When we went to retrieve the tandem another old tractor had arrived and was being admired. Obviously this was the beginning of a weekend of historic tractors gathering at the museum.
Perfect cycling weather day with good cycle-paths, clear signing and we had the Südschwarzwald Radweg guide with its very detailed maps.
After carefully studying the maps, Sheila decided that we did not have to retrace back down into the valley, but could head off cross-country to drop down and rejoin our route beside the River Wutach in Eberfinghen. She then navigated us to do just that.
Easy, enjoyable, flat (slightly down) cycling along the valley, bowling along through small villages and enjoying the view. With remarkably little effort we reached the end of the River Wutach as it joined the very much larger River Rhein at Waldshut. We stopped for a formal photo of our first sight of the River Rhein.
We climbed up the steep valley side into Waldshut, whose historic town centre and market was teeming with Saturday shoppers, and people sitting in sunshine at cafés. We stopped for coffee and also bought our picnic lunch. Seeing us with our tandem a German couple greeted us and said they also had a Thorn tandem (a Rohloff hub version).
Onwards down the River Rein (Eurovelo 15) cycle-path took us beside Laufenberg with good views of its historic waterfront across the river. We paused for a photo and a passerby took a picture of us, so we had a record of both of us and our tandem on the tour. Reaching Bad Säckingen we continued into the town centre and while studying the map met an English couple with Thorn touring bikes who were on their way along the Rhein to Amsterdam. The river bridge here was a magnificent wooden structure, where we took a photo of the rather small Swiss / German border sign.
We stopped in Wallbach to sit on a bench for our picnic lunch and then continued on a short section of the cycle-path with fierce speed bumps to slow cycles through a duck sanctuary. Near Albrüch John spotted a flowery bicycle outside a house in a side street, so we made a hasty stop to take photos to add to our flowery bike collection. Then through the seminary at Schloss Beuggen and on to cross the river bridge into Switzerland at Rheinfelden.
In the built up area the signed route departed from the one shown in the guide book and as it appeared to take a more direct approach to Basel we followed the signs eventually to arrive at a level crossing and signs for the railway station, which was near to our hotel. Basel was full of cyclists heading in all directions. We followed cycle lanes and shared paths and walked beside some short very busy sections where we were less confident than local cyclists familiar with traffic flows and tram lines. Our hotel was found and we unloaded the tandem. Getting it into the basement garage required a difficult carry down and around stairs then through a door that only partly opened. We thought there must be an easier way, but our friendly receptionist said no.
After showering and changing we wandered down into the city centre. It was the ‘Imagine’ festival weekend with music and crowds plus lots of trams and hundreds of bicycles. In the evening we dined outdoors at an Italian restaurant, then moved on to a pavement café for coffee and crêpes. We watched lots of young people arriving for the festival by bicycle and were amazed at the number of circa 1950s classic road bikes converted to single speed machines that seemed to be the young persons bike of choice alongside shopper and roadster bikes.
(Tandem in hotel basement garage)
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Day 6: Basel
A non-cycling day of sightseeing
Dry, sunny and hot.
We travelled by tram to Weil am Rhein where we spent the day visiting the Vitra campus
including factories, the VitraDesign Museum and Exhibition Gallery.
Thoroughly enjoyed the visit.
The Vitra campus is not to be missed if you are interested in
contemporary architecture or modern furniture design.
Lots of information here
Woke up to very heavy rain, which seemed to get slightly less as we ate breakfast and then resumed as a full-on torrent. We watched through the window as very wet bicycles and cyclists both draped in capes made their way to work or school.
With only 74km to go we decided to sit it out for at least an hour before setting off. In the meantime during an exploration of the basement John found a helpful member of staff who showed how to open the garage doors to a rear exit ramp. At least the struggle back up the stairs would not be necessary.
Finally the rain eased to ‘steady’, so we set off. Found our way out of Basel with no great difficulty and did a mixture of cycling and walking, being particularly careful on steep downhill sections over wet cobbles.
Out of town our route was well signed to get us to the Rhein / Rhone canal. The part we joined was no longer navigable but was maintained as a linear walking and cycling route and for wildlife. The cycle-path was a fine crushed surface not tarmac. It was OK to cycle on but caused a steady spray of mud to be thrown up over the tandem as we cycled along in the now less heavy rain.
Part way along we reached a lock that marked the beginning of a navigable section with pleasure craft moored up and a café – coffee and a comfort stop we thought. Sadly it was not open, but we made use of the public automatic self cleaning facility. One is always a slightly anxious about the workings of these, particularly when the instructions are in a foreign language.
Towards the end of the canal we had a difficult decision. When planning the tour Sheila had found it almost impossible to find a quiet roads way of linking up here without a going through forest on a path of unknown quality. We decided to carry on beside the canal and hope to get through somehow. We worked our way around the main roads outside Mulhouse and as it was getting late stopped for lunch at a Courtepaille restaurant just off the motorway.
From there it was only light rain as we walked over one busy bridge on a narrow footpath and then continued on a road that had a service road or cycle lane beside it most of the way.
As we approached Battenheim the traffic was becoming much less busy and we joined the VV12 route there. We saw the signs, but did not know what VV12 stood for. Anyway it took us to WestHalten where we joined the Alsace Wine Route.
From there we continued through quiet villages, seemingly devoid of residents, to reach the small, pretty town of Rouffach, where we bought chocolate and stopped at a café for coffee and tarts. The town had a small TIC that was open and also had a collection of old bicycles.
From here it was dry, so with waterproofs off we cycled on the short distance to Pfaffenheim to find Maison d'Emilie, our B&B.
The B&B was an interesting old farmhouse that had once had vineyards. We made some effort to wash some of the worst of the mud off various parts of the tandem that were meant to move, including recovering the brakes from under their layer of mud.
Our fellow guests included a German couple from near Hamburg who were on a bird watching and wildlife holiday and three English bikers on a short (time not distance) trip around Europe covering about the same distance in a day as we were in more than a week. Their bikes were very large, as was the quantity of luggage they were carrying!! – A BMW, a Triumph and a Kawasaki.
Emilie was in hospital for an operation so her husband had to feed us that evening. We felt sure he would manage to put something together. We met for aperitifs, then progressed through the wines and courses of a delicious evening meal. It turns out that our “stand-by” cook used to be a chef, following which he had taught cooking for two years. Lots of cycling and biking talk together with bird watching and wildlife.
(Tandem under cover beside old wine barrels in the farmyard)
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