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.
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.
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 <rowing-bike.com>). 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...
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.
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 !
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....
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 !