Dutch sunshine

The sun started heating up the tent around 7am and turfed me out of my sleeping bag. Dave was still inside his when I had to get out the greenhouse because it was sweltering! I’m always too hot in the mornings anyway, and after a few day’s respite from the heat, I wasn’t in a good mood. But it was a beautiful day and after breakfast I cheered up a bit. Then when we got on the road, I cheered up a lot.

It was a glorious morning from the bike – cool air rushing past us, warm sun on our skin, a canal full of ducks and their ducklings. Oh, and almost no cars! And the ones that do go past are super cycle friendly, yay!

Morning ride by the water

Morning ride by the water

We spent all day on cycle paths as usual, sometimes alongside a main road, sometimes between fields and sometimes through woodland or along the water. We stopped every 20km as usual to have something to eat and drink. There were some nice places to stop today.  The first town we came to was Gouda.  It had a market on and we stocked up on bread, cheese (gouda of course!), stroopwaffels, pastries and dried fruit.

Market in Gouda

Market in Gouda

Our second stop was just outside Rotterdam, by a lake where people were sailing. And we had some entertaining characters walking in the park to keep us amused. Several blokes were walking incredibly small, disobedient dogs that either couldn’t keep up with them or just refused to. Sadly none of the men reduced themselves to picking up their dog and carrying it home, but there was a lot of futile whistling, walking away, walking back, then more futile whistling as the dogs just ambled around sniffing at things or standing still, resting their tiny tiny legs.

Great lunch spot by the lake

Great lunch spot by the lake

After lunch, we rode through Rotterdam. It was as cycle friendly as always but a navigation nightmare! But we got to ride over some nice bridges and the weather was good so the detours went largely unnoticed.

Bridge in downtown Rotterdam.  Tram lines in the middle, then cars, then bikes, then walkers!  Amazing.

Bridge in downtown Rotterdam. Tram lines in the middle, then cars, then bikes, then walkers! Amazing.

Dave enjoying Rotterdam (about to be overtaken by a slightly larger lady - Anna, ride faster!)

Dave enjoying Rotterdam (about to be overtaken by a slightly larger lady – Anna, ride faster!)

Dave happily riding over the bridge. (What detour?)

Dave happily riding over another bridge. (Detour? What detour?)

On the way out of town, we stopped at a supermarket then found a park to have second lunch in. Then we were campsite-bound. And a good thing too, it was somehow 5pm already! Still the weather was lovely and we continued to enjoy the 25 degree warmth and riding in the evening sun.

Nice ride

Holland is so flat

We got ourselves onto a countryside cycle path that went all the way to the campsite and arrived tired but happy, having done around 80km of gloriously easy Dutch terrain.

Dinner was an unusual treat of burgers (in burger buns and everything!) with a side of cous cous salad. It was very nice, even if I say so myself. Although I wasn’t the one trying to clean the pan afterwards!

Natuurkamper

It’s so flat that you can’t even see the horizon.  The land just peters out around the curve of the Earth.

We’re at another Natuurkampen tonight and it’s just as great as the others (minus wifi). A lush green field with some trees and a shower block – ahh. It rained a bit this evening but not as much as it sounded like it should have from the amount of thunder we heard!

Tomorrow we’re riding across the islands towards the Belgian border.

– Anna

Camping on a farm

Aaaaah, such a long lie-in this morning! We heard Huygen get up at 6 am and went back to sleep without any guilt whatsoever! By the time we got up it was almost 9, and Emma had been out walking the dog already. I did feel slight guilt about that but never mind.

We had a really good morning chatting while we slowly got our stuff together ready to go. Emma made delicious pancakes, which we ate with yoghurt and fresh fruit. An amazing treat after having cereal every day for the last few months! By the time we were ready to go it was around 12. We said goodbye to Emma and set off. Into the drizzle.

The cycling today was easy. The Dutch have really got it nailed with cycle routes. I knew that on a theoretical level, but actually using the routes every day makes you realise how much better it is than anywhere else we’ve cycled. It feels like they really thought about cyclists when they built the roads, instead of cyclists being an afterthought. The British government could definitely learn something here!

