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Preamble

Only 8 day until our start to Nantes and nothing is prepared! The panniers are not packed yet and the my bicycle is missing some equipment, which should be mounted. But it doesn’t matter… sorrows will come, sorrows will go...

 

Finally all packed! 

In the end 3 panniers of Monika were packed in an orange bag, secured with belts and one pannier, she took as cabin baggage. Additional one normal handbag.

One of my panniers stayed empty and was flattened. So I made a pack of 2 panniers, the tent and Monika’s tunk box, wrapped with blue tarp and also secured with belts. One pannier, I took as cabin baggage and my trunk box as handbag. 

The weight of the orange pack was 17kgs, the blue one had 24kgs, the cabin baggage 5kgs each and my tunk box below 1kg. So, we had 26kgs on each bicycle (without beverages and food). We became better! The year before, we had 30kgs per bicycle.

The bicycles were packed in carton and they were special baggage. Allowed were 32kgs per bicycle, which was no problem.

 

Day 01, May, 27th. 2016: The french are striking, ware waiting

 

Ok, all checked in, but cause the French are striking, our plane isn’t here. We will see, wether we will stay a night at Munich airport? Thanks goodness, the bicycles are checked in without problems.2:50 p.m. …new departure time 4:40 p.m.

…arrived around 8 p.m. Needed up to 9:39 p.m. for assembling and packing the hicycles.  Then, started a looked for a Hotel. We found one and are on room at 10:30 p.m. 

 

Day 02, May, 28th. 2016: From Nantes to the Atlantic (St. Brevin)

Distance: 58km

Elevation gain: 364m

In the Hotel, we had a breakfast buffet in the morning. I ate the double of what’s good for me, but not the half, I wanted! The bicycles are packed!

We started at 9:30 a.m. and passed burnt tires and blockades from the strike. In Germany, such heavy strikes are unknown. Strange!

We also made some MTB inserts, because Monika wanted a very special way and knew all better. In the end, we carried our full loaded bicycles over some rocks.

At noon, we had a coffee.

Later, we bought water and some fruits in a supermarket. Around 4 p.m., a thunderstorm followed us, but came not across the Loire.

Arrived at Saint Brevin, we rented a cabin for two nights and went shopping again, new fruits for dinner. Returned to our cabin, the thunderstorm hit us, but now, we were dry and save in our cabin.

One more thing:

The strike has a benefit, there were not much cars on the road, causing in the lack of fuel. Good for all cyclists, although the French car drivers have no problems with cyclists and are driving fair. 

 

Day 03 - May, 29th. 2016: Rain, shelters and beach

Distance: 22km 

Elevation gain: 160m

In the morning, we cycled to the Supermarket, bought Eclairs and some fruits. Our breakfast was coffee with Eclairs, not healthy, but tasted good! Then, Monika made like „Eddy the Eagle“ on the stairs of our cabin. The upper step was fouled! Then an another coffee to come down…

At noon, we started with our bicycles and rode on/along the beach, nearly 10km. It was low tide and so, my GPS tracked us, cycling in the sea! At Germany, you would get a penalty for this… but French people are very relaxed.

We looked for good lookin‘ shellfish, or better… empty shells! Also we saw a lot of jellyfishes! Really big jellyfishes, all stranded without chance to survive.

Over that, we passed a lot of shelters, made by the Wehrmacht (WWII). They are existing up to now, nobody has removed them. At Germany, you cannot find such buildings, because the Allied have blew them up after the war.

10kms later, we turned round and cycled back, now following small streets and bicycle tracks.

Back at our cabin, we came into a talk with our French neighbor...

...it was no talking, it was a pedi-manual conversation! But it worked! At the end, our neighbor got a flight on the same step like Monika in the morning. Thanks goodness, nothing serious happend to him.

I didn’t know, who booked the rain, but it started again and lasts very long. So, we stayed in our cabin, switched on the heater and made dinner. A little bit cheese, some grapes and a pineapple, followed by some glasses of „hobo’s luck“ (plonk).

Monika went to bed at 7 p.m… but not me, in the mid of the day!

 

Day 04 - May, 30th. 2016: From St. Brevin to La Varenne 

Distance: 88km

Elevation gain: 220m

Causing in the rain last night, we had no hurry. Everywhere water on the streets, but, thanks Goodness, the rain stopped. So we started at 11:30 a.m., always following the coastline and then the Loire.

At 1:00, we made a break with a coffee and a sandwich each. One sandwich was a half baguette, filled with tuna, salad and sauce. That was our lunch. Later, we made another break and ate our croissants, we had bought in the morning. We took the ferry to the other side to reach Nantes.

Nantes was stress… not the bikeways, they were ok, but the traffic noise. This omnipresent noise is nerve-racking!

Leaving Nantes, it became better. We tried to find a shop for buying some stuff for dinner, but… nothing to find or open. It is too early in the year, off season.

We found a campground at La Varenne where a guy from the Netherlands and we were the only guests.

There was nothing to pay, because the reception was not manned. In the village, there was no shop or something else, so our dinner was depending on some grapes, 2 apples, 2 kiwi and a pot of coffee.

 

Day 05 - May, 31th. 2016: From La Varenne to Sainte Gemmes sur Loire 

Distance: 80km

Elevation gain: 290m

Needed a long time to pack in the morning.

We only wanted to make 60km this day. At noon, we bought food for the day.

All campgrounds, we had chosen as destination were flooded or before flooding. After more than 80km, we found an open one at Sainte Gemmes sur Loire.

The water was short under flooding, but they all kept cool. So we had chosen a higher place.

We raised the tent in the rain. No fun! Monika had been tired, taken a shower and went to bed.

And me? I sat to the campground kitchen and talked with my co-campers, an Englishman, one guy from New Zealand and a Frenchman. The female desk clerk also was there. A nice evening and it became 12 p.m. …

 

Day 06 - June, 1st. 2016: Sainte Gemmes sur Loire to Montsoreau  

Distance: 62km 

Elevation gain: 230m

In the morning, all campers had to leave the campground. The electricians came to secure the power distributions. The half campground was flooded. So, we started early...

A break under a big tree!

Our day was nothing else than one detour after the other, causing in flooded tracks and streets. So, we had chosen some tracks in the Hinterland, naturally a repeating uphill and downhill. The most campgrounds were flooded.

Passing mushroom farms in caves and champagne producers, we reached Montsoreau 72kms later.

The campground was open and we invested 34 Eurons in a biwac. They said, the Loire would flood this campground next night, but we were save 2 meters above ground.

If it would had been necessary, our cycles had been parked on the table.

 

Day 07 - June, 2nd. 2016: From Montsereau to Tours 

Distance: 65km

Elevation gain: 330m

In the morning, the water reached the fence 2 meters away, but not our place. Short before starting, a heavy downpour started and lasted 5 minutes. It was nearly impossible to close all open panniers… Ok… that day had a good start…

...only to the next Patisserie to buy something for breakfast. 

Breakfast with view on the Loire.

Short time later, we noticed, that the meadowy countrysides and not only them, were flooded. So, we were forced to take the higher streets. So again and again, uphill, downhill… At least, we saw St. Martin church causing this fact.

And yes, we saw much more churches and castles on this day!

Finally, we decided to use an embanked road to Tours. Sadly, it had a small bridge over the Indre and yes… it was flooded! The next 40 kms, every bridge over the Indre was flooded or rather the whole landscape was drowned!

Thanks to the good advice of a French Lady, we got a tip, where we perhaps can pass the Indre.

So, we managed it to cross the Indre with wet feet.

On the other side, we cycled to a campground 5kms before Tours and rented a rulotte (a kind of gipsy wagon) for the night.

First a dinner, then washing and drying the clothes.

 

Day 08 - June, 3rd. 2016: Tours (recreation day)

Distance: 22km

Elevation gain: 170m

First, we made a copious breakfast, then I fixed a problem on Monika’s bicycle (There was a creaking, which nerved). Monika thought, it’s her bottom bracket, but there, I found nothing. But I found a loosen rack mount in the rear. Gotcha! Tomorrow will follow the proof. We also used this recreation day for washing our clothes, cause they have enough time to dry in the roulotte.

In the afternoon, we cycled to the historic center of Tours. The EV6 is still flooded, but we used a pedestrin bridge to cross the Cher.

A visit in the basilica and Saint Martin’s tomb. Yes, the one with the coat and the beggar…

A little shop attracted our attention. They had very nice handcrafted figurines. But sadly, they were too big for travellin‘ on a bicycle. 

On the way back, we came to a farmer market… Cheese and a walnut bread followed us home!

Back on the campground, we swam some rounds in the heated pool. Our dinner in the roulotte was cheese with walnut bread and wine.

Hoe-in!

 

Day 09 - June, 4th. 2016: From Tours to Blois

Distance: 74km

Elevation gain: 380m

In the morning, we needed a long time for packing our stuff. Altough we stood up at 7, it became 10 until we started. That day was the day of evasive maneuvers and vineyard streets (which before had to be climbed up).
Passing Tours worked fine, but beginning at la Ville aux Dames, the lower landscapes were drowned. At Montlouis sur Loire, we made lunch in front of one of this churches, we know of sword-fighting films.

The view was fine. 

It's a lot of stuff, we carry on our bicycles. Additional to the planned luggage, there are water and food also on board.

Anyway, from there we took the streets through the vineyards. Better permanent a slightly up and down, than running complete down to see, that the way is blocked.

From time to time a look on the map to get a overview about the flooded areas and the outcome of the floodings.

Reaching Amboise, we left the heights and went down. A really nice town with a lot of tourists.

Then, up to the heights again. This time, we had to take the castle hill up to the top. I made it like Gimli, Gloin’s son: Don't stop breathing, simply don't stop breathing!

