Eye opener

I planned a longer ride today, starting off by riding into the city of Basel with Ben as he headed off to work.

There was a constant stream of cyclists snaking their way along various routes. Cycling is heavily encouraged to reduce traffic congestion with plenty of bike storage options.

I bid Ben farewell at the Basel Bahnhof and headed Rhine River via Munsterplatz and the Cathedral. This was my third time riding past the Cathedral since 2016, and I had not noticed this on the Cathedral walls.

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I took the little animal on the right to be a dog…bit over the top treatment. I later learned from Ben that in fact it is a dragon…a pint sized one. So St George slaying the mighty, scary dragon.

Just past the Cathedral was this view of the Rhine River, looking upstream.

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Looking downstream to the old bridge I was to cross over.

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I crossed the bridge…this is looking downstream, the intended direction for today’s ride.

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I winged it today. The rule was keep the river to my left as practical as possible. I knew I had an industrialised and port section to pass through.

This maybe one section I should have avoided. This was the steepest set of stairs I have ever ever taken my bike up. There is a metal section you can see on the right for the bike wheels, but I had to do this one step at a time, using my bike brakes and my body to stop the bike having a speedy descent.

So…coming back, note to self…avoid!!

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Out the other side an onwards. Last year I crossed this bridge from France to Germany. Yes, I was now in Germany. It is reasonably close to the point where the three countries meet.

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Various sign posts clearly indicating what towns and village options available. I was heading towards Neuenburg and further on again.

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This lock crosses a section of the river.  For much of today’s ride there is a very Long Island in the middle of the Rhine. you can ride over this bridge to the island, go further island and then cross over into France.

Next trip  I will explore that.

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Priding along I encountered this creek. I was about to get wet as no way to avoid it. I just love 100 percent saturated shoes so early in a ride!

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The trail joined up with another….looking back from where I had come was this sign, Verboten! Oops!! Well, I survived!

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Some lovely river views.

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I liked this anchor. Apparently there used to be a ferry crossing at this point of the river, so it is believed the anchor belongs to the ferry. The ferry operated from 1918-1952,with the anchor being found in 1999.

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Just after here I saw the most incredible site a cyclist could see. So what astounding and confusing and the question is WHY?

Ahead of me a man came out of a side track towards me. he had no shirt in…not so,unusual…then he got off his bike.

This man was in his 30’s, very muscly and a tan on every part of his body….how do I know that? He was riding his bike nude!

Would it be wrong to take a photo 😂😂😂

If anyone could get away with riding nude, it was this man…but ooh the saddle chafing!!

I then came across this beautiful spot on the river, being enjoyed by swimmers. It was over 30 degrees Celsius and I envied them.

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At this point I had been on gravel paths for 40 km ( out of 55 km) and was in need of some food and drink! So made the decision to head away from the river to the village of Grißheim.

I rode around the village, and even though it was 11.45 am on a Friday siesta time seemed to have come early.

The only thing was this van selling a variety of cold meats.

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My big purchase…I should have purchased more!! This was a bit less than one euro. Very tasty.

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The water fountains in the village all had non potable water, unlike Switzerland where you can drink from most.

Hazy views towards the Black Forest over recently cut corn crops.

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A little further on a flower farm. Gladioli featuring.

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Villages I passed through with no water included Zienken and then I arrived in the much bigger town of Neuenburg.

Lots of fountains and statues.

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I stopped at a cafe and had a lovely iced coffee…but they had no water either. No shops around with water! It was becoming a luxury commodity!!

I rode through Steinenstatt…having climbed up hills in the heat, to see what views there might be.

I arrived in Bad Bellingen and did a reconnaissance of the town …. there are often shops near churches…not here though!

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This was looking promising….

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At last, bliss!

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Great cafe, lovely owner who was very interested in where I was from, what I was doing.

Continuing on through the hills…

This view towards France.

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Little stalls on the side of the road, honesty system with payment. This one even sold used golf balls.

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Over the road was competition.

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Rural vistas. First looking towards France, the second Germany.

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It was very hot up the top of the hill so decided to head back to the gravel river paths. I stopped here and studied the sign.  I took the turn down the hill.

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The gravel path quickly evaporated to this rough track in the vineyard.

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Totally running out of track, I could see a road, so wheeled my bike down the slope, through the sti going nettle.  Once I got to the road, I either had to head up the hill, or down!

