Day 13 : From Herrenwies to somewhere near Imsweiler
In the morning everything was dry, that was already some good news for the return journey. We had roughly planned the way back. Today we would be cycling towards a turn in the Rhine river. We wouldn't reach that in one day, but should be able to get halfway there. After the turn we would follow the Rhine for one day and then cycle another two days to get home. In total that would mean five days of cycling. That seemed realistic, the route was a bit longer than on the way out but it was much flatter and contained many straight roads where 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. The first hour we cycled 30 kilometers but then we couldn't find the right roads. In real life all villages the same name as nearby cities, but not on the map. It was also confusing that one village was called 'Au' and a nearby one 'Auw'. When we finally arrived at the right spot it turned out that the ferry we wanted to take didn't exist anymore, which meant we had to alter our plans yet again.
After 50 kilometers I got a punctured tire. Fortunately we were well prepared. I have fast-release axles so could quickly remove my rear wheel. I also carried a spare tire, so we didn't needed to fix it on the spot. The total process, including removing my gear and putting everything back on took less than 15 minutes.
Around noon we completed 60 km, while normally we had done around 40 at that time. As usual we lost our direction twice, once in each of the cities we passed. The roads were all straight so we made good progress nonetheless. By the time we had dinner we had cycled 120 km. Dinner was next to a vineyard. The entire day we were following the Deutsche Weinstrasse. In Neustadt we were examining our map when a weird 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 and some other soccer players?'.. at least he showed us the right way.
On our way towards Kaiserslautern. It was already getting dusky, but the road we were following was completely straight. We came 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 before 10, or so we thought. By then it had stopped raining softly and it was getting pretty dark. At one point we needed to start cycling with a flashlight in our hands. It was cold because of the rain and after 160 km there still was no sign of a campsite.
We took a break at a parking lot with a map. It didn't show a camping anywhere. Suddenly a car came to a shrieking stop and two men jumped out. When I saw it coming I already thought it strange, so I quickly raced away. Bram also didn't trust it, but he was still there because his bike was pointing in the wrong direction. The two men jumped into their own, already parked car, and drove away. Bram was pretty pissed that I didn't wait for him, but I wasn't really thinking like 'oh let's take a break and discuss'.
Because it was dark we couldn't see if we were following a bicycle path or not. A few times we realized we were on a gravel road that ran into one of the winefields. We still hadn't found the campsite after 175 km. It was super late and we were cold and tired. I asked someone who was just getting home if he knew about a campsite, but he didn't. Eventually we took a side road into a grassy field where we could be hidden from view. We couldn't get the tent's pegs in the gravel. In the morning we found out why. We weren't camping on gravel but asphalt. The tent was quickly pitched and we jumped 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 couldn't find. 77
Distance cycled : 177 km