Friday, November 27, 2015

A new town on the Romantic Road

Wertheim am Main, lying between Würzburg and Frankfurt am Main, has been attempting to join the select club of members of the Romantic Road for over ten years. It has finally achieved its aims and is now a member. The route of the Romantic Road is now changed. It runs west from Würzburg to Wertheim which lies at the confluence of the Rivers Tauber and Main and then follows the Tauber Valley south towards Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Wertheim itself is an interesting mediaeval town and well worth visiting. What this change means for cyclists is that the cycle route will be extended. I am not too sure how, but there seem to be two options:
  • Follow the Main cycleway for about 6 hours downstream towards Frankfurt am Main to Wertheim through Karlstadt, Gemünden and Marktheidenfeld, and then take the ADFC Five Star Tauber Valley Route.
  • Climb over the hills between Würzburg and Wertheim which appears to take about three hours. 
Myself I would go for the longer flatter option as the Main Valley is spectacular in this section and it's less work. 
There is, of course, nothing to stop you taking the old route out of Würzburg. It is an interesting series of ups and downs with a former Jewish community house and a pilgrimage chapel on the way. At the moment the weather is inclement and we will wait until the spring to check out the new signposting. We will then write an addendum to the Romantic Road guide.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Bike Hire in SW France

Bike touring in France is getting better year by year and I was interested to come across a bike hire company in Southwestern France. Bike Direct offers a good range of touring bikes, tandems and accessories at reasonable prices ( We have cycled in this area and it was very enjoyable.
Bike hire is offered in the Charente (16), Charente Maritime (17), Dordogne (24), Gironde (33), Deux-Sevres (79), Vienne (86), Haute-Vienne (87) and from 2015 in the Vendee (85). - See more at:

Bike hire is offered in the Charente (16), Charente Maritime (17), Dordogne (24), Gironde (33), Deux-Sevres (79), Vienne (86), Haute-Vienne (87) and from 2015 in the Vendee (85). - See more at:

Friday, November 13, 2015

Moselle Valley News

The cycleway along the Moselle Valley near Metz in Lorraine, known by the French as la véloroute "Charles le Téméraire" (V50 Moselle Saone) has been extended to Moulins-lès-Metz. This means it is possible to cycle on quiet roads or cycleways from the French-German-Luxembourg border to Moulins-lès-Metz. After that our feeling is that it is better to cycle up into the hills as described in our book: "The Riesling Route".

Friday, November 06, 2015

Mannheim's battle with the bicycle

To take one of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's epigrams about Cologne slightly out of context, but still on the Rhine: Mannheim, Germany, whose "…pavements are fanged with murderous stones", has problems with bicycles. Agreed the first trip by the hobby horse, the forerunner of the bicycle was made in the city. To this day local school kids follow his route one day of the year and there will be major big time celebrations in 2017 two hundred years after the day when Karl Drais swung his leg over the not very comfortable seat of his invention and propelled it and himself to a pub in Rheinau, at that time a nearby village, now a suburb of Mannheim.
However after that Carl Benz built a cycle car, but still a car and his wife nipped off to Pforzheim in 1886 to come back the next day. The age of idly sitting about during individual travel was upon us. The Daimler company, successor to Carl Benz, still builds buses and lorry engines in Mannheim. The next Mannheim inventor in this area of technology was Heinrich Lanz, initially an importer of American and British farm equipment who developed the Bulldog tractors, propelled by a semi-diesel motor. Mannheim can truly be said to be a pioneer city for individual travel, both motorised and unmotorised.
Is it a bicycle city as is repeatedly declaimed by the city fathers? I doubt it. There are some good cycle paths and there is an active cycling community, but it is still major fight to cut down space on the roads for motorists. Without this there will be no real improvements for cyclists.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Bike repair for schoolchildren

The Heidelberg branch of the ADFC, the German cycling club offers weekly repair sessions every Monday where young people can learn to carry out simple repairs on their bicycles. These free sessions - Schüler-Radwerkstatt on Mondays between 15:00 and 18:00 are led by four youngsters and the training officer of the ADFC Heidelberg.  These sessions give young people the chance to repair their bikes under instruction and thereby learn to carry out simple repairs to their bicycles. It strikes us as a good idea that could be taken up by bike clubs and youth groups elsewhere.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Rhone Cycle Route - Valence

I have written before that the French have discovered the advantages of cycle tourists for the hotel and restaurant trade. We recently stopped overnight near Valence in one of the B&B chain hotels which are normally slightly out of town centres. We decided in the morning to cycle into Valence and took the Rhone Cycle Route. I don't how the rest of the route is, but if this stretch was typical for a conurbation then the French have cracked cycle touring. It was initially on a footpath/cyclepath along the Rhone bank and then followed quiet well signposted roads into the city centre. The town did not seem to be as old as Avignon, Nimes or Orange, but it made for a pleasant morning, swanning round the town on our Bromptons, peering in a number of very odd shops. Napoleon was a member of an artillery unit there before his rise to power. There is a life sized statue of him reading some military tome much favoured by the selfie types to add a little spice to their photographs.

Good clear signposting

Frequent clear information boards

Judith caught me looking over Boney's shoulder.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Cycle touring in Provence around Mont Ventoux

Every time we go to France I notice the growth in cycle routes and cycle touring facilities. Gone are the days when the only technique, which was a good one, for the cycle tourist was to follow the white roads on the Michelin maps. It still is a good way for cyclists to get about, because France is a big largely empty country, but these days there are many cycle circuits and  signposted long distance routes available to the cyclist.
We were in Malaucène recently. This village sits at the start of one of the routes up Mont Ventoux often a make or break climb on the Tour de France.  Its bars, shops and streets are filled with the Lycra® clad. We did, by chance, have our Bromptons with us in the back of the car, but since the hill has been conquered by not just one, but several dozen Bromptoneers

and because we were visiting non-cycling friends, we decided not to bother shocking the Lycra®-clad and spent our time travelling about the area, eating large meals, etc. The kind of thing many of us do in France.
As conscientious bloggers we investigated the cycling possibilities of the area in various tourist offices and found piles of pamphlets describing circuits on the south side of Mont Ventoux. These are available in digital form on the Provence Cycling website: (
A sunny day near Mont Ventoux

Blog Archive