Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Stuffin' about in Staufen

Rest day, well at least for Caron. Seeing as we don't have too much time pressure we decided to stay an extra day in Staufen. The campsite is pretty good, there is good internet access for a very reasonable 2EUR and the weather seems to be reasonable. Added to this I thought I would like to have a ride in the black forest and along the Rhine so Caron kindly bought a 1:50 000 map for me and I traced a route into the forest, around and down to the Rhine and then back to Staufen.

Starting off riding up the valley the first problem was to get onto one of the cycle paths which wasn't as easy as I thought it would be but after a couple of false starts following cycle-path signs and ending up going the wrong way I eventually found it. They have an annoying habit of disappearing or turning left or right with only the faintest, sometimes hidden, sign and you only know that you're not on it anymore when you haven't seen any signs for a few kilometres. I rode past several houses with wood piles like this; they don't bugger about with small stacks of wood for the winter here and this is before they really start laying it on before the onset of winter in August.

After about and hour of an hour and a half of continuous climbing the 800m high 15km long hill I found melmann lurking in the black forest. Jason, I can highly recommend the black forest for training.

Of course going down the hill on the other side was great fun but I was a little worried a couple of times that my tires were going to roll off the rims.

I stopped for a rest in the town just before the river called Neuenburg am Rhein where I had a cup of coffee, some cold tea and of course, a very tasty pastry. To keep my energy levels up; or so I told myself.

Continuing down to the Rhine itself, the path is flat, flat, flat and all just a little downhill and I could just see the Rhine itself through the trees every now and then.

I eventually came to a ford on the Rhine; hard to believe but there it was and this, ladies and gentlemen is the Rhine!

I promise you that I'm not lying, it genuinely is the Rhine. Of course most of the water that should be there is in the canal about 500m to the west but technically, that really is the Rhine. Up on the river bank was a whole lot of police cars next to a police caravan doing what police do best; having a lunch time braai! I thought that they may have been apprehending illegal immigrant frenchies but, no, that wasn't the case. Some things just don't change do they!

The ford was paved using cobblestones but the water has worn the cobbles and the grouting quite badly so it was quite tricky to ride on. I hope the photograph gives some idea what it was like.

It took me a while and I missed the path several times before I finally made it back, pretty knackered, to the campsite 5 hours after starting. I went past several cyclists who had decided that the cherries on the trees next to the cycle paths looked too good and had just stopped and were picking and eating away.

We had a quick lunch of tuna mayonnaise with lettuce, olives, cheese, green peppers and carrots. It was fantastic; we've both realised that we are really missing fresh fruit and vegetables. Just to make my mom feel better, the green pepper was about R8 for one.

The rest of the day we did pretty much nothing except relax and read. Caron has set a record by finishing Neil Stephensons' Anathema within a day. That is just short of 1000 pages in 24 hours less sleeping and eating of course. We had a quiet supper and went to bed quite early at about 21:00 listening to the faint sounds of an oompah band clattering away and the not so faint sounds of the trains going by about 3m from our tent. What is it with campgrounds and railway lines? They seem to put them next to each other far too often for it to be a co-incidence but fortunately the trains stop running at about 20:00 so it hasn't actually been a problem.

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