Maastricht to Freiburg

Friday, 1 September

Maastricht to Schleiden, Germany.
84 kms 7hrs Av.12.1

Got up early this morning, we were both restless again, seems to be the same before any tour. Our daughter had school this morning and we had an escort for the first couple kms.
The first +/-30kms were familiar to us as we have cycled to Aachen many times before, nothing much just one hill at Bemelen and a slow uphill to Aachen. It was a bit confusing getting out of Aachen but after, it was fairly easy to follow the 258 headed for Roetgen than Simmerath were we changed into the 266 headed for Schleiden.
There were 2 large hills to get over today one before and one after Simmerath, the second being the worst at +/-6kms at around 7%, but the views more than made up for the work.
For the first day it was a bit hard but one has to gets ones feet wet eventually :-)

   
Left to Right:
1- First heavy climb of the tour before Simmerath, Germany.
2- Obersee seen from the top of the second climb after Simmerath.
3- Panoramic view from the 266, on top of the plateau after Simmerath.

Saturday, 2 September

37 kms 3 hrs Av. 12.8 Total 121 kms
Schleiden to Ahrdorf, Germany

Woke up early today, had a restless sleep again, hearing strange noises last night outside the tent didn't help any either. The day started out ok, a bit overcast but dry.
Right after Schleiden we started this long and difficult climb 5kms at around 8%, that woke us up real quick. After reaching this plateau the going got a lot better, the 258 was not so busy and we got into Blankenheim in no time.
At Blankenheim we visited the tourist office and got some information on camping's in the area and found out that, between Ahrdorf and Volkanpark there weren't any, so we decided to make it a short day today and continue the following day for Volkanpark near the Rhine, we were a still a bit tired from the first day.
The tourist office also said there is a nice cycling path along the Ahr river, so after Blankenheim we found the cycling path along the Ahr and followed it to Ahrdorf.
So far the Eifel has not disappointed us, it is difficult but very beautiful cycling around here.
Overall a great day of riding, short but it did help us recuperate from the first day, helps to be flexible while touring.

     
1- Taking a rest on the long climb after Schleiden.
2- The long road on top of the Plateau between Schleiden and Blankenheim.
3- Posing on the cycling path in the Ahr river valley, the 258 can just be seen left of Monique.
4- Taken on top of a small hill, still following the Ahr river, Ahrdorf and our camping is below this hill.

Sunday, 3 September

70 kms 5hrs 20min 12.9 Av. Total 191 kms
Ahrdorf to Volkanpark, Germany

Woke up early today 07:00 and were on the road by 08:15. The day started out good along nice quiet cycling routes and country roads all the way to Adenau. A couple kms out of Adenau the first very difficult hill started 7kms long at around 8% with 10% grades at places.
We climbed over the Hoge Acht at 747m and were treated to some pretty spectacular views. After a short rest we got on the very busy 412 heading for Kempenich, along the 412 was another not as long but just as steep hill before Kempenich, this hill was a bit tiring as it was straight and we could see all the way to the top.
A few kms outside of Kempenich we found a secondary road to Wehr, than a very long downhill to Glees and finally to Laacher see (Volkanpark).
Today was difficult and we were glad we didn't try it in one shot from Schleiden.
Camping here is good but the personnel at this campsite (on the north shore) were real jerks.

   
1- The beautiful cycling area with forested hills all around before Adenau.
2- One of the many hairpins on the very difficult 747m hill after Adenau.
3- Panoramic view taken from the very long decent into Wehr.

