In the morning we went for a swim before packing up and heading out. We had planned another relatively short day so that we could spend the afternoon in Salzburg before riding a little way out of the city to camp in the evening.
The ride out to Salzburg was pleasant, and it was another hot and sunny day. We followed the shores of the lake in the early morning before cutting across country a bit on a B road. We soon arrived in Traunstine, a town outside Salzburg about 20 km where we grabbed a coffee and took some brief respite from the heat of the sun.
Riding towards Salzburg on another B road, we spotted a cycle track that would take us to the next town just before the city on our route. We turned off the road and climbed for about 10 minutes. When we came out of the trees we found ourselves on top of rolling alpine hills dotted with farmhouse and barns and the mountains off in the distance.
This scenic route brought us almost to Salzburg, where we then turned on to the Mozart cycle route that brought us all the was to the city. We crossed the bridge into the city and left Germany behind. We would be here in Austria for about a week while we crossed the Alps.
In Salzburg we wandered around for a bit looking at the sights, but it was too hot to really concentrate on anything. All we actually wanted was some food. More wandering in the wrong direction took us by happenstance through Mozarts birthplace but we were on the completely wrong side of town, as we learned from the concierge at the Sheraton.
Returning to the centre we found somewhere to eat, but it had gotten late. We managed to get a small bit of sauntering around the old town done but it was time to leave if we were to get to our destination.
Turned out we had a bit of a climb coming out of Salzburg but it was well worth it in the end, after we finished the 45 min climb we were once again out on Alpine plains. It was starting to get dark by the time we reached Lake Fuschl. The road skirted far above the lake but soon descended into the resort town of Fuschl am See. We rode though the town and out the other side and before long came across a nice stoney beach on the shore to set up camp.
It was pretty warm when we woke up this morning at 7, it was going to be a hot day. We cycled on the main road for a while which was a bit busy seeing as it was morning rush hour but after about 15km we got to Grafing where we were able to turn off the main road and get onto smaller back roads, similar to what we had been riding into Munich.
A short while outside Grafing we got our first glimpse of the Alps, way off on the horizon and obscured by the haze, but definitely there. You might be able to make them out in the photo.
The route was really picturesque through more German countryside and small villages. We weren’t going very far today, we wanted to stop a bit outside Salzburg so we could get in early tomorrow and spend the day there.
We got closer to the Alps and soon we could see them very clearly on the horizon. We had lunch just before arriving at the lake, decided to have a quick nap after eating and the went down to the shore.
Lake Chiem was a popular holiday destination and every beach or jetty was packed with people but it was still beautiful with clear blue waters and framed by the Alps towering in the distance. We rode along the shore for a while, hoping to find somewhere that wasnt packed with people by the lakeside where we could camp. We didn’t have to search long and after cycling for maybe 20 minutes we came across a stoney shore which some low hanging vegetation off to the side the blocked sight from the road, it was perfect.
During our stay in Munich Finn had noticed his Dynamo hub was not working properly. He left it in with some mechanics on the morning we were to leave, and they were also unable to get it going. However, we were only a three hour train ride from Tübigen (in fact we had passed through it a couple of days before) where the hubs were made.
We decided to push our date of departure back a day, Finn took the wheel off his bike and locked it up and left for Tübigen. I went and found a cheap place to stay in Munich for the night nearby where I could keep all our luggage.
I went back to Finns bike in the morning before checkout and put his bags back on his bike and then locked them all up. After that I cycled back, loaded up my bike and checked the messages from Finn,meh said he had had a successful morning in Tübigen getting his hub fixed at the factory and would meet me around two.
His train ended up being delayed and didn’t get in until three. Some
last minute errands including returning to Guten Biken meant we didn’t get out of the city until six. We only had a few hours of daylight left, we wouldn’t get that far but we didn’t to at least get out of the city limits so we could start making progress right away the next day.
We rode through suburbs of Munich for about an hour until we crossed the Autobahn that circled the city limits and we were back into countryside. At eight we stopped into a pretty fancy Chinese restaurant by the road to fill up our water for the night. Not ten minutes further down the road we found a field just of it to camp for the night.
Our time in Municn had been the longest time off the bike and sleeping indoors since we started and it was nice to be out camping again, even if we had only ridden for two hours today.
Our last day before reaching Munich! We were going to take a whole weekend off in Munich, two days instead of our usual one and we left camp in high spirits.
It was quite an uneventful ride most of the way. Similar pattern to the previous days with short climbs over hills and down into small villages. We rode into Ausberg at 11 and found our way out after a short coffee stop relatively quickly.
