Freiburg to Maastricht

Sunday, 10 September.

103 kms 8 hrs. 12.7 Av. Total 818 kms
Freiburg to Xonrupt-Longemer, France.

We got up at 06:00 but didn't get under way until 08:30, took a bit longer this morning.
I shouldn't have had those extra two half litters of beer.
The ride West to Breisach am Rhine was very nice a slow downhill through very beautiful farms. Every one of them had apple, pear, and prune trees, and some with vineyards.
It was really nice cycling along these bike paths.
At Breisach we crossed the Rhine for the last time, it was the same place where I had crossed last year on the way to Athens. It did bring a lot of memories, I suggest to Monique we could continue south, I didn't need any maps, but we don't have the time to cycle to Athens this time :-(
We continued on the bike paths to Colmar, a large town or small city, nothing special there so we continued on towards Wintzenheim on the D417. We could see the large hills of the Ballons des Vosges, natural park getting closer.
We stayed on the D417 heading towards Munster were the climb to the Col de la Schlucht began. There was a cycling path to Munster but it hugged the hills and we didn't want to spend too much energy cycling up and down all those little climbs, we knew that the Col would take a lot of time and energy to get over.
After reaching Munster we stopped for a long break before starting up the hill. It started at around 7% for several kms before it leveled off at around 5%, it never stopped going up.
There were signs every km counting down the 18kms needed to reach the top, and we had mixed feelings about that. The views naturally were getting better and better as we climbed and pictures cannot really show, it is a beautiful ride to the top.
We kept getting all these thumbs up from the motorcyclists, cars and buses that were on the road, and that gave us a lot of encouragement.
We were very proud of ourselves after reaching the top, we started climbing with 73 kms on the clock, and now we had a few kms downhill to the camping on the Lac de Longemer.
Many camping's here and we were spoiled for choice, we stopped at one on the lake, basic, clean, and very reasonably priced at 8 euros shower included.

       
1- On the bridge over the Rhine, looking North, France on the left, and Germany on the right.
2- Riding along vineyards, on the D417 heading for Munster, and Col de la Schlucht.
3- Church in the center of Munster.
4- Beautifully colored buildings in Munster, they aren't afraid to use colors on their homes around here.
5- View from the climb, Munster can just be seen below.
 

     
6- The climbing continued at a steady pace.
7- Another of the many hairpins on this climb, you can just make out the road below.
8- The view from the top of the Col, it was evening now and the light was not perfect.
9- Posing next to the sign, with the rest stops it took us nearly four hours to get here.
We were very happy to have finally made it.

Monday, 11 September.

64 kms 4 hrs. 20 min. 49.9 Av. Total 882 kms
Xonrupt-Longermer to Bouzey, France

The day started out great, we had slept in this morning got up around 08:00 and were on the road by 10:00. It worked out ok because it had rained last night and the extra time was needed to dry the tent.
We got on the D417 again going downhill this time to Gerardmer, now this was a very beautiful place very clean with many hotels and camping's around. We only stopped for a short break then continued on to Le Tholy where we changed over to the D11 heading for Epinal. Soon afterwards we had this other hill to climb, the Col de Bonne Fontain at 676m, peanuts :-) we flew over that one real easy. The downhill after that was the nicest so far, high wooded hills all around it was a real pleasure until it leveled out, than for the last 14 kms to Epinal were a real drag, wide open spaces with little to no shade,  heavy traffic and no shoulder on the road.
We stopped at this tourist office in Epinal to get directions to this camping next to this small man made lake at Bouzey, and she directed us to this real nice bike path along a canal it was about 5kms longer but no traffic so it worked out OK.
Camping at Bouzey was expansive and not all that good, it was only for one night so we accepted it.

       
1- Outside our tent, Lac de Langemer, difficult to beat these views.
2- The lake next to Gerardmer.
3- Yours truly waiting for his better half to finish taking pictures.
4- Climbing towards Col de Bonne Fontain.
5- After some climbing we made it to the top.
 

