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Cycling the Rivers of Germany 2012 PDF Printable Version E-mail


CYCLING THE RIVERS OF GERMANY, AUTUMN 2012

After a summer in Scotland, regaining fitness with some cycling on the west coast, we were ready for cycling further afield. The ferry was booked, the motorhome lockers stocked with essentials like Oxo, custard powder and golden syrup, the fridge/freezer stacked with English cheese, sausage and bacon. Time to go to Germany.

Among much else, we planned to cycle along the rivers Rhine, Moselle, Ahr, Neckar and Danube.

Continued from: A Great British Summer 2012

More comment on the contemporary German scene: Looking Out in Germany

There are Galleries and Slide Shows at: Images of Cycling in Germany 2012

Mid-September 2012

Cycling on the Lower Rhine

Based at Campingplatz Goldene Meile, Remagen, Germany

Open all year. See www.camping-goldene-meile.de. €23.40 inc 6-amp electricity (€25 for 'Comfort Pitch' with 10-amps, tap and grey water drain). Special offer: 4 nights for price of 3. Shower tokens €0.70. WiFi (pitches near Reception) €2.50 an hour, €6 a day, €20 per week. No credit cards. N 50.57595 E 7.25221

For motorhomes there is also a 'Wohnmobilhafen' or 'Stellplatz' next to the campsite. Parking here (Pay & Display) is €12 for 24 hrs, maximum stay 5 x 24 hrs, with a coin-op water/waste facility and a few coin-op hook-ups.

Ride 1 – Remagen to Bonn and return (44 km/28 miles). An easy ride north alongside the Rhine on a dedicated foot/cycle path. We passed the Peace Museum, continued along the Rhine Promenade and were soon at Caracciolaplatz in Remagen, where the various Rhine cruisers have their jetties. A small ferry carries foot passengers or cyclists (not cars) across the river to Erpel. Staying on the west bank, we headed north along the wonderful bike path, past Oberwinter to Bad Godesberg, where we had a break at a kiosk by the Mehlem car ferry. A good German lunch of Bratwurst & chips with coffee was freshly cooked for us by a friendly man from the Lebanon. We continued to the southern edge of Bonn before turning to ride back (this time into the wind). The well-surfaced path rarely leaves the riverside and is used by cyclists of all types and ages, long and short-distance, with plenty of places to rest at a picnic table or cafe.

Ride 2 – Koblenz to Remagen (53 km/33 miles). Began with a short ride to Remagen railway station for a train south to Koblenz. The regional Cologne-Koblenz train (roughly every half hour) carries cycles free of charge in the front carriage. From Remagen a single passenger ticket was €8.75 to Koblenz (or €10.40 to Cologne). At the station we met several obstacles: the ticket office is closed Sundays; the automatic ticket machine didn't accept our credit or debit card and to pay cash, the exact fare must be inserted (no change given); the Station Master had no idea whether we could pay on the train or at the other end! Eventually we got change for the machine from the coffee bar and, clutching our tickets (which we never had to show!), we got the bikes by lift to platform 3 just in time for the 11.14. It stopped at Sinzig, Bad Breisig and Andernach before arriving Koblenz Centre at 11.40 am. We had considered taking a boat up the Rhine to Koblenz but found that took about 4 hours!

In Koblenz the streets were very quiet, with Sunday closing observed by every type of store. Making our way to the riverside, we had coffee by the Deutsches Eck (at the Rhine/Mosel confluence), overlooked by the massive equestrian statue of the Prussian Emperor Wilhelm der Grosse. Then we rode the bridge over the Mosel, checked out the campsite opposite the Deutsches Eck (Campingplatz Rhein-Mosel Freizeit) and found our way to the cycle path to follow the Rhine northwards back to Remagen.