Hm, we must be in the Netherlands

Hm, we must be in the Netherlands

The rain was on and off all day, so annoying to cycle in! It was drizzle, otherwise know as “wee wet rain”. It comes in from the side, the front, the back and sometimes even from underneath! How does that happen?? When it’s raining, it’s awful. Then the rain stops and you get too hot in your waterproofs, and you think, hm, maybe the rain wasn’t so bad. Then it starts raining again and you remember how much it sucks.

Anna's rain face

Anna’s rain face

We stopped for lunch in a little park with a pond and a fountain. There were three groups of people fishing in the pond. One group was all kids. Is fishing fashionable with the kids now? They were getting rained on and everything. Very confusing. No-one caught anything. BECAUSE IT WAS A TINY ORNAMENTAL POND MAYBE?!

We went to an outdoor store for some camping gas. Anna invested in an inflatable pillow to go underneath her normal pillow. That’s right, Anna goes camping with two pillows now. I think she’s well on track to buy a caravan in the next few years.

As we got near the campsite for this evening we heard someone ringing a bike bell behind us. It turned out to be a lady who’d seen all our stuff and wanted to offer us a camping spot on her farm tonight. She has done a few tours herself and said that she always offers a space to people she sees riding past. We declined her kind offer because we were excited to check out the campsite we were going to, and because we didn’t want to leave ourselves with a longer day tomorrow. It was really good to be asked though! Lots of people are nice.

We turned off the main road and got onto a little single track by a canal. We followed it for a mile or so, and eventually saw a sign advertising Nature camping (it’s not the same as Naturist camping!). We went in and were shown to a nice quiet spot on the edge of some fields by an elderly farmer on a bike. The price was €12.50! That’s the cheapest of all except Portugal. What’s going on!? We were worried the showers would be cold, but no, they were steaming hot, and there was even wifi. Luxury on a budget.

The campsite is cool, it’s a working farm, but it looks like they invite people to have quite a good look around in all the barns and things, and see how the animals are kept and how everything works. We also spotted some canoes for hire; sadly we didn’t have the time or energy to go up and down the canal any more than we already have.

Camping in a field

Camping in a field

Ducks at bedtime

Ducks at bedtime

Tomorrow we will go to another of the Nature campsites near the coast. It’s quite close to Rotterdam, which means we’ll be able to see the end of the Rhine, even though we didn’t cycle all the way along it!

– Dave

Dinner party in Amersfoort

Today we just had 50km to cycle, then we were going to visit one of Dave’s friends Theo, his wife Emma and their baby Oscar.

When we woke up, the weather was still a bit gross and we wiled away most of the morning in the tent, unwilling to get up. Eventually, we managed to pack up in the relative dry but once we were on the road, the drizzle seeped in.

We rode through a bit more of the forest before having to brave the open road. The forest was lovely – the trees kept the wind and rain off us. But on the cycle path by the road with fields either side, we got rain straight in the face as we rode into the wind.

Noooo!  Not the wild rooster!

Noooo! Not the wild rooster!

There weren’t any picnic benches to be found, so after 25km we resorted to picnicking by the side of the cycle path. Whenever a big lorry went past on the road, we had to shield our sandwiches from the road spray. Not the best, but we needed to refuel and felt better afterwards.

In the afternoon, we found some nice canal-side cycle paths and enjoyed the last stretch before Amersfoort. Then we cycled up the only hill in the Netherlands (a full 20 meter climb!) to arrive in the thatched suburbia where Theo and Emma live. We pulled up outside their house and sat in their front garden whilst Emma came back from walking baby Oscar and the dog Winston.  By this time, the sun was trying to peek through the clouds and it was humid and nicely warm.

Canal-side route into Amersfoort

Canal-side route into Amersfoort

When Emma rounded the corner and saw us, she nearly had her arm pulled out of its socked by Oscar excitedly jumping the hedge to greet us! Emma welcomed us in and we unloaded, unpacked and had showers between having chats. Dave and Emma were catching up whilst Emma and I were getting to know each other. Since Dave last saw the pair of them, they’ve moved to the Netherlands, got married and had a baby!

