We are hurtling towards our second rest day of the trip, but 150 miles over two days currently stands in our way. Today’s route takes us further south down the River Main and then east to Würzburg. It also take us OVER THE HALFWAY MARK! Yes, my friends, you read that correctly – we are now over halfway, so there is no going back now…
After a great nights sleep in our extremely budget hotel (they don’t even give you a kettle), we’re on the road again for 0630. A 75 mile day calls for more stops along the way, but that’s fine. That’s what it’s all about, after all.
The route to the cycle path is easy to navigate and before long, we’re on our way. To say this morning was pretty uneventful sounds negative, but I mean it in a good way. Nothing went wrong, (apart from the odd wrong turn from me, but hey, that’s a usual occurrence now) the cycle paths were well signposted and best of all, they were flat and smooth. What more could a girl ask for?!
I did go rogue a few times; and it mostly paid off. My GPX would be trying to route me inland, but I figured that if I followed the cycle path by the side of the river and followed the signs for Miltenberg (26 miles away), I couldn’t really go wrong.
Miltenberg was my chosen stop for second breakfast. I was too early to visit a cafe so just parked up down on the riverfront and had half an hour on a bench. It was lovely.
Onwards we went again, just following the river and heading this time for Wertheim, another twenty or so miles away. This time I promised myself a proper coffee stop. After all, aren’t the Europeans famed for their cafe culture?! Come on, Wertheim let’s see what you’ve got…
The cycle path continued to be excellent; smooth and undulating with amazing views of hillside forests that stretched for miles and miles. At times I switched between listening to a podcast, music or nothing at all. Einaudi provided an amazing soundtrack to the morning – I did just sit back and pinch myself, realising how amazing the cycling was and how lucky I was to be there. To say I enjoyed the morning, is an understatement. Fifty miles has never passed so quickly or been more pleasant.
Riding into Wertheim I was praying for a coffee stop. I dismounted my bike and wandered through the cobbled streets; nothing but rows of clothes shops and the odd restaurant. I was about to give up and then at the end of this little street, it opened out into a very lovely, and buzzing, square with cafe after cafe. Brilliant.
The waiter insisted on talking to me in Italian (yet another language I can’t speak) because he thought I was, and all I managed was; “cappuccino por favor” and “perfecto!” Well, it must have worked because he insisted that my coffee and granola bowl were “gratuito!” #winning
Now, dear reader, I wrote that first bit sat drinking my coffee, al fresco, and generally loving life. I definitely jinxed myself by commenting on how “uneventful” the morning was, as the last twenty five miles were anything but! Oh boy, was I in for a treat (when I say treat, read: relentless, hilly, hot, exhausting – you get the picture).
I set off again back to the River Main, knowing that in about 8 miles or so I would be leaving the river and heading east. And that, my friends, is where the fun begins. By now it was hot, again. Twenty seven degrees hot. As we left the river cycle path my GPX was sending me ever closer to what looked like a busy main road. I was seeing far too many speeding cars and lorries for my liking but unfortunately ended up at the junction, needing to pull out on to it. I did so but immediately darted right into a little lay-by and checked the route. It had me on this road for what looked like miles. As lorry after lorry flew past me, I knew I needed to go rogue. So, taking matters into my own hands, I backtracked and headed back to the previous turning.
It was there that I remembered spotting one of the small, green cycle path signs. I had followed these earlier up the river, on my previous rogue expeditions and it paid off, so fingers crossed it would this time too.
I managed to run parallel to the busy road but on much quieter ones, which was great. The two downsides were the gradients and the surface quality. At times I found myself heading off down dirt tracks, gravel paths and through fields. It wasn’t ideal but I thought it seemed a better option than dicing with death and Bavarian truck drivers.
The hills were a bit more relentless now too: 4% gradients that went on for miles. Now normally that wouldn’t bother me too much, but with a loaded bike; twenty seven degrees and 60 miles under my belt, it was hard going. I’m not going to lie, at one point I did get off and push. The hill in question was 8% and that was never going to happen today.
There is nothing more annoying than struggling up a hill than struggling up a hill and being overtaken by an e-bike. No offence to any e-bike riders out there, but really…?!
My faith in my gut instinct paid off and I made it back on course (after taking a trip through a Bavarian Forest first – quite a scary place on your own!) and my struggle up the hills was soon to be paid back with a downhill. Now, I’m no speed demon and enjoy a gentle descent, however today I was faced with a drop of 20%. Twenty per cent, people!! I literally thought I had dropped off the edge of the earth and that was the end. Garmin recorded 39mph. Sweet baby Jesus. Too fast for my liking. The adrenaline was going. My hands and forearms ached from pulsing on the brakes and I had to say a short prayer when I reached the bottom. The mornings ride seemed a whole other world away.
We finally made it to the Airbnb, which is lovely, thankfully. And so the evening ritual begins again. As much as I am LOVING this tour, it is a bit relentless. A big day like today totalled 9 hours and when you know you’ve got the same again tomorrow (another 75 miles + more hills), Thursdays rest day can’t come soon enough…
503 miles down…497 miles to go!
We are now closer to Vienna than we are to home. This is starting to look very real. Oh my.