The path was very variable, sometimes diverting from the riverside behind the port at Andernach, after almost 30 km. We were ready for the first cafe we saw – McDonalds - before reaching the old town! Between Andernach and Bad Breisig there was a narrow unsurfaced section, a length of cobbles, and poorly signed diversions under and over the railway line. Bad Breisig was a popular place, with a queue for the car ferry and several waterside restaurants. Riding on to Remagen, the cycle path was better surfaced and uninterrupted, except by people strolling, usually with a dog in tow. A good ride though, with a favourable back wind the whole way.

Ride 3 – Circular ride from Remagen on both sides of Rhine (36 km/23 miles). Cycled south from the campsite for 2 miles to Kripp, for the short car-ferry ride across the Rhine to Linz (€1.40 each). Looking round the colourful medieval Old Town, we called at Tourist Info in the imposing Rathaus (built 1527) and collected a free map of the local cycle route. Ask for the Drachenfelsblick Audio-Landschaftstour (Drachenfels-View Audio-Landscape Tour). The route runs north from Linz as far as Konigswinter, across the Rhine on a car ferry, then south through Remagen back to Kripp for Linz (total 33 km). For a short ride, you can cross the river earlier, on the half-hourly passenger ferry from Erpel to Remagen, or take the car-ferry from Honnef (5 km south of Konigswinter) to Rolandseck. If you have a smart-phone with QR-Reader (which we don't), there are even 11 Audio Points round the route to listen to.

The route needs much better signposting on the east side, where it deviates on minor roads behind Linz station and around the villages, with only half the ride actually on a riverside cycle path. At Erpel the track climbed up to a pair of railway towers, with a good view of their twins on the opposite bank at Remagen. Behind them, where the Erpel tunnel enters a wall of basalt, a poster advertised the Tunnel Theatre built inside. It's closed this year but due to show a play about the Bridge at Remagen next summer (2013).

Riding on through the village of Unkel, we eventually joined the river at Honnef, by the car ferry to Rolandseck. The forecast rain was holding off, so we continued to Konigswinter, riding (part road, part cycle path) below the Siebengebirge (Seven Hills Range), with its ruined castle atop the Drachenfels (Dragon Rock). Coffee and cakes at a bakery cafe were very welcome before taking the boat from Konisgwinter across to Mehlem (€1.50 each). The Rhine is wider and faster flowing here, the ferry arcing across.

Back on the west bank, riding south, we had the classic view of the Drachenfels, inspiration of romantic artists, which turned Kongiswinter into a stage on the Grand Tour, served by railway and steamers: “The castled crag of Drachenfels, Frowns o'er the wide and winding Rhine” (Lord Byron 1816). On, past Siebensgebirgblick campsite, alongside the mid-Rhine island of Nonnenwerth, once home to a convent, then through Rolandseck and past Oberwinter to Remagen. It had been an interesting and varied ride but for smoother long-distance cycling, it's best to follow the west bank of the Rhine!

Cycling in the Ahr Valley

Honningen to Remagen (52 km/33 miles) along the Ahr Valley cycle way (Ahr Radweg). Again rode to Remagen railway station (3 km/less than 2 miles from the campsite). The regional Bonn-Ahrbruck train (roughly once an hour) took us up the Ahr Valley to the end of the line (€7.25 each, cycles free of charge). Thankfully, the ticket office was open and even accepted credit cards. The 11.10 am train made its way slowly into the Eifel hills, stopping every 4 minutes - at Bad Bodendorf, Heimersheim, Bad Neuenahr, Ahrweiler, Ahrweiler Markt, Walporzheim, Dernau, Rech, Mayschoss, Altenahr, Kreuzberg and finally Ahrbruck, arriving 11.56 am. We'd left Remagen (altitude 170 ft/50 m) in sunshine; now (at 650 ft/200 m) it was pouring down! A group of ramblers looked equally dismayed.

Leaving the tiny end-of-line station, we turned straight into an excellent cafe, the Station Imbiss, to shelter over coffee, Schnitzel and the largest mound of chips we'd ever seen, garnished with ketchup, mayo and onion. Germans take chips (Pommes pronounced 'Pomm-ess') seriously! With no sign of the rain easing, we donned our Gore-Tex kit and set off. Though wet, it was not cold.

