Oct 23-28 Cycling to Frankfurt
My day in Nuremburg was mostly occupied with logistics to support my final bike ride of this trip. I wanted to cycle from Nuremburg to Frankfurt. So I needed to talk to someone who could recommend a good route and get the appropriate maps. I also needed to get a German sim card, some more Euros and a better pair of gloves for cold and possibly wet weather. I got little good help from the hostel, the first bike shop I found or the tourist information centre. But I was sent to a map store where the guy had all of the answers. He immediately said the only sane route was to follow the Regnitz River to Bamberg where it entered the River Main which went all the way Frankfurt (am Main). There were bike routes the whole way. We went over the Radtourenkartes (Bike Touring Maps) and picked out the two that I would need. When I made the decision to head to Nuremburg for my final bike segment I had little doubt that the German bike network would let me down. Hopefully I was right.
By noon I had all of my things sorted out and was able to walk around the completely walled Altstadt and picked up a little more history from the castle museum. Naturally all of the same characters I have met in Romania, Hungary and Slovakia come to play here as well. I added Charlemagne and The Holy Roman Empire (the First German) to my researches. I saw the loose collection of German principalities come together in 1871 to form the Second German Empire. The Third (Reich) we don’t need to visit much although with more time in Nuremburg I might have done so. I liked Nuremburg.
Oct 24 to Eltmann
I was out in the drizzle at 7:30, still fairly dark. It only took about ten minutes to get onto the bike trail following the Pegnitz when soon flowed into the Regnitz. There was a steady stream of bike commuters coming up the trail into the town centre. I missed the best photos in this rush to clear town worrying about whether I was on the right trail and making good progress. The commuter traffic lasted through the connected town of Furth and then I was kind of on my own. I would see the odd local rider but in the whole way to Frankfurt only one other bike tourer.
These bike trails are obviously mostly for local traffic, which creates a bit of a problem for me. The trails and junctions are very well marked, but the places on the signs are mostly just the local villages, which often don’t mean much to me. I am usually headed on down the way with my intermediate places 20 to 50 km away. Those are never mentioned. If I need to confirm which path to take I need to get into my map to find the little villages and pick the appropriate branch. This always means stopping losing up a few minutes, and I don’t always get it right. About 30 km out of Nuremburg the trail turned onto a canal that went dead straight for another 30km, and so I could sail along on that pretty well.
Another problem with these river side bike trails is that they miss the villages and so I went all morning without a coffee snack break. I left the trail near Bamberg for a stand up coffee and chocolate bar in a service station, not the kind of break I needed. It was drizzly again as I entered Bamberg, no idea from which direction. I went into a Chinese Restaurant for a buffet, to get my GPS working and to find a place to stay. I couldn’t find anything very reasonable and it was still just after noon, and so I picked out a place in Eltmann about 20 km down the Main.
I arrived at my pension, on a lonely side road in the village at about 3:00. No one was there and so I walked back into the centre where a woman walked me to the home of the pension owner. We were able to connect by phone to find out it would be 5:00 before I could get in. So I headed for a pub, where I had dinner and I think a beer or two.
Oct 25,26 Wurzburg
Getting a 7:30 start is a bit harder each day. The sun is still not actually up and so I am pushing it a bit. There is always some car road riding to do and so I often need a tail light on. The Main valley is a lot wider than the Regnitz and not as pretty so I just wheel on down the way. I don’t take many pictures but the fall colours are always there and often a barge to add interest.
On this day I am taking the first of two cut-offs. The Main is very serpentine and some of the loops are very large. Just after noon I headed up out of the river bottom to take a cut-off that would save me about 15 km, allowing me to get into Wurzburg early. At least that was the theory. The route I chose climbed quite a bit, and then meandered around for about 40 km, that I turned into 55 km. It went through villages and across fields, many in harvest.
On these cut-offs the trail often heads through little forests where the trail is almost always fine gravel, now covered with leaves. The weather also gives me some nice moody skies for the few pictures I take. All very nice, but with the route finding errors and the climbing I got into Wurzburg I am sure later than If I had stayed in the river valley.
To kill a little time I booked myself into Wurzburg for two nights. Again I stayed in a hostel and it was almost as nice as the one in Nuremburg. I wandered around the town the next day visiting all of the sites. Initially it was very foggy creating a nice pastel cast to things.
