Cycling Week 4: Mulhouse to Erbach

These Pretzels Are Making Me Thirsty!

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Mulhouse to Erbach
6 – 12 June 2018
374km

Au revoir pain au chocolat, guten morgen pretzels and apple strudel. This week was set to be a cracker of a week, starting with a short cycle to Basel. We have now cycled all the way across France, a fantastic milestone and a big achievement. We set up camp and headed into town, which meant we had breakfast in France, lunch in Germany and dinner in Switzerland. What a day. We loved Basel, right on the Rhine river, it is beautiful, historical and full of life. But also very expensive. After getting used to €1 coffees in France, €6 was a little hard to take, ouch! But we had an awesome day seeing the sights and enjoying the buzz but decided to leave the next day before things got too expensive.

We got very lost (again) trying to leave Basel as our route map and the route signs were not following each other. We found another group of cyclists in the same position. We stuck together and decided to follow an odd cycle sign and ditch the map. This left us a little high and dry as we were not sure where the signs would take us. After many wrong turns and doing this for the next two days, we eventually found our way back to the map and route markers matching. Fun! Thankfully the scenery has been amazing. We love the Loire, but we had a fling with the Rhine for a few days in Switzerland, and it was absolutely spectacular. The water is an aqua green colour and the countryside extremely picturesque. What struck us was that the towns were so different and more full of life and people than some of the towns in rural France. In saying this, we are missing France, its ‘Frenchness’ and our ability to converse. We realise that we must have known more French than we thought.  We leave the Rhine and Switzerland half way through the week and enter Germany, cycling along Lake Constance to find our way to the Danube (Donau) which will guide us for the next few weeks to Budapest. It’s just a muddy creek right now and we look forward to seeing how it evolves along the way.

Here is a summary of our itinerary. Feel free to skip ahead to the highlights section.

Day 22, 6 June (Mulhouse to Basel, 40km)

Day 23, 7 June( Basel to Kussaberg, 64km)

Day 24, 8 June (Kussaberg to Stein am Rhein, 70km)

Day 25, 9 June: Rest day in Stein am Rhein

Day 26, 10 June (Stein am Rhein to Orsingen, 40km)

Day 27, 11 June (Orsingen to Hausen, 60km)

Day 28, 12 June (Hausen to Erbach, 100km)

A few highlights along the way:

Basel of course was a highlight, we spent the afternoon walking around the old town, enjoying a few beers along the river and soaking up the vibe. We met an Aussie couple sitting next to us in a bar opposite the cathedral who live in Bowral (sorry mum and dad I didn’t get their names to see if you know them).

Finding the quaint village of Rheinfelden after hours of cycling through busy industrial areas. Our first pretzel sitting next to the Rhine was a very welcome treat.* We think we will like Switzerland!

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After leaving Rheinfelden we were met with some serious off-road cycling that our small bikes ‘loved’. Lendrums reading this, picture Khappinghat with our small bikes loaded up.  Man that was tough, but at least we had loaded up on pretzels to get us through.

Finding this great little resting place along the Rhine. We relaxed there for a while enjoying the view.* Shortly after we hit a massive hill winding its way up through a few vineyards  (in Switzerland, who knew). The hill conquered both of us and on the way pushing our bikes up I spotted a farmhouse with an Aussie flag.* I should have popped in to say ‘G’day’, but it would have meant going back down the hill. No chance.

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Coming across a professional cycle race just outside of Koblenz. It had a few big teams such as Trek and Skoda. We stopped and watched as the leader group came through, followed by the paletton. How cool. Maybe that will be us next time.

Cycling along the Rhine from Schaffhausen to the gorgeous town of Stein am Rhein. We were so excited to find our campsite just out of town and right on the Rhine. It was very hot so just after putting our tent up we jumped into the Rhine for a swim; fantastic.* The tough day melted away.

We loved the tranquility of the campsite so we decided to have a rest day there, enjoying coffee in town and swimming and chilling by the river. Of course, also eating Swiss chocolate (well it had my name on it).* We met Roman, a great German guy who was on a motorbike tour in Switzerland and Italy. We made a cup of tea for him in the morning and enjoyed a few chats. He is now back home in Stuttgard. We also met two Spanish guys living in Switzerland. The rain the first evening scared them off so we woke up to see they had left but had gifted us their brand new primus gas canister as we had told them we were struggling to find them. How awesome is that? And we can’t even contact them to say thanks. Good karma heading their way.

After leaving Stein am Rhein we entered Germany and enjoyed a great morning break at this place in Wangen. We were especially happy with the cheaper prices compared to Switzerland. We then went on to have a relaxing ride up Lake Constance. I loved the little towns along the way and views across the lake to Radolfzell.

Tuttlingen is where we met the Danube. To get there we were blessed with a solid 20km climb. Again it was tough but were treated with beautiful forests and farmlands. We even saw a sign to a ski lift and passed the weather tower; we must have been high.

We loved the cycle from Tuttlingen to Hausen, riding through steep gorges, passing clifftop chateaus and castles that appeared from nowhere. We also stayed in a great campsite right on the river. My favourite part of the day though was relaxing with a beer looking out at the gorge, and having a cup of tea right by the river.* My perfect day!

Our last day of the week we cycled 100km.  After realising we had another 20km to go to a campsite and knowing a storm was around the corner, we were so lucky to find a guesthouse who let us camp in their yard. We repaid them by spending the night eating schnitzel and drinking a few beers in their restaurant. We met a few locals and had a fabulous evening.*

Football World Cup fever is here, with shops everywhere selling flags and public areas being set up for watching games. We managed to find an Aussie flag which is now sitting on our bikes and attracting a lot of attention (they seem amazed we have come so far, some thinking we have cycled all the way. Hmmmm have they planted a seed for another trip). We also plan to take it with us when we watch France vs Australia on the 16 June, whatever town we find ourselves in.

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I didn’t realise lederhosen was normal day wear in Germany. We even saw a cyclist pass us wearing a lycra version. I should have taken a photo, although perhaps slightly awkward had I been caught.

We ran into the cyclists a few times who we got lost with leaving Basel. They are French and it’s good to be able to practice a few conversations with them.* They are also heading to Budapest but I think we are a few days ahead of them now.  I hope they are well…bon route!

Gaston and Belle are doing well and getting lots of attention. They are a good conversation starter so that’s a bonus. We haven’t seen anyone else yet on a folding bike.

We have learned that Paul is better skilled  at reading maps than I am. I think we already knew this though.

Best purchase of the week: My €5 horn bought because my bell had broken (probably because I am passing so many people). I am sure I will have a lot of fun with this.

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My weekly reflection:

Sometimes it takes the smallest thing to change how you are feeling. You can be in the most beautiful place but if you are tired, hungry or lost then you don’t feel great and don’t appreciate it. And vice versa. Eg. when we pulled up to a pretty ordinary campsite after one of the days we were lost early in the week. But all it took was a few good interactions with some people we met there and the day felt good again and we saw the place in a different light (thanks to the campsite manager, the 3 motorcycle tourists from The Netherlands and the old lady who laughed at our bikes). So I guess we can control how we feel based on our mindset and how we filter things in and out of our focus. Simple but easy to forget and not so simple to do.

* Finding Wilson

Beneath me flows the Rhine, and, like the stream of Time, it flows amid the ruins of the Past.”

Henry Wadsworth

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