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2015 JULY GERMANY - BACK ON THE BIKE TO AHR!

Ride north down the Rhine to explore the Ahr Valley.

Thursday 16th July 2105 (day seventy-three)

Koblenz to Ahrweiler

Back in the saddle, I was almost looking forward to it. This is my first trip out alone. I was on the road before 10am.

I noted it took all but 2 minutes for me to start talking to myself, but thankfully a fully three minutes before I answered myself, so all’s well. Half an hour in I realized I left my gloves behind – not good.

My destination is the Ahr Valley.

I rode north of Koblenz, continuing downstream along the Rhine and I must say that the first 24km were the ugliest part of the Rhine I have seen. Not much of the bike path was along the river as this part of the river is lined on both sides with heavy and light industrial businesses. This must be the part of the Rhine where the cruise boats cruise during the night, cause there is not much to see here, and what there is to see is not nice – including a nuclear power station.

The bike path has also been neglected, I guess it’s not a very nice ride so a lot must train this part, although I did still pass a quite a few cyclist traveling in both directions. Not only is the bike path inferior to other parts we have been on, but the signs leave a lot to be desired – the desire that they were there to start with. I’m surprised I found my way at all, weaving in and out of industrial streets.

And it was hot today – very hot. The weather forecast was for mid-30’s and I would not be surprised if it reached closer to 40, or maybe I just felt it more pushing an overweight bicycle.

Anyway the ugliness got a little less and by 12 o’clock I thought it was a good time to stop for a cold Radler in the town of Anderach. I am over the sigma of drinking alone – hey if I can have a decent conversation with myself, I can certainly share a beer with myself. Oh dear, have I lost it so early in my solo trip already?

Riding on, I stopped again at 2pm to have the sandwich that I had made at breakfast back at Ang’s. I stopped at a lovely little spot by the side of the Rhine and watched the passing pedestrian, cyclist and boat traffic go by.

Again I missed the campground I had planned on stopping for the night at. The thing is, if the campground is not directly on the bike path I have no chance of seeing it. I have never seen an advert or sign for an upcoming camp, so unless I ride through it, I miss it. Not to worry I’ll just ride on to the next one.

I also somehow missed the turn off to the Ahr Valley/River! Not my fault, no very well signed again. I think the cyclists who come to cycle in this supposedly beautiful area come in by car and start inside the valley. They don’t actually have to find the valley on a bike. Car road signs are much more frequent and descriptive.

Eventually I was in the valley, the river is nothing to speak of, especially where it flows into the Rhine. I think that is what thru me, as all the other river off shoots have been significant. Anyway it was still blistering hot, but I knew I was on the right track because it was very crowded, with day tripper bikes. Meaning no one had a loaded bike like me, so they were all drive ins.

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The first campground was 15km in and when I rode up to it there was a sign that it was completely full. F&*k! what now? Luckily this meant only full for camper vans and caravans. When I spoke with the reception lady she said there is always room for tents, and she was correct directing me to a nice shady, grassy site on the high bank next to the river, which I can hear because it is only ankle deep and flowing over rocks.

At check in at reception I noticed there was a post card from Lone Pine Brisbane Australia and when I advised the lady that is where I was from I was suddenly her best friend. She even shouted me a beer that I accepted and necked in about 2 minutes. Need to stay hydrated, need to stay hydrated!

I set up the tent and relaxed, it had been a long hot ride today. I have no idea how far as my computer is still cactus, but I know I was in the saddle for approximately 5 hours today in the beating down sun. Not that I’m complaining about the weather, much better than cold and wet when on a bike I assure you.

At 6pm it was slightly cooler so I rode the 200 meters into town. It must have been a hard ride today as this short ride on an empty bike was even a strain for me.

So I am in the town of Ahrweiler, which I discovered has an old town which is surrounded by a moated city wall. The moat is no longer full of water but it is obvious that it was a moat. The old buildings are of course beautiful and walking around this time of evening when all the shops are closed is nice as there are not many people around. But I would hazard a guess that this place is crawling with tourists during the day.

Just before this place I rode through a town called Bad Neuenahr, which I think is a thermal spa town. There seemed to be an overabundance of people in wheel chairs in that place. So not sure if this is some kind of healing place or health spa, but the people I saw all seemed to be of a very old age and most with some kind of walking aid or mobile chair.

After my stroll around town taking photos, I found a supermarket and just bought a herring salad to have for dinner. It’s way too hot to eat anything cooked.

I have booked 2 nights here so will explore more tomorrow.

