Thursday, September 18, 2014

Skiing Holiday 2014

End of season trip to Wanaka with some great weather at Treble Cone. Snow thin at bottom but nice up at the Saddle especially early morning. Great to have Sarah, Scott, Simon and Rosie with us.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Day 23 Leersum to Utrecht 34 kms

Short ride this morning from Leersum to Utrecht where we caught the train to Rotterdam. This means we miss the industrial parts of Holland and can get Gill to Hook by tomorrow to catch the ferry to Harwich.

The most   amazing thing happened yesterday after we went through a small town called Wageningen and stopped at a really nice  coffee shop. Now I dont normally write on toilet walls but this one had a blackboard and chalk in the toilet which was blank so I wrote my initials and that I had cycled from Andermatt. Anyway Frank the cyclist and Leslie who I first met at the first Hotel in Andermat, Switzerland happen to go into the same coffee shop and saw my note. They emailed and we met up again at our campsite.
Frank who origionally was a native of Holland before going to the States in the 50's told us all about Utrecht and where to go. Anyway we visited the canals and saw the restaurants on the sides of the canals.

The ride to Utrecht was pleasant going past very posh houses in huge grounds as well as some wooded areas. Unfortunately did rain abit and the tent was wet to fold up.
Got the train to Rotterdam and had a quick look round. Very modern city with some impressive buildings. Again the roads are busy with cyclists everywhere.

I will accompany Gill to the Hook on the train tomorrow and she will catch the night sailing to Harwich. I will return to Rotterdam before heading to Amsterdam the next day for the Rhinology conference.
My clothes are a right mess after 4 weeks camping so have been to a C& A store to get a business shirt and tie. The Europeans tend to wear suits for conferences so I will have to hide or pretend to be Australian. (Sorry James)

This is probably the end of the trip. I dont know how many Kilometers I have done but will work it out when I get home. Havent quite done as much as I hoped but the effort of carrying all the gear made it hard. A video may have to be done too.

Thanks to all those who have read the recent blog. Hope it wasnt too boring.

The good and the bad of the whole trip.
The good. Realising that it can be done and overcoming all the worries about food, finding somewhere to sleep and having no disasters. More importantly having the company of Sue and Gill. Thanks.

The bad, Probably the extremes of temperature. From 0 degrees in Andermatt to 39 degrees in Germany, and of course realising that camping is hard as you get older.

A special thaks to the makers of Brompton Bikes. They worked flawlessly.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Day 22 Oosterbeek to Leersum 36kms

Just a short day. Coldish this morning but nice ride. Who said there were no hills in Holland. We had more hills today that the whole of the Rhine in Germany. The bike trails are great but don't follow the Rhine exactly so that why we are going up hills.

Was worried today that we were in Holland and hadn't seen either tulips or a windmill. Glad to say we saw our first windmill mid morning just after a lovely stop for coffee. Nice new restaurant with friendly staff and good food. (Late breakfast). The dutch also speak great English as neither of us can speak a word.
Passed quite a few war memorials and cemetries today as I know this area was fought over alot during the last war.
Found a pleasant campsite as part of a farm with nice hot showers. Lots of fruity farm smells but should be quiet. We were warned that Holland was playing in the world cup tonight so there might be raucous youths about.
We have walked to the nearest town today as I wasnt going to accept biscuits again for dinner tonight.

The good and the bad
The good. The solar panels have been great and a days sunshine will charge the cellphone, GPS and Bluetooth walkie talkie.
The bad. The dynamo basically has not worked well at all. Also had 2 spare batteries that have been dud and had to throw away. Bought some new ones that can be charged with solar and mains.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Day 21 Kalkar to Oosterbeek 64 kms

Good steady day. Couple of small showers and we dodged most of the black clouds. Last campsite really quiet so we slept well but was pretty basic. Eg no loo paper.
We cycled more in a straight line today and did not hug the Rhine. So went through some smallish villages and then Arnhem.
Difficult to know exactly which country you are in but start to notice peoples houses are decorated with flags for the football world cup. And now we see Dutch flags. And then we saw one smallish sign saying Netherlands 1 km. Nothing else. (Europe is football mad at the moment)

Arnhem is a cyclist city with bike paths taking presidence to roads but the cyclist dont seem to have any rules and come at you from all directions. The cycle paths have central dotted lines, their own traffic lights and  cars give way to all cycle paths.
Found a rather isolated but pleasant campsite by the river. Nice showers and loos. Has a cafe but is closed on Mondays!!! So biscuits and water again tonight. No WIFI again.

Forgot about the good and bad yesterday. Navigation
The good-- having a GPS so that you know where you are.
The bad-- Having 2 GPS's which each tell you to go in a different direction.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Day 20 Duisberg to Kalkar 72 kms

Fairly good day of riding. Got a train out of Cologne and got off at Duisborg. Hoped to get past most of the industrial part of Germany but still past vast factories with huge cooling towers. We didnt think much of Cologne as we were in a fairly grotty part overnight. Got a glimpse of the famous cathedral but didnt get a good picture.

