The original schedule for day 111 km, but now thanks to Gergo’s new cycle path book it is 139 km. It actually ended up being 150km but will get onto that later.
We climbed 864 meters up, it felt way more, and went down 995 meters. To make it worse, Gergo had said after 14 km it’s all downhill and it wasn’t, and we were riding in a heat wave.
Yvonne is still unwell and is going to take the train to Heidelberg, Maureen is going to go with her. It was tempting to join them, and later in the day I regretted that I hadn’t.
The first 3 km out of town was very steep, then we followed a bike path through field and forest trails for another 11 km, at times a gentle gradient and others steep, but also some downhill.
We then had a steep path down to a main road, which we were on for about 5 k then it was back on the bike paths. At times we would come out onto the road, ride a few metres, go up another bike path and climb up a couple of kilometres, then come back to the same road, not much further than where we had left it!
The paths go all over the place and a lot of time was wasted working out which way to go. The other issue is often they have quite sharp built up edges, and you have to be careful which way you hit them when going from one path to another. I unbalanced a couple of times, but managed to un-click my shoes and put my foot down so I didn’t topple over.
Once again on the paths we went through a mixture of fields, forests, alongside roads, through forests on all types of surfaces, and through towns. At one stage we were winding through one village and we came along a windy narrow path and went straight through an archway in an old castle.
The villages are so picturesque it’s like being in a Grimm Brother’s fairy tale, and so many castles.
At about 70 km, we had to go through a rocky forest track, the surface was unpleasant and I kept jarring my arm. We came out to a clearing where a man dressed in red stopped us and said we couldn’t go past, as they were clearing a dangerous tree. He told us to go back to the town about 6 km away and detour around! We asked how long before we could get past him, and he said an hour and a half!
We sat down to think about it. So frustrating as we were less than 5 minutes behind Cathy and Janice, who had got through ok. The distance we still had to ride, the heat, and the thought of either one and a half hour wait or going back down the horrid rocky road was too much, I cried. Thirty minutes later we decided we were going to do the detour, as there was no guarantee the wait would only be another hour. Just then another couple of other riders, not part of our group, showed up and they decided to wait.
Back down that horrid road, through town, and along the other side of the river. 12 km after we had left we passed the spot we had been stopped on the other side of the river, and we could see the two other riders still sitting there.
We stayed on the main road, with a nice 1.5 metre wide shoulder, for about 10 km then managed to recross the river and pick up the planned route again. Looking back I don’t know why we didn’t stay on the main road. Most of the next 25 km was uneven surfaces, and a few spaces were really unpleasant, as I kept jarring my arm. Lots of other bike tourers were coming the other way. We went past a seat on the trail made out of a huge tree.
At 14 km before Heidelberg, we crossed onto the main road and had 8 km of downhill, then through a village and then on a bike path along the river.
There were some stunning views coming into the city: huge castles, churches, bridges and old buildings. In the city there are bike paths through town, sometimes half of the footpath, and sometimes running along the side of the road. The walkers keep off the bike paths, and traffic gives way! Such a novelty.
We finally got to the hotel at 630pm, tired, hot, and grumpy. We are staying at an IBIS, which would win the prize for the smallest room ever. The shower was so small you could barely fit in it, and the door banged against the toilet. It was a mixture between a small cabin on a ship and a prison cell.
It was also on the outskirts of town, with homeless people living under the bridge next to it. Our view out the window was rail yards.
By the time we had had a shower we just wanted to eat and sleep. But, the hotel had no restaurant! By this time we were full of joys of the day.
Only option was to go out. In the lobby we caught up with Janice and Gregg, who told us that Graham had had a pretty nasty fall at 39 km, had knocked himself out and was in hospital. It was nothing life threatening, but they were going to keep him overnight for observation.
Janice and Gregg were going to an Italian restaurant back in town, but we decided to look for something closer. We walked the other way past a group of drunks on the sidewalk, and there really wasn’t anything. The IBIS is located right by the main train station, so we went in there, but it was all food hall type of food.
There was one restaurant called the Metropolitan near the hotel, which we had discounted when we first saw it, but by now it was 730pm so we decided to go in. The barman bought us a beer, but when we asked about ordering food he said he would send his colleague.
After 15 min Brett went to the bar and was told “Yes the colleague is coming”. Another 15 minutes later I went up to the bar, and he said he would get his colleague to come!
I was getting close to tears for the second time in a day, when the colleague finally came. I was going to order pizza, as I couldn’t face more tough meat, crumbed and covered in sauced. But it turned out the pizza oven was broken! Not wanting to give the colleague the chance to get away and possibly not come back again for another 30 plus minutes, I chose a burger and chips. The barman came over and apologised that his colleague had taken so long to arrive.
Janice and Gregg arrived at the restaurant, the one they were going to go to was full and so were the others they had looked at, so they came back looking for something closer to the hotel. Thankfully the barman, seeing they were with us, decided he could take their order without the assistance of the colleague, and their meal arrived only a couple of minutes after ours. The burger was pretty basic but at least it was food. By this time it was 930pm – time to sleep.