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