We had such a nice afternoon and evening together. We went to the shops, talked a lot about all of our travels, discussed their impending house move and entertained baby Oscar. Then Theo came home from work, we had a delicious dinner, a few glasses of wine and more story sharing. At 11pm we had to call it a night and went to our lovely comfy bed feeling happy and sleepy. It felt like such a nice long day with all that good food and conversation – and no campsite activities to be done! What a luxury. Thanks Emma and Theo!

Enjoying the evening together

Enjoying the evening together

– Anna

Nationaal Park Veluwezoom

Yesterday we got the train all the way from Hausach in the Black Forest to Emmerich on the German / Netherlands border. It was a long trip! We got to Emmerich about 6 pm and cycled over the border, which we were delighted to find looked like this.

Border into the Netherlands

Border into the Netherlands

We found a campsite nearby and went to bed to recover from our epic train ride. It’s a tough life.

It was raining when we woke up this morning – stupid northern Europe! We managed to pack everything away with minimal saturation, except when I left the tent door open for a few minutes. Oops. I’m not used to precipitation!

As we were washing up and getting ready to go we started chatting to another tourer – a Dutch guy. We mentioned we were planning to go to one of two National Parks near Arnhem and he told us all about them, and said there was a really good campsite nearby. We decided to check it out.

We hit the road dressed in full waterproofs, it was like being back in Galicia. Too hot to wear the waterproofs, too wet to take them off. It was great riding though, there were cycle paths everywhere! Another of the tourers we were talking to last night described the Netherlands as a playground for cyclists, it looks like she’s right!

The landscape during the morning ride was mostly agricultural, with a few small patches of woodland. It wasn’t particularly inspiring, but I suppose they have to feed all these people somehow!

We got to the park (Nationaal Park Veluwezoom) in the afternoon and found our way in. We didn’t have a good electronic map of the trails, so we found ourselves going along wet, sandy tracks, up and down hills (who knew?) until we found a cycle path and a proper map by the side of it. We stopped for lunch and enjoyed being back in the woods!

Anna tackling the sandy forest track

Anna tackling the sandy forest track

As we made our way out of the park we saw something on the path. Anna joked it was a sleeping bear, but as we got closer we realized she wasn’t far off – it was a massive bull lying across the path enjoying a good cud. We didn’t want to get too close; luckily there was a sand track just next to the path so we could get around. It turned out the bull only had one eye, and was super chilled out, he didn’t even move as we went past.

Roadblock

Roadblock

We got to the campsite and went to check in. We found out this is one of a network of campsites under a group called “De Groene Koepel” (The Green Dome). You have to have a membership to stay at these sites, which costs €15 per year, but after that it’s pretty cheap to camp each time. We decided it’s probably worth it if we stay at a few other sites in the next few days so we went for it.

The site is really cool. As we were cleaning the bikes and cooking dinner we got chatting to a family who volunteer here. The campsite only employs one person, the rest are volunteers. The electricity here all comes from a solar panel, even so, they invite you to charge up your phones etc from the battery – a very nice change from trying to sneakily charge stuff up from the shaver sockets in the toilets!

The lady we were speaking to said that when she first came to this site there was a toilet and a cold shower. Since she’s been working here they have installed hot showers, the solar panel, a washing up area, new toilets, and a cool little shelter where you can cook and eat when it’s raining – such a good idea. They also light oil lamps and put them around the site each night instead of having electric bulbs – it’s such a nice light compared to bright electric light invading your sleep! As they were lighting the lamps she said they’d had a suggestion to put one in the shelter, so she was going to see if there was a hook there, and if not, to put one in because “that’s a good idea”. I like to think that that was the sort of open-minded attitude that resulted in this being such a great campsite!

Tomorrow we’re heading to Amersfoort to meet up with a couple of friends of mine, Huygen and Emma. Since I last saw them they’ve had a baby and got married, so there’s a lot to catch up on – can’t wait!

– Dave

Walk in the Schwarzwald

Today we walked into the Black Forest to see what it was all about. We went up the road from the campsite for a while before crossing a small stream and heading into the trees. It wasn’t as scary as I expected. We found out last night that the impenetrable Black Forest of the Grimm Brothers is long gone; it was almost completely deforested during the 19th century, and subsequently replanted with monocultures (mostly spruce) across vast swathes. In the ’90s there were a couple of bad hurricanes that destroyed a lot of the monoculture stands, and these have since been left to recover naturally.

