Maastricht to Boofzheim, France

From 02/06/2013 to 25/06/2013

The original plan was to cycle from Maastricht to Munich and back, but the weather had other plans for us.

Day 1 – Maastricht to Nideggen, Germany – 89kms

What a first day. First I would like to mention that we were supposed to leave on the Saturday the 1st, but my good friend Pierre asked if I could help him for a few hours on Friday and I ended up catching this bug which made me real sick, so we had to delay a day.
Note. do not help anyone before a tour 🙂
We started off at 08:30 after our traditional pictures in front of the house. The weather was sunny but cool with a nice tail wind for most of the day. The only problem was the planning. I miscalculated the hills in this area and we ended up in this dead-end valley after descending about 2kms at 8% to 10% (with heavy traffic). Meaning tomorrow we will have a nasty climb or heave to cycle back the wrong way down this valley for about 20kms to Duren before continuing East.
We are not in the mood for such a climb early in the morning, so tomorrow we’ll be heading to Duren. Lesson learned. A good thing about today was that we learned we can handle some climbing even though we’re out of shape.
We took the first camping just south of Nideggen which we found to be clean and at a reasonable price.

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In front of the house and pointed in the right direction.

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The first hill of the day, climbing up to Bemelen berg.

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Great cycling paths after Wolfhuis.

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A beautiful start to the day.

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Having lunch on our favorite bench just outside of Aachen, Germany.

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I said favorite because we’ve been here before in 2010 on the first day of our 5 month tour.

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Looking back at Aachen.

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Castle above our camping at Nedeggen, Germany.

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Setting up camp.

Day 2 – Nideggen to Bad Godesberg – 84kms

After getting all our stuff together we got breakfast and while eating Monique’s bike just falls over, when I checked it out I found her kickstand just broke in two. Never saw this before but there is always a first time I guess. Anyway as soon as we ride out-of-town Monique noticed a small train station. We have heard the trains yesterday evening but didn’t think they stopped here. So we got on the platform and 10 minutes later we were heading to Duren and the best part was none came around for the tickets so the 20 or so kilometer ride was free 🙂
In Duren we got some medicine for my throat (it was still pretty sore) and we started to head East. And after several kilometers we found a bike shop and bought a new kickstand.
Around noon a cold front came and it got gray and cold, but it didn’t last long and by the time we reached the Rhine the sun came out again. We than noticed the Rhine was very high and began to fear that the camping’s along the river would be underwater. We had been following the weather reports of heavy rainfall in the Southeast of Germany and that many rivers had broken their banks. Nonetheless the first camping we came across was open but just, the Rhine was just a few centimeters below the tent area.
The camping here is dated, not clean and expensive.

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The weather turned after Duren, but the tailwinds made up for the cold.

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Nice quiet roads and even quieter bike paths.

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The sun finally came out again when we got near Bruhl and the Rhine.

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Monique happy to be back on the Rhine.

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Looking back at the industrial area North of Wesseling.

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We had to take many detours the closer we got to Bonn, because the cycling path along the Rhine was flooded. Check out the cycling path sign to the right the light pole.

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We didn’t see much boat traffic today.

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Some places it was still possible to cycle on the paths.

2013060317And some, wee just above the water.

Day 3 – Bad Codesberg to Gulser Moselbogen – 75kms

We got on the road by 09:30. We were a bit tired and had slept in a bit. Listening to the weather reports it seems that the Bavaria region took the brunt of the storms and all that water was heading North on the major rivers. The further South we rode the worst it looked and we started talking about changing our plans for Munich.
Just before Koblenz we tried for this camping but it was flooded, we could just make out the camping sign above the water. On our way back to the main road we ran into two other cycling tourists David and Tamo from Germany (touring to lake Constance), they were heading to the camping, so we told them it was underwater. These guys had a plan B, and they called the camping at Gulser Moselbogen and told us it’s open and only 7kms up the river Mosel (what luck).
Camping here is good with new facilities, but a bit pricey.

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One of many the camping’s that were underwater.

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The weather today was great, plenty of sunshine and mild winds.

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We tried a few times to get back on the cycling path along the Rhine but no good.

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Looking down river.

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The cycling paths that were away from  the river were perfect. But looking ahead at the gap between the hills we knew that the Rhine begins to narrow, and therefore would be more flooded.

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Enjoying the wonder cycling weather.

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Part of the old city wall in Andernach.

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David and Tamo who helped us find the camping on the Mosel.