Friday 17th July 2015 (day seventy-two)

Ahrweiler to Bad Neuenahr to Ahrweiler

It rained last night. Spatters on the tent woke me up, I got out and saved my towel but needn’t have worried as the rest of my washing was dry by the time I woke this morning anyway. It got a little cooler during the night as I woke up pretty hot with the sleeping bag covering me.

What to do today, it already looked and felt like it was going to be a scorcher. I was almost dreading getting on the bike in case I still had the heavy legs from yesterday. But I had obviously rested sufficiently overnight as getting on the empty bike was again like riding on air.

After breakfast I rode back the 3km to check the town I passed through yesterday. Bad Neuenahr looked a little bigger than where I am staying and I wanted to find out what the large building I passed was. Turned out to be a asylum oops I mean sanatorium. Not sure if it was one for crazies or just the rich to take the local thermal waters. I did not venture inside as it did not look very welcoming to a scabby cyclo tourist. I rode around the back and found a lovely old building which used to be the old Thermal Bathhouse. I did go in here, but it had been converted into overprice spa salons whose owners looked me up and down as if to say ‘you don’t have the money to be in here for any treatment’. So I looked around the old building without entering any of the posh salons and left.

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Not much else here to see, unlike Ahrweiler, where I am staying, has a beautiful old town. I did a bit of window shopping and strolled thought the big department stores really only sucking up their air-conditioning, which by the way needs to be turned up a little bit to attract more entrants I reckon.

Soon it was lunch time, not feeling very hungry I thought a nice cool salad would go down a treat. Of course all the overpriced places here did not cater for my craving so I rode the back streets and found a supermarket. And what made me doubly happy was it was a Lidl where a few days ago I remember seeing cycle gloves for sale. I parked and locked my bike and headed in, again thinking they need to turn up the air con. Lucky for me there were still a few pairs of gloves, which I readily purchased, in the variety section and a cool green salad in the fridge section.

I took my lunch back down to the river – and I use the term river lightly, found a bench in the shade, had lunch then a little lie down afterwards reading my book. There was nothing else to see here so a little relaxing time was the best thing I could find to occupy myself.

Later back at camp I was determined to try and figure out why my bike computer was not registering. The computer part seemed fine, so I moved it down again closer to the sensor part and then changed the battery in the sensor. Pushing the bike in a few circles still nothing! There are a couple of Germany ladies also camping here and one seeing my struggle came over to help. She adjusted the sensor slightly and bingo it worked. They do not speak any English but I did manage to work out that she said something about working with bikes. I was very happy cause after her slight adjustment it seemed to be working. Yippee.

I decided to take it for a test run, half thinking about going to supermarket to buy dinner supplies. As I did not do much I was not really feeling very hungry, but as I rode through the campground, it was about 7.30 and most people where cooking their dinner. The aroma of cooking meat suddenly gave me an appetite for some pork, so off to the supermarket I rode to get some pork.

On my return after checking the bike computer it seems to be functioning again I cooked dinner of pork steak with brown mushrooms with gravy (ah yes Lyn just for future reference, I prefer plain gravy to the onion variety that you obviously packed – just saying).

Just before I left the Lemons we swapped cooking stoves as theirs was much more compact than mine, but this was the first time I had cause to use it. You will be happy to know all went well and the meal was thoroughly enjoyed.

It is still not getting dark until about 10pm so the days are still very long. 

I am going to move on further down the ‘river’ tomorrow just for a change of scenery and at also at the tourist office today I found a brochure for a LUGE! Hopefully it will not be too far off the track or too much of a bike climb.

It’s now 10pm and it’s dark, not pitch black, but enough for a torch. I think already the days are getting shorter?

Saturday 18th July 2015 (seventy-three)

Ahrweiler to Altenahr

It was a little cooler last night, no rain but woke to a slightly cloudy sky.

I had breakfast and packed up the tent, loaded the bike and rode the short distance to Altenahr, less than 15km along a mostly good track. Some of the bike way was actually an old railway route which had me riding through tunnels dug into the hillsides. The first one was 235 meters long and must admit did not like riding through there at all, even though it was lit up. The second one was only short about 50 meters.

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The valley is looking a lot prettier now, with vineyards planted up the steep sides of the valley walls. Lots of hiking and biking around here.

However the hiking is mountain goat sort, with steep inclines to reach the high lookouts. The bikers all seem to be day trippers, who have driven in to some nice warm expensive accommodation and the oldies have gone out for a couple of hours of pedalling. Yep no youngsters anywhere in this area.