We saw few really big old trees. There were occasional examples with big trunks that looked over a hundred years old, but most looked up to 100. The mix was nice though, stands of spruce and pine with deciduous species like beech and birch filling up the gaps.

Mixed woodland

Mixed woodland

2 big tree

Lone giant

Looking up

Looking up

More trees!

More trees!

We headed up to a lookout point called “Bear rock”, which promised an all-round view. As we got to the top of the hill the things that caught our eyes were the three massive wind turbines standing well above the tops of the tallest trees. They were really impressive, and a bit noisy – like hearing an aircraft overhead, but never passing!

Towering above the forest

Towering above the forest

We went on to Bear Rock, but as we were going downhill from the turbines there was no 360 degree view of the forest spread out beneath us. Or there was, but you could really only see the trees right in front of you. It was a good spot to stop for lunch though.

Bear rock

Bear rock

We walked back down a different route, through more mixed forest which opened out onto a lovely view across the valley. As we got back near the campsite we stopped by a watermill and Anna cooled her feet off.

Lovely afternoon light

Lovely afternoon light

Walking back

Walking back

Open woodland

Open woodland

Meadow

Meadow

Roe deer

Roe deer

Cooling off

Cooling off

This afternoon we tried to get train tickets for tomorrow via the DeutscheBahn website. We were on the verge of buying some pretty expensive tickets when it told us our journey wasn’t available any more. Anna got rage at this point and after ten minutes of screaming and thrashing about on the floor she borrowed the campsite’s phone and called the train company. She spoke to a very nice man who helped us to buy tickets all the way across Germany with our bikes for €22 each. After that, Anna got the campsite to print the tickets out for us. What a hero. Hopefully our journey tomorrow is sorted and we’ll soon be kissing the sweet, flat, cycle-friendly earth of the Netherlands!

– Dave

Rodelbahn and Beer

Today we had a lazy morning then made the most of our free train tickets to get into the heart of the Black Forest without even working up a sweat.  We met another tourer on the train and had nice chats.  Then before we knew it, there were 13 bikes in the train all at once!  Dave got a few tips of adjusting his Brooks saddle from a man who’d had his for decades and everyone was busy admiring each other’s bikes.

Bikes on a train

Bikes on a train

We got off the train in Triberg, which we’d heard was tourist central.  It didn’t seem too bad though, apart from a busy main road.  We headed down through the outskirts of town and passed a few cuckoo clock attractions – this area is famous for its cuckoo clocks.

Giant clock here (I mean inside, where you have to pay)

Giant clock here (actually it’s inside, where you have to pay)

I had envisaged us riding down the valley along a lovely cycle path through the forest, but there wasn’t one.  So we got on the main road and headed downhill as fast as we could, holding up the trucks and the cars.  Every now and then, there was a cycle route around a tunnel and we enjoyed some relative safety.  Except for one that went through the works yard of a saw mill and I nearly got taken out by a logging truck!  (Okay, it was my fault for overtaking a street cleaning buggy on a corner.  But the swept up grit was going in my eyes!)

We carried on for a bit along parts of cycle path and parts of the main road, stopping by a field for lunch.

Lunch break

Lunch break

When we reached the town of Gutach, we went to the supermarket, then found ourselves a cycle path and headed for the Rodelbahn.  We found it and its beer garden full of families and made ourselves at home for an hour or so.

Perhaps I shouldn't have ordered a whole pint?

Perhaps I shouldn’t have ordered a whole pint?

Once our beer-legs had stabilised a little, we each had a go on the Rodelbahn.  It was fun – went up really really steeply then whooshed all the way down, trying to remember to brake for the corners! The adrenaline subsided and we had to admit that it really was time to head for the campsite.

Going up the rodelbahn

Going up the Rodelbahn

Just a little more downhill coasting before we turned off along another main valley heading upstream.  Then we turned off again down a quieter road uphill alongside a little river.  We were feeling surprisingly good post-beer and coasted uphill in the late afternoon sun.  My bum is getting pretty sore now but luckily Dave’s back is better.