First we rode south along the signed Ahr Radweg cycle path for 3.5 km/2 miles to the next village, Honningen (to which the train once continued, now served by bus), then we turned round to follow the cycle way back through Ahrbruck and all the way down the Ahr Valley until this narrow tributary meets the Rhine at Kripp, right by the car ferry across to Linz. The route is mainly on dedicated foot/cycle paths, by the river or through vineyards, this being prime Red Wine terrain, the steep south-facing slopes intensively planted with neat rows of vines. Sometimes we were diverted on quiet roads through villages and the busier town of Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler.

After a break in Dernau for coffee and cake, the rain gradually stopped. The one short tunnel at Mayschoss was well-lit and no problem. At Kripp we turned north along the Rhine cycle path, past our campsite and into Remagen to visit a large cycle shop seen across the tracks from the station.

Barry wanted to try a new saddle and the proprietor rose to the challenge, asking 'Something for the older gentleman – with or without prostate trouble?'!! He was very thorough, had a large range of saddles (saying our British Brooks were the best) and talked at great length. The firm build specialised racing bikes and our man told us of an ex-racing friend, now a trainer, who was with the German cycling team at the London Olympics. As we paid for the chosen saddle with a card, he announced 'Your money is now safely in Germany'. Margaret said 'Well, we need it more than Germany', to which he retorted 'No, Frau Merkel keeps giving it away!' It's nice to know a language well enough for some repartee.

Cycling on the Mosel

Based at Campingplatz Rhein-Mosel Freizeit, Koblenz, Germany

Open April-21 October. See www.camping-rhein-mosel.de. €27.50 inc 6-amp electricity and showers (€30.50 for 'Comfort Pitch' with tap and grey water drain, or for riverside pitches). No WiFi. No credit cards. N 50Ί22.01 E 7Ί 36.368

For motorhomes there is also a 'Stellplatz' next to the campsite. Parking here strictly limited to one day – arrive after 11 am & leave by 10 am – for €15 (pay at Camping). Hook-ups €2.50 extra.

A 2-day ride along the Mosel from Koblenz, past Cochem to Ernst and back (total 77 miles/123 km).

Leaving the motorhome safe on the Koblenz campsite, we followed theMosel Radweg cycle route through a succession of Wine Villages along the north side of the river. After a cool misty start the sun broke through in Winningen (10 miles/15 km), where we sat in a quiet square with a take-away coffee. It was Sunday morning: everywhere closed. The cycle path mostly followed the meandering riverside, occasionally diverting through a village or vineyard. The Romans first planted vines along these valleys and they still thrive on the steep hillsides, now hung with white grapes. A peaceful picnic lunch in the sunshine by the river in Katzenport, then on through Cochem, a tourist town at 35 miles/55 km, below the picturesque Reichsburg Castle. Here the riverside was thronged with tourists, brought by bus, boat, car or bike, filling the cafes and listening to a brass band.

We quickly rode on round a bend in the Mosel to the next village, Ernst. The first guesthouse we tried (on the corner of Weingartenstrasse) proved a good choice, our host, Bernhard Goebel, offering a room with Mosel view and (more importantly) a safe garage for the bicycles. See www.mosel-ferienquartier-goebel.de. Herr Goebel recommended a meal at the nearby Trauben (Grapes) inn: another good choice, with a generous set meal of hot soup, rolls, pork steaks in pepper sauce, croquette potatoes and self-service salad bar, all for €11.50 each. It went down well with a glass of the local Weisswein.

Fortified with a good German breakfast, we rode back to Koblenz along the same route. We did cross the Moselbrucke in Cochem to cycle on the other side but quickly returned on the next bridge, as the east side was more hilly, colder (being in the shade) and lacking a separate cycle path. We rode on through Klotten, another typical wine village and site of a small ferry across the Mosel, with a clear blue sky and light back wind. It doesn't get any better than this! A coffee in Pommern, followed by lunch at a picnic table among the vines near Winningen, which was even quieter than yesterday. By early afternoon we were back in Koblenz.