Well  the river would be at the lowest point so down I went.

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Back on the river, there are numerous of these excess water storage pits for times of Rhine River flooding.

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Back in Basel I cross the bridge and you can see swimmers out floating down the river.

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I ride back to Therwil. Potable water! I filled up here.  These fountains very iconic in Basel, being a cross between a dragon and rooster.

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I quickly showered and headed back into the city via tram to meet my dear Swiss friend Sandra. We were heading out for the evening.

We passed the City Hall. Lovely building.

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Popped inside for a look….then I heard familiar music. looking out a group of Hare Krishna’s passed by so gi g their familiar chant.

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This sign indicated that bicycles are permitted inside for visitors. My cycle tan arms 😂😂😂

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I liked this cool dude!

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We ended up on the river front, in the industrial area.

Shipping containers are painted, crates of weeds and looking really funky.

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Table tennis was being played. That guy looked a bit like the one of the bike. The one playing table tennis that is!

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English trees beside the river.

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More funky stalls selling a variety of food and drink.

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A red ship…whatever! It was looking more and more li,e I had walked into a Mad Max movie set.

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This caravan intrigued me!

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We ordered food and sat upstairs with a view back over Mad Max.

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Potted weeds everywhere and a nice old bath next to,our table. Great idea to just grow weeds!

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Sandra and I tried multiple times to get some selfies, but neither succeeded in the dark!!

It was such a joy to see her. We first met in the Maldives in 1985. Then visited her and her husband in 1986-7 in Switzerland and then I did not see her again until 2016.

Since then we caught up,last year, and again this year!

So another wonderful day has come to pass. I rode about 108 km, and about 60 km of that was gravel.

Here are my route details.

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Mother and son

A few years ago my second son Ben moved to Switzerland..and yes, there was a young lady involved.  Since then, she has become my daughter in law! I was in Switzerland May 2018 for their wedding.

Happily living and working in Switzerland means I do not get to see them often, so I took the opportunity for a short break to fly over and see them…oh, and of course I brought my touring bike with me!

I arrived yesterday afternoon in Zurich after four flights. I grabbed a hire car and then drove to Therwil, on the outskirts for Basel some 95 km from Zurich.

Ben has taken a couple of days leave to be with his dear, old mum. Fortunately I am in better knick than Ruth Cracknell’s version of Mum.

Despite my jet lag, we headed off on a ride through the adjacent local forest up a series of gravel paths. They wind around farms and crown land.

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The sign above, in German, is warning users of the risk of bushfire given recent dry conditions drying out the forest. This place is so green compared to Australia.

Switzerland has a brilliant network of bike trails, using existing tracks and roads. They are well signposted.

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They have well constructed bridges for shared use with walkers and cyclists. This was a nice river crossing.

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In 2016 Tony and I rode through this area, en route London to Venice. We passed through Augusta Raurica and saw a very interesting Roman ruin. Here I am in 2016.

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So I was keen to see more of this area as the area is a Roman archaeological site, and the oldest known Roman colony on the Rhine River, settled around 44 BC, in the vicinity of a local Gallic tribe.

Today many ruins have been discovered and preserved. However over 80% of the area is still to be ‘discovered’ awaiting the advent of advanced imaging.

First stop was an area of Fort wall, where a significant silver treasure trove of over 50kg of pure silver objects in 1962.  The treasure chest had been buried in 350 AD.

They sure built thick walls!

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The next spot was the base of the old church constructed between 360-400 AD. For part of its existence it served as the seat for the Bishop. By 749 AD the Bishop relocated to Basel.

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This picture below shows the church, above the archaeological section we viewed.

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Old gravestones have been found including these two.

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Leaving the old church, we followed the narrow track adjacent to the beautiful Rhine River.

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The Rhine baths were next. They were built around 260AD and were still in use until the 4th century.  Today the only remains are the underground installations, walking on the floor of the underground heating system.

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Wooden shoes were required to be worn in the ancient baths so as not to damage the floor.

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The next site is where craftsman made and sold their wares.

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The highlight is the ancient theatre. Workman were packing up from a Roman weekend festival.

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The steps to the old temple.

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The ancient amphitheatre barely exists, but the picture showed what it once looked like.

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Very little remains now bar the basic shape. The vegetation has taken over the former seating.

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Finally, we visited the former East gate and town wall, funerary monument, complete with a mini animal farm.

