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Rhein Cycle Route – Day 6

Rhein Cycle Route – Day 6

Bad Ragaz to Begenz. 7th May 2023.

  • Todays mileage: 52 miles
  • Total mileage: 154 miles
  • Disasters: One – red bungee failure lost us the race !

Woke to a dry morning but the forecast isn’t good so we were up by 7am. We met our Dutch friends at the communal table while we were having stale bread & cheese again for breakfast.

I don’t know how it happened but we seemed to end up in a race to see who could pack tents the quickest.

We took an early lead but then my toilet habits allowed the Dutch to draw level. (Sarah says I’m like a Hobbit – first breakfast, second breakfast… you get the idea)

We’d both got tents down and bikes nearly packed when Sarah “lost” a bungee ! With this the race was lost and the Dutch said their goodbyes. Close but no cigar…

On the road the cycling was perfect. Dedicated cycle track through stunning scenery. …and it was flat 😁

Perfect cycle track down the Rhine

We made swift progress towards Lake Constance which was our goal for the day. We wanted to get there before the rains if possible.

Brilliant signage!

We did get caught in showers strong enough for rain gear but not for long. It rained for our duration in Liechtenstein – country number 2.

By Sennwald we were in sunshine. We nipped over a bridge into Austria (country number 3) for a gourmet lunch of crisp and tomato sandwiches.

Into the Republic of Ostrich…
White bread, paprika crisps and baby tomatoes – soon to be a classic !

Fully fuelled we set off again for Lake Constance, stopping once for an ice cream at an open air craft fair 😋

We arrived at our chosen campsite to be politly told it was closed until the 12 May. This was a bit of a comedy moment because we looked at the site where there must have been over 100 caravans & motorhomes with families playing round them. They obviously didn’t want Brits after Brexit ☚ī¸

Anyway we moved on to the next site who welcomed us. We got a lovely pitch with grass this time & set up our camp (after a cheeky beer in the site bar)

We’ve even got electric 👍

Having run out of crisps, cheese and tomatos we opted for food in the campsite bar. Now in Austria we wouldn’t have to sell a kidney to afford a meal.

The food was just snacks really & we ordered a cheese salad and a Margareta pizza. Nice food & beers arrived. Well they tasted nice to me but after 50 miles I’d have eaten a scabby dog !

After food the waitress brought us complementary spirits as a digestive. I can’t remember what it was called but the chef made it !

Now I know a little about distilling & this was a strong, clean spirit @ ~60% abv !

Then a second one appeared when we paid the bill 👍 Think I’ll sleep tonight…

We just got back to the tent before the forecasted heavy rain started. …and it’s heavy đŸ’ĻđŸ’ĻđŸ’Ļ 🤞 we’ll stay dry tonight… a footnote some of the caravans in our site deserve a mention…

Buy a shitty caravan & just build round it…
Thought you’d need planning permission for this one !
Rhine Cycle Route – Day 5.

Rhine Cycle Route – Day 5.

Carrera to Bad Ragaz. 6th May 2023.

  • Todays mileage: 34 miles.
  • Total mileage: 102 miles.
  • Disasters: One – where the fuck is Heidi ???

After a night of rain, we woke to thick mist. This quickly burned off to show the beauty of the area our campsite was in.

View from the campsite.

We had a fine breakfast of stale bread and cheese washed down by a banana and instant cappuccino. Although a great weight saving idea instant cappuccino is rank !

We hit the road by 10am and were straight into an ascent to a pass. The climb was hard but the views stunning and the roads relatively quiet.

The weight of gear on my bike is really obvious on the climbs and hairpin descents – it may be time to ditch the cappuccinos.

We both had to stop numerous times to let our brakes cool – Sarah burned her hand testing how hot her disks were !

The shortest of many tunnels.

The gradients eased, we came round a corner to see this descent – 4% for about 2 miles 😁

If Carlsberg did descents!

This bought us to Tamins which is the confluence of the Hinterrhein and the Vorderrhein. From here it’s simply known as the Rhine.