One short but insanely steep hill to the campsite and we’d arrived.  We pitched up intending to stay for two nights and go for a walk tomorrow.

– Anna

The Südschwarzwald-Radweg

Last night we found a cycle path that does a circuit of the southern Black Forest. It has the catchy title of Sudschwarzwald-Radweg (Southern Black Forest Cycle Route). Does what it says on the tin! We decided we could follow it from our campsite to the village of Kirschzarten, a bit northeast of here. That would give us a good start for getting into the middle of the forest.

We left the campsite and got to the river ok, but after a couple of kilometres we lost the trail. We knew which towns the trail went through, so we just muddled our way through them for the morning hoping to pick it up, but no luck. When we got into Freiberg we were in need of lunch, and we still hadn’t could the trail. We were hunched over the map when a chap pulled up and said in German “do you need help”, then in a strange German / American accent “Where ya’ goin’?” We said we were looking for Kirschgarten. “Perfect, that’s a really great place. There’s an awesome bike shop there. You go this way then that way then…….why don’t I just take you to the path?”. Anna asked if he was going that way and he immediately said yes, which was a total lie because when we set off it was in the opposite direction to the one he’d been heading in before. We had to forgive him though because he showed us to a lovely bike path next to a river that would take us all the way into Kirschzarten. With a cheery wave our benefactor was off, cranking up the gears and disappearing into the distance (still in the opposite direction to the one he’d been going in before). What a nice man!

Tour guide

Tour guide

We stopped by the river for lunch and Anna took the opportunity to wash her feet, then we were off. The path was much better than the ones we’d been following all morning; it was quiet, off the road and just what we wanted.

Brr!

Brr!

When we got to the campsite we got a bit of a shock. €32 for a night! We thought we might have wandered back into Switzerland by mistake. The campsite did have a mini disco, bingo and a swimming pool, but since we’re not five, not bingo fans and not in possesion of swimming costumes we weren’t really interested in any of that stuff. It also came with two free passes on public transport within the Black Forest, which is pretty good, but since we have the bikes we weren’t too bothered about that either!

We headed into town; first stop, the cake shop for some black forest gateau (Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte), then all the other, less important food. After that we headed back to cook dinner. I ate my Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte straight away because I was scared for its fate in the hot sun. And because I’m a greedy swine.

BFG (Black Forest Gateaux)

BFG (Black Forest Gateaux / Big, Fat & Greedy)

We found that our €32 hadn’t bought us access to a table to cook on. We tried to annex one from the restaurant, but were soon repelled by two waiters. Anna went to complain to the receptionist (so bold!) and she promised she would sort it out. We went back to our tent and ten minutes later a man turned up and beckoned us to follow him. We went with him to the secret table and bench store where we were furnished with a fine bench and a lovely table. We carried our trophies proudly back to our tent where we sat and prepared dinner in civilised fashion, presumably to the envy of all our neighbours. Except they were all in caravans so probably brought tables with them.

After dinner it was internet time. Anna found out that I drained the Mac battery yesterday and didn’t charge it up. I then discovered that to get to Gutach, our desired destination tomorrow, we either have to go back to Freiberg, or take a massive diversion to the East. I don’t know how I didn’t realise that last night, but anyway it wasn’t welcome news after MacGate. After an argument we decided we would use our free train tickets to get the train to the top of the Gutach valley tomorrow, and then cycle down through it. Sounds like a plan!

– Dave

Black Forest awaits

Last night we decided to spend some time in the Schwarzwald whilst we’re here, even if it means getting a train when we get out.  It was a bit cool this morning and we enjoyed sitting inside for breakfast without melting.  It even rained a bit, which was nice.

Once we’d packed up, we headed for the information centre across the road to see where we could go to do some water sports or hikes.  The guy recommended we head to a campsite 30km north and rent kayaks there.  That meant we had a nice short day’s ride, then some planning to do.