Day 4 – Gulser Moselbogen to Trechtingshausen – 66kms

After saying goodbye to David and Tamo we left at 10:00. The ride to Koblenz was easy but then we ended up getting mixed up in this industrial area before we found the cycling path and eventually on the B9 (on the West bank). No shoulder on this road but the traffic was light. A few kilometers further on we ran into this Dutch couple Jon and Rita going to Berlin (the long way) via Munich. We ended up cycling together for quite a while all the time checking out the flooded camping’s.
At Sankt Goar we found the road closed due to flooding. But there was a way around it, through the train station, which involved carrying the bikes up several flights of stairs.
While doing so David and Tamo caught up with us and the six of us continued along the Rhine. Again we had to take many detours as there was widespread flooding.
The other four cycled much faster than us and after a while we lost sight of them. We were told that the camping at Trechtingshausen was flooded so we mostly stayed on the main road not wanting to chance going to the cycling path and finding it flooded again. But when we saw the sign for a camping we decided to check out the cycling path and that’s when we saw Rita waiving at us from the camping Trechtingshausen. When we got there we did find the camping area flooded but the area where the permanent campers were was dry so the owner not wanting to lose any customers allowed people to pitch their tents among the places that weren’t occupied.
We have been here before in 2010 and nothing has changed. The camping is not good at all, but when there is nothing else around… We didn’t see David and Tamo anymore they must have stayed on the main road and missed Rita. The weather was perfect the whole day, nothing but sunshine and tailwinds.

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Looking west from the B416 over the Mosel. Click to view larger.

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One of the many castles along the Rhine.

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Can’t help but think this was the owner of the camping below. Only the rooftops remain above water, the guy must have lost everything when something like this happens just after opening.

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But this part of the cycling path was high enough and the ride was fantastic. Click to view larger.

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Now we saw the reason for no boat traffic, every one of them was tied up because of the dangerous river currents.

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Panorama taken from above the train station at Sankt Goar. Click to view larger.

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Another beautiful castle.

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This castle is in the middle of the Rhine. Bet they’re a bit worried about the flood.

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Navigating the flooded streets 🙂

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Monique inspecting the partially flooded camping at Trechtingshousen.

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Our camping spot between the permanent campers.

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We were high enough to not really worry about getting swept away in the middle of the night.

Day 5 – Trechtingshausen to Trebur – 69kms

We slept in this morning mainly because I had the best sleep so far on this tour. My throat though is not getting any better and I’m afraid we have to find a doctor soon for some antibiotics. Monique on the other hand didn’t sleep good at all because of all the trains running all night. Normally they stop for several hours at night, but with the barges not running the trains were used 24hrs a day to feed the German heavy industry along the Rhine.
We ran into Rita and Jon a couple more time before we got to Mainz where they turned West and headed into Luxemburg.
We have also decided to change our plans. Munich will have to wait for another time. Our new plan is to cycle South to Mulhouse than take the Rhine/Rhone canal into France and eventually make our way to the source of the river Maas. This has always been a goal for us as it’s the river that goes through Maastricht.
South of Mainz we found all the camping to be flooded and after asking a local for a decent hotel he directed us to the hotel Zum Erker in Trebur. Pricey but very nice.

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Exchanging information with Rita and Jon before breaking camp.

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The castle above the camping in Trechtinshousen.

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We would love to know that these flowers are. A good part of today’s route took us along many of these sweet smelling plants.

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On one of the detours we had to take between Bingen and Mainz.

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But some of the detours had no cycling path nor shoulder which was a bit hairy.

Day 6 – Trebur to between Wattenheim and Nordheim – 52kms

As nice and clean the hotel room was we didn’t sleep all that well. The mattress was way too soft for us, after a week of sleeping on our inflatable camping mattresses.
We knew that today would be a hot and difficult day as we had to ride between Darmstad, Manheim and Ludwigshaven, with all the dual carriage ways between them. We tried to avoid the Rhine cycling routes but ended up back along the Rhine because of a lot of road works in the area.
According to our plans we had to ride around 80kms but after Wattenheim we saw this private camping and checked it out. It was perfect if a bit expensive.
They wanted €20 a night, but it was clean and peaceful.

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The hotel in Trebur.

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Great rural roads in this area.

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More sweet smelling flowers along the road.

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Our nice spot next to a lake.

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And few neighbors.

Day 7 – Wattenheim/Nordheim to Sankt Leon-Rot – 91kms

We got out of the camping at 07:30, but it was too early for the owner so we saved €20, which made our hotel stay a bit cheaper. The weather today was hot and sticky but looking at the large clouds kept to the North. Later on we ended up in Mannheim and lost by this industrial area and the multicultural housing next to it. After some asking around we ended up on the river Neckar which had also burst its banks and the receding waters had left mud everywhere. We had a choice of two camping’s and chose the second which was next to a lake and found it busy so we cycled back 5kms to the first and found the owners were really rude. So back again to the lake only to be pointed to a spot next to about a dozen teenagers.
Anyway it wasn’t all that bad as they were made to quiet down at 23:00.

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Great cycling paths on some of the dikes.

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Were we saw many farmers fields underwater.

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Waiting for Monique to take some pictures, didn’t realize she was taking pictures of me.

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Looking back at Mannheim while crossing the river Necker.

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The local cycling routes took us through some very nice wooded areas.