A few statistics. The Mosel (or Moselle) River rises at 2,426 ft/735 m at the Col de Bussang in the French Vosges. It twists and turns for 325 miles/520 km to its confluence with the Rhine at Koblenz, down at 195 ft/59 m. It is shared by France (174 miles/278 km), Luxembourg (22 miles/36 km) and Germany (129 miles/206 km). Highly recommended, with numerous campsites along its banks.

October 2012

Cycling in Rheinland-Pfalz

Based at Knaus Campingpark, Bad Durkheim, Germany

Open all year. See www.knauscamp.de. ACSI off-season card €16 + €3.70 local taxes, inc 16-amp electricity and showers. WiFi €3.50 for 24 hrs (didn't work - we got a refund!) No credit cards. N 49Ί28'23” E 8Ί11'29”

For motorhomes there is also a 'Stellplatz' next to the campsite for €9.50 a night inc 16-amp electricity (pay at Camping). Water fill €1.

A short circular ride (8 miles/13 km) to the Weilberg Roman Villa and around Bad Durkheim on cycle paths and minor roads. First we rode north to the nearby wine village of Ungstein and up to the site of a Roman villa and vineyard (2nd-4th C AD). Some original stone foundations and a few sarcophagi remain, while the villa has been reconstructed as it would have been c 350 AD. Entry was free, a table laid with wine glasses and refreshments, a man playing a guitar. Did they know we were coming? Then a German group travelling by llama (!) appeared, tied the animals to graze on the trees and took over the site. Glasses of wine waited for them inside the villa!

We made a hasty exit and rode down through vineyards into the centre of Bad Durkheim. It's a pleasant spa town, much rebuilt after 1945. The sound of organ music lured us to look inside the beautifully simple Protestant Evangelische Schlosskirche. Then we sat in the Romerplatz square enjoying coffee and Nussplunder pastries from the baker's (much more reasonably priced than the many smart cafes) before riding past the thermal park, back to the campsite and round its bathing lake.

Cycling on the Neckar

Based at Camping Schuettehof, Horb am Neckar, Germany (Height 1,795 ft/545 m)

Open all year. See www.camping-schuettehof.de. ACSI off-season card €16 inc 16-amp electricity and shower tokens (otherwise €0.50 each). WiFi €1 per hour; €4 for 24 hrs; €20 per week. N 48Ί26'43” E 8Ί40'25”

Though the weather remained wet and misty, we did cycle down into Horb and rode for 10 km upstream (north) along the Neckar Cycle Path. We followed the route between the narrow river and the railway, turning back beyond the next village of Dettingen. Reaching Horb again, we stopped off at Aldi by the railway station. It was an easy ride, apart from the stiff climb back from Horb to the campsite: 26 km/16 miles total. Had the weather been better, we might also have cycled to Tubingen, about 20 miles downstream from Horb.

Based at the Stellplatz near the Sportzentrum, Donaueschingen, Germany (Height 2,200 ft/666 m)

Open all year. Free dedicated parking for 10 motorhomes. Max stay 48 hrs. See www.donaueschingen.de. Coin-op 16-amp hook-ups €0.50 per kWh. Fresh water (€1) and free dump available at sewage works 1 mile away, all well signed. No WiFi. N 47Ί56.842 E 8Ί30.731

A circular ride (50 km/31 miles) mainly on signposted cycle paths from Donaueschingen to the Neckarquelle at Schwenningen, returning via Villingen. On a showery morning we began by riding north from the Danube Confluence, on a cycle route along the arrow-straight Romerstrasse (Roman Road). At Zollhaus we turned east on a track through the Moos – the damp mossy forest where the Neckar rises – to its official source, a fountain in the park on the edge of Schwenningen. This has been nicely renovated, with plaque and statue, much more impressive than the Danube source. The Neckar is the fourth largest tributary of the Rhine, which it joins at Mannheim.

