The cyclist is a man half made of flesh and half of steel that only our century of science and iron could have spawned.”Louis Baudry de Saunier
Waking up at the lovely sandy beach, Max got attacked by a few Mosquitos, but apart from that everyone was fine, a bit tired in the legs but after the first 5 km the pain eases and the legs loosen up. We were back on track and were looking forward to leave Hessen, haha.
We again, cycled here there and everywhere. Detouring along Altrheins, due to cycle road works. Another thing why we hated Hessen was probably that the wind was blowing against us. Oh my god. Wind against you is making your day so much less fun on a bike. Really, it takes like 70% of the fun. The best is to take it as training and try to push trough it. Luckily Max on his “tank” gave me on the “road-train” a great winshield. Once the bikes were usually going at 25 km/h we had the least amount of effort to put into it to move forward, except on these days. It was hard to reach and keep the 25km/h. Once the roadtrain was accelerated it was okay but man what a pain to get this beast of a bicycle trailer construction going. The wheels of the trailer were used to the max, not really road tires and pull on me like hell. Anyway we kept pushing through it.
We cycled past a few lakes into Gernsheim, where we had a snack next to the Rhine, the ferry house. There was a massive green crane to load containers onto the boats, it looked old but in good condition. Opposite of that people were running around preparing for the ‘Bretzel-Fest’. Leaving the city south we were soon cycling along damns again. Damns are very necessary to protect the existence of 144.000 people only in the area of 300 km2 around Hessen and Mainz against flooding.
A few kilometers further southe we started approaching the Biblis Nuclear Power Plant. It consists of two units: unit A with a gross output of 1200 and unit B with a gross output of 1300 megawatts. Both units are pressurized water reactors, where the pressure stops the water from boiling. Unit A began operation on July 16, 1974 and entered commercial service on August 25, 1974; unit B reached critically on March 25, 1976 Both units now are shutdown definitely for political reasons, wuhu!
After taking a detour of around 5 km to move around the roadworks, we exactly ended up at the roadworks. The road was blocked, but after all that way, we decided we will simply push trough, no one minded us and an old E-Bike tourer followed us happily after we waved him over. Wow his bike was a transformer. He was able to charge his phone in a plug in station at the handlebars as well as use it as a navigation system. Max and me were hooked, we wanted to know more about his device, so we cycled a few kilometres along. His wheels were massive as was the frame. The whole construction looked very strong and stable, super heavy tho for a bike. But since he had an electric motor, he was fine.
Electric bikes are an amazing invention. So many old people are able to move again via bicycle, even people that are handicapped can move from A to B via that amazing method of moving. So far bicycle is the best way of traveling to me, I have to add that I haven’t cycled in dangerous areas or extremely bad road conditions, neither in snow nor extreme heat where other methods might be a better alternative. What I like about it is that you don’t disconnect from nature. You feel how high a hill or a mountain is. You feel the wind in your face, or on your back. The moment of strong pushing wind from behind is like flying over the ground. And racing down a mountain, with no safety gear at all except some breaks from 1970 is making things feel alive, making your head beat stronger and faster and plants a smile on your face that will not move for the next 10 minutes, but more about that later in our Alps crossing.
When we parted from our friend, who was going to stay and grab some food from a restaurant down at the river we felt updated on the E-Bike market and continued cycling along dams, over dams, past banks positioned to look at a dam, god knows why, until we found some onion fields, where we took a few great once for us, and reached Rosengarten from where we took the fairly impressive Nibelungenbrücke out of Hessen, wuhuu, into Rheinland-Pfalz, Worms.
In Worms we checked the map and started cycling further up along the shore of the rhine. Back on the ‘party’ side of it. From there we went past Ludwigshafen towards speyer. The Road Train and The Tank were back on track, smashing on km after another on our bikes from 1980, haha.
It is really interessting how the bikes had the perfect momentum around 25 – 30 kmh. Once you cycled at that speed you needed less energy than at a lesser speed or higher speed. It was hard to accelerate, but once running there was literally no stopping. Especially on asphalt. A few km after Worms we cycled through the Silbersee/Silverlake, an incredibly clean water lake, where we went for a swim. A lovely area to relax and hang out.
From there we cycled through a cherry orchard, and somehow after passing it ended up with a big bag full of cherries, that we snacked while cycling, stored in Max’ front basket. Sooo good.
Cycling into Ludwigshafen was strange experience. We cycled through gardens where there were literally only Turkish people. Growing vegetables, having BBQs and driving around in black or white Mercedes Benz, haha. I love Turkish food and I think we, as a Germans can learn a lot of them and should start at least copy a bit of their gardening style. They really grow a lot of their own vegetables, and to be fair, homegrown has the best taste. I’d say that now Doener Kebab is becoming a classical German dish of our culture, since it was invented in Berlin. Every time I am in a new country I have to try the Doener Kebab to compare them to ours at home, and so far I never had anything even close to the German/Turkish once.
From there we went past massive industrial areas in the size of a big town, BASF. A petrochemical company. Somehow we we made it fairly smooth through and around Ludwigshafen and only got a bit lost.
As soon as you leave Ludwishafen the Rhine is becoming more wild, with loads of part of the Altrhein/Oldrhine. As a result of natural translocation, the ox-bows and meanders of the Rhine riverbed remain as side arms of the New Rhine (Neurhein); others were cut off as a result of artificial river canalisation, such as in the wake of the canalisation of the Rhine (Rheinbegradigung) from 1817 under the direction of Johann Gottfried Tulla, with a big influence on the ship transport. These old waters, together with the New Rhine, circumscribe islands or peninsulas. The old river courses have mostly lost their water-bearing link to the New Rhine. Many lie within nature reserves, offer breeding sites for water birds or act as washlands during flooding. Sometimes they are used by canoeists or anglers.
Cycling on past beautiful dam areas, covered in trees we had a break and crossed a cyclist that came all the way from Valencia, through ‘horrible’ france to Germany. He really liked beer, but somehow must have had a bit too much beer or sun, because he was talking loads of weird things, like carrying a gun around with him. So we kept it not too long and left until we reached the the banks of the Otterstaedter Altrhein. A beautiful area, where spread our sleeping mats and bags, hat a short wash, and a little dinner. Rice and red lentils with onions like always, haha. It was a really nice bit to camp, just on a tiny beach overlooking the Altrhein, where we soon passed out into deep sleep.
The next time I’ll tell you about cycling through Maximiliansau, with a massive car industrial area, bigger than the town, stopping by at a fisherfest and cycling into france, wow what a big step that was for us! We considered cycling through the schwarzwald, but then decided to stay with the Rhine, we stayed on France until Strassbourge, where one of my wheels exploded and went into Kehl. A really interesting City connection and a great result of open borders and the European Union.