     
6- Out of the woods and the hills, on the way to Epinal.
7- Looking back on the very long D11, we came from those far away hills.
8- Crossing the Mossel, this time at Epinal.
9- A hill covered with wild flowers, just outside of Epinal.

Tuesday, 12 September.

93 kms. 6 hrs. 15.4 Av. Total 976 kms.
Bouzey to Liverdun, France.

Got up at 07:45 and were on the road by 09:45. It was supposed to be an easy day today and for the first +/- 25 kms it was, riding through very small rural roads, with maybe one car every 10 min. it was great. Then at Vincey we had to get on the busy D157, followed by the D570, many trucks and no shoulder on the road, all the way to Nancy. It was getting very nerve wrecking.
Just before Nancy we decided to go through it, instead of around like the river mossel does. We found a cycling path along this canal that promised to get us to the center of town, and it did unfortunately it stopped there, and we had to find our own way out of town, and it was just beginning rush hour. So after fighting with the traffic for a while we managed to get on the very busy N57 heading North, than changed to the D90 heading West following the Mossel upstream for a few kms to the camping at Liverdun.
Overall it was a pretty good day, all the drivers were courteous and we had no problems.
The camping at Liverdun was basic but also cheap, so for one night it was OK. We met this Dutch couple there very nice people, the husband looked interested at cycle touring so I gave him the address to this page, I hope I convinced him to give it a try, at least once ;-)

       
1- A beautiful day clear sky, no wind and no traffic.
2- Rode on this nice canal for a few kms near Charmes.
3- This picture was taken across the river Mossel right by the camping, talk about the dream summer home.
4- A picture of the D570, it must have been lunch time as the traffic had dyed down some.
5- A picture on the D6, more flat and boring cycling. Only good thing about the day was the weather.

Wednesday, 13 September.

96 kms. 6 hrs. 30 min. 14.9 Av. Total 1072 kms.
Liverdun to Thionville, France.

We woke up at 06:00 but didn't get out of the sleeping bags until 07:00, and were on the road by 08:45. We have noticed that valleys next to rivers and with high wooded hills all around get very cold at night, also very foggy in the morning.
When we got out of the tent we found everything soaking wet, like it was raining last night.
Anyway we got on the road heading East along the river Mossel on the opposite bank this time and made our way to Pompey. Turned left and headed North on the very busy N57.
At Pont-a-Mousson it changed to the D952 than the D6 heading for Metz. All busy roads, very flat and we were getting a bit bored. Two days now, with much noise and tension along these roads is getting to be a bit of a drag.
There were a couple of camping's in Metz but we decided to pres on and go to Thinonville, we wanted to get away from the river Mossel and all the busy roads.
On the way to Thionville we stopped and had a chat with this guy that was walking from Luxemburg to Santiago de Compostela, WOW, 100 days at 25 kms a day was the plan.
We wished him luck and continued on our merry way.
The camping at Thionville is in the center of town right on the river. It's fairly price and a nice host (the reason it was fully booked and had to turn caravans away). We met Frank from Germany here, he was following the river Mossel, he had cycled from Santiago de Compostela and was heading home to Worms, Germany. Very nice fellow, safe travels mate ;-)

       
1- Another warm and clear day, cycling along the N57 heading for Dieulouard.
2- Still on the N57 this time heading for Pont-a-Mousson, we had to wait for the traffic to leave to take the pictures.
3- Panoramic view looking East, this time from the D6 heading towards Noveant-s-Moselle.
4- Taken from the cycling path along the Mossele near Metz.
5- Cathedral of Metz across the river.

Thursday, 14 September.

35 kms 2 hrs. 30 min. 13.7 Av. Total 1108 kms
Thionville, France to Luxemburg, city.