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Finally, back to my view from 2016. Looks like the vegetation has grown!

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It was stinking hot today. The temperature was over 33 degrees Celsius and we were 10 degrees Celsius when I left Tasmania on Saturday afternoon. It was a shock to the body and plenty of water was being drunk.

Water is available in all villages, as they all have sparking clean, cool water at fountains like this one.

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We rode on parallel with the Rhine to Rheinfelden, a very pretty town, also visited during our 2016 trip.

The town has a bridge across the Rhine. So yes, that is Germany in the background. Plenty of people sunbaking and swimming from the island in the middle of the river.

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Beautiful Rheinfelden.

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Over the bridge into Germany and we rode parallel again to the Rhine, but heading back towards Basel.

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Eco friendly church.

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Another fountain. We both tossed out our remaining water here as the water was warm, and refilled with this lovely cool water.

The forest behind the church is part of the great expanse of famous German Black Forest.

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From this Rhine River view we could see bathers swimming in Switzerland!

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Ben has never been keen on having his photo taken, but his annoying mother got one!

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This was intriguing. Ben told me that in another hour or so, hundreds and hundreds of people would converge on the river, with bags, and float downstream.

You can see some swimmers with their bags below.

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We rode past where Ben works. He works on the 14th floor of Switzerland’s tallest building owned by Roche.

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Basel Cathedral.

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It was a lovely ride. So nice to be able to ride with one of my kids. Not sure how he will pull up as it was a bit further than he is used to.  I think we rode about 56 km.

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Thanks for reading….I will have to plot another ride for tomorrow next!!

 

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Tough but rewarding day on the bike

A great ride again today, tough because of the amount of climbing. Rewarding due to the scenery and achieving the tougher physical effort.

Leading Passau we made our way over the bridge to look at the town and the raging rivers. The third river, Ilz, seemed calm and passive.

Initially we had been concerned that perhaps the cycle path may be impacted on the ‘other’ side, but there were no issues as the cycle path is quite high up. Lower walkways were submerged.

We found a mermaid.

We had wondered whether the cruise boats still operate during floods. We passed a couple tied up, buses off loading passengers and luggage and seemingly boarding.

Then we saw this one creating quite a bow wave as it fought against the flood waters. The boat appeared to have no passengers.

Even in flood, the Danube is in a beautiful setting.

Leaving the river, we turned left, and this is where the hard work started. Today we climbed heaps. This is made harder for us given the extra weight we are carrying ( luggage wise).

Here is our climbing graph. You can see numerous climbs, including two longer ones at the 20 km and 43 km points. The latter one was a mongrel!

In between climbs (you tend not to stop and take photos whilst climbing), there were lovely views. At the end of the first longer climb, there was a cafe calling our name to stop! It had quirky ‘art work’ predominantly made from recycled horse shoes.

We checked our data and realised then that we had a bigger climb still to do. Bugger.

What we did not realise was that we would be crossing borders into Austria. We thought we farewelled Austria yesterday. Austria was looking great, gentle rolling hills. Germany was just over a creek the road ran parallel to.

Then it got nasty. That second climb was tough. Still riding at tempo pace, the climb gave me a personal best FTP of 216 Watts ( previously 201 Watts) so I was really happy as I still had more in the tank.

At the top there was a lodge (no food or drink available until 2 pm, and we were not hanging around), and cute animals and wooden figurines. We had Euro on us, but out if Czech money hence our desire to eat in Austria.

We rolled down the hill and just like that we are back in the country where our journey started over 4 weeks ago.

Czech Republic was looking good too.

We stopped at a pub and had a bowl of goulash each. Very cheap and they took Euros! For 7 Euro we had a bowl of soup, a large bottle of frizzante and Tony a soft drink. Cheaper than Austria where morning tea was 15 Euro.

A few other bikes in the rack too.

Rolling along the afternoon was much easier.

We arrived in Cesky Krumlov to hoardes of tourists and cobblestones, so we walked the last km to locate our accomodation. Riding on cobblestones paved so unevenly hard, let alone avoiding tourists.

We are spending two nights here so we can have a good look around tomorrow.

Our apartment is very close to this castle.

Day 32, done and dusted. How time flies by, and wow, we have certainly covered some ground.

Todays map. I made it a bit smaller so you can see Prague. It’s within a few hundred km if we go directly. If the weather ho,de, Tabor may be next.

