Back to the roots

Day 83, Frankfurt, 6.597 km

8 days. An eternity. An 8 days break (I am not counting the trip to Strasbourg, I had no luggage and no mountains to climb to justify it), 8 days without biking. In one go, almost as many days off as in the previous month and a half, and I barely exaggerate… That’s why when I take down the saddlebags on Monday morning I have the feeling of finally being back to the good things (Alsatians, please don’t blame me, it seems that it’s a story of endorphins). Jay and Bob don’t recognize me, I can’t fix my bags on the bike, it’s like I forgot my password after a 3 weeks vacation. Luc puts the usual bottle of wine in my hands (a good tradition there, I hope it will continue) and I set off on the road. Back to the roots, and also back to Germany, where it all began…

I aim for the Rhine, wondering if an army of doctors in coveralls is going to stop me to make sure I don’t have a few COVID molecules in my luggage. The crossing is (like every time I cross a border) hassle-free, as if no one cares about an isolated cyclist traveling in Europe. Probably better this way… I then head for Oldenburg where I will meet my cousin Géraud with whom we will travel for the next two days. It’s the first time that I have to meet someone on the road, and I am slightly apprehensive about missing him. Fortunately, he has brought a neon-yellow rain jacket that can be seen 12 kilometers away (and he also took a phone) and the reunion is carefree.

Gray sky over the Rhine
Don’t you agree that it can be seen from far away?!

Géraud has prepared a great route for us: 100 km of descent (not going up at all), along the Rhine to Karlsruhe. And he even had the good idea to ask for the wind in the back. However, he probably didn’t read all the terms and conditions, because we had a nice downpour in the early afternoon (after having thought for a long time that we would be faster than the rain). And to make it a bit funnier, he also asked the road network to do work on the bike path to pretend to get lost trying to get around them. A route planner that I recommend to everyone!! When we arrive in Karlsruhe, we even have time to have a bite to eat, admire the castle, take a walk in Géraud’s student memories, have a drink, meet up with one of his friends and have another drink… A busy day for the restart!

It’s raining on the Rhine
Karlsruhe’s Castle

The next day, we start with hilly roads. Nice hill at the exit of Karlsruhe, then we descend into the Pforzheim basin, then we go up again. It’s hard on the legs a bit but the troops are in good shape and we are still dry. And our planner also took care to take us through the forest, far from cars, so nice! And pretty views from the top of the hills allow us to admire the forest, which slowly takes on its fall colors. Before starting the last climb, we take a little detour to Mönsheim to take a short break (basically, I’m sure he had planned it, he absolutely wanted to see the famous local bakery…). And as we end up entering familiar ground, Géraud guides me with his eyes closed (or rather the GPS off) and we arrive in Stuttgart without further adventures, 10 minutes before the heavy downpour of the day… As I already told you, amazing preparation!

The next day, I take my time before leaving. I don’t want to be tempted to do the 200 km that separate me from Frankfurt in one go, the last time I ended at 228… In addition, it’s raining and it gives me the opportunity to enjoy the cousins ​​a little more… Finally, I start after lunch. It takes me a little while to leave Stuttgart and I end up following the Neckar (on the suggestions of Géraud and Miri, I decided to make a small detour…) and meeting a cyclist, Michael (pronounced the American way). We hang on, we discuss, and we do about thirty kilometers together. We are looking for a nice place to take a short break in Heilbronn (a small town that looks quite pretty, it would be worth visiting again), and at the very moment we stop we are an old retiree, anarchist, incomprehensible (even for the natives apparently), probably a little stoned too, starts telling us about his life and how unfair it is… great break… we quickly decide to run away…

Michael wants to follow the Neckar, and I want to cut through land to be in Heidelberg before nightfall, so we go our separate ways. I’m not sure I made the best decision of the day because it’s going up, it’s raining and I have the wind against me… But I do probably 20 km less than if I had followed the Neckar and I I’m even lucky enough to have a great sunset: the whole countryside is bathed in orange light, it must be the famous ginger hour. However, my plan to get there before dark didn’t really materialize. But I tell myself that driving at night is an experience I have to go through. So I keep going, but I must admit that it’s not so great: I can’t see anything, I’m dazzled by the cars, I don’t enjoy the scenery at all, I think I won’t be doing it again anytime soon. And when I arrive in Heidelberg I realize that my plan to camp in the woods by the Neckar is not going to materialize either: there is only a road and houses. Fortunately, Google Maps shows me a forest on a hill overlooking the city and I manage to find a flat place to pitch my tent. Only problem, my headlamp has been on all day in my bag and does not light anything at all … Fortunately I can set up the tent with my eyes closed…

Meeting on the road
The sun is setting…
…and night falls on the Neckar

Heidelberg by day looks way better than at night, even if the falling rain does not encourage me to stay… I will have to come back next time… The rest of the way to Frankfurt is quite monotonous: small villages, Darmstadt (for this one, no need to come back…), a bicycle motorway, the forest, the Skyline on arrival and a little tour of the city by night with my cousin Ombeline to top it off. From tomorrow on I will head to Luxembourg, then Belgium before returning to France to spend the rest of the autumn in the warmth (or not …)

Arrival in Frankfurt

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