Publié le 3 Novembre 2011

May 7th, 2011. Heidelberg - Heilbronn, 92 km

Excellent weather. Hot day


Along the Neckar river: Neckargemünd, Neckarsteinach, Hirschhorn, Eberbach, Zwingenberg (river crossing), Neckargerach, Diedesheim-Schreckhof, Hassmerscheim, Bad Wimpen, Heilbronn. Camp ground in Neckarsulm.


Early start at 7.15 after a rather unpleasant night, courtesy Aldi's Goulash dinner (Daniel had warned me...)...

No dew: tents folded dry ! 

Beautiful bicycle track along the river, winding through meadows and forests and up and down a few acceptable hills.


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Huge barges carrying scrap metal and other goods.

Many castles, surrounded by vinyards, sprinkled along the steep hill-sides.

Hirschhorn, in the early morning light, was absolute magic with its rows of half-timbered houses reflected on the waters of the river. We had hit the spot at the best time of day. The bright sun was illuminating the bank where most castles have been built. 

Passing through during the afternoon would have left a quite different impression.


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As we were cycling along, enjoying the scenery, we came accross a young man who was fighting with the rear brakes of his rowing bike (more details on this interesting machine at <>).  It moves along like an 8-oar scull except that a single cyclist does all the rowing. The arms and legs  transfer the power to the rear wheel through a series of cables and pulleys. The derailleur is rather complex...


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Our Flemish friend had been thinking of cycling all the way to India but was no longer quite so sure... With the help of the two of us it wasn't long before we had his machine up and running again.

Morning coffee in Eberbach.  

Further down the path, a couple of hours later, during our "lunch" pause, the crazy machine raced by, heading East. Good luck friend !

The day was spent cycling along the river through incredibly beautiful scenery. The castle in Zwingenberg and the small, one-car ferry accross the river were quite an experience.


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Jean-Marc was right: the cycle path came to a halt, facing the river. We were lucky: the small ferry was operating ! For 1 Euro, were were among the last people to use this crossing method: a brand new bridge had been built. It was planned to be open a few weeks later.

All this was rather sad. The old ferry, with its chain-drive system and overhead cable, to prevent it from running away down-stream, kept one man busy and was quite an experience ! 


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We continued our way along the beautiful Neckar: the path along the river is called the "Romantike Strasse". Arrival in Hassmersheim early afternoon. A lady watering her garden filled our water bottles, and seeing the Breton flags on our bikes, informed us that her small town was twinned with Chartres de Bretagne. Small world !

On the way out of the village, we came across a group of young people celebrating the upcoming wedding of two of them... One of the guys was pushing a pram loaded with several crates of beer....


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We had to stop to take a few pictures and in no time, ended up having a drink with them... On starting up, we rapidly came to the conclusion that in spite of cold beer being very enjoyable, such an approach, mid-afternoon on a very hot day, was not the best option.. !

Arrived in Bad Wimpen a bit later. The Tourist Büro was closed. Ended up in a gas station to get the coveted stamp on our Travel Logs.

Only a few more kms to Neckarsulm. The very tall chimneys of the Heilbronn power station couldn't be missed.

Once again, quick visit to the local Lidl for the evening meal. (We tied the bikes to a bubble-gum machine in the mall to be on the safe side).

Finally, after getting lost several times, we finally reached the camp grounds, located on the other side of a nice steep hill, among the vinyards. 

Once the tents were up and the shower taken, we could finally sit down for the usual evening ritual !  The day had been particularly hot but the  ncredible scenery along the Neckar and the encounters we had made along the way were worth every minute of it.  Nicest leg so far !  




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Rédigé par johnsbikingtrips

Publié dans #A bike ride from Paris to Prague


Publié le 2 Novembre 2011

May 8th, 2011. Neckarsulm - Schwäbisch Hall, 59 km

Very good weather. Hot !


Via Weinsberg, Obersulm, Lowenstein, Wustenröt, Mainhardt, Michelfeld, Schwäbisch Hall. Camp grounds in Steinbach.

Golden rule: always double-check information received.... (next time)


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Early start after a rather rough night due to a lot of noisy beer-drinking people in and around the camp. (Saturday night...). We reached Obersulm in time for our usual morning coffee and pastry, after passing through Weinsburg in the early morning mist. On the way out of town the road signage caused some confusion. The proper Radweg track through Bretzfeld, Ohringen, Waldenbourg was missed in 'favour' of a much more manly obstacle-course winding through the vineyards.

Not sure which way to go, we asked another cyclist. He sent us to Lowenstein, which was not located in a valley as the name could have indicated, but at the top of an endless steep hill.

I will not mention the number of times we got off the bikes to push them... nor the choice words used to qualify the man who had sent us along this road. However, in his defence, it must be said that the view from the village square over the valley was quite incredible. Only problem was that the hill was not finished yet...




Gehrardt, a very kind old man cycling down-hill through the village, stopped and drew us a map on the asphalt. He then turned around and lead us to the top of the hill using a short-cut through the nearby woods.

Thank you Gehrardt ! Pity we didn't meet you before, at the bottom of the hill...