We slept in this morning we knew that it would be a short day, we didn't get on the road until 09:45. We are getting used to waking up early, nothing much to do when the sun goes down but, .... and sleep ;-)
We have changed our plans yet again, the original plan was to rest in Luxemburg for a day than ride to Maastricht in two days, but it is around 210 kms, and it would have been two very long days of over 100kms per day, to make it home by Sunday. So now we will split that in three days of around 70 km days and no rest day. Shorter days mean more time to check out the views along the way.
The day went pretty easy, we had only one short but steep hill +/-8%, it was OK but for the real bad tarmac, some roads have such a high rolling resistance that one has to cycle on a very low gear over a flat road.
The camping at Kockelscheuer, about 7kms from Luxemburg city is great, very clean, many  facilities, good mini market, even music in the toilets, lol, needless to say we highly recommend this camping. I have only found one real problem around these parts, they can't brew beer to save their lives.

       
1- On the N53 heading for Hettange-Grande, the hills of the Ardennes are looming in the distance.
2- Getting over this short but very difficult hill on the D15 heading for Volmerange-les-Mines
3- The other side of that hill, heading down to the Luxemburg border on the D58.
4- Crossing into Luxemburg just before Dudelange.
5- The very nice camping at Kockelscheuer just outside of Luxemburg city.

Friday, 15 September

74 kms. 5 hrs. 30 min. 13.6 Av. Total 1182 kms
Luxemburg to Gemund, Germany.

Yes we are in Germany again, just over the river Our from Luxemburg. More on this later.
Woke up early today, restless sleep, I think the noise from the highway a couple kms down the hill was a bit much.
It took us about 30 min. to get in and out of the city which is very good, we stayed on the sidewalks to keep out of the traffic. The sign posts were good, the roads clean and the drivers very courteous.
We did run into a few problems on the way to CR119, because of road works and not enough signs in the suburbs, we ended up on the N7 - E421 heading north.
At Helmdange we turned into this rural road heading East. Now this road had a section of over 16% and we had to walk it for about 50m until the grade got to about 10% where we climbed back on our bikes and rode the rest of the way over the hill to the CR119.
We stayed on the CR119 to Larochette, than got on the N14 to Medernach where we change to the CR358 for Reisdorf, on the Sauer river. This is another place I passed by on my way to Athens last year, brought back many memories again.
If anyone is thinking of riding North from Luxemburg this is the route to take, it's a very beautiful ride.
At Reisdorf we crossed the river and found a cycling path to Vianden, from there we continued along on the N10 for about another 10kms to the camping at Gemund.
We tried a camping at Waldhof-Falkenstein but it was basic and expansive 15 euro with a 30 euro down payment for the magnetic shower card.
At Gemund we paid a farmer 8 euro shower included, and he had Bitburger beer, YEA !!!

     
1- Looking South on the Alzette river valley and Luxemburg city.
2- Climbing the short but very difficult hill after Helmdange.
3- Riding along the CR119 through flat farmland.
4- Taking five to enjoy the views along the CR358.

     
5- Riding along the small rural road / cycling path after Reisdorf.
6- Panoramic view of the river Our after Vianden.
7- Crossing over the river Our just before Bivels.
8- The tiny village of Bivals next to the Our river.

Saturday, 16 September

76 kms. 6 hrs. 30 min. 11.6 Av. Total 1258 kms.
Gemund, Germany to Arimont, Belgium.

