2019/09/09-13: Frankfurt to Rosheim – Trip so far 2,400 km
We had a non cycling day in Frankfurt and, as we often do, we visited the botanical garden. The grounds and greenhouses were extensive and fabulous.
Our departure from the Ibis Hotel in Frankfurt was well timed; we were leaving just as an international car show began. As we loaded panniers onto our bikes in the underground parking lot, the team of Skoda reps, with their shaved heads and tattoos, shunted vehicles with enthusiastic revving. Another group of car reps beside us at breakfast were clearly tobacco addicts. Not quite our kindred spirits.
We followed the south shore of the Main River to its confluence with the Rhine, and crossed to the west side to turn south, entering vineyards. It was on this stretch that we first met Lasse, a young German on his first day of what he hoped would be a multi-month tour. We rode together and chatted.
After a night in Nierstein, we returned by ferry to the east bank, so as to ride gently through Kuhkopf-Knoblochsaue nature reserve. It protects an area of water meadow, including the largest island in the Rhine, the result of a former meander being bypassed when the main channel was augmented for navigation.
After recognizing the loss of plant species due to flood control, flooding was again allowed and unique plant species were being reestablished. It had supported small farming communities which had left cultural history. I was pleased that I’d noticed this oasis of green on the map. We were glad we’d ignored the dire warning of a passing cyclist, who assured us well-meaningly we’d be devoured by insects. There wasn’t a biting creature in sight.
From the outskirts of industrial Ludwigshafen, we followed a commuter cyclist, who had offered to guide us through the urban maze to the newly built Mannheim youth hostel. Here, our evening was punctuated by the sounding of an alarm, “Achtung! Achtung!” over the loudspeaker, and the arrival of fire trucks and ambulances. Barbecue smoke entering open windows had triggered the system.
We had stopped at a beach to assemble lunch and test our new stove, when a canoe appeared out of the mist. It was gliding downstream, with a Swiss flag astern. We hailed the paddlers who drew in to chat. They had begun their descent in Lucerne, Switzerland, and discussion of self-propelled adventures ensued.
We took a quiet forest road to the Karlsruhe hostel. In stark contrast to the Mannheim hostel, it had respectable accommodation for bicycles. You’d think that if you were spending vast sums on a state-of-the-art hostel in otherwise bike-friendly Germany, you’d remember to provide a fahrradraum, rather than tell guests to lock their bikes to a railing in the courtyard.
Our last night before Strasbourg and Rosheim, where we are happily spending a peaceful few days with a friend, was in Kilstett after crossing the river yet again. Approaching Strasbourg, we crossed the mouth of the Sauer River, with traditional wooden scows once used for fishing, and one of the last pockets of native Rhine forest.
Matthias would not be home till evening, so we spent a bit of time in beautiful-but-busy Strasbourg before following the peaceful Canal des Bruches to Rosheim, and a warm welcome.