At the top, we met a French couple and changed our experiences. We told them, what’s going on their way and they told us, what will wait to us on our way. So, we heard, the bridge over the Beuvron at Candé is flooded. They recommended to cross the Loire at Chaumont sur Loire and cycling fastest way to Blois. We were not convinced and would prefer a stay overnight at the campground at Candé. Next day, we will see…

But, reaching Chaumont, we saw their drowned campground.

There, we met a German couple, who was navigating with a smartphone app and a street map. Good for a car, not for cyclists and smartphone batteries sometimes become empty! But they seemed experiential-resistant. Not my prob.

After a talk with an old French man, thanks to the French lady, who translated for us, we changed our plans and followed the advice of the French couple before: We crossed the Loire and cycled as fast as possible to Blois.

Less fun on the big street, but effective.

At Blois, both campgrounds were drowned, what we knew before, so we took a hotel room.

 

Day 10 - June, 5th. 2016: From Blois to Jargeau

Distance: 86km

Elevation gain: 335m

In the hotel, we took a good breakfast. The invitation to carry fruits for the day with you was extensive used by us. Back on our room, I took a last time a look from our window to the historical old town.

Then, the imperial standard procedure (unload all useless weight before take off) and at 10, we were on the bikes.

Up to Beaugency, we took the street. From there, the EV6 seemed to be usable.

So we cycled up to Orleans side by side with the Loire. En route, we saw some nutrias.

Of corse, we take a look on the cathedral at Orleans. An impressive building, from outside and from inside.

At one side of the cathedral, there was an interesting installation.

Then we took the an alternative route on the „wrong“ side of the the Loire, followed by a route along a canal.

It was a canal for mills. Sadly, suddenly the way was blocked by a „Route barre“ and two women, watching that nobody will ignore this sign!

They told us, the campground, we headed for, at the moment only can be used as diving ressort. 

We cycled back to the road above and with a last power outburst, we reached 10km later Jargeau short before 8 p.m. The campground there was ok!

We made a cheese, fruits, bread and beer dinner… It was Monika’s birthday… Good night!

 

Day 11 - June, 6th. 2016: From Jargeau to Gien 

Distance: 60km

Elevation gain: 135m

Packing at Jargeau was longsome. There was nothing, where we were able to put something dry place. Breakfast was an apple for each of us. We started at 11. Monika was not so fine today. That continued the whole day.

We met a cyclist from Jersey, channel islands, and told each other our knowledge about the tracks.

There'S always something to see, here a moated castle.

We had nothing in our lunchbox and there were no supermarkets on the way. Small shops were closed on Monday. Reaching Gien, we found the campground at once. Partly flooded, but working!

We rented a bivouac.

The view was nice and we felt good.

I cyled to the supermarket in Gien and filled up our stock. In the evening, we were sitting together with an Australien couple and talked about the world and his brother.

 

 

Day 12 - June, 7th. 2016: From Gien to Sancerre

Distance: 57km

Elevation gain: 190m

In the morning, it wasn’t clear, wether we should stay or not. Monika was still ill, but in the end, we decided to start and take a room, if there would be problems. We had no planned aim for this day. Sometimes, it's wise to drift a while an see, where the day will end. 

Suddenly, we saw a strange bridge over the Liore. When we came closer, this bridge turns out as a „water bridge“ with a canal on it. It was the canal bridge of Briare. We passed the Loire too, via this bridge on one of the sidewalks.

On the other side, we found a "restaurant" of a confectioner. There, we enjoyed an ice cream.

We followed the EV6 on this side.

Again and again, there were signs, which told us, the route is flooded. But in the end, we didn't believe them. They were lying the most times, because the flooding declined.

Short time later, we met a German couple and they told us, at 4 o’clock, a big storm is announced. It was 2 p.m. And our values were limited.

So we decided to cycle to Belleville. So we followed the canal

We arrived Belleville at 3:30 p.m. and found the campground at once, but the villiage was not…

...let me say it so: If there’s any point in Europe, which is „wow!“ then Belleville is the thinkable most far away point of this. May be, the nuclear plant, 3kms away, is not very inviting. (We „Krauts“ have our own ideas about nuclear power plants…). So we continued cycling to Bannay. But the campgound there only exists in my map. On the place, where the campground should have been was scrubland!

The weather was looking like it would plan something really big!

Thus, we wanted to cycle to Sancerre. There we found an open campground and took a bivouac at 5 p.m.

Just for information: There was no storm, not in the evening and not in the night. All the warnings were only hot air! 

 

Day 13 - June, 8th. 2016: From Sancerre to Nevers

Distance: 72km

Elevation gain: 160m

A good breakfast behind us, we started at 10. after a short while, we met two guys from Scotland and talked a little bit.

The day was boring, because we followed canals on right or left side nearly the whole day.

Sometime interrupted by locks to break the monotony.

From time to time a little harbor and if we had great luck, the chance to get a coffee there.

 

Built-up areas were rare and if we saw one, there was nothing: The last shops closed years ago, bars or restaurant - far from it!

The only highlights were a farm with all kind of animals on it (if animals can feel happy, this ones feel it!) and the second highlight was a canal bridge with multiple locks like a stairway near Cuffy.

Then, we met a guy from Wales and we talked about which campground would be the best. We decided to take the one at Nevers, he wanted take the other, 10kms further. More were not in this area.

We arrived at Nevers and the campground was not a hit, but ok so far for one night. 

On the campground around 10 cyclists and one couple, travelling by canoe (it was flooding, a dangerous trip!). Interestingly, our place on a swampy meadow for a tent and two persons costed much more, than a dry lot for a recreation vehicle. Strange!

Without luggage, we cycled into the city for shopping.

A visit in the church was a must for me, because I like the kind of architecture there. it's complete different to the kind of churches, we have at home at Bavaria.

When we came back to the campground, the guy from Wales arrived too! He told us, the next campground, he aimed, didn’t exist. So he made 20kms for nothing. Ok, shit happens, we know it!

 

Day 14 - June, 9th. 2016: From Nevers to Decize

…or: how to start weak and decrease complete!

Distance: 43km

Elevation gain: 110m

We stood up at 7 to be a little bit earlier than usual. So we planned to pack all stuff first and then make a breakfast. But sadly the meadow was very wet, so our tent became not dry.

All tricks helped… nothing!

But not only our tent, no, all the cyclists and backpacker had the same problem. Finally at 9, we had all stowed. We simply decided, that it’s dry now! Then we made breakfast and started short before 10!

But somehow, it wasn’t our brightest day: All, what can go wrong, went wrong! 

...and again following the canals. We were spoilt by the tarmac bikeways the last days, so this wet mix aggregate was no fun. in the years before, we would have been pleased about such bikeways, but now...?

Finally Monika touched my rear pannier! Not a mistake by Monika, it was a mistake by both of us, because we noticed too late, that the point of the track became more narrow, than the rest! I was thrown to the left and then my left front pannier scratched on a wall under a bridge. Ok, nothing dramatic happend, except, my left pannier will be without mesh pocket in future.

At noon, we made lunch, with fresh coffee… The next town would be Decize. Behind Decize, there will be no campground or town for more than 50kms.

With our luck today, it would be better, to make a day a rest, to relax a little bit and to wash our clothes. We rented a mobil home at Decize for two nights.

Just unload our luggage, we cycled to a big supermarket. There was all, what a heart can imagine, but in a system „the whole boiling in one huddle“.

Short 1 ½ hours later, we were finished with shopping. Now, the Bikebuddy cage was allowed to show it’s flexibility…

Wine express! The French were surprised of it!

 

Day 15 - June, 10th. 2016: Decize (recreation day)

Distance: <10km

Elevation gain: none

First we slept well and had a good breakfast. our sleeping bags were put outside for drying.

Then, we went to the farmer’s market and bought fruits.

Then, a grilled chicken followed us home. It was a real chicken, not this industrial peewee chicken.

Passing a tobacco shop, I saw Opinel knives in their showcase. So, I bought an Opinel for me and a second one for somebody, whom I’m in debt with one knife. 

Back at our mobil home, we had lunch. First we tried that strange duck-sausage, Monika wanted at all costs. It weren't all costs, but it wasn't cheap. Monika tasted it and... that's it! Not one mouthful more!  

It contained all the stuff of a duck, I didn't knew, that it can be eaten. Me, who normally doesn't eat ducks, enjoyed this sausage!

But this was not enough for a lunch, so we also ate the half of the chicken, the second half was been frozen for the next day on tour. So it will be defrosted until noon.

In the afternoon, I bought water for tomorrow, so that we will be independend in food and drinking tomorrow.

For dinner, we had a cassoulet, beans with a kind of duck meat and other vegetables like carrots etc. etc. The whole cassoulet is cooked until the point of no recognition, you cannot say, what inside, but it tastes good. So, the meal was gone, before I was able to make a photo.

Btw.: If you find a bone in it, spit it out, it’s the only, which is not eatable… ;-)  

At the evening, we packed our stuff as far as possible, for a early start in the morning. The goal for the next day were 120kms. We will see!

It started raining again, and we hoped, that it will be over until next morning.

 

Day 16, June, 11th. 2016: From Decize to Digoin

Distance: 81km

Elevation gain: 550m

In the morning, it was raining. No fun! We get our rainjackets and rain covers for the shoes on. After some kms, the rain became more, it was raining cats and dogs, so we also put our rain trousers on.

Now we were in complete raingear. So we made the first 20 kms, until the rain stopped.

Rain gear off and then the hills began. So, the next 20 kms, we cycled up and down, again and again. This lasts also around 20 kms.

we also took tracks through the hinterland and the "mountains", made of clouds were awesome.

We found a nice place, where it wasn't raining and so we made a break.

