Biking through the Mosel PalatinateFri 31 May 2019
A beautiful dream of biking along the meandering Mosel valley with my two favorite allies.
Day 1 - 56.23km - Türkismühle - Nonnweiler - Reinsfeld - Riveris - Ruwer - Trier
Day 2 - 66km - Trier - Schweich - Neumagen-Dhron - Bernkastel-Kues
Day 3 - 69.2km - Bernkastel-Kues - Traben-Trarbach - Aussichtsturm Prinzenkopf - Cochem
Day 1 - the 22nd of May, 2019
Morning at Chris'
I woke up with the belly full of last night's Schweinhaxe, plus a slight hangover. Luckily, the swedish Resorb clone pills worked like a charm.
We had a pretty slow start with coffee, protein shakes and some minimal breakfast (not in quantity, but in composition), did some abs, then starting preparing sandwiches for the trip and inspecting Chris' bikes.
Apart from small mechanical adjustments we had to "fix" a broken back-wheel spoke on one of them by completely removing it. This turned out to be quite an adventure as the material is hard to bend and working around the back-wheel cassette quickly became very annoying.
When all was said and done we, of course, had no chance to catch the planned train trip, so had to take a later train towards Türkismühle.
Train ride to Türkismühle
Not much to say here except that the landscape is nice and green and the region seems dotted with quaint villages and good nature. Also, the Sun came out, so we were in for a good trip. Well, there was the extra weight of the rain gear, but that's just more training, right?
Türkismühle - Nonnweiler - Reinsfeld
We mostly rode on roads shared with cars on this segment, passed a few small settlements, had coffee in one of them and took a longer break in another to eat sandwiches and change into lighter clothes.
At some point we encountered a really long incline, not at a very steep angle, but enough to lift spirits and leave Chris somewhat mad because of his shitty bike and heavy backpack.
We did see a wind turbine up close along the way, which was pretty cool.
The last stop was in Nonnweiler where I've got a bunch of chocolate from a gas station. Mex's stomach was still pretty upset about the Schweinhaxe attempt so medication was in order, along with an extended break.
Finding the way to the dedicated bike path was somewhat challenging as it rode close to an old rail line and there were a lot of fenced up areas. Finally, we took a detour through a small part of town and merged. Escaping cars and going through the countryside and fields was bliss.
At some point we passed a bridge over a regional road and met with a good intended German lady who was advertising a novel bike path that allegedly went straight to Trier and was mostly downhill, albeit a bit longer (50km). This got our attention, especially after we've also met with a random old walking couple who re-confirmed its existence and told us to just take the car road back to Reinsfeld and look for this bike path.
We did that, but once in Reinsfeld the atmosphere got very negative because of inconsistencies in Google Maps and the inability to converge on a good plan to proceed. There was the first mention of throwing Gorgan's bike into the Mosel.
Reinsfeld - Riveris
It was at this point that I took lead and picked a path through the middle of the forest along the (aptly named) river Riveris. This turned out to be a very good decision as the forest road was surrounded by really lush forest areas and generally following the course of the river.
The light/shadow, forest/meadow and water/land/sky interplay together with the added technical challenge of the trail completely changed the karma balance of the group and by the time we were about to exit into the Mosel valley region everyone was just blissfully happy.
The entire adventure was topped off with a nice downhill ride merging into the road to Morscheid & Waldrach - both settlements within the climatic influence of the Mosel. This influence is quite heavy: there were 18-19C where we entered the forest, and around 24-25C where we exited. Transcendence. Also, time for a stop to shed even more clothing.
Riveris - Ruwer - Trier
Mostly downhill ride towards Trier. Almost missed a nice bike-dedicated path going south of Trier and close to the city center. Making it to the city center + glorious entrance through the Porta Nigra. Chillin' near the church with some Schnitzels.
Day 2 - the 23rd of May, 2019
Trier - Schweich
Started with a monster breakfast at the Trier B&B hotel. Configured the JBL bluetooth speaker and hopped on the bikes for a short ride towards the city center & Porta Nigra. Keeping the Porta on the left, rode straight towards the Kaiser-Wilhelm bridge and the first sighting of the Mosel. A short stair descent later and we were on the dedicated bike lane that we were gonna stay on for most of the rest of the trip.
Around Trier-Pfalzel we had to take a detour from the river due to industrial / recycling activity. After all the Mosel is a navigable river and water transportation has its insane cost benefits over anything else. But at the end of it all there was a nice marina with small-ish yachts where we took a break, listened to Bob Marley and had delicious Ritter chocolates.
Schweich - Neumagen-Dhron
Met with a random old German couple on e-bikes around Mehring who suggested we take the bridge across the Mosel for superior views / bike lane.
Sure enough, after the first turn of the river out attention was drawn by the "Landgasthaus Hungaricum" where we had to indulge in awesome Hungarian dishes because that's how our "Ardeleni" DNA is wired. Needless to say, Chris downed a couple of beers as well.
The next portion up to Neumagen-Dhron was just meandering river turns with terraced vineyards on both sides and superb landscape.
One remarkable aspect is that the Germans seem to be very fond of the hollywoodian style of advertising their vineyard's names: each terrace had a logo made of huge white letters propped up.
Oldest wine-producing village in Germany. The initial plan was to stop here and sample some Rieslings but in the end we just visited the Roman Fort nearby the church, chilled a bit, then resumed the tour along the east bank in hopes for a better place to stop and chill.
Fun fact about the Roman relics there: they were multi-stage. Apparently the region was first conquered 12BC, but then the Germanic tribes took it back and it was not until Constantin's reign that it was recaptured by Rome. During this second occupation the Romans started re-using most of the existing building materials for just essential fortifications, so most leisure-oriented buildings were torn down.