Thanks for reading

Ooroo

Passau

It was a great day today. The weather was great! Not too hot, not too cold. A headwind, but not too bad!

As the day rolled on, we realised just how lucky we have been on this journey that started one month ago now. The incredible rains had finally ceased but the consequences for many not.

Leaving Salzburg was somewhat easier than other larger cities with the exception of roadworks here and there. Reasonably quickly we were out in the country again. Small villages were the norm. We scouted around a reasonable sized lake, Obertrumer See and then Grabensee.

A few things caught our interest in the town of Mattighofen. That unusual building is the KTM Austrian bike manufacturer so Tony very interested given his racing past.

Unfortunately the cafe that welcomes bikers was closed, but we found another one not too far away.

My front disc brakes had been making some awful noises. Fortunately Tony is pretty handy mechanically and replaced them during our coffee break.

More rural scenes through agricultural fields, small streams, quiet roads, and the occasional village church.

A cycle route runs alongside the edge of the River Inn, the same river that flows through Innsbruck. You will recall that the river was in flood from the terrible storms in Europe in the last fortnight, that had mucked up some of our rides.

We really enjoyed the tracks although predominantly gravel. At least they had dried somewhat with no rain in the last day. The first photo is a lagoon that is off the River. There was a little shack like cottage.

My kids would laugh at the witch on the broomstick as I used to joke that I was a witch per the Roald Dahl book of the same name. It was one of my favourite Dahl books that I used to read to them.

Obernberg am Inn had a very impressive old market square.

We pulled into a service station for some frizzante! Not any ordinary service station as it was just off the autobahn, that seemed to be favoured by more trucks than I have ever seen.

The truck queue for diesel was three wide, 100 metres long. I was fascinated just watching. As we headed back to the river, we past multiple truck parks, where the drivers were napping.

Back onto the river tracks was much quieter and safer.

We reached Scharding, a very pretty village.

This was our last village in Austria, as we crossed the bridge here. The first photo is roughly the border of Germany and Austria. the second is looking back at Austria.

The village on the German side is Neuhaus am Inn. You can see the bridge we had just crossed. Note how muddy the waters are too. The river levels are high.

A few pictures of German villages. Look at that sky!

For our final fling into Passau we found ourselves on a wonderful forest trail. Up and down, challenging in parts, but ever so pretty.

We found our way into the Old Town reasonably easy. It is handy to use the river as your reference point.

Passau is famous for a few reasons. Its location is at the confluence of three rivers, the Danube, Inn and Ilz.

It is very old, first mentioned as a Roman provincial town. With the establishment of an episcopal residence in 739, the city life of Passau began. In the 13th century, bishops became rulers of the independent, small principality. In 1803, Passau became a Bavarian City.

After the successful conclusion of the latest round of ‘where can we leave our bike’ negotiations concluded ( in my favour….they are in the luggage room, not the garage as they initially stated!), we showered and started walking.

We stumbled upon St Stephens Cathedral first. Still open we wandered inside. It was burned down in the city’s 1662 fire and rebuilt by a famous baroque architect, and other baroque artists completed the stucco and frescos.

The organ in the Cathedral is the largest in the world, with 17,974 organ pipes and 233 stops. All five parts of the organ can be played from the main console, individually or simultaneously.

Next we headed to the Danube…..ah, there were issues. That is the cycling path we are due to take tomorrow!

The conjunction point of the three rivers was obviously closed. With the flooding of two major rivers, there would be only one way to see it.

Now this boat ended up reversing. It would not fit under the bridge.

I think the next two pictures are the only way.

A few other shots before we grabbed some dinner. The first is Fortress Veste Oberhaus, one of Europe’s largest preserved castle complexes. It would be interesting to visit but not on this trip.

Back at the hotel, I have been reading the news reports of the flooding devastation in Germany and the Czech Republic. Hungary has been bracing for the full impact and fury of the Danube, sandbagging Budapest. Three weeks ago we rode along the S Bends from Esztergom to Budapest. Most of that would be flooded as it was quite low lying.

Tomorrow we are due to ride on cycle path on both sides. We know this side is ‘unavailable’ and suspect the same for the other. Tweaking will be required.

Final photo. Check this guy out on his bike on the cobbles.

Todays route and chart.

Thanks for reading

Ooroo