for an open tent tonight. Keep riding north!