Monday, 4 September

110 kms 7 hrs 30 min. 14.6 Av. Total 301 kms.
Laacher see to Bingen, Germany

Woke up at sunrise but didn't get out of our sleeping bags till 07:00, today we knew we would finally reach the Rhine and were excited. We got out of camp not long after and started a small climb to Nickenich, and from there had a nice and long decent into Andernach where we got re supplied and headed towards the Rhine.
It wasn't pretty at first as we ended up in a heavily industrialized area but after a few kms along the cycling path we got out of that area.
We started seeing many other cyclists going North (downstream) cycling the length of the Rhine. This we found out to be a very popular cycling route. We reached Koblenz and had lunch next to were the Mosel meets the Rhine.
All day long the views got better and better, we passed through vine yards on the sides of hills straddling the river, and saw many castles. Seems that every village had its own castle.
This area, from Koblenz to Bingen is called the Rhine river gorges area as the Rhine cuts through a couple national parks and forests.
Today was a very beautiful cycling day, not only for the views there weren't any hills :-)

   
1- Some of the many like-minded cyclists we met along the Rhine today.
2- A beautiful castle just south of Koblenz.
3- A panoramic view of the Rhine from a park just North of the city, Koblenz is on the right with a large castle on the left on the opposite bank.
4- Some of the views we had to cycle through.
5- Every little village had a castle on top of the nearest hill.
6- More vineyards on the hillsides, over some very beautiful villages.
7- Looking back North.

Tuesday, 5 September

89 kms 6 hrs. 30 min. 13.9 Av. Total 390 kms
Bingen to Worms, Germany

We started out around 08:45 heading ENE following the Rhine, the original plan was to head towards Kaiserslauten, but due to all the hills we did going through the Eifel we decided to just follow the nice cycling paths along the Rhine instead.
Last nights camping was not good at all rough ground, very noisy and smelly, we were glad to leave. The cycling path along the Rhine soon changed to a rough unpaved path so we changed to another path that runs parallel to the Rhine between 10/50 meters inland, which is great if one doesn't want to bop up and down all day long.
We were concerned about finding a campsite at Worms, but after running into a Dutch couple, (also cyclists, going from Switzerland to Rotterdam), just after Mainz we were assured there was small camping on the opposite bank.
The ride today was smooth, just rolling along at a nice pace through beautiful farmland and vineyards, on a clear, sunny and warm day.

 
1- Stopping for lunch on a park in Mainz.
2- Taking some shelter from the afternoon sun, while cycling through the vineyards.

Wednesday, 6 September

105 kms. 7 hrs. 10 min. 14.6 Av. Total 495 kms.
Worms to Rulzheim, Germany.

Another good morning, we were up, on the road and heading south by 08:30. The small campsite at Worms was a real shit-hole, nice ground with thick grass but the facilities were in ruins. After several kms we arrived at Ludwigshafen, and that was a real difficult city to get around in, a lot of heavy industry all around.
We keep running to other like-minded cyclists all day long and we stop to chat with a few, a lot of interesting people one meets while cycling.
Again it was a very beautiful sunny and warm day to cycle. Most of the ride was through nice farmland with many apple orchards, were we helped ourselves to a few apples.
It's strange that when I'm at home I always crave apples but when surrounded by thousands or free apples I don't care much for them :-)
We tried for a couple of campsites at Germersheim but one was a real dump and the other turned out to be a trailer park, so after asking this nice couple in a trailer they pointed us to Rulzheim. This camping was next to a small lake and had quite a few mosquitoes about, also a bit expansive, but clean, it was getting late so we took it anyway.

     
1- Heading back across the Rhine at Worms early in the morning.
2- Taking five on the cycling path along the small dyke.
3- Monique checking our route along the Rhine, cycling around here one doesn't even need a map.
4- Having a few cold ones in our campsite next to the small lake at Rulzheim.

Thursday, 7 September

100 kms. 6 hrs. 45 min. 14.7 Av. Total 595 kms.
Rulzheim to Kehl, Germany.