Sunny weather and a minor headwind in the afternoon. As we were entering the greater Munich area and started to think about finding the right route into the city a cyclist came riding up beside us. His name Christoph and after asking us a few questions about where we were going, where we’ve come from he inquired where in Munich we were going. As it happened we were heading to the same neighbourhood he lived in and was returning to and offered to lead us into the city. We graciously accepted.
Christoph was a really interesting guy with a long history of cycle touring in his family, his father and grandfather before him were avid tourers. He told us of a contraption he had constructed so that he could haul his 4m sea kayak behind his bike on tours. He dropped us off right in the city, not 5km from where we were staying.
We were staying with a Warmshowers host named Daniel. A really welcoming and relaxed guy, he had been on many tours and understood completely what it meant to take a rest day. With two days off the bikes ahead of us we took it easy this evening and hung out with Daniel on his flat learning about the many trips he had been on.
On account of the few little setbacks yesterday we had about an extra 30km we had to cover over the next two days to reach Munich (ground that we should have covered yesterday). Not too bad, nothing compared to the Strasbourg push we had to do.
We rolled down the hill we camped on and cycled into Bad Urach, the nearby village. Out of Bad Urach we had a 4km climb up,to the next plateau, but the gradient wasn’t too steep and it was just a matter of time getting to the top.
From here we found the cycle network again and followed it a while, up over hills and along the edges of farmland and forest. There was a nice rhythm to the day, climbing up a hill, seeing a small village or town in the distance with the church spire at the centre and then descending down into the settlement, only to repeat the pattern again.
A bit before lunch we finished a climb and saw our halfway point, Ulm down in the plains below us with its cathedral standing well out, dwarfing everything around it. We later found out this was because Ulm Cathedral is the tallest in the world. And also not technically a cathedral.
After lunch in Ulm we started trying to figure out the puzzle of leaving the city on the right road that would set us on the correct path for the rest of the day. While analysing the map in the centre of town, an older guy came up to us on his bike and asked if we needed help.
He tried to offer directions to where we wanted to go, but it was too complicated and in the end he generously led us out himself. His name was Wolfgang and loved bike touring himself, had just returned from cycling around Italy. 30 min later he dropped us off at the edge of town on the right route. We said goodbye and set off.
The afternoon ride was similar to the morning and we made good time. Around 7 we wheeled into a field by the road just a bit outside Jettingen and set up for the night.
In the morning we doubled back on the path we had followed mistakenly the day before and rolled bikes down the embankment back onto the road. We followed this road, the route 28, into the next town Horb am Necker where we were able to pick up a cycle route for a bit along the river.
This is how the day would go, the cycle network was s bit too indirect for us and there wasn’t an official cycle route to Munich, so we followed the cycle route as it suited for ten or twenty kilometres before getting back on the Route 28 (the main road that went all the way to the next big city, Ulm. Not the autobahn) to join up with a new cycle route a few kilometres down the road.
We got lunch in the surprisingly exciting town of Tübingen. It’s a pretty well preserved old town with a large young population thanks to the University. It was on the way out of Tübingen that Finn started to notice a problem with his rear hub. While starting a climb the freewheel went and he couldn’t pedal. We stopped, Finn took it apart, realised the problem was beyond both our (vast, of course) expertise. So he took my bike back into town to get it fixed or replaced and I hung out by the road.
Finn, I’m sure, went on some wild adventure around Tübingen with a wheel on his back, searching for a German mechanic to repair his American hub. For my part I sat by the road, wrote some blog posts and napped.
Finn returned two hours later with two wheels on his back. It had been impossible to fix the hub, nowhere had the parts needed and it would take months to get them in so he had to pick up a new rear wheel. Once that was done, though, it didn’t take long to get back on the road.
We got a bit delayed the next town over in Reutlingen. Finding our way in and navigating to the correct road out of town both took way longer than we would have liked.
These two setbacks meant that we ended up riding until sunset which we really relaxing in a way. Shortly before we finished we were riding through lovely quite country roads on rolling hills up into the orchards and vinyards that dotted them and down into the villages in the valleys.
One last steep climb before we finished brought us to a fantastic palace to camp for the night, the top of a hill that looked back over the plateau we had crossed with the Schwabian Alps of yesterday afternoon off in the distance. It was a great end to what could have been a disastrous day.
A wonderful surprise was in store for us today: the first proper switchback climb of the trip. We knew we would have to do some climbing, but weren’t really prepared to cross a pass on the Schwabian Alps.