The parking area at the top was completely taken over by hundreds of motor-cycles of all ages, models and sizes, all of them in mint condition. Our two dusty asphalt-dragons, with their insignificant wheels and tyres, loaded like donkeys, parked among all these chrome monsters, looked pretty miserable... not to mention their riders ! 

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A quick drink and we were once again on our way.

The road was now 'relatively level' and the wind had calmed down ! We passed through Wustenröt, Mainhardt, Michelfeld at an average altitude of 500m.

 Had to stop at an Aral gas-station to check the air pressure in the tyres.  The instructions were in German and the machine was quite sophisticated. We probably ended up letting air out instead of inflating them.

Arrived in Schwäbisch Hall during the lunch hour.

A youngster informed us that there was no camp ground in town and that we had to continue on to Steinbach, fortunately just 2 km down the road.


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The camp grounds were closed for lunch but the owner told us to go ahead with the tents and whatever we needed to do. We'd sort out the paperwork afterwards. The camp grounds were the best we'd seen so far. A lot of attention to detail; flowers all over, superb grass, impeccably clean facilities with music... The only issue was that the hot water in the showers worked with tokens...

Too bad: couldn't wait till 15.00, so that day it was a cold shower.

Having arrived early gave us a lot of time to visit the city. Instead of going back by road, we took the path along the river. It wound through trees, parks and meadows, crossing quite a few bridges, some of them covered. Schwäbisch Hall is an incredibly beautiful town with many interesting streets and houses. The church square and the buildings down by the river are magic !


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17.00: time for beer and some rest before heading to the "soccer field" restaurant for an early dinner. The local team had just played and the fans were "re-hydrating" at picnic tables just below us. After a  solid Bavarian dinner we walked back to the camp ground and enjoyed a recital of local football songs for another couple of hours, until the wives finally arrived to collect the drunken fans and take them home to bed !


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A hot, sticky, thirsty day, quickly erased by the regal Schwäbisch Hall camp ground and the astounding beauty of the old city.










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Rédigé par johnsbikingtrips

Publié dans #A bike ride from Paris to Prague


Publié le 1 Novembre 2011



May 9th 2011. Schwäbisch Hall -Rothenburg o.d. Tauber, 76 km.

Very good weather but wicked North-Easterly wind !

Happy birthday Joanna !!


Kocher-Jagst Radweg to Braunsbach; then Kraichgau-Hohenlohe Weg to Rothenburg.

Via Langenburg, Billingsbach, Herrentierbach, Kottmannsweiler, Schrozberg, Leuzendorf. Camp ground in Detwang, 2 km North of Rothenburg.


(A few short cuts towards the end with respect to the original Kraichgau Weg. The heat, the wind, the "one-way" hills (up only) and a solid lunch of Beer and Wurst had knocked our legs out !... should have known better...).


Very early start at 7.00. First stop just outside the camp grounds, at the Bakery in Steinbach for coffee and a healthy (?) sweet sticky bun stuffed with raisins and poppy seeds...

Unbeknown to us at that stage... we'd need the energy a few kms down the road...

Back through a very quiet Schwäbisch Hall before life started picking-up. A few streetsweepers were nonchalantly cleaning the city center. The morning sun gave us another perspective of this beautiful medieval city. The reflections of the half-timbered houses on the river were superb !


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The Kocher Jagst was pure magic all the way to Braunsbach, running through meadows and woods, alongside a stream. Daisies, buttercups, wild forget-me-nots and many other flowers were in bloom, celebrating another glorious Spring morning. 

The light was very soft and mist hovered over the lower parts of the vales, still hidden from the morning sun. There was no noise: just the trickle of water in the stream.

The cycle path wove through the countryside, passing under the Geislingen viaduct that was for a long time the highest and longest in Europe, until the one in Millau was built. 


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We stopped at the Rathaus in Braunsbach for a new stamp in our Travel Logs. The gentleman confirmed that the weather would remain excellent for the next few days. So far, so good ! Just outside the village we hit our first ordeal of the day... suddenly, the road started to climb through the woods inconsiderately, winding steeply upwards.. The result was an altitude gain of close to 400m in just under 3 kms... No need to say that that portion of the way was done pushing the bikes until we reached the top of the hill.

My arms and shoulders were aching from the effort.

For a few kms we thought that we were done with this nonsense. The long ride down to Bächlingen was our reward for all the efforts made so far... but an experienced cyclist comes to fear such moments of happiness: the climb up the other side of the valley is unsually strictly proportional to the downhill ride... and in any case, a hell of a lot more painful !

True to form, the cycle-path leading to Langenburg was a killer ! It wove through meadows and fields and was lined with rows of apple-trees that we had plenty of time to admire, pushing the bikes along, swearing and panting, trying to avoid looking too far up-hill, so as to not lose heart...

Finally, we got to the top. One main street of half-timbered houses, ended by a beautiful castle surrounded by rose gardens didn't take long to visit. For aficionados, the castle houses a major collection of motorcars.