Got up late today it was after 09:00 when we got on the road. We have decided to change our plans again this morning and get off the Rhine cycling route and got on the more direct National and District roads to make up some time, we didn't want to loose another day reaching Kehl as we wanted to take a rest day and check out Strasbourg.
The ride was very nice today going through little German picturesque villages and stopping here and there to take pictures. We finally got into France at Lauterbourg, now I must say that the French villages have the right idea about presenting their villages to the tourists.
They have this system that each village acquires a flower on how clean and beautiful the locals can make their village. We haven't figured out how many flowers a village can get or what they get when they achieve the maximum. Some of the arrangement were very beautiful. The little flowers can be seen under the town/village name when you inter them. We have seen as high as four. 
We followed the D248 to Seltz than the D468 to Drusenheim than on to Herrlisheim where we change over to the D29 heading towards the D2 to cross the Rhine. At Herrlisheim is where we first saw this heavy thunderstorm approaching, it didn't take long before it was upon us and we had to take shelter near this cement factory. It's not a good idea when thunder strikes are near and your on a metal frame. Anyway because it was getting late we did not wait until it was all over and while it was still raining we decided to continue on.
The D2 was a very busy road with many trucks passing by at speed and throwing up all this spray which made us wet through and through. As soon as we crossed the Rhine we got on this rural road that runs parallel to the river and headed south towards Kehl.
It soon stopped raining and we finally dried.
The camping at Kehl did not disappoint, it was very clean, cheap, good ground, service with a smile and only a few kms from Strasbourg, what more could one ask for.
There was a camping in Strasbourg, I stayed there last year and it wasn't that good.

         
1- One of many little German villages we passed.
2- On the way to the French border.
3- Crossing into France at Lauterbourg.
4- One of many flower arrangements we saw in Lauterbourg.
5- More flowers along the streets of Lauterbourg.
6- Cycling along the D248 after Lauterbourg.

Friday, 8 September

25 kms. 2 hrs. 30 min. 10.4 Av. 25 kms Total 620 kms.
Rest day

We slept in this morning, we rolled out of our sleeping bags around 09:00, had breakfast, hung out the sleeping bags and mattresses to get aired out, dusted everything and at around 12:30 headed for Strasbourg.
We crossed over the Rhine on this beautiful pedestrian bridge on a warm and sunny day.
We cycled around the city for a while, and stopped for lunch at this very nice square.
Seeing Strasburg again was nice, I really like this city, its vibrant, all the people have smiles. There is a lot of history and art everywhere you look. It's just a very beautiful place.
I really wouldn't mind living here.

         
1- The Cathedral of Notre Dame.
2-  Another beautiful church in Strasbourg.
3-  One of the side streets of Petit France, with many shops and restaurants.
4- Another picture of the small canal that circles the city center.
5- The happy couple on their day off :-)
6- Our humble home for this tour, the Jack Wolfskin Worlds End RT, more than made up for the cost this summer.

Saturday, 9 September

96 kms. 7 hrs. Av. around 15 kph. Total 716 kms.
Kehl to Freiburg, Germany.

Got up at 06:00 and after a nice breakfast were on the road by 08:00. The weather this day was nothing less than perfect. Riding around these parts brought back many memories of last years solo tour to Athens, and wished I was doing this again this time with Monique.
We cycled along the Rhine for a while, than along some wooded areas, than on the dyke, than through some villages, before reaching Oberhousen and took a left turn heading for Kenzingen.
At Kenzingen we came across the cycling route network and followed the signs to Regal where we stopped for lunch, than followed the next route for 25 kms heading for Freiburg. Riding in Germany is very nice and one doesn't even need a map, just follow the cycling routes.
We will be cycling in Germany again, we have found it to be a very beautiful and easy country to get around.
At first glance I found Freiburg to be a bit overrated, and after speaking to a few people who lived there and some others who were just visiting proved my point. It is a nice place with history and all but it just doesn't hold a stick to Strasbourg. If one is looking for that Black forest something I don't think he'll find it here.
Monique liked it but, I don't know, maybe I was expecting more from this place, especially after hearing so much about it, or maybe seeing Strasbourg first was the problem.
The camping was nice, clean and very close to the city center. At camp we met this German cyclist who is pulling this homemade wagon (picture below) through Germany, his reason for doing this is, he was tired of wet tents in the morning, LOL, I really think his control tower has defect.
This chuck wagon weighted 80kgs and had a large mattress in it, we had quite a laugh.

           
1, 2- Riding along on top of the dyke near the Rhine river. Left is North and right is South.
3- Making on the road repairs, my front right rack came loose.
4- The very nice and long canal heading to Freiburg.
5- The Freiburg Munster.
6- Taking a break along the long canal.
7- The chuck wagon :-))