Having ridden 10 wet miles, we continued into Schwenningen for a bite, though found little in this non-tourist town. Settling for take-away coffee we turned west into a head wind and another shower, to Villingen, the neighbouring town which has almost merged. This had a fine cobbled pedestrian centre, inside the old town walls, where a Friday market was in full swing. Plenty of food stalls competed for our trade and good German sausages with fried onions set us up for the ride back!

We returned south on a different route (partly signed), more or less following the River Brigach through Brigachtal village, then alongside the railway into Donaueschingen. Back at the Stellplatz our reward was beanz on toast, followed by a DVD. We've just started watching a boxed set of the old TV serial of Robert Graves' book 'I CLAVDIVS' in 12 episodes.

Cycling on the Danube

Based at Camping Sigmaringen, Sigmaringen, Germany (Height 1,900 ft/575 m)

Open all year. See www.erlebnis-camp.de. ACSI off-season card €16 inc 6-amp electricity and shower tokens (otherwise €0.50 each). Good WiFi €2 per day; €5 for 3 days; €10 per week. N 48Ί5'1” E 9Ί12'29”

For motorhomes there is also a pay & display 'Stellplatz' on the way to the campsite for €5 a night, electricity €2/hour, water fill €1.

Maps: Radrundtouren rund um Sigmaringen (free from campsite or Tourist Office, describes 7 circular rides around Sigmaringen with maps). Radfahren im Suden: Radlerparadies Baden-Wurttemberg (free from Tourist Office, brief text  and excellent fold out map of long-distance cycle routes)

1. Circular ride via Bingen (25 km/16 miles). We started eastwards along the Danube Cyclepath to Sigmaringendorf, then crossed the river to ride north on quiet roads and cycle paths through the villages of Lauchertal and Hitzkofen to Bingen. From there, circular ride no 5 'Fitness Tour' (total 43 km/27 miles) continues climbing north, then circles back to Sigmaringen via Veringenstadt and down the Laucher Valley Cyclepath. Instead we took a short cut from Bingen on a dedicated cycle path that parallels road L277, dropping neatly into the centre of Sigmaringen.

2. Circular ride no 2, 'Family Tour' (32 km/20 miles). An afternoon's ride, starting eastwards along the Danube Cyclepath through Sigmaringendorf, Scheer and Ennetach. Turn off at 15 km, before Mengen, to follow quiet lanes and cyclepaths west to Zielfingen, round the bathing beach of a lake at Krauchenwies, then return to Sigmaringen with a gentle climb through the Josefslust forest park and a descent into the town centre. This was an easy varied route, though the bike signs were sometimes ambiguous or hard to spot. It did encourage us to explore the Donauradweg, resulting in the following ride:

3. A 3-day tour (215 km/134 miles). Cycle the Danube Cyclepath from Sigmaringen to Ulm (train from Ulm to Donaueschingen), then cycle from Donaueschingen back to Sigmaringen.

Day 1, Sigmaringen to Ehingen (77 km/48 miles). We left the motorhome on the campsite in Sigmaringen and cycled the Donauradweg via Sigmaringendorf and Scheer to Mengen (and a coffee break in the Lidl cafe). On to Riedlingen for a packed lunch, coffee and pastries, before the final leg via Munderkingen to Ehingen. Here we turned off the cycle path into the centre of this beer-brewing town in search of a room. With hindsight, it might have been better to stay on the route, as we rode through the teatime rush hour past Best Western type hotels!

Turning down towards the railway station, we spotted the Hotel Ehinger Rose with the Bett und Bike sign (www.ehingerrose.de). A restored 16thC inn, it wasn't exactly budget accommodation but we treated ourselves to an excellent evening meal there, as well as bed & breakfast. It had been a good day's ride, the cycle path mostly on asphalt and well signed, though not always alongside the Danube. The 'Bed and Bike' sign guarantees that the accommodation offers secure indoor storage of cycles, though not (as we found) that the proprietors know anything about cycle routes! The satellite TV in our room showed BBC World and CNN, which sent us to sleep.