We set off around 10am and it was still a little cool (around 20 degrees).  I think I even got a few goosebumps on the big downhill into town!  We rode on a cycle path by a main road for a bit before leaving it in favour of a small country lane, which was lovely.  The sun came out and we were riding in the dappled light under the trees.  Not too warm, not too cool, perfect riding weather. When we had to leave the valley to head towards the campsite, we were suddenly going straight uphill!  Is it just me or is it getting hotter? After 1km of climbing we came out onto a country road that ran along the top of a rounded ridge.  Cherry farms either side of the road, then valleys, then mountains.  On the right, the Black Forest in Germany.  On the left beyond the Rhein, France.  We tried to pick a few cherries from road-side trees that weren’t farmed, but they were too high up!  So we had to buy a punnet of them from an honesty box.  We sat on a bench with a view of the French valley and mountains and munched our way through the cherries.  They’re fat and very dark red, intensely sweet and didn’t last very long!

Then we zoomed down a hill and arrived at the campsite to check in around 2pm.  After setting up, we went into town to find the kayak hire place and make enquiries for tomorrow.  But there wasn’t anyone around!  A phonecall to their office confirmed that they don’t do whitewater kayaking.  Bummer.  Maybe we will just look for a nice cycle route through the forest instead!

Camp

Camp

Stop off at the supermarket then back to camp for dinner and bed. Ahhh, it’s cool enough to wear pjs and contemplate the sleeping bag. Yesss.

– Anna

Hot hot hot (to Basel)

We woke up in the cycle tourist encampment at the ungodly hour of 6 am this morning. Barbara, our friend from last night got up after us, but she was the first one rolling out of the gate. So efficient! We did ok ourselves though and were on the road by 7.

100% tourers!

100% tourers!

Nice looking town we passed

Nice looking town we passed

We crossed back to the Swiss side to get back on the route, but this subsequently turned out to be unnecessary. Then we crossed back to the German side and went to the shops, which took ages. After these delays we finally got moving, and we were heading along a gravel track when someone wheeling a bike along started shouting to us in German. Anna used her special translation abilities to discern that the lady wanted a bike pump. Her name turned out to be Rosa, she was 76 years old, and she was riding a bike with a tyre way too big for the wheel. The tyre had popped of the wheel and she was stuck. She said she only had four kilometres to go, so we checked the inner tube for punctures, replaced the tyre and pumped it up. Rosa went off happy while we were packing the pump away, but we soon caught up with her in an even worse mess. This time the tyre had popped off the wheel and the inner tube had got tangled through the brake blocks and around the mudguard. We sorted it out and persuaded her that she should really walk the rest of the way to avoid terminally injuring herself the next time the wheel dismantled itself. She agreed and we left her to it.

How does this even happen?

How does this even happen?

We were very late for our food break at this point, and very delayed in our projected progress, so tempers were frayed to say the least. We had a good sulk and argument over lunch and cleared the air a bit. Just after that we saw the longest wooden bridge in Europe, which was nice.

Longest wooden bridge in Europe

Longest wooden bridge in Europe

We set off again hoping to make it to a campsite on the river near Basel. When we finally arrived hot, tired and thirsty we found that the campsite was shut and entry was “verboten”. We went for a swim in the river anyway to cool off, which was just what we needed!

Not so secret swimming spot

Secret swimming spot

Swans chilling in the river

Swans chilling in the river

Refreshed, we decided we would go to a hostel that was about 12 km away. We stopped in a little village on the way to stock up on food, cash and painkillers. Then we started to tackle the hill that lay between us and the hostel. About half a kilometre up a guy stopped his car, got out and started chatting German to us. It turned out he was telling us that we really, really shouldn’t try to go over the hill. Part of me wanted to say “we’ve been over the Albulapass don’t you know”, but just then a second chap came over and started agreeing fervently with the first. So either there’s a top secret nuclear bunker somewhere around Basel, or it’s a really steep hill. We’ll never know, because we were eventually persuaded to go around on a detour which proved to be ABSOLUTELY MASSIVE. It went back into Switzerland and everything! We were so hot and thirsty that we had to interrupt three kids who were playing in a public fountain in order to fill up our water bottles. About a kilometre out from the hostel the road started rising ominously, and we found ourselves going up an unwanted steep hill. We comforted ourselves that the two guys who’d advised us to take this route had said that it went up “a bit” at the end, and our original route must therefore have been much worse, and well avoided.