Neumagen-Dhron - Bernkastel-Kues
A good chilling session took place somewhere in the vicinity of Piesport, on a small private (and marked as such) pier. We just sat there, listened to some good music, dipped our feet in the cold Mosel water and replenished our stamina.
Next, we crossed the bridge near Minheim and pushed on towards Bernkastel-Kues while the afternoon sun was slowly converting its rays towards golden.
Approaching Bernkastel-Kues was easily one of the most epic moments of the trip: we were on the west bank, the river was almost entirely still and the afternoon Sun bathed the entire east bank in golden light, providing near perfect water reflections. Took a ton of photos, nice castle and all.
We approached a nice lady with running a bar right at the entrance of town and brokered a more than decent accommodation offer for the night: 70 EUR total for the three of us.
We then crossed the bridge to get some food on a terrace. Chris & I ended up ordering 3 portions in total. Hunger levels were high.
The waiter on the terrace was really funny - trying to stay positive and crack jokes whenever possible despite the ennui of waking up every morning with a generalized hate for humankind. Mex understood him perfectly.
Made it back to the accommodation right before deadline and dropped our stuff in this insane 1649-built medieval house with original timber frames still in place.
Of course, before going to sleep we cleaned out another couple of beers on the local terrace.
Day 3 - the 24th of May, 2019
Bernkastel-Kues - Traben-Trarbach
The previously unmentioned snoring issues were greatly ameliorated during the night by isolating Chris into his own bed - definitely a winning strategy.
We got up relatively early (around 8:00), got ready, dropped the key in the postbox and moved out to catch some breakfast at the closest cafe. You'd think a basic sandwich and an extra boiled egg would fit the bill, but it was far from enough.
Noticing the extreme biker's tan that I've managed to acquire so far I've decided to veer off towards the city center and look for some sunscreen. A fortunate decision since the pharmacy was quite close to supermarket, where we all got our second breakfast and got some super-fruity supplies as well.
A couple of kilometers before Traben-Trarback we passed under a massive suspended concrete bridge. Say what you will about medieval / antic structures being prettier, but sometimes their modern counterparts are just unbelievable. (well, for the engineering part anyway)
Traben-Trarbach - Aussichtsturm Prinzenkopf (Zell)
Just like bums, we chilled a bit under the main bridge of Traben-Trarbach once reaching this fine establishment. The Mosel runs quite wide here and there was some boat traffic - good for photos.
This is also the first place where one member got completely separated from the group: Chris picked up (yet another) phone call while crossing the bridge and failed to notice the stairs leading back to the waterfront on its left. No worries, the gang got reunited couple of hundred meters downstream.
Next up was a regular ~15km segment in the direction of Zell, a place where the river turns abruptly to the south-east, then back to the north-west again in a chicane enclosing some very high grounds. What better place to build a cloister and an observation tower? And built them they have. We've decided to cut the corner here, and skip the entire chicane, but go up into the Aussichtsturm Prinzenkopf for some awesome views of the valley below.
Google Maps was drunk again and it tried to lead us up a dirt path towards the tower. We decided to ignore that and keep forward. Then we met with a bunch of Romanian field workers who said the best way is to turn left at the end of a straight segment and take the asphalt road up. This showed up on Maps as the second turn to the right. As this was on a mild incline, I gained some distance and at stopped at the crux to look for the others. They vanished.
I kept on, took the left turn and climbed some more to reach a nice place with one of those oversize wooden benches where you can lay down with the entire body. Phoning Mex & Chris I found out that they have decided (on their own) to skip the incline and take the first turn to the left instead as it appeared to be shorter.
Honestly, I was a bit disappointed in their decision to abandon their leader, but pushed on and was chilling in the observation tower shortly thereafter. They ended up missing the road completely, pushing their bikes up through vines and berries and having to stop at the cloister for water before finally making it to the tower. I had enough time to take all the nice photos and also nap for 20 minutes, hahah. It was extremely fun to have the entire tower for myself, have chocolate and fruit, set up some nice chilling music on the bluetooth speaker and simply phase out.
Aussichtsturm Prinzenkopf (Zell) - Cochem
As we've gained around 120m of altitude climbing to the tower, an epic descent followed: passing through the forest, a couple of villages and a section of Alf.
There was a very interesting event house along the way - it's guest house (or whatever the structure was) was shaped and decorated as a giant mushroom.
The next two ~16km segments where super-smooth - we were basically surrounded on all sides by endless vineyards, quaint villages, greenery and the ever-so-slowly flowing Mosel.
A couple of kilometers before reaching the center of Cochem I heard a weird popping noise and the back-wheel started making clanging sounds: turns out I'd managed to break another back-wheel spoke. No coincidence that it was exactly diametrically opposed to the one we removed before setting off. We removed one half of it and continued - but so did the clanging sound, which we simply ignored.
At some point I could not take it anymore so we stopped to have a closer look and it turned out the hub-side half of the broken spoke was still there and clanging randomly against the transmission. It could've locked the disk break completely and with it the entire wheel. Luckily, that had not happened. We took our time to remove it properly this time around.
We used booking.com again to find some accommodation that was conveniently close to the train station as we were on a tight schedule the following day.
After dropping the bikes and backpacks we hiked under threat of rain up to the 11th century medieval castle and explored the fortifications for a while. The views and the castle itself were spectacular.
Then it was back to the city center to find some food as we were all ravenous after biking 70km. (and some of us pushing bikes through vines) Of course I had to have my second serving oh Schweinhaxe - which I slowly proceeded to clean out. Chris was very impressed with my ability to finish it, contrary to all belief.
After the meal we were in the mood for beers. We tried to convince Mex to join for a few, but he went home to preserve his stