Day 13 : From Herrenwies to somewhere near Imsweiler
In the morning everything was dry, which was good news for the return journey. We would be cycling toward a specific turn in the Rhine river. We likely wouldn't reach it in one day, but expected to at least get halfway there. After the turn we would follow the Rhine for one day and then cycle for another two days to get home. That would mean five days of cycling. That seemed doable, the route was a bit longer than the way out but it was much more level and contained many straight roads on which we were less likely to get lost.
We left the campsite around 9. The first part went really smooth. Towards Baden-Baden it was 12 kilometers downhill and after that flat towards the Rhine. After the first hour we already cycled 30 kilometers, but then we lost directions. On the map all villages had different names, however, in real life they all had the same name as nearby cities. It was also confusing that one village was called 'Au' and a nearby one 'Auw'. When we finally arrived at the right location we learned that the ferry we had wanted to take didn't exist anymore, so we had to replan our route again.
After 50 kilometers I got a punctured tire. Fortunately we were well prepared. I had installed fast-release axles which allowed us to could quickly remove my rear wheel. I also carried a spare tire, so we didn't needed to fix the original one on the spot. The total process took less than 15 minutes.
Around noon we already cycled 60 km, while we typically had completed around 40 km at that time. As usual we lost our direction twice, once in each of the cities we crossed. We still made good progress. By dinner time we had already cycled 120 km. We ate dinner next to a vineyard. The entire day we followed the Deutsche Weinstrasse. In Neustadt we were examining our map when a strange guy asked if he could help. 'Yes, we are a bit lost', 'Oh, do you speak English?', 'Yes, we do', 'Oh, are you from England', 'No, we are Dutch', 'Oh, van Basten?'.. at least he showed us the right way.
We continued toward Kaiserslautern. It was already getting dark, but fortunately the road we were following was completely straight. We passed through a village called Frankenstein. After Kaiserslautern it was another 40 km to the next campsite. It was around 8 o'clock by then. If it would be downhill we might arrive at the campsite before 10, or so we thought. It had stopped raining moderately and started to poor, it had also gotten dark and we started to feel cold. I had to hold my flashlight while cycling as my bicycle light was broken. After 160 km there still was no sign of a campsite.
We took a break at a parking with a map. It didn't show a camping anywhere. Suddenly a car came to a shrieking stop and two men jumped out. It looked suspicious so I quickly raced away. Bram also didn't trust it, but he could leave easily as his bike was pointing in the wrong direction. The two men jumped into their a parked car and drove away. Bram was pretty angry that I hadn't waited for him, but there really hadn't been any time to take a break and discuss.
Because it was dark we couldn't see if we were on a bicycle path or one of the many side roads. A few times we realized we were on a gravel road that ran straight into one of the winefields. After 175 km we still hadn't found the campsite. It was late and we were cold and tired. I asked someone who was just getting home if he knew about a campsite in the area, but he didn't. Eventually we decided to just camp by the side of the road and took a side road where we could hide from view. We couldn't seem to get our tent pegs into the gravel. Fortunately our tent was free standing and we could quickly jump in our sleeping bags. We slept reasonably well considering the circumstances.
Left: Before dinner we already had crossed the map once. Middle: The part we cycled in twilight. At the top you can see the town called Frankenstein. Right: The last part, you can see the campsite that we failed to find.
Distance cycled : 177 km