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Rivers & Canals

Sunday, April 21, 2013

>>  Click for route map

After the ‘lumpy’ ride into Luxembourg, I had no hesitation in choosing the relatively flat option of following the Mosel river on my departure. And what an option(!) with a good mixture of different terrain to cycle on as you weave your way through the countryside and small villages, or pass through large towns.

Decisions, decisions…

I mentioned in my last blog post about travelling in 3 countries in a couple of minutes, with Tim rather letting the cat out of the bag! 🙂  Of course this is in Schengen, where I duly crossed into both Germany and France (from Luxembourg) and notched up 3 in 3.

Next up, destination Metz and the Decathlon store, as my previous attempt to purchase from this fine establishment was thwarted by the fact that they do not open in France on a Sunday, something I wish I’d known before I’d cycled the extra 20km out of my way to get there. This time though no problems and I duly replaced the stolen travel towel with an even bigger, but much cheaper model. Happy bunny again!

The Temple Neuf, Metz

What really has been a bonus about following the rivers and canals is there are so many more options for camping, certainly along the banks of the Mosel. I found it quite easy to find wild camping spots, but there are also very many regular campsites when you want a little more comfort, usually pretty well signed from the main routes.

Along the banks of the Mosel

Wild camping can be really difficult when you’re cold and wet, but there are many more times when it is simply sublime and you get to experience nature close up and personal. I sat watching carp taking flies from the surface of this lake while the sun came up, a magical moment.

Wild camping doesn’t get better than this!

Of course it’s not so much fun if you don’t occasionally stray away from the waymarked paths and I made quite a few forays into unknown territory, both to explore and often to find short cuts. Sometimes the short cuts became a little ‘interesting’, but it was such good fun. No chance of doing this if I only had a road bike though!

Off the beaten track

The cycling surfaces varied from clean asphalt to rocky forest tracks and I have to make a special mention here. I’ve now cycled well over 5,000 miles on my current choice of knobbly tires, Shwalbe Marathon Mondial’s without a single puncture – I’ve never had this kind of reliability in all my years of cycling, plus they are not yet showing signs of wear. I simply adjust the pressure (let out a bit of air when going off-road) for the surfaces and this only takes moments with my mini track pump. Stunning performance.

Back to my (somewhat modified) route and if I thought the Mosel river was good, boy was I in for a surprise when I ventured onto the Marne-Rhine Canal. In the UK canal riding would have me turning my nose up as I tried to navigate the ride-able bits, but this was something else. It’s done right and the cycle lanes are continuously linked, with many diversions to different attractions along the way. I loved every minute of it as I made my way into the heart of Strasbourg.

Canal de la Marne au Rhin

The sunshine however decided to do a vanishing act shortly after I snapped the picture of the apple blossom trees. Maybe my thoughts that summer was really on it’s way were a little too optimistic?

Yes, it looks like spring!!

It turned decidedly colder as I approached Strasbourg and by the time I got there it was actually raining a fine drizzle. The canal goes right into the city, but what I’m enjoying most is that here bikes can go anywhere (not unlike Luxembourg). It’s amazing, one way streets have signs on saying cyclists allowed and as yet I have not found a single street I can’t cycle on. Don’t you wish Britain could be more like this?

The sun disappears as I near Strasbourg

I have not done much ‘looking round’ because of the rain and having found a cheap campsite I’ve decided to stay a few days and see if it brightens up – so far it hasn’t. It would be a shame to leave without doing some kind of a tour, but on my first attempt I got soaked and retreated to my tent. Here are a couple of pictures I managed as I visited the tourist office:

The Central Art Museum, Strasbourg

Sadly the Cathedral is undergoing major restoration work with scaffolding on many parts, making photography difficult.

One of the doors at the front of the Cathedral, Strasbourg

Hopefully I’ll get more pictures once the sun returns, so stay tuned…

>>  Click for route map



Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 3:45 pm

What an amazing journey you are having so far, the highs after the lows will always make up for the bad parts of the journey, your pictures are amazing Derek. You are taking us all on the journey with you. Keep postings the lovely visual diary of your trip. Well done…

Frank Rittwager
Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 11:59 pm

How manny people are veiwing your blog And WISING thay were you..Thanks for the views…..

    Monday, April 22, 2013 at 9:14 am

    Hi Frank, thanks for joining the blog. Regarding your Q ‘how many people wish they were me’ well I guess you could say I’m lucky, but there are many times I’d gladly swap for a ‘normal’ life and truth is I would not wish anyone else were me because of my illness. When the sun is shining and it’s warm then it’s fabulous, but when it’s rained for over a week, everything is damp or wet because there isn’t enough room in your lightweight tent for all the gear, then it’s pretty damn hard.
    I will get to the Himalayas, I’ve toured Africa, so yes I am living my dream and I can’t ask for more. Even when things are tough I wake and thank The Lord for another day and I’m genuinely grateful I can do this.


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