Followed the Rhine trail fairly closely today and the only real complaint was the wind. As usual it always seems you are gong into it. The fact that there were a large number of huge wind generators suggests it would be windy. It has got pretty flat as we approach Holland.
Lots out cycling today with family riding every concievable type of cycle with lots of electric powered ones. But all ages are out there on a Sunday afternoon.

The first campsite we found was for static campers only so had to go on further. Stopped at a pleasant quiet one, but has limited fascilities so once again only some buscuits to eat since breakfast. Must be better prepared for tomorrow.
Probably only three more days of full cycling so certainly underestimated the distances that we could travel pulling rather heavy trailers.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Day 19 Another rest day. Bonn to Cologne by Ferry

Planned rest day with a boat trip from Bonn to Cologne. Only ferry was at 4pm so we had all day in Bonn. Had a look again at all the sites. Nice city with good pedestrian streets and market squares. Found a huge bookshop which was a converted cinema. They had left the stage area, ceiling and some seating for people to read. Got maps for the rest of the journey so happy.
As we were boarding the ferry with bikes and trailers bumped into the American couple I had meet on my first day of the trip in Andermatt. Very hospitable couple. He is a very fit 75 year old and they got up the first mountain pass out of Andermatt when I had taken train. They also found the heat unbearable so have had some rest days and train sections. They have been staying in Hotels rather than camping and have sent a lot of their excess gear back by post, so not carrying as much as we are.
The scenary between Bonn and Driesberg is very industrial so we may get an early train and bypass that and get back to cycling mid morning tomorrow. Hope to get out into some countryside as cities are hard to ride through.
Arrived at Hotel in cologne about 7 pm, got a room and when we opened the door found peoples clothes and luggage in the room and realise we were double booked. Luckily had a spare twin room for us.
Look forward to a good ride tomorrow as legs have just about stopped hurting.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Day18 Koblenz to Bonn --Rest day. Ride to train Station!

Couldnt ride today as both of us have legs that wont work. The groans and creaks as we get up can be heard down the street. So we decided to catch up on distance, as we have got a bit behind so got a train from Koblenz to Bonn. We had a very good look round Koblenz in the morning and saw all the sites. It is the confluence of the Rhine and the Mosel so very important place in History. Had a great cable car ride up to the castle which was Roman and a Prussian stronghold.

By mid afternoon we were in Bonn and had a wander around the central city. Beethoven memerobilia everywhere.

Tomorrow we plan to take the boat from Bonn to Cologne, although it doesnt leave until the late afternoon.

The Good and the Bad
Cycling surface.
The good- newly laid tarmac
The Bad- old cobble stones. Terrible on hands and bottom!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Day 17 Geisenheim to Koblenz 74kms

Another good day in spite of legs complaining about yesterday. Good weather and perfect cycle tracks.

This is probably the prettiest part of the German Rhine with castles and vineyards on both sides of the Rhine gorge. Lots of tourists boats plying up and down.
We started from Geisenheim fairly early after a reasonable night in the tent. Temperature down to acceptable levels. Crossed the rhine almost immediately to Bingen. Made good progress along the southern bank although as would be expected the wind was fresh up the valley and through the gorge.
Had lunch- a plain roll and coffee at a lovely village called Bacharach. Real classic old German village. Castles on every hill!!
Legs really started to complain as the day went on and got to Kablenz as planned. Good campsite with new fascilities but cold showers. Gill can handle that but took me a while to wash with lots of gasps and groans.
We are behind on schedule so may do some of the industrial central part of the Rhine by boat or train.

OK now the good and bad. Accommadation
The good- finding a nice campsite with a restaurant and good hot showers.
The bad- worrying all day if we can find somewhere to stay!

PS look on Gills timeline on Facebook. See Gill Ralphs

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Day 16 Worms to Geisenheim 80 kms

Great day. Longest day so far! Good weather and good distance.
Pleasant night at Hotel but still very hot as we were in rooms at the top.  Included breakfast was great and an early start gave us the edge to keep going.

Passed through Oppenheim and then onto Mainz where we crossed the river to the Northern bank which was a change from the industrial south side. Passed through some lovely old villages and lots  of vineyards.

The path disappeared at one stage where they were building a new bridge and we opened a fence to try to get through but got told off for going into a construction site. Found our way out eventually.

Pushed onto campsite which is right on the Rhine in spite of our legs complaining. Had a nice meal and the restaurant next door. Temperature is lovely so we shall sleep well.

I have decided to do a daily whats good and whats bad on all the subjects that interest a touring cyclist such as weather, finding accommadation, sore bums etc.

First Food
The Good. Finding a nice Bakery that has coffee as well.
The Bad. Trying to find any food on a holiday weekend.

Hoping to get to Koblenz tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Day15 Speyer to Worms 60kms

Much better day with temperatures down in the morning with good cloud cover. Dodged some thunder and lightening with slight rain which cooled us. All the locals are commenting on the unusually hot weather. Last night was the last straw with a night of over 25c so just in undies and lying on the sleeping bag. Although the campsite was nearly empty and we thought would be quiet the frogs started up a very noisy chorus in the middle of the night. Unbelievable to think about 10 days ago I was freezing with 4 extra clothes layers on in my sleeping bag.