The Rhine…

At Tamins we saw cows…

It would really piss me off having that bell round my neck !

From here it was a short ride to Chur which is the oldest city in Switzerland. Sarah was expecting great things from Chur but we were quite underwhelmed by the architecture. It all seemed fairly new & no cobbled streets !

What we did find was that Chur had a mountain bike race weekend on. Part of the town was the race circuit. Today was the junior races, but the city was busy with competitors and spectators.

We had some more stale bread and cheese for lunch while watching the action.

The start/finish line

Shortly after Chur there are two route options. One route is flat and follows the river. The other diverts into the hills to see the Heidi villages.

Now for those who don’t know Heidi is a classic children’s novel by Swiss writer Johanna Spyri, published in two volumes in 1880–81. The title character is a young orphan who is sent to the Swiss mountains to live with her grandfather.

It’s the six-part 1959 BBC TV series starring Sara O’Connor in the title role, with Mark Dignam as her grandfather and Lesley Judd as Klara that Sarah & I remember.

So the hunt for Heidi’s house was on ! It was a hilly search. We knew we were in the right area but we sadly failed. Sarah is now sad…

Feeling deflated we booked a nearby campsite in Bad Ragaz. This is the most expensive camp site I’ve ever been to – ÂŖ46 for the night ! For 46 quid you’d thought you’d get some grass on your pitch – no !

We were pitched near a nice Dutch couple who gave us a weather update – no rain tonight – Yay !

We made veggie burgers with cheese & tomato for tea & just got cleared up before the rain and thunder started !

Then it was a quick shower & bed…

Rhine Cycle Route – Day 4.

Rhine Cycle Route – Day 4.

Andermatt to Carerra. 5th May 2023.

  • Today’s mileage: 37
  • Total mileage: 67
  • Desasters: None 😁

Today is the first real day of cycling. EV15 starts from the top of Oberalppass which is where the Rhine starts. We got our last train, a funicular from Andermatt to Oberalppass about 9:30am and started cycling about 10am.

Top of the pass

The route starts with a monster downhill with hairpin bends. This would have been great without luggage but on a quite flexible Dawes with ~22kg of gear it was scary. The bike wobbled like a jelly and the brakes got too hot to work. (Note to self – new touring bike with disk brakes needed). Sarah also wants a note added about needing a new touring bike as well.

Luckly the break smoke didn’t obscure the beautiful scenery.
Stunning scenery – and the mountains are pretty 😉

Once the gradient reduced, we could enjoy the scenery.

An old bridge over a deep gorge.

The route was mainly down hill on the A19. The traffic was light and mostly respectful of cyclists. We passed through many picture postcard beautiful villages. The musical backdrop was Swiss cow and sheep bells echoing off the steep valley walls.

There were some off-road sections which ran parallel to the A19 route. As its a narrow valley you could clearly see the off-road route – it looked hard going on heavy tourers. We kept to the A9 but some of the sections from Muttiens to Ilanz looked to have a good surface and may have been a better option than the main road.

At Ilanz we did some shopping at Spar and tried to call a campsite to book. The call went to answerphone. We left a message and pushed on to the campsite which was 4 miles up hill !

It was a slog to the campsite with gradients of 12% at one point. The steep unrelenting gradient even made me question the decision to buy beer !

We arrived at the campsite about 3:30pm. Reception was locked. We tried phoning again to no avail. With the help of Google translate and some friendly Germans we worked out the self registration forms, the fees and local taxes. These were placed in an envelope and posted through the reception door so they couldn’t accuse us of being bad.

It’s a lovely camp site. Firstly there are very few people here & none are British. The showers clean & hot and as the photo shows there’s a covered seating area.

Tuna & chic pea pasta with pesto…
…and then the rain came ☚ī¸

So, instead of writing this sitting under the stars, I’m wrapped up in our tent, hoping for no leaks 🤞

Rhine Cycle Route – Day 2.

Rhine Cycle Route – Day 2.

Ferry terminal to Amsterdam.

  • Todays mileage: 21 miles
  • Total mileage: 30 miles
  • Disasters: 2 (minor) Both of us had low speed falls today – no injury or breakage.

