Rhine cycle route – highlights

It’s likely that tomorrow we leave the Rhine cycle route, splitting off just before Lake Constance. Though we’re not done yet here’s some thoughts about it.

It’s been a beautiful ride all in all. The terrain, on the whole, very accommodating – though as anticipated never so good as we had it in the Netherlands. It’s been a great way to warm up our legs, find out where the aches and pains are and get used to hauling approx 40kg (surprisingly we haven’t weighed this) of bike and baggage.

The Rhine itself is beautiful of course. The path wending it’s way on banks running adjacent to the river itself, along the ridge of dykes, through forests, down magnificent tree lined avenues, following canals, through villages, towns and, sometimes alarmingly, cities suddenly buzzing with people and cars and lights, and then back through the industrial estates and back into the fresh open air. Some days we’d pick one of the huge haulage ships cruising upstream to race through the day. We’d travel a little faster, then we’d stop for lunch or a pastry or a cuppa and find that Elizabeth 1M or Privilege II had snuck past us, so we’d set off in (not so) hot pursuit.

The campsites have been varied. Sometimes they seem like a bargain, with beautiful Rhineside views and free hot showers, and sometimes a little run down and grotty. We’ve come at that point of the year where it’s almost in-season but there seems to be no rules.
Our favourite paid for spots were:
Camping Loreleyblick
Hochrhein kanu
Thanks to Liz at halfashoestring.com for the heads up on both of these.

The weather has been changeable from frozen mornings when we were pleased we brought the extra warm sleeping bag to balmy 20 degree afternoons where arms were out and suncream opened.

Other highlights include:
Pastries bought from bakeries. Our favourite so far was definitely the immense slice of poppy seed cake purchased on their outskirts of Cologne to give us the strength to tackle the third city of the day.

The sunsets, much admired while cooking and setting up camp.

The birds and animals we spot as we amble by. Hares racing across freshly plowed fields, storks nesting, ducks and geese, herons, sparrowhawks, buzzards…

Rhine cycle path day 6. Found a spot with a great view to pitch the tent.

11 Likes, 4 Comments – Maria (@mariamazyoung) on Instagram: “Rhine cycle path day 6. Found a spot with a great view to pitch the tent.”

And then last but not least those generous people who open their homes to passing tourists.

Femke and Douwe work most of the week in their day to day jobs. Femke advises on sustainability policy and Douwe is a tree surgeon and gardener. One day a week they work on their tree nursery, growing and selling fruit trees. They moved to the area quite recently and are looking forward to bringing their bees from Rotterdam.They now live below a working windmill and their tom cat has been known to scent orlieb panniers – a cat of discerning taste.

A few years ago this gang of economics students decided to buy and renovate – with a lot of help from a local housing association – a rundown house in Bornheim. They lived there during three renovations and carried them out while doing their bachelors. Now the beautiful house has 9 residents, and they keep a guest room for passing waifs and strays. They even built a sauna, which they generously fired up for two weary cyclists after a delicious dinner.

Family Soare are a family of cyclists and musicians. We arrived too late to eat together, but we were serenaded by accordion and clarinet practice over our wonderful home cooked veg lasagne. Later over tea and homemade cookies Andrei told us about their travels by bicycle as a family. One year they cycled all the way to Romania from Dordrecht with their four boys and stayed with warm showers hosts every night.

Our Easter weekend

It began around 4 on Saturday evening, I suppose, as we stood debating whether to knock off early and stay at this campsite, or ride another 40km to the next one. I was at the stage where I could probably do another 20 but more would be a stretch – especially as Jamie had requested Bolognese for dinner.

So here it was to be – Munchhausen municipal campsite.

We wandered in and scouted around for someone to talk to – or pay. No-one official around though the site was clearly occupied. A group of elderly folk stood chatting, and as we approached a gentleman made appreciative noises about the state of us and our bikes. He pointed us in the direction of an empty spot for us to pitch with a shrug.

All going well so far.

Then Jamie noticed that his beloved leather Brooks saddle was starting to tear. He looked utterly inconsolable.
“It’s ok love, we’ll get you another one – it’ll be worn in by the time we’re home.”
But no, it won’t be the same.

So as always in times of stress, we put the kettle on and made a cup of tea. While the kettle was boiling Jamie nipped to use the facilities and returned with a concerned expression regarding the state of his bowel movement. Hmm… Perhaps it wasn’t sadness for the saddle making him blue.

We got the tent up and Jamie had a lie down while I made a start on dinner. It soon became apparent that Jamie was not going to be having dinner, he was violently sick. I won’t go into details – although I’ll say that our appreciation for the smell of wild garlic (which we’d gorged on earlier) will take a while to return.

Meanwhile we ran out of fuel so I was unable to have a proper dinner either. My appetite was also a little diminished…

So a sleepless night all round, Jamie in terrible discomfort. The morning came round with abated symptoms though we were no happy campers.

It started pissing with rain.
All else being well we would have stayed put but we needed fuel, and we only had a little salad to eat raw. Being Sunday, and Easter Sunday at that, everything was shut.

We managed to get going by about 1. We cycled the 20km to the nearest petrol station with a brutal headwind, and a F**ING HAILSTORM at times. We got fuel.

Where now? The next nearest campsite was another 20km. Ok, we can do this. Heads down, headwind all the way – barely making it over 10km/hour (Jamie says it was a bit faster, but I’m telling this story). I just tried not to think the lamb my mum was cooking for Easter lunch.

We did it, both running on empty though poor Jamie must have felt wretched.

The campsite was closed. Ok… What now?

Eat. Food will help.

The burner wouldn’t light.

Jamie, with much more patience than I had left, took the thing apart and found out what the problem was.

Luckily, I had a big tub of Bolognese, so food was reasonably quick to assemble, though we got some very odd looks from the families out for their post-Easter-lunch afternoon stroll.

While cooking Jamie did some more reconnaissance of the park/ campsite. He found us a spot to put up the tent in the very closed campgrounds*, out of the wind. We crawled in to bed at 6.30pm.

14 hours later we arose out of our cave (tent) like Jesus refreshed, reborn and determined to find an open bakery.

All things pass. That’s the moral of this Easter tale.

*we have – by mistake, chance, luck – now managed to stay in more closed campsites than open ones. Clearly this isn’t wild camping, we’re calling it feral camping. We think it may catch on.

Ready… steady…

Hey everyone,

Maria and I are heading off on our bikes today,  the 21st March…

Hopefully we’ll have charge and network coverage for much of our route and have some great things to share. We are planning to use polarsteps and this website maria made to log our thoughts, photos and to give you guys a dot to watch if that’s your thing.

A massive thank you to all those who made it out to our place for our farewell party… phew what a night!

As we won’t be online that much, would love any playlists, articles, books etc that you may be able to send or recommend. Write to us too and tell us about your adventures.

And if you would like to come and meet up with us somewhere, that would be amazing. I will try and post up our plans on a regular basis. Please also give us recommendations and connections, because we really don’t know what we are doing…  🙂

Keep pedalin’ (we’re gonna)

Jamie and Maria