Day 8 – Sankt Leon-Rot to Bruchsal – 40kms

Today was a day of rushing and making simple mistakes. We broke camp at 08:00 to a light drizzle and for the first hour it went good, until we entered this woodland and about 2kms in the woods (middle of nowhere) the sky opened up with thunder right on top of us and torrential rain. So we stopped and took cover under our tent groundsheet but it was too little too late and we were soaked through and through. When it did slow a bit we road to this barn where we changed some of our wet clothes and waited out the rain.
When we got to Bruchsal we asked around as to where the camping might be but after asking no less that 4 locals none knew where it was. So on the road heading in the general direction of the camping we ended up missing the sign (behind overgrown trees) we passed it by 3kms. So we asked at a gas station and they said go back and take the first right, so we did and ended up climbing this long hill which brought us to a military camp. The guards told us no camping here so we took another road back down to the main road where we started. Continuing along the same path by just pure luck Monique spotted the sign behind the tree.
After setting up camp we went over to the restaurant for a couple of beers and that’s when we saw this older Dutch gentleman named Ruud with a backpack. Monique had briefly talked to him this morning in Sankt Leon and found out he’s hiking to Bosnia on a pilgrimage. We found out that he’s done many hikes around Europe and has written several books.
We shared several beers and had a wonderful conversation, a very interesting guy indeed. Camping here is basic and not cheap but when there is nothing else around…

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When the rain slowed enough we took this picture when we stopped for supplies.

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Monique enjoying the warm sun and chilled wine, while texting with our daughter .

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From the restaurant at the hard to find camping.

Day 9 – Bruchsal, Germany to Lauterbourg, France – 63kms

After a good nights sleep we broke camp early, said our goodbye to Ruud and headed South on the B3. Soon after leaving camp it started to rain and kept it up all the way to Lauterbourg.
Cycling was good even in the rain but with one exception, Karlsruhe. We ended up getting lost again. We just hate cycling in cities, because we always menage to get lost. Anyway we came along this small stream so we decided to follow it downstream figuring it will lead us to the Rhine. While cycling along the cycling path next to the stream we saw a sign for a bicycle route to Worth, on the West side of the Rhine, so we followed it. At Worth we got some more supplies and cycled along the Rhine to Lauterbourg.
This camping hasn’t changed from the last time we were here, it’s still good value for money at €11 shower included.

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Saying goodbye to Ruud.

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Crossing to Rhine, heading to Worth. Note the barges have been allowed to sail.

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Monique always smiling, even in the rain.

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On the Rhine cycling path once more, just South of Worth.

Day 10 – Lauterbourg, France to Kehl, Germany – 71kms

Rain on our tent woke us up this morning and we looked at each other thinking, not another day like yesterday again. But it didn’t last long and by the time we had breakfast it had stopped. While breaking camp we talked to this French touring cyclist called Jean-Pierre from Paris who has cycled from Paris to Northcape and back (over 9000kms) in three months. A very nice guy and he gave us a couple of maps, one of a cycling path to Strasbourg and another of the Strasbourg city center, thanks again Jean-Pierre.
We got on the road by 09:00 on a gray and cool morning, and about 11:00 the sun came out and the day turned out to be very nice indeed. We rode through Strasbourg (seen it twice before) and made it to the camping in Kehl. We’ve stayed here twice before and knew it was a good camping, fairly cheap and clean. We also contacted the Australian family that’s cycling around Europe and had stayed with us (through Warmshowers) for a couple of days, about a week before we started our tour. So we arranged to meet up again in Mulhouse.
Looking forward to seeing them again.

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Leaving the camping in Lauterbourg. Near the end of our tour we found the caravan in the picture in two other camping’s, once again in Lac de la Liez, France and Givet, France.

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What a contrast to yesterdays gray and wet day.

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Great cycling along these country lanes.

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We’ll never get tired of this.

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Back again at the wonderful camping in Kehl.

Day 11 – Kehl, Germany to Boofzheim, France – 41kms

After saying goodbye to our neighbors, a Germany couple on a short tour of Germany, an English woman cycling to Basel, Switzerland to meet up with friends and a Swedish guy on this first tour to Barcelona, Spain, we go on the cycling path along the Rhine heading South. Riding on top of the dikes we could the how high the Rhine had reached, nearly 3 meters. The dikes had really done the job. Some sections of the cycling route brought us close to the Rhine and had a thick layer of mud which made cycling a bit tricky.
We were following this local cycling route Piste du Forts, and according to our map it should bring us to the Canal du Rhone au Rhin, which it did, and then we turned left heading South.
We are getting tired now and we decided to keep this day short and head for Boofzheim. We’ve stayed here before also. On our 2010 tour we rented a heated cabin with a kitchen for a couple of days to celebrate our 23rd anniversary.
Camping here is OK but a bit expensive. We were told there will be new owners next year.

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You can clearly see how high the Rhine had gotten. Click to view larger.

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But riding this day was just gorgeous.

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You can also see here the height of the water (look above the sign post), at nearly 3 meters.

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And the thick mud layer left behind.

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Getting ready to cross the Rhine for the last time, on the L98.

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Entering France.

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And the Alsace region.

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Canal du Rhone au Rhin

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Canal du Rhone au Rhin

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Canal du Rhone au Rhin, near Boofzheim.