I think yesterdays heat really stretched us so only did 60kms today. We have also treated ourselves to 2 rooms at a hotel in Worms.

Worms calls itself one of the oldest cities in Germany... We had time to wander round the central city and visit the rather special Cathedral. Had a nice Thai restaurant meal this evening and will retire early with the prospects of a longer ride tomorrow.

And to those who were worried about our lack of food yesterday which probably did affect our performance all the shops were open so there was plenty of choice.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Day 14 Lauterbourg to Speyer 58 kms

Temperature today was forcast for 36c so we planned a shortish day. Campsite last night was adequate although incredibly crowded. It was pretty noisy during the night as we were close to the ablutions. No other space.
Left about 7.30 am although interestingly they lock the gates and it is hard to get out before then. Presumably for security reasons.
We used our GPS's for navigation today rather than follow the Rhine Route because we had no food. There was a holiday on Monday in Germany so everything shut. Eventually found a Petrol station which had a few drinks and bicuits and then a bread shop. A large queue and virtually no bread left by 9.30 confirmed it must be a holiday. At lunch we found an ice cream type shop and had a large milkshake.
Got to Speyer and then scanned google maps and Garmin maps for somewhere to stay. Ended up at a quiet and slightly run down camp site but it had great showers and there was a first class restaurant next door.
It seems to get really hot about 6.oopm when the wind drops so we are now baking. Hopefully will sleep better in a quiet campsite

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Day 13 Strasbourg to Lauterbourg 70 kms

Set off early from Strasbourg while it was relatively cool. Heated up as the day went on. Got out of the city without difficulty as no traffic early sunday morning. Went past the European Government Buildings.  Riding was easy with all flat sealed road. Early we went through villages which was nice and laterly went along the rhine.Gill dipprd her toes for the first time in the rhine.

 We stopped for coffee  at Herrlisheim and bought a bagette to eat later on. Really a pub, but very pleasant place to sit outside in the shade.
We biked steadily on thinking we may stop at an earlier campsite but road onto the planned destination which ended up about 70kms. It was unbearably hot by then and we were both low on water.
Campsite nice but absolutley full and clearly there was a Holiday on and as we heard later probably be a holiday Monday in Germany which is just over the water.
Had a pizza for dinner then when it cools will get an early night. Not sure what will happen tomorrow but that is half the adventure.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Day 11 Breisach to Strasbourg, via Colmar

We set off on the hottest and sunniest day to date after a leisurely start. The tent and ground sheet were dry for the first time.
The night before had not been quite so settled. More about this but feel free to resume biking story and skip from * to ** to do so. 
* We blew up our inflatable mattresses and got ready for sleeping after returning from our evening meal but noticed that mine deflated quite quickly which should have alerted us to a problem. We ignored this and settled down for the night but before long I was aware of sharp knobbly things under my back. I knew we were camped under an oak tree and I suspected a puncture. Jerry was sound asleep so I tried all the usual things eg lying on the sleeping bag, then adding layers of clothing as the night cooled down, then tossed and turned for a couple of hours before Jerry woke up. We then tried the two people on one mattress, and variations on that theme but to no avail. We decided to attempt a puncture repair in the dark in a tent! Jerry diligently covered the whole surface feeling for the leak and finally worked out that there was a bit of paper in the deflate valve! I had been muttering about the fact that all inflatable devices fail at some stage and that they were not recommended for trips such as this one etc etc. I had to make my apologies but after that we were able to settle down to a great nights sleep.
Our cycling was very pleasant along canals and then minor roads which became busier as we approached Colmar. We had a difference of opinion regarding the route as I had bike maps loaded on my garmin which I was using for the first time whereas Jerry was using GPS which had served us well to date. We ended up on a very busy single lane road with no bike track and lots of trucks moving at speed in both directions. To travel along this road would have held up traffic behind us or made trucks impatient to pass us. The dilemma - travel back the way we had come (approx 8km) or walk along the grass verge with trailers in tow which is what we decided to do. It was hot and sweaty work but after a couple of kms we were able to get back off on a side road. We had a gentle ride into Colmar via back streets to the station where we planned to catch the train to Strasbourg.
Strasbourg has a very striking station building and the less said about loading 2 bikes and 2 trailers on and off a busy train with the entry space already full of luggage, the better- its harder work than any biking to date. Unfortunately, during this process A piece of the wheel hub broke on Jerry's bike so we hope the "mend" will last for the remainder of the trip. 
We have a huge suite in a basic but clean hotel where we have met up with Gill who will take my place on the bikes from here.
We have exchanged bikes and equipment and I will take all the unwanted stuff back to UK. 
We have sauntered around Strasbourg and have bought a 3 person tram pass for 24 hours which we have put to good use.
We are in the Jewish area and last night we could hear lots of chanting through open apartment windows and today, a school or college nearby is doing some chanting / singing which is very melodious. Jerry and Gill are swapping bike seats and making minor repairsin preparation   for setting off tomorrow. .