Leaving Strasbourg wasn’t too hard. Sometimes getting out of a city can be a real challenge. Once we crossed over the Rhine into Germany though, we were greeted almost immediately by the familiar green bike signs like a warm embrace.
One quick Lidl pitstop later and we were away, racing across the flat planes of the Rhine basin towards Munich. And while it was at the time easy, flat riding on the horizon the land rose up. We would have to cross those peaks eventually…
The incline was pretty gradual most of the day. We started off through orchards and vineyards where fresh fruit was for sale in unmanned kiosks by the side of the road. After a sudden, very steep but short climb we got into the first plateau and met up with a small river in a nearby village.
After lunch, during which time we looked ominously at the contours of the map, we followed the river up into the hills. Once again a long period of slight incline left us feeling pretty good in our ability to tackle the mountains, until we had to cross the pass.
We hauled ourselves up pass, a long steep road for about 3Km but soon we were on a series of switchbacks that seemed never to end. Huffing and puffing, all to aware that we still have to cross the Alps in a week, we hauled ourselves up the mountain and a bit over an hour later reached the top. Here we were got a shot of this sign, a warning to cars on the descent we had just climbed.
After the hard work though, we got the reward and cruised downhill all the way for 12km into Freudenstadt where we rewarded ourselves with some ice cream.
We rode on a bit further as the evening drew in. At one point we found ourselves riding on freshly laid road, no lines or anything yet painted and still closed to cars. We cruised down this for a little while before getting funnelled onto a cycle route that left the road we wanted to follow.
We made it to Strasbourg on the day we had planned, but it wasn’t easy. Turned out we had underestimated the distance we would have to ride by about 50km and ended up doing 180 km in a day.
The thing about cycle touring is, especially when you’re on flat, paved roads, it’s not really about pushing hard, or exerting extra effort, you just have to cycle longer and eat more.
We got a bit lost in the morning getting into Speyer, which didn’t help and added about an hour to the journey. It was a good day though, sunny if s bit windy. It took an old German couple on bikes themselves to point us in the right direction.
“Where are you from?” Asked the husband.
“Dublin” we replied
“ahhh Dublin! You mean ‘Dooblin’?” Putting on his best Dublin accent.
The funny thing was, this wasn’t the first time we’ve heard this from a German on the trip. Actually, by now we had gotten used to it and probably would have been surprised if he didn’t supply us with this witty quip.
At Germersheim, the next town after Speyer we got a big Subway sandwich. And then at Wörth am Rhein, the last big town before Strasbourg, realising we still had 80km to go and it being about 5 we got a coffee and a McFlurry.
We crossed into France without realising it, just all of sudden the road signs were different and in French.
We still had a lot of distance to cover and it was getting late. We cycled through dinner time. About 30km outside Strasbourg at half eight we found a small pizza place on the side of the road and ate some more. As I said, it’s not about pushing yourself hard, just cycling at the same steady pace for a long time.
It got dark. We got in contact with our Warmshowers host and told them we would be later than the late hour we initially warned them we would be. Nine became ten, then ten thirty and we finally got into the city. It was a bit before 11 when we finally arrived at our hosts address.
Our hosts were the endlessly accommodating Flora and her roommate Martin. We apologised for the late hour of arrival but they were understanding and extremely welcoming. Their cosy apartment just outside central Strasbourg was lovely. We had a quick shower, a brief chat and then went straight to sleep.
We woke up feeling fine, and after the breakfast included with the hostel we felt well up to getting back on the bikes again after our little setback the day before. The only problem now was that we had lost a day, and were expected in Strasbourg tomorrow evening. It wasn’t impossible, we had budget five days with the final day to be a half day to give us a bit more time in the city, so if we did two big days now we could still make it. We decided to give it a go.
Thankfully riding along the Rhine is, as I’ve gone on at length about before, really not that difficult at all. From Bingen we had a strong tailwind all the way to Mainz which helped ease us back into the swing of things.
After Mainz though, the river turned south and the wind wasn’t quite as helpful. We jumped off the EuroVelo route for a bit to cute out some of the wider meanders of the river and shave off some distance.
These more inland routes took us through vineyards and small hamlets. The wind really stared to pick up in the afternoon. By evening we had made it to Ludwigshafen, a small city on the river. We had set getting to the other side as our goals or the day. The cycle route took us past industrial areas and into parks and housing estates. At some points in the parks we found big branches blown over the path, maybe from the particularly strong wind that day but we couldn’t be sure.
We got through Ludwigshafen and found an empty field in Altrip where we pulled in and set camp behind a patch of bushes. We had covered good ground, especially considering how bad we had been yesterday, and were on track to make it to Strasbourg tomorrow.