I found the Altenahr camp ground and after setting up my tent, sort of under a tree – not much cover here, I went back to reception to enquire about a supermarket close by. The German bloke told me that there was a small one in the main street of town, which would be easy to find as there is only one street in town. And there was another much bigger one but that was 2 km away and he suggested since I was on the bike I should go to the one in town as it was much closer. This guy does not realize that I have pedalled through 3 other countries to get to this one – 2 km is nothing! I thanked him and headed to the farther away shop.

It’s still pretty warm so I could not really get much in the way of fresh food, especially since tomorrow being Sunday everything will be closed. I did get some pork to cook up for dinner tonight and tomorrow I will have something out of a can.

It was a nice ride to the big supermarket and I stopped on the way back in a picnic area and had my lunch. There are lots of benches and picnic tables all around here to cater for the large amount of walkers.

I returned to camp and spent the rest of the afternoon lazing around reading.

At about 6 pm I rode into town to have a quick look around and quick it was having only one street which was made up mainly of hotels and a few restaurants. I also found the small supermarket where the prices were double and triple of the larger one, so good choice I had gone to the other.

Back at camp I cooked my dinner, had a shower and basically went to bed when it got dark, not much else to do really.

Sunday 19th July 2015 (day seventy-four)

Altenahr

It rained last night and heavier that previous nights. Or maybe it was because my tent did not have the covered protection of being under a tree that I heard it more than usual. Either way it seemed to fall harder and longer than what had woken me up other nights. Again I got up and rescued my towel that was draped over my bike drying after last night’s shower. And this time is was a good thing I did as when I woke it was still raining. Erk, rain is not a good thing to wake up to when you are camping.

Just before 9.30 it seemed to ease a bit and that was when I ventured out of the tent to collect my bread rolls from reception and to boil kettle for coffee. It’s been a while since I’d had the usual Sunday cook up so I decided to indulge today. Mushrooms, bacon on bread rolls with coffee – pretty good effort coming from a tent.

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I booked 2 nights here at this camp ground so had all day to kill today. Lucky for me at the tourist office in another town I found a brochure for a summer luge that was close to here. What better to do on a Sunday? The brochure said it was only 4km from Altenahr so not too far for me to attempt getting there on the bike. What the brochure did not say is that it was all uphill. Well of course it would be considering I am in a valley and all.

I managed to ride the first 2km up the road out of town but then it got a little hairy being a 2 lane winding hilly road, so I thought it safer for me and for motorists if I pushed the bike up the hill along the verge. Turns out the brochure was at least accurate with the distance (happy about that after pushing the bike uphill for 2 km).

It was only a small 550m luge, but luge is luge. I was going to buy a 2 x 1 ride ticket for 2.50 euros each, but was easily talked into purchasing a 4 ride ticket for 7.50 euro. Selling point was you get one ride free!! Actually I managed to get 2 rides free as the silly ticket puncher was busy not doing his job and I was waved through without my ticket being punched.

The weather had been behaving during my ride / push up the hill and during my first 2 luge rides, but then the rain fell and I waited it out for about an hour until it eased a little and did my last 3 rides. You know those things go faster when wet! Fun, fun, fun. Love a luge!

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The ride back into town was of course brilliant, the rain had stopped and it was all downhill! Not too much complaining from car drivers as the road signs advised them to go around the corners at 30 km/hour anyway and I easily was managing that speed downhill!

I stopped before reaching the one main street, locked up the bike and walked the steep path up to Are Castle ruins. Wow magnificent view from up there and the rain held off until I was just minutes from camp where I could shelter in my tent.

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Dinner from a can from my emergency stash.

Monday 20th July 2015 (day seventy-five)

Altenahr to Remegan

Arg, I woke to the sound of rain falling on the tent, it was 8am. O, I so did not want to have to pack up a wet tent. I lay thinking about it for an hour and the rain eased a little. Outside everything was soggy and the sky was a sad lingering grey colour.

I went and had a shower hoping that some bright sunrays would welcome me when I returned to the tent. Ha, what was I delirious? Today was going to be miserable no matter what I wished for. The rain however did hold off long enough for me to have breakfast and for the tent to miraculously be almost dry when I rolled it up and pushed it into its bag.

But the rain returned as I pushed the first pedal down to get me moving, arg, this was going to be a miserable day.

I rode the short distance into town in a light shower of rain and as I approached the train station I made the executive decision to get the train to Remegan instead of riding the same path I had ridden in through the Ahr Valley. It was just a 45 minute journey on the train and for 7.90 euro (bikes are free after 9am) it was worth it not to get completely soaked.