We were up and away by 08:30 on this very foggy morning. It was very nice riding in the fog along these very small rural road, seems mysterious or even creepy cycling when its really foggy. We continued on the N10 until the junction with the 410 from Germany.
We asked if there was a route or dirt track following the Our river and were told by these two sweet looking women that it was and after following this dirt track for about 30min. we discovered it ended in the woods, so we ended backing up to the 410 and following it up this torturous hill to Dasburg. At one point the grade got so high that I was on my lowest gear standing up and still could not continue. We ended walking the bikes again for about 50 meters until the grade was around 10% and then continued riding to the top.
We had a nice lunch on top of this plateau then continued to Dahnen, Wehr-Busch and finally to Lutzkampen were we got on the N693 and headed to Burg-Reuland in Belgium.
Near Wehr-Busch we came across this Dutch guy cycling to Italy alone, following the route of Paul Benjamince, (we followed his route last spring to Barcelona), and this made us very jealous, anyway we wished him luck and rode on.
At Burg-Reuland we turned North heading for Alster, than Galhausen, than onto the N62 -E421, now that was one tough road, the first hill was long and at 8% it took a lot to get over. From there followed no less than three more hills and by the time we reached St.Vith we were very tired. We looked around and found this pizza place and treated ourselves to two nice pizzas and a long rest before we continued on the N62 to Melmedy.
Just before Melmedy we saw a sign for a campsite at Arimont, 2 kms away. We should have known it was 2kms at 6/7%, lol we were done now and only wanted a couple of beers and and hot shower.
Tomorrow we will be heading home, so it wasn't so bad. The camping is basic, and we thought a bit expansive at 12 euros, 8 to10 euros would have been more reasonable.

       
1- Very heavy mist at the campsite by Gemund, Germany.
2- Looking South from the bridge on the Our river heading into Luxemburg
3- On the N10 following the Our river upstream.
4- Nearing the top of the very difficult climb after Dasbourg, Germany.
5- On the high plateau after Wehr-busch, just before we met the Dutch cyclist.
6- The very long downhill through some forested hills heading for the Belgian border.
7- Entering Belgium, the downhill continued well after this sign. One of the nice benefits of long and difficult climbs.

Sunday, 17 September.

76 kms. 5 hrs. 10 min. 14.8 Av.
For the grand total of 1335 kms
Arimont, Belgium to Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Got up early this morning and the anticipation of going home is great. We have been on the road for just over two weeks but we have already missed the little luxuries of home like our own bed and our own shower.
This morning again was very foggy, we could hardly make out the surrounding hills, and after the very nice 2km downhill we made our way to Melmedy for supplies. We still had a good days ride to get home, starting with a nice climb over the plateau to Eupen, Belgium.
The long feared climb was not all that bad we went over it quite easily.
Again it was nice riding in the fog it made everything look so eerie. On the plateau the fog got really thick, visibility went from 50m down to about 20m. But all the weekend worriers on there very fast motorcycles began to worry me. They were going really fast, if someone was on the road they would have become one. Very stupid we thought.
After about 30kms of flat road on the plateau we were treated to a very, very, very, long decent into Eupen. We stopped there for some hot brew to warm us up. It was a bit cold up there on the plateau. From Eupen we followed the N67, than turned left on the N3 for our last, and difficult climb of the tour up to Henri-Chapelle, were we turned right on the N613 followed by the N608 heading for Vise. At Berneau we turned right on the N627 heading for the border of Holland. Near Eijsden we got on the N591 to Maastricht. We had not told anyone the time of our arrival, so there was no party, just a nice home coming with our daughter Fem, with fast food and beer. A nice and quiet ending to a great tour.

       
1- Another foggy start to the day.
2- Starting the easy but very long climb to the plateau.
3- Looking back down midway through the climb.
4- One of the eerie scenes on the plateau.
5- Yours truly.

     
6- On the second plateau near Henri-Chapelle.
7- More foggy scenery on the way to Hagelstein.
8- Entering The Netherlands.
9- Home again, it has been a wonderful ride.

We were blessed with great weather the whole time. It was harder than the spring tour, the climbs were a bit tougher on this one.
We prefer to be cycling to a certain destination like going to Southern France, Spain, Southern Italy or Greece, instead of making a large loop.
Bottom line, it has been a great experience and we are already planning our spring tour.
Hope you enjoyed this trip, till next time, safe journeys :-)