07 & 08 October 2015 – to Freudenstadt and Saverne

I’m back in the UK now, so time to catch up on my blog for the last week of riding through Germany and France.

By this time I was mostly focussed on getting back to the UK, with it getting colder, wetter, and campsites starting to close, so some long days and not a lot of sight-seeing, however still some good pedalling.

Routes and stats for the 7th and 8th below:

–> 07 October – to Freudenstadt, via a lot of hills (153km)
Today was pretty hard work, with a lot of climbs to contend with, so I was thankful I’d had a good night in Ulm, and some excellent Bavarian food to keep the pedals turning.

I hadn’t had a cup of Red Bush Tea in ages, so that and some breakfast set me up for the day ahead. The Brickstone Hostel had proven to be an excellent stop; very homely and comfortable. I was a little unsure of the route, however I basically just needed to keep heading West/North West towards France, so set off into a grey and drizzly morning.

The first part of the ride was on cycle routes, often with little or no traffic, up to Blaustein and Blaubeuren, then over the hills to Bad Urach. A bit of a head wind made the going tiring, however I made decent progress, and was encouraged by a couple of cycle tourers going the other way; few and far between now. I somehow ended up on a dual carriage-way near Reutlingen, which I discovered isn’t legal in Germany; the police were very nice about it though, and directed me to a much quieter cycle route into the city and beyond!

Then hills seemed to go on forever today, and my chain was starting to slip more and more; I need to replace that, plus the rear cassette, plus brakes, rear tyre, cables and maybe even the front rings. I’m hoping everything will last until I get back to the UK, however I might try to find a bike shop in Strasbourg for a service.

I finally made it to Freudenstadt, after a slow ride that seemed to take ages, especially with all the climbs and headwind. I cycled through the town and ignored the suggested cobbled route towards the campsite, which would have just hurt on a bike (me and Smaug), instead taking the main road around to the campsite in Langenwald.

It was a relief to make it to the campsite as the sun started to set, disappearing behind he thickly forested mountains. At about 750m elevation the campsite is pretty high, and also quite cold at this time of year, however the surroundings are wonderful and it would be great to explore over the summer. I pitched my tent, then enjoyed a very hot shower before dashing to the campsite restaurant before it closed for the evening; services are somewhat limited at many campsites at this time of year.

After a long day, schnitzel and a beer, I felt tired, so it wasn’t long before I crept into my tent and settled down to rest, listening to the rain patter against the canvas. Thankfully it wasn’t hard, and always makes me feel cosy, so I fell asleep quickly.

Tomorrow I’ll make it to France, and probably only have about 400 miles to go before I reach the English Channel; the end of the tour is sneaking up pretty fast now.

–> 08 October – to Saverne via Strasbourg (108km)
Despite being in the middle of the Black Forest I wasn’t, as far as I can tell, visited by werewolves or other denizens of its interior during the night. I woke up to another cold, grey, but dry morning, and was on the road by 08.30. It doesn’t really get light until about 07.30 now so it’s not worth leaving much before then. I’ve made a note to remember this campsite, as it’s located in a lovely spot and worth coming back to: http://www.camping-langenwald.de/index.php/en/ The owners are really nice too, which always makes a difference.

I had one more climb to do to reach the top of the mountain, before the road down towards France, so made short work of the 300m ascent to the top. There followed a lovely long descent through cloud shrouded forest, as well as small towns and villages, with relatively little traffic to contend with; a few dogs barked at me but nothing unusual there.

I found a cycle route signposted to Kehl, then Strasbourg, which made things easier and avoided the main roads, then crossed the River Rhine over to France; I was back in country number 9 of the tour again, and the last one before getting back to England.

I spent a bit of time looking around Strasbourg, which is a lovely old city, with wonderful crooked buildings, canals, and a spectacular cathedral. I’d also returned to the land of boulangeries, which makes lunch a lot easier and tastier; I very much enjoyed a large chicken salad baguette and pain-au-chocolat.

After wandering about for a bit, and stopping for a webcam shot, I visited a bike shop to see if they could replace my chain and rear cassette, however they didn’t have any free time until tomorrow evening, so I decided to press on and not worry about it until I get back to the UK. It’s mostly flat from here to the Channel anyway, relatively speaking, so fingers Smaug will make it.

Whilst I say it’s relatively flat through France to Dieppe, it was still a bit of a slog over the hills from Strasbourg to Saverne, on quiet D roads, through farmland and villages. I arrived in Saverne about 16.30 after 108km, and checked into the campsite not far from the town centre; still open for a while yet, whilst lots of others are closing for the season. After a quick visit to the supermarket to get supplies, I relaxed for the evening, enjoying a few glasses of Alsace wine whilst planning my route to Verdun tomorrow. The ride to Verdun might turn into the longest day of the tour, however unless I want to wild camp, or use a hotel, I’m somewhat constrained by open campsites, and I really appreciate a hot shower at the end of the day now it’s colder. If it turns out to be too far I can always stop in Metz, or try one of the various Auberges dotted along the route.

Escargot-au-chocolat, Lobster impressed

Escargot-au-chocolat, Lobster impressed

Good to be back in France!

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