We woke early after a good night’s sleep. The boat didn’t dock till 9:35 so we had a leisurely start for once.

Once off the ferry we followed a maze of beautiful cycle paths into the centre of Amsterdam.

Quality cycle paths – far better maintained than UK roads !

The cycle paths are busy with many ebikes so you have to watch your back !

The big surprise was that these little cars were allowed on the cycle paths. They’re much quicker than the bike traffic and usually driven by old people – scary đŸ˜ŗ

Tiny cars on the cycle paths !
It wouldn’t be Holland without one of these đŸ¤Ŗ

Being pensioners now & generally tight on cash we declined the â‚Ŧ18 breakfast on the boat thinking there’d be a cafe on route. We didn’t find one till near Amsterdam by which time we were both getting hangry !

Pannini & chips later we felt fine again & continued to the centre of Amsterdam in sunshine.

Central Amsterdam

After scoping out where the station was we went about killing a few hours. Now the city is busy and has a lovely vibe but it’s not easy to wheel heavily laden bikes through the crowds. It was while doing this we both had our falls !

Sarah found a huge underground bike park. It would have been perfect but the luggage wasn’t secure. The attendant seeing our disappointment then offered to look after our bikes and luggage for a couple of hours.

Huge 24/7 underground bike park accessed by conveyors.

After picking our bikes up we sat in the sun outside Central Station & had tuna pasta salad for dinner while watching barges going up the river.

Boarding our train was stress free, especially after one of the locals showed us (with perfect english) the screen that detailed exactly where our carriage would stop. It’s at this point we met other cycle tourists 😀

Now being pensioners of limited means – have I mentioned we’re pensioners now ? Anyway we opted for the cheap seats rater than a sleeping compartment. Well about 11pm we really started to regret this as we were sitting near a group of very excitable Italians who loved to shout at each other.

Funking loud Italians – Grrrr…

Anyway time to try & get some sleep 😴

Rhine Cycle Route – Day 1.

Rhine Cycle Route – Day 1.

Cockers to Newcastle & the ferry to Amsterdam.

  • Todays mileage:   9 miles
  • Total mileage:     9 miles
  • Disasters:       None 😁

The day started the way all cycle trips seem to start – early & in a rush.  The plan was to get the train to Newcastle & then cycle to North Shields for the ferry.  To get the train at Aspatria I used the van to get bikes, luggage and Sarah to the station.  I then drove the van home & Hazel gave us a lift back to Aspatria (via Greggs 😋)

Aspatria station – nice of them to put bunting out for our departure.

Travelling with bikes in the UK is always stressful and today was no exception.  You can’t book bikes on Northern rail trains so you never really know if you’re going to get on !   

Luck of the God’s was with us today and we were able to cram our bikes in the shitty little space allocated for two bikes.    Don’t get me started on providing an integrated transport system – grrrrrrr….

Northern Rail Bike space. Tossers !

Once on the Newcastle train we started to relax a little knowing we stood a good chance of making the ferry now.

From Newcastle it was only a short, flat cycle  down the Tyne to the ferry terminal at North Shields on NC72. We stopped at The Cycle Hub, our favorite cycle cafe for a coffee & cake.  Great cakes 😋

Cycling down the Tyne.

On the ferry we had a cheeky pint to celebrate. At ÂŖ5.00 a pint for Heineken it was only one !

The food on the ferry was also rip-off prices.  How can you charge over 7 quid for a bag Maltesers !

ÂŖ7.13 for Maltesers for fucks sake…

I’d love to have been in on the meeting where a bunch of greedy accountants decided putting a “duty free” sticker on the Maltesers made it look ok.

Luckly we’d made sandwiches else a full meal may have required a call to the Cumberland to remortgage the house. We ate these and some rather dry falafel on deck while sailing down the Tyne to the sea.

We retired to our cabin for the evening

Small but clean cabin

Soon it became apparent we had a cabin next to a Dutch teenage girls choir who kept singing the same song over and over again – quite amusing really.

…and time for bed 😴