The train wound its way through the steep vineyards as I recognized town and village names I had ridden thought the last few days. It really was a beautiful area, but the weather was getting me down and I was starting to feel miserable so had no regrets catching the train. Although I almost did not get on as just my luck would have it the platform at Altenahr station was much lower than the train carriages and I had to try and lift the loaded bike up 3 steps. Well this was just impossible and was not going to happen. I tried my hardest and struggled for what seemed like many minutes (but were only seconds) before a nice man got off the train and assisted me. There was no conductor on these trains so I was pretty sure had this kind stranger not assisted me the doors would have just closed and the train would have left the station without me.

Arriving at Remegan station was not as bad as the platform was higher and only one step needed to be negotiated.

I found the camp ground just outside town and set up the tent between micro showers. Today was really going to be miserable. Tent up and my stuff safely stored inside and dry I went looking for the supermarket to buy some lunch. The sky stayed the ugly grey colour but rain free for 1 hour which was enough time for me to eat my lunch at the table provided at the camp ground.

Feeling brave during this dry spell I headed back into town for a look around, only to be greeted by a nice heavy shower that had everyone scurrying into shops to shelter from the rain.

Shortly another dry spell and I was on the bike again having a quick look around but it was not enjoyable with the threat of a down pour at any second. I was on the Rhine path when it came down heavily again and met up with an old Kiwi bloke on a bike who stopped when he saw my Australian flag displayed on my bike basket. We sheltered under a tree hiding from the rain comparing bike stories. He had cycled much of Europe over the years and later at the camp ground gave me some tips for my later venture into France.

A lull in the rain and I continued on to Kripp. This was the village where I was when I turned into the Ahr Valley. On the opposite side of the river is the town of Linz. I had contemplated catching the ferry across to explore but the weather did not really want to cooperate with any exploring today, so I had a Radler beer from the kiosk instead. Been a few days since I’d had a beer and it was thoroughly enjoyed, with the rain holding off long enough for me to sit and enjoy the view with the drink.

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Back to camp I rode in a light showering of rain. I was given one hour of free internet which I used to let the world know I am still alive via facebook.
Quick trip to the supermarket for dinner supplies and the weather held off long enough for me to cook and eat it and even stayed clear until it turned dark. But the sky was still looking sad so I won’t hold out for a dry night.

Tuesday 21st July 2015 (day seventy-six)

Remegan to Koblenz

Sunshine woke me which was a good sign. I also sat in sunshine as I ate breakfast and it continued to shine as I packed up the tent and loaded my bike. As soon as my bum hit the bike seat the sun faded and suddenly the blue up above me was replaced by grey clouds. Was this some kind of magic? I had a fairly long ride today and did not really want to be hindered by rain, regardless I took off and it was only just 9.15.

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I retraced by path back to Koblenz via the industrial lined river Rhine. The river is actually very low at the moment, the locals are praying for rain to feed their vineyards. The weather behaved itself for me and it did not rain on me at all, and the sky stayed cloudy which made for cooler riding. I made good timing and was back in Koblenz before 12 noon.

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I have a night with my friend Angelika again tonight before I fly off to Malta tomorrow. As I was in the centre I went to her house via the main train station to purchase a ticket to take me to Frankfurt airport. This way I would know what time I needed to go etc.

This time riding to Ang’s place was much simpler as I found the road I missed last time and it was a quick ride to her house. The hill to her doorstop was the one that killed me and I rang the doorbell again looking like a wreck. A quick shower and I was soon revived.

Later in the evening when it was still light Ang asked if I would like to head out and have a drink. This seemed like a wonderful idea and she took me to a really cool beach bar. An open air bar with a little man made beach on the Mosel River. It was a great place, and very relaxing, Lots of people lounging around on deck chairs and director chairs, some basking in the sun, others shaded under umbrellas. There were even some people swimming in the Mosel, which I must admit did look just a little inviting. I had a Radler and Ang had of all things a Bundaberg Ginger Beer! A bit of home for me in Germany.

Next we drove back into town and had another drink at a very swish looking restaurant which was right next to the Koblenz Cathedral. This was one of Ang’s favourite places and I could see why. It was lovely.

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One more stop was going to be at another mystery bar, however on the way I suddenly was struck with something not right in my stomach. So bad that we had to pull over for me to throw up. And after only 2 beers!!? Must have been something in the water. I was much better afterwards, but we thought it better if we head home and leave this mystery place for next time.

I went to bed early, was feeling ok but guess I needed to rest.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 02:46 Archived in Germany

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Comments

What is a luge? Hope the weather improves in Malta!

by carole,David & bill

lol see the photo in the 19th, the sled type thing that I am sitting on and riding down the metal track. that is a luge! lol

by Cindy Bruin

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