Still, I was not as taken with Wurzburg in part because my own idiocy. I was on an old car-free bridge, head in the air looking for a picture and tripped on a curb I hadn’t noticed, fell and broke one of my favourite camera lenses. This caused a couple hour funk until I went and got my back-up camera and headed up to the big castle on the hill. A good hill climb fixes most things, in this case my attitude but not my lens. The sun had arrived as I did the castle walk and then back down as I crossed the bridge that broke my lens a party seemed in progress. But it was just people enjoying the sun with a glass of wine. I joined in and gradually forgave the bridge and begrudgingly myself as well.
Oct 27 Mondfeld
I was taking the second of my planned river cut-offs. It was to cut off a much larger loop and so there was really no alternative, but my planned distance was fairly short. My night time options came early on this day, which is great, but it does make for a potentially long final day on the bike.
It was raining when I hit the street, but since I hoped for a short day I sat in a bus shelter for half an hour and then set off when the rain turned to drizzle. Immediately the longest climb of the day began. The road I was following left the Main to head into the hills. Still climbing my route left the highway and turned onto a lovely gravel path through a small forest. The sun came out brilliantly lighting the wet leaves scattered along the trail.
At each junction on this day I stopped to make sure I made the right choice. I missed a couple of times but checked myself in time that little extra distance was incurred. The wind kept getting stronger and on the high grounds I was quite glad I didn’t have far on this day to go
Just after a backerie stop the up hills became down hills and before I knew it I was back on the Main Radweg for a 10 km run into Wertheim. I had a long pleasant lunch and booked online a place a further 10 km down the way. About half way there was road riding the other bike trail. The wind got me in both and began to worry me about the longer day tomorrow.
I was staying in a real hotel and had some time to relax before coming down with my computer for dinner. I sat working on my computer and watching You Tube until the owner’s body language hinted that he want to shut up the shop.
Oct 28 Final day into Frankfurt
The breakfast was very complete and so I headed out fully tanked up for the day. I got away at 8:10, just as the light began to appear, trying to get as many kms in as possible before the wind picked up. A rubbing began to appear and it took two times looking for the problem before I took all of my bags off for a closer look. I had two broken spokes on the rear wheel and it was rubbing on the frame. Luckily neither broken spoke was on the cog set side. I cannot change those with the tools that I carry. Having spare spokes made me feel a bit better but I was angry because I had heard the rubbing yesterday as I was getting to my hotel but didn’t look into it when I had lots of time to fix it. Now I was losing valuable low wind time. But I was on the way in twenty minutes with only a little fear that another spoke might go.
The first hour and some was heading mostly west which seemed to be where the wind was mostly coming from. But it was hard to tell as the river did its bends and twists the wind seemed to follow it. But then the generally direction headed mostly north and I stayed on the west side which means I did get quite a bit of protection, particularly when on the narrow bike paths. It was the wind that worried more than the distance because I know how that can really kill my progress.
I wasn’t stopping much as the day was cold and grey. I got a few pictures but mostly I wanted to get on down the way before the wind became too bad. As lunch time came closer I began to feel a bit better because I was getting up the road. At two potential stops nothing materialized and so by the time I found a place I was getting quite close to Frankfurt. Obviously riding into the wind darkens my attitude more than necessary.
When I came out of my lunch spot a road sign said Offenbach 17 km. I estimated Offenbach was 10 km from Frankfurt. Pretty good. I headed back onto the river side bike trail. After a bit I stopped at a junction in the trail and it indicated that I had come 12 km from my lunch spot and now had 18 km to Offenbach. The tranquility of bike trail riding has its price to pay when you are trying to get somewhere. My disappointment was heightened because of how tired I was from fighting the wind all day. But I was close enough that I knew it would work out.
Riding through the continuous city of Offenbach and Frankfurt seemed to go easier and before long the sky scrapers of Frankfurt began to appear and then I recognized the foot bridge that crossed from the town centre and would take me to my warm showers hosts Anne and Jan. I stopped at a little trail side kiosk and had a hot coffee, the first since breakfast and a beer to celebrate my ride completion.
Oct 28-30 Frankfurt
I had a nice easy time in Frankfurt. I rode my bike into town each day and saw a few of attractions but mostly I visited with Anne and Jan who I introduced when I arrived at the beginning of this trip. They have traveled and worked in various parts of the world and have become “warm showers” hosts because they meet other travelers. I met some of their friends and we had conversations about travel and politics. We also ate very well. What a nice way of finishing a trip.
So this trip is done. Tomorrow I will be on the plane. Thanks for joining me. Until next venture.