Baguette with butter, cheese and tomatoes. Then we continued along the canal Lateral until we saw a sign, promising a cafe in the next village near left. A cup of coffee, wonderful idea!

The cafe also was a mom-and-pop-store. The owner was an old women. If she will not longer be able in future to open her store, the next store will be past recovery. Bummer!

On the church in the village is written the slogan of the revolution of 1789: Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité

Sadly, this church was, like often at France, locked. What kind of Lord's house it is, when you cannot visit it? After the coffee, we continued our track beside the canal.

At a lock, we met some skater. A little talk about all the world and his brother was a welcome relief.

A little bit later, I saw a stag beetle. The last one, i saw, is years ago, so I stoped and watched him a while. You know, sometimes, you must take time for the important things in life!

We followed this canal to Digoin. At Digoin, there is another canal bridge over the Loire, which we passed.

The best thing ist, this stuff is 200 years old and still working and in use! 

The village of Digoin seemed to be unimposing, short said, nothing new!

like often in France, not all places have tarmac or cobblestones. The campground was ok, no more, no less!

But the campground had a pool. So I went swimming in the evening.

 

Day 17 - June, 12th. 2016: From Digoin to Santenay

Distance: 93km

Elevation gain: 230m

In the morning, we began totally relaxed. Then, we stopped at at supermarket and bought food for the day. It was 11 a.m. when we started! We cycled, not fast, not slow, when we met a guy from Regensburg at a crossing. We talked one hour! A young woman, who was on the opposlte way, also stopped for a talk.

We continued, but cycling felt always a little bit hard.

We passed around 20 ship locks. Every lock makes between 2 - 5 meters up and our track also. Then, we had it, the canal was on it’s highest elevation. 

Between Eciusses and St. Berain sur Deune, there is a cascade of shiplocks downhill and we cycled all the elevation downhill in one hour, for which to climb, we needed a half day.

At Santenay, we found a campground for the night. The reception was not manned, but a Dutch guy said, it common here, to stay overnight and pay the next morning.

Today, we cycled nearly 95 kms!

 

Day 18 - June, 13th. 2016: From Santenay to Seurre

Distance: 74km

Elevation gain: 430

In the morning, we had our tent nearly dry, when a rain made a change of our plans necessary. After a long breakfast, we started at 11:30 p.m. In spite of the bad weather, the  landscape is wonderful.

It seems attractive living at a place like this.

We left the Loire a day before at Digoin and followed the Canal Centre. Today, we continued to follow the Canal Centre

Lock following lock, we cycled downhill, until we came to the Saone, which we followed then. It was raining the whole day again and again. So, rain gear on, rain gear off…

We reached the Saône!

"Any traffic prohibited on the way in case of a flooding!"

Chalon sur Saone was jo fun, a big city and terrible traffic. We also passed Verdun sur le Doubs.

No, not the Verdun of the WWI. But here, the Doubs leads in the Saône. We will follow now the Doubs.

The campground at Verdun, we didn't want, the next two only were allowed for RVs, the first one at Seurre didn't exist, but the second one was open. That was the best one, we got! 

 It was raining and uncomfortable, but we met interesting people. So, among others two young guys, making a sabbatical and planned to cycle round the world. They really had no idea about cycling tours, but the one, who sold them their stuff knew, what's expensive.

Thanks Goodness, there were benches with roof and "double luck", we had an insect repellant!

Our dinner was bread, butter, cheese and fruits.

 

Day 19 - June, 14th. 2016: From Seurre to Dole

Distance: 55km

Elevation gain: 510,

The day started with rain and we packed our tent in wet condition. We started without breakfast. We always followed the Doubs, alternating with parts following canals, which shorten the Doubs for better navigability. 

20 kilometers behind us, we came to Losne. There was a Hotel with a cafe. It looked closed, because there was no light. So, we were on the way to continue our way, when the owner came out and asked us in.

The owner has spoken a very good German. She told us, that at the time, the textile manufacture still exist, a German foremen worked there, who taught her German language. Her eyes became bright, while she told us this. I think, it was a very important man in her life. But we had to continue our way.

We had to cycle, heading Dole. You can see the sign for the cyclists, they are good to find on prominent places. A last look from Losne to Saint-Jean-de-Losne on the opposite bank. 

The whole day, the rain didn’t stop. It was nerving and we were mental groggy.

Again a lock appears, leading in a canal which will end in some kilometers in the Doubs again.

We had to cross this lock and then follow the canal on it's left side. 

After 50 kms, it became uncomfortable, although we were wearing rain gears. We decided to stop at Dole and take a mobil home.

At the campground, we met Reinhold from Regensburg again, the guy, we met some days before at a street crossing. The mobil home is the worst we had up to that day, it would be difficult to outclass it.

But nevertheless, it was warm and the roof ok!  

Oh… did I tell you? The Doubs was unfolding a flooding...

 

Day 20 - June, 15th. 2016: From Dole to Baumes les Dames

Distance: 96km

Elevation gain: 260m

We started with heavy rain. Our target for the day: 60 kms, if possible, more.