Day 2 (61 km/38 miles) dawned much colder with a thick morning mist over the fields and river, giving way to autumn sunshine in the afternoon. From Ehingen there are 2 possible cycle routes to Ulm: the main path roughly following the Danube or a variant via Blaubeuren and the Blau Valley. We set out to take the Blautal route but, misguided by our host and a lack of signs, a signposted cycle route led up to an agricultural landscape that was eerily deserted and mistily reminiscent of the Yorkshire Wolds. Eventually, with the help of a compass, we regained the river and took the route more or less along the Danube: perhaps less scenic but flatter and better signed. In Erbach we had a break for coffee and buns at the baker's, then rode into Ulm. The last sign, Hauptbahnhof 1.5 km, should have led us directly to the main station but the cycle path was blocked by a building site, with no diversion indicated. Eventually we found our way into the city, got a brief glimpse of the world's tallest cathedral spire and made it across several lanes of traffic to the station. We had ridden 40 km (25 miles), arriving Friday lunchtime when half the population of Ulm seemed to be taking a train! The train to Donaueschingen (approx every 2 hrs) cost €13.50 per person, plus €5 per bicycle (tickets from the enquiry office, or the machines). Luckily we were 30 minutes early for the 2.15 pm and able to board straight away and sit with the bikes. By the time it left, several passengers were standing. German trains (DB – Deutsche Bahn) run smoothly to time and apparently without staff, as once again our tickets remained unchecked.

Arriving in Donaueschingen, near the source of the Danube, at 4.37 pm we cycled straight to the Tourist Office, which closes at 5 pm. The staff, extremely busy with a weekend Music Festival, advised that every bed in town was booked so we needed to ride a few miles along the Donauradweg before dark. An assistant kindly phoned a couple of hotels on our route and booked a room at Gasthof Mond (the Moon Guesthouse) www.gasthof-mond.de. We understood that it was about 16 km/10 miles away in Geisingen but, on asking in that village, we were directed to the next settlement of Kirchen-Hausen, about a mile off our route. It proved worth the detour, as we found a very welcoming little hotel/restaurant. The sons of the owners have a haulage business, with plenty of parking space, and the only other guests were a pair of friendly Polish truck drivers for whom Margaret interpreted their English into the hostess's German. Our bicycles were locked in the garage and we were soon revived by hot goulash soup. Again, the TV in our room carried CNN so we caught up with their version of the news.

Day 3, return to Sigmaringen (77 km/48 miles). Another good German breakfast (orange juice, coffee, cheese, cold cuts, freshly boiled eggs, rolls, honey and jam) saw us on our way back to the Danube Cyclepath, which we would follow all the way to the gate of our campsite at Sigmaringen. Chilled by an early start, we stopped after 5 miles in Immendingen for coffee (and picnic supplies for lunch) at the Lidl cafe. Riding on via Mohringen toTuttlingen, sometimes by the narrow infant Danube, the sun broke through and we soon shed gloves and top coats. It became more scenic as the river twists and turns through limestone gorges and woodland, with the cycle route (not always surfaced) well signed through Muhlheim, Fridingen and Beuron. There were a couple of short climbs towards the end and it was absurd to be overtaken by electric-bike-riders as we pedalled uphill, only to leave them behind on the descent or on the flat. At the top of one hill, a couple of clumsy e-bikers who had pushed past were now getting their breath back over a cigarette break. We didn't see them again.

