Sheila feeling much better, so we decided to resume tandem touring on what should not be too long a day. We planned to be in Heidelberg in time for an afternoon of sightseeing.
Back to the River Rhein as we left Worms over the Rhein bridge to start up-river beside the Rhein on Eurovelo 15. All went well for a bit until we came to a stretch of road where the fire brigade were out on a weekend trip testing and playing with all their toys. They were fountaining water from several hoses into the air and across the road. Trying to cycle through it was not just a recipe for a thorough soaking, it would have been like charging head on into a water cannon that could knock you over. We waved at them and they showed no inclination to turn anything down, let alone off. From a safe distance beyond the spray zone we took a photograph in protest.
Dithered around then opted for a paved track across a field in the hope that if we got past the obstacle we might find a way back towards the river and the cycle-path. A couple of forays in that direction were not successful. While we were contemplating our next move we were joined by two French cycle tourists e-biking their way along the Rhein. They had the detailed Eurovelo 15 guide book and after consulting it we were reassured that we were OK and continuing would put us back on route.
All went well for the next section until we came to a Eurovelo 15 sign for Mannheim. That would have been good if there had not also been a Eurovel 15 sign for Mannheim pointing in the opposite direction. The only difference between them being that one also had the outline of a polar bear (or was it an otter, we could not decide) and the other did not.
We tossed a metaphorical coin and set off. The official signs ran out as we reached the outskirts of Manheim, but there were green local cycle signs so we followed them until we got lost in impossible to work out Mannheim suburbs. Spent quite a lot of time navigating by the sun and a hunch as to which way the river might be (John and Sheila not always sharing the same sense of direction and neither of us over-confident). Found the river!! It is very big and impossible not to see when you reach it – but from time to time it does have a habit of splitting into a navigable cut and river section just to fool you.
Back on route, but direction finding was still difficult on the scale of map we had in the city when the signs ran out again and we headed into another stretch of suburban and outer Mannheim territory. Decided to stop for a break at a café for coffee and strudel and while there sought advice from the locals. Refreshed we set off with clear instructions, but the landmarks they had told us about did not materialise – perhaps the distance was much further than we thought?
Eventually we came to a motorway bridge. Great feature, easy to find on the map and we now knew where we were and where the River Rhein should be. Some local cyclists gave us directions to cross the river bridge and pick up our route again on the other side. The only potential problem was we were near the confluence of the Rivers Rhein and Neckar and from here we needed to follow the River Neckar. If this was the Neckar all was well, but if it was still the Rhein we would be on the wrong side to ever see the Neckar again. We crossed over.
Pleasant cycling alongside the river Neckar, sometimes in the open and sometimes in trees fringing the river, brought us to Heidelberg. Well not actually into Heidelberg which was on the opposite side of the river. We were not sure which bridge we should cross to reach our hotel, but headed across to arrive in the middle of the very busy pedestrianised high street. It was now hot and sunny, so we flopped into café chairs for cold drinks and a tortilla lunch.
Checked into our very central hotel just off the main street, changed, took a photo of a flowery bicycle and went out for a walking tour of the town.
In the evening we ought to have booked restaurant places because the town was thronging and restaurants were full (including the Snoockeloch where we had eaten on another trip, but tonight it was teeming with students). We ended up back in the main street and in a mood of nostalgia decided to share Kaisersmarn for pudding.
(tandem in hotel car park, following a bit of re-arranging of some decorative objects beside a fountain to make a long enough space)
Click on any photo to enlarge and scroll through
Not being sure of opportunities to buy picnic sandwiches en route on a Sunday we went in search of an early morning bakery in Heidelberg and found what we needed a short distance from the hotel.
We noticed a poster and large flags on the bridge over the River Neckar declaring that today was “Radsonntag” (Cycle Sunday). When we reached the far end of the bridge there were barriers and direction signs. We discovered that Radsonntag was a cycling for all event stretching from Mannheim to Eberbach using the Neckar Radweg or closed roads. As we were intending to cycle up the River Neckar to Neckargerach, we decided to join and following their signs we set off on traffic free closed roads out of Heidelberg beside the river.
The event did not officially start until 10:00 so we were early, but we expected the volume of cycles to increase as the morning went on. Already there were some club cyclists out enjoying the freedom of cycling on closed roads.
We followed either the standard Radweg signs or the Radsonntag signs to Neckargemünd where on the quay there was a flea market being set up and also a Radsonntag stall. From there we continued beside the river, crossing various bridges from side to side until we reached Neckarsteinach, where there was also lots of activity setting up benches and tables to sell food and drink of all sorts. They seemed to be just about ready for business so we parked the tandem and settled down for coffee and some speciality regional kuchen. There would be music later but we were treated to a guitarist warming up with his Hank Marvin impersonation (The Shadows, early 1960s for those too young to remember).
At Hirschhorn we followed the Radsonntag signs into the town where they just stopped. We concluded that Hirschhorn residents just felt they did not want to be left out, so had turned a couple of signs around to make sure everyone visited their town too. We retraced to the cycle-path and continued.
There were now lots of cyclists, including families and children out on the route. At Eberbach we were again taken into the town with the promise of food and bike servicing (if needed) and we dutifully followed the signs as they took us on a complete sight-seeing tour of the town before leading us back to the river. We concluded that the circuit had been designed to take us past every café and restaurant in town. Back at the riverside, Eberbach was in full midsummer party activities, with a band, drinks, tables and inflatable boat racing being organised – this involved lots of furious team paddling but not always in a straight line. We sat and watched and ate our picnic lunch.
Leaving Eberbach we were now also leaving the end of the Radsonntag route, but there were still plenty of Sunday cyclists out on the radweg. The River Neckar and its small towns looked delightful as we continued, including passing the spot where there are four castles close together on the hillside overlooking the river.
Reaching Zwingenberg (also with a fine castle) we crossed the River Neckar for the final time and continued on a road beside the river to Neckargerach, where we finally left its banks and turned left for the Odenwald. Easy riverside radweg cycling was immediately replaced by the long, steep climb up the valley side and higher still to reach the Odenwald plateau. It was hot and hard work so we stopped for a breather half way up.
From there it was a short run on undulating roads across the Odenwald to reach the former railway cycle-path we had used on Day 1 to reach Mosbach. We retraced our way (uphill this time, but not too steep on a former railway line) to return to Sattelbach.
Tea and ‘Welcome Cake’ (home grown strawberries)…….
(tandem back in the barn)
Click on any photo to enlarge and scroll through