The rain stopped after two hours. We took off our rain gears.

One hour later, we came in a heavy rain with thunderstorm. Then, sunshine again, interrupted by a little bit rain sometimes.

Highlight at Besancon: the bicycle track follows the canal through a long tunnel. Causing in the heavy rain the last days, the water dropped from the ceiling in the same way like outside.

At the end of the day, we made more than 90 kms and reached Baume les Dames. we found the campground at once. But they only had cabins, which they didn't want to let us! Perhaps, we looked too overbold? On the campground, they were standing a lot of "coosie-tractors" made by well known German noble brands! So much that campground. 

So we cycled back to the captaincy office. There was a hostel and a restaurant. we git two beds and the dormitory was only used by us. 

After a shower and with dry clothes, we went to the restaurant. Fish & chips were our choice. Yummy! It was soccer mastership and France was playing. So, the mood was good!

 

Day 21 - June, 16th. 2016: From Baume les Dames to Montbeliard

Distance: 61km

Elevation gain: 280m

In the morning in bad condition and also Monika was not really ok. Over that, she wasn’t amused about the expectation of a rain ride, cause the forecast said, it will rain cats and dogs! When we started at 10, on the minute exact, the rain stopped and we got not one single drop the whole day.

All cyclists, we met, were washed, but not us! First, we rode our way, then the way went through some villages in the hills. Hills? They felt like MOUNTAINS! But we made it proper. Back in the valley, following the Doubs…

But the bikeway was flooded by the Doubs. Estimated 50-100cm deep and 20 m long.

First, I wanted to carry our stuff by feet through the water, but Monika found a way through the green! It cost a lot of power and a half an hour, but saves myself a bath or ourselves a detour with 14 kms.

Being on the bridge, we crossed the Doubs to the other side for a breakfast. But it was a restaurant for lunch and closed. But the kind landlady simple cut a baguette in two parts and filled it, with all, she had. So, we got a tasty baguette "sandwich".

Strengthened we continued our tour until a suddenly “ Route barre“ appeared. Dmnd!

Now, the detour was a mean one over the hills, 7 kms for making 2 „over ground“. Annoying!

Just been in the valley again, the next "Route Barré" appeared. Thus up hill again!

Later, we had the third hill passage through some villages, but they were regular part of the EV6.

Interstingly, we saw a a baguette vending machine. A sad lead to the rural exodus in France.

We reached Montbeliard, where a campground was listed.

Sadly, the campground only is made for RVs!

Slowly but surely, it became dark and we found a room in the Hotel de France. A jazzy hotel, from outside, it seems like Caspar’s house and from inside, you could think, it’s the set of the old Miss Marple films.

But all is ok and working! And yes, the room still have warm air heating (with outlets in the walls), but they were shut down, because they renovated the hotel in the fiftees. At least the design of the radiators suggests it to me.

„Maison magnifique!“

The bathroom had a small tub, which instantly was tested extended by Monika.

And… we were not dissatisfied with our 60kms today! 

 

Day 22 - June, 17th, 2016: From Montbeliard to Mulhouse

Distance: 56km

Elevation gain: 130m

We started with target Mulhouse. It was raining. But it was the kind of rain, which is manageable and the wind was the most time in the back ?

A last look back on the nice Hotel...

The most time, we followed the canal. Suddenly they were back, the excruciating scribblings. Such "graffito" we didn't saw the whole time before on our tour!

Bridge - canal - undergrade crossing - canal... so it went the whole day!

We made some longer rests. Sadly, we had a detour. Of course over the hill… Annoying!

When we saw a second detour, to guys were climbing out of the bushes with their bicycles. They were from Belgrade and told us, the way is not flooded, only partly washed away or slided into the river. But it is no problem to cycle there.

This invitation we accepted! So we through the bushes too and... nobody saw it... cycling on the forbidden path.

Yes, some spots were a litlle bit narrow, but the slided parts were grown with green, so, this must be older demages and they are not active in movement.

Then, we had reached the highest altitude of the canal. From there, it goes 20 kms downhill to Mulhouse, while passing more than 35 locks.

I was remembering, that the Danube at home is on an altitude of 365 meters above NN and the way from the source to Neustadt is some hundreds of kilometers. So I thought, we will have some hills to manage until we will reach the begin of the Danube.

It stopped raining and we "tear off" our rain gears...

 

At Mulhouse, we rented a so-called „cyclist tent“. If it would have been clean, ok, but it wasn’t… but it has light, power sockets and a lot of space.

Then, we cycled with the naked bikes to a Leclerk supermarket. It wasn’t a hit, we have seen better ones, but we got, what we need. On the way to it, we passed a long wall, which they were painting black. The reason is, that they want make tabula rasa for an event, on which this wall will be filled with new graffities. Lived art! 

A little bit relaxed in the evening and then into bed...

 

 

Day 23 - June, 18th. 2016: From Mulhouse to Bad Saeckingen

…or: the Germans are too dumb to signpost a bicycle path!