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Being Monday, most shops were closed. At 11.30 AM, we decided that the morning efforts deserved some strong fuel so we sat down in the only restaurant open in town for a super meal of Wurst, potatoe salad and Beer.... Once Again !!!


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After lunch: back on the Kraichgau Weg. Third ordeal of the day ! (they say that they come in threes...). Hills, hills, hills. (UP only !!)


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The map was not very helpful. The normal cycle path was leading us through a succession of small villages and the distance to Rothenburg just didn't seem to go down. After a while, we realized that we were being "taken for a ride" through the German countryside and that if we continued to follow the Kraichgau, our legs would be shot before reaching our destination.


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Along the road, we met Felix and Juta, two cyclists enjoying their 8kg bikes... Their indications saved 20+ km, but exposed us to the strong North-Easterly wind, since our track remained 'on top'.

The road took us through Kottmannsweiler, Kälberbach etc.. a string of farming villages polluted by the stink of pig manure... Stopped in Schrozberg to refill the water bottles in a flower shop and then enjoyed a mad full-speed, down-hill ride all the way to Rothenburg Ob der Tauber which is considered the most beautiful medieval town in Germany.

Indeed it was, but once again it was perched on top of a hill...

Fortunately the camp ground in Detwang was in the valley, just outside Rothenburg.

Tents up, showers taken, aluminium donkeys unloaded, evening ritual performed...


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Up the hill for a visit of this incredible town... Dinner in one of the many restaurants and back "home" for a well deserved night's sleep! 

Since we had started, this stage had been the most testing due to the landscape, the wind and the heat. However, it had also been one of the most beautiful !

We had just passed 1,000km. Prague was getting closer !





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Rédigé par johnsbikingtrips

Publié dans #A bike ride from Paris to Prague


Publié le 1 Novembre 2011

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May 10th, 2011. Rothenburg o. d. Tauber - Nürnberg. 100 km, 7h02, 13.9 kph

Good weather, some cirrus clouds.


Via Neusitz, Linden, Windelsbach, Cadolzhofen, Burghausen, Poppenbach, Oberdachstetten, Rosenbach, Flachslanden, Obernbubert, Unternbibert, Leonrod, Dietenhofen, Grosshabersdorf, Ammerndorf, Wintersdorf, Zirndorf, Fürth. Camp ground at Messe Nürnberg, after quite a search.


Rothenburg 4.00 AM. In spite of a super quiet camp ground, woke up at day-break freezing cold ! The river was just the other side of the fence and dew was intense. Got up and ready to go. Swallowed a mug of cereal and milk at the camp entrance before leaving.

Another trip to the city at the top of the hill, this time fully loaded, to get onto the road leading to Neusitz, on the other side.


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The first hill of the day was long but manageable. The countryside was rather level along the early part of the Altmühlweg although we had to push the bikes up the hill in Wachsenberg !

Linden: a nice little town with clean streets and small houses with gardens in front; lots of flowers and shrubs; probably a bedroom suburb of Rothenburg.

Cadolzhofen: a farm community perfumed by a powerful stink of pig manure...

Super breakfast in Burghausen at the 'Korn' farm then back on the Paneuropa Radweg through a string of small villages.

Had to stop in Flachslanden at a cycle shop since I was having a few head-aches with the rear derailleur. The guy looked at it and bent it back into shape. I thought that Daniel had seen me enter the yard.  He hadn't and continued on his way. We finally met again a few kms later: he'd been asking everyone if they'd seen another cyclist... He was rather unhappy !


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We stopped in Dietenhofen for'lunch'opposite a church with a multi-colored spire.  The catering service did a rather poor job that day: tuna fish, apple sauce and water !

From that point we just followed the Biberttalweg. It lead us slightly North-West of Nürnberg, to Fürth. We probably ended up doing a few un-necessary extra kms.

As a consequence, we came into Nürnberg following the Pegnitz river and finally hit the city, not too sure how to find the Centrum. I asked some policemen sitting in a car on the side of the road for directions to the city center. All they could say was "follow the cars...", with a smile...

They were right ! The street lead us to the Hauptbahnhof (main station). There, we crossed the huge intersection and got a stamp, some maps and indications to the camp ground from the Tourist Büro. Crossing streets in this city was a bit tricky. No way could we have jaywalked like we'd have done in France... People in Germany wait for the 'little man to turn green', (and considering the size and the speed of the cars, they're probably right...).


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The camp ground was open: we just had to follow the signs and the map that the young lady had highlighted...


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Before heading there, we went into the 'old' town. The whole area, having been flattened during WWII, is a replica of what it used to be. Beautiful !

Having enjoyed a cool Weiss Bier in the late afternoon sun and done some shopping at the local Netto, we started looking for the camp ground, "just following the signs".


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A few more kilometers and a lot of powerful swear-words later we finally found the entrance, just opposite the Messe buildings.

It was a few minutes after 6.00 PM. The Camp attendant had left so we entered the grounds, set up the tents, used the facilities, went through the evening ritual, ate and went to 'bed'.


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In spite of the distance and the heat, the day had been OK : it had not been too physical !


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Rédigé par johnsbikingtrips

Publié dans #A bike ride from Paris to Prague