For much of the time over the 3 days, we had the cycle path to ourselves and were surprised how little we saw by way of accommodation, camping or refreshment stops, though perhaps more opens in the summer months. The popular stretches on the final day brought hazards like dogs, toddlers and walkers, with most people apparently deaf to bicycle bells as they stroll along the Donauradweg. This runs for 609 km/380 miles across Germany before continuing through Austria and Eastern Europe to the Danube Delta in Romania. It forms part of Europe's premier long distance cycle route (Eurovelo 6) from the French Atlantic to the Black Sea – a total of 2,485 miles,or almost 4000 km. Now that is something to aim for – we'll begin to collect information, make a 'to-do' list and do simple sums, eg 50 miles a day = 50 days + time off = 2 months.

Cycling on the Upper Rhine

Based at Camping Mueller-See, Riegel am Kaiserstuhl, Germany (Height 590 ft/180 m)

Open 1 Apr-4 Nov. See www.muellersee.de. ACSI off-season card €16 inc 16-amp electricity and shower tokens. Free WiFi. N 48Ί9'48” E 7Ί44'28”

Map: Radwandern im Sudschwarzwald series, Landkreis Emmendingen, 1:50000 (bought in local bookshop)

Ride 1 (30 km/19 miles), a circular ride round local villages on quiet lanes and marked cycle paths. Into Riegel, south to Bahlingen, alongside the railway towards Nimburg, into Eichstetten and on to Botzingen, then SE towards Neuershausen, returning north along a high river bank to Eichstetten, then back on a different route from Bahlingen to Riegel. Friday is market day in Riegel, with a few stalls in the centre, including one selling hot roast chickens: a great end to the day!

This ride lay to the east of the Kaiserstuhl (= Emperor's Chair), a conical hill of volcanic origin (summit 1,838 ft/557 m above sea level) which rises 1,000 ft above the Rhine Valley. The slopes are planted with vineyards and the area is known for its Mediterranean flora and fauna (eg orchids and bee-eaters) within the sunny micro-climate.

Ride 2 (33 km/21 miles) - a circular ride on a cold bright afternoon, following 2 days of sheltering from rain and sleet carried on the north wind. Cycled west via Whyl to meet the Rhine, then south along the German bank on a gravel cycle path, the Rheinradweg, passing beneath a bridge across to France. Turned off the river into the village of Sasbach, where we sat on a bench at the railway station for a chocolate break. The next train through was bound for Riegel but we resisted the temptation! The single carriage Kaiserstuhl Bahn train circles the dominant hill, serving all the villages, and we were impressed to see high school children, who had left their bikes safely at the station, getting off to ride home. Our route back to Riegel more or less followed the railway line east via Endingen on quiet roads and farm lanes, the only traffic being tractors harvesting the last of the corn. We got back shortly before dusk, which fell an hour earlier since the clocks had just gone back.

Ride 3 (35 km/22 miles) – a circular ride on a warmer but more windy afternoon, again on signed cycle paths and back roads. We began by crossing the A5 motorway and riding east to Hecklingen and Malterdingen. Pockets of snow now lie on the surrounding hills. After 15 km in Teningen, a larger village, we had coffee and buns in the bakery/cafe before riding on along the bank of the Elz, disturbing a lone Grey Heron. After passing Emmendingen (a large busy town on the other side of the river), we turned west to Reute, crossed the A5 again to Nimburg, then returned north via Bahlingen to Riegel. Although this week is the school half-term holiday, we are sharing the campsite (and the beautiful heated facilities) with just one other occupied caravan!

Ride 4 (40 km/25 miles) – another circular ride in bright cold sunshine. Riding directly via Endingen and Sasbach to the Rhine, we followed the Rheinradweg briefly north, as far as the bridge. Here we crossed the river on a pair of bridges into France, greeted by an EDF (Electricite de France) hydro-electric works. The onward road to Marckolsheim was busy with trucks and, this being France, had no edge or path for cycles, a marked contrast with the peaceful lanes on the German side. We circled the next roundabout and returned over the bridges and back to Sasbach. The bakery/cafe here (oddly, closed from noon till 3 pm!) was now open and we fortified ourselves with coffee and Linzertorte before riding back via Forchheim, as an alternative to Endingen.