Distance: 76km

Elevation gain: 240m

We started in Mulhouse and found the path to Basel without problems.

Sometimes, we had some rain showers.

Arriving Basel, I had a premiere, it was the first time in my life, I did a step into the Swiss!

Anyway, sitting in the Swiss felt not different from sitting in France, 10 meters before. Good, that we have compared it! So, the amount of new knowledge was limited. 

It went good through Basel. They had enough signs, so we always knew, were the recommended bikeway was.

"Begeisterung?" - enthusiasm? ...is written on the tramway. Here we met a Swiss couple, we had a little talk with. Here, we are eye-catching with our full loaded bicycles and the people wee interested in us, from where we come, where we will go...

A look back and then... yes... uphill!

Then we passed some industral plants on the way to Grenzach-Wyhlen.

Entering Germany, it was gone with being in the know! The EV6 isn’t signposted, only the Rhine-bikeway is signed, but inconsistent, patchy and dorky. Better no signs than these! Secondary, the German EV6, at least between Basel and Bad Säckingen, consists of mud pathes, senseless housing estate sightseeing tours and loop ways through any small villages. Additionally a lack of signs, which lead in mud pathes, which are ending after some kilometers in stairs!

We cycled in Austria, Slovakia, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania. I think, we are no noobs in reading signs, also nearly hidden signs, but Germany takes the biscuit! Better no signs than signs, which are definetely wrong or ambiguous!

The Germans should take some private lessons in France or Serbia, how a good sign looks like and how to mount it consequential. And a bicycle traveller normally has no MTB, but rather a travelling bike with a load of 30 kgs in the panniers. With such bike, nobody wants riding muddy hollow ways or stairs! 

Howgh, I have spoken! ;-)

I like this bike racks!

In Germany mandatory: Maps for an overview, as a result of a lack of useful signs.

Of course, we cycled uphill again...

..to lead finally in big roads. "Exempt from fun"!

We were tired, it was late and, as far as we saw, no change in sight! so we went in a Hotel.

 

Day 24, June, 19th. 2016: From Bad Saeckingen to the Rhine Falls

Distance: 74km

Elevation gain: 530m

Started with rain showers, which became a continues rain while the day.

Not much to tell. We made some rests to drink a cup of coffee. It was no fun with that weather!

Sometime, there were nice views, when we not were leaded through residential areas or babbitt front garden tracks. 

We saw a public bicycle race. 

Thanks Goodness it slowed-down after a while. Instead we cycled along an ugly street.

Did I tell you? It was raining! ;-) 

When we not followed a street or cycled in residential areas, we had sludge ways... over that with pedestrian traffic. This was the only benefit of the rain, there were not much pedestrians en route. 

In the end, we made it! The Rhine Falls! At least it was worth it! Causing in much rain the last weeks, the Rhine had enough water for a really great performance. The Rhine Falls are a real eye opener! The biggest waterfall of Europe.

Top right near the Falls you can see a castle. It'S castel Laufen in which is a youth hostel. Monika wanted to cycle there! in the end, we stood there over night, high above the Rhine Falls. Indeed ,we first had to pass the railway bridge over the Rhine to come to the castle.

Fir it, we had to "climb" up to the railway bridge! Via bicycle lift, a second lift and a lot of push, we came to the bridge...

Thus over the bridge...

Followed by the next steep slope up to the castle.

The view from our room was terrific!

You can see on the left the one big bunk bed for 8 people. There also were other guests, a really jolly troop: An Indish couple, who lives at New York on an Europe tour, a French soldier in holidays, who wanted to cycle to the black sea (were we were the year before), my wife Monika and me. 5 people had the whole castle no more other guests. we shared the room and the bed. The day before, more than 50 people were there. Right timing for us!

 

Day 25 - June, 20th. 2016: From the Rhine Falls to Orsingen

Distance: 67km

Elevation gain: 565m

Stood up at 5 and all packed at 7! New record!

Then we used the benefit of youth hostel guests: Between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., only youth hostel guests can go down to the waterfall and see it at first light of the day. For free. All other peoples can go there after 8 a.m. and they have to pay for. Following some impressions:

It’s impressive, standing 2 m next to the waterfall.

Here some data of the Rhine Falls:

Then breakfast. After the breakfast, we started: Went upstairs, fetched our stuff and loaded our bicycles.

Short after 9 a.m. we were und the "road". the weather showed mercy and we stopped for a cup of coffee at lunch.

Then same procedure as the last two days: cyvling through uninteresting housing areas, on gravel, uphill, downhill and nearly no view to the Rhine.

Why they made the track through complete uninteresting residential areas. It's boring for me from the sight as cyclist and it's sure nerving the residents, when 1000 cyclists a day passing at peak saison. 

We changed often between Germany and Swiss and noticed every border at once on the bikeways: when pavement stopped and gravel began, we entered Germany, when gravel ended and pavement started, we entered the Swiss!