The hostel is ok, it’s basically a massive castle except built from chipboard. We found out today that hostels in Germany aren’t allowed to have kitchens for people to cook their own food unless they are completely separate from the main building. So most of them, including this one, just don’t bother. This meant we had to cook on a bench outside. We agreed we don’t really see the point of hostels without kitchens, as Anna said, “it’s basically a rubbish hotel”. Quite.

After following the Rhein for a few days we’ve decided that it’s going to be a bit boring to just follow it all the way to the Netherlands. We’re thinking about a detour through the Black Forest to change the record a bit.

– Dave

Rhein Falls Day

I managed to convince Dave that we should stay for hostel breakfast this morning, even though it meant a late start. Luckily breakfast was worth waiting for! And we got a lie in, which I needed. We feasted on everything that was on offer then got ready to set off around 9am. Dave has had a sore back the last few days. He got a bit of relief last night thanks to some postoperative drugs I’d had since having my wisdom teeth out 6 years ago! But this morning he was back to hobbling around and wincing when he mounted his bike. I feel bad that I can’t do anything to help, so I mock him occasionally for being old and crippled. I’m sure that helps a bit.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR2156.

Crippled Dave

It was overcast all morning so not as hot as it has been, but still hot enough to get a serious sweat on riding on the flat. The guide said that today’s section was flatter than what we’d been doing, but that’s not the experience we had! We rode along the river for a while then through Schaffhausen, where we stocked up on lunch. The guide told us that after this town, we’d see the Rhein Falls, the biggest waterfall in continental Europe (we assume by volume, since it’s only 25m high!). But that’s also not the experience we had. We rode up a crazy steep hill on the gravel trail and were met with a ticket office. Hey, who wants to pay to look at the river? Not us. I wasn’t that bothered about making an effort to see the falls, but Dave was adamant that he was going. So we rode downstream, crossed a bridge, climbed up to join the road, found a car park and stopped there. I waited with the bikes and made sandwiches whilst Dave walked down to a little viewpoint. Then he came back, swapped lenses and I went off with his camera to see the falls whilst he ate his lunch. From the far side, we got a distant view of the powerful falls and all the people on viewing platforms and boats who’d paid to look at them.

Rhein Falls from a distance

Rhein Falls from a distance

They've got a good view!

They’ve got a good view!

Then we were allowed to carry on downstream again and rejoin our route. Up another hill, across the river, around the inside of a tight meander and we found the marked way again.

We spent most of the day in farmland or forest, sometimes on a path along the river, sometimes along a road, track or cycle path in the trees or fields. It was a nice route. Definitely not flat though. One hill even had a sign at the bottom warning us that we were about to gain 100m in 3km. On that hill, we passed two Italian ladies (for the third time that day), one of whom had decided that it was too much and she was pushing her bike. It was hot, I didn’t blame her. The only reason I don’t get off and push more often is that pushing our bikes is way harder than riding them because they’re so heavy!

At the top of the hill, we sat for a lunch break with a view of the river below and chatted to a fellow tourer. She’s 50 years old and touring alone for the first time, although she’s done way more extreme trips that this one! She’s crossed several deserts and toured in Syria, among other places. We shared stories, exchanged tips and waved each other off.

Me looking less than impressed at having to climb 100m above the river

Me looking less than impressed at having to climb 100m above the river

From then on, we were getting tired and hot and ready to stop, but wanted to make some distance first. So on we rode the last bit towards Waldshut, up and down past factories and farms until we reached the town. We crossed over to the German side for a cheaper campsite and rolled in with 80km done for the day.

It’s a nice site by the river and there are 10 tents set up, all occupied by touring cyclists! The crazy bastards don’t know they should be doing their short touring holidays in spring. And Spain for that matter!

Campsite

Campsite

Dave enjoying the Rhein

Dave enjoying the Rhein

Today was (only) 32 degrees. Tomorrow the forecast is for 38. So I think we’d better get to bed in order to get up before the sun!

– Anna