Here two photos to compare. Do you notice something?

We came to a town, where we took the chance to get an ice cream.

Of corse it went uphill again. When we saw a railway station, we serious thought about taking a train in face of this boring routing.

At last, we continued cycling. In the morning Monika had made the suggestion to change the route, instead of heading the Bodensee and Radolfszel, she wanted Donaueschingen, the source of the Danube. It would have been only 30km from the Rhine Falls. We should have done this. Hindsight is easier than foresight!

Finally at the Bodensee, the street was flooded and blocked, but we ignored it! Bite me! We weren't the only ones, a lot of children form the villages around had a lot of fun!

At Radolfszell the old game: where is the sign or „follow me, I will come later“. The signs to Tuttlingen showed to the Bodensee-bikeway, but Tuttlingen is on the Danube. It cannot be right. So we first cycled 10 km for nothing, but in the end, we found our way.

At Orsingen, we found a campground (thanks to Archies), where we rented a hobbit cave for a night. They told us, the former owner of the one, we have, disappeared. It is said, the man was named Bilbo Baggins… ?

 

Day 26, June, 21th. 2016: From Orsingen to Tuttlingen

…or: the way to the Danube was hard!

Distance: 28km

Elevation gain: 535m

In the morning we were beaten up. A look out of our hole: Oh so-so!

So, we started at 11. It’s less than 30 kms to Tuttlingen. Unfortinately, it alway went up.

More detailed: if it went downhill, it had only one reason, to make more space for next slope!

Monika was complete tired out, ut I saw no chance to help her!

Somewhere down the line, we reached, or better crawled the Witthoh, the highest point between Atlantic and Black Sea on the EV6.

Downhill to Tuttlingen, we were a little bit faster, although it went in waveform up and down.

At long last we arrived at Tuttlingen!

There we found a campground for tents. It was free. In the near spa, we fetched a key for the showers.

The spa was a thermal spa, so we raised our tent and went into the spa to relax a little bit. Afterwards, we made our dinner in the park on some weird sculptures. I interpreted them as seats.

Our tent was rised at an edge of the small campground. Our single neighbor was a young hobo. because we had the shower key anyway, we invited him to use the shower too. I was not able to figure him out, but he was really ok.

 

Day 27 - June, 22th. 2016: From Tuttlingen to Riedlingen

Distance: 89km

Elevation gain: 425m

We started at 10 a.m. and followed the whole day the young Danube.

There were some slopes, but not steep. The landscape was beautiful.

A little bit like the Altmuehl-Valley at home!

It was hot and were glad, when the track leads through forests.

A look on the small Danube. I remember the big river, I saw at Romania, which was partly more than 2 kilomteres wide.

Then we came in the shadeless plain. From until our home, there be nothing other than such landscapes. Less to see, less shadow and dusty tracks.

Finally we found a little private campground, which only guests we were. The punkies were not only annoying, there were sanguinary!

Our tent was raised at 21:00 and we went to bed early.

In the end, we made more then 90 kms, a little bit weak for the flat landscape.

 

Day 28 - June, 28th. 2016 From Riedlingen to Ulm

Distance: 71km

Elevation gain: 385m

All packed in dry condition in the morning and start…

First it was flat like expected...

A nice well for cyclists. The wheel turn, powered by the water.

The following railway bridge was a challenge for Monika. She had concerns about what may happen a train passes. I grew up near a railway, so I laughed about her and told her for joke, that this is the main route of the ICE trains. :-D She didn't like this joke.

There were some more hummocks, than we expected, but they were manageable.

This one was really bad! We were pooped and then this! Leastwise there is a pergola at the top with a water post.

Around noon, we ate a big portion ice cream and continued cycling through the plain.

At Ehingen, we made a brainstorming:

In my office, there is an important letter and it would be better to sent it Friday than Monday, because the british „House of Court“ is not amused about missed dates.

Besides a great uncle of Monika passed away. The family expected, that Monika appears at the buriel on Friday. Monika liked this „uncle“, so she can pay her last respects to him.

Hence we decided, to cycle to Ulm and catch a train home. By bicycle, we wouldn’t have been at home before Saturday evening. The missing part from Ulm to Ingolstadt (Ingolstadt-Neustadt, we made in spring) can be done on a bank holiday weekend. "So, let's cycle to the railways station at Ulm!"

Interestingly, the railway tickets would have cost more than 100€ at the German Federal Railway. But we figured out, that Agilis, an private Railway company, will accept a Bavarian flat ticket ("Bayernticket"), although Ulm isn't at Bavaria. So we came home for 28€!

 

Therefore our journey was finished!

Nevertheless, I would assert, that we have cycled across Europe from the Atlantic to the Black Sea, of course in several sections over the years.

Now, I have only one open question: What will we cycle next?

 

Summary

total distance: 1700km

elevation gain (up): 8482m

elevation gain (down): 8061m

average speed: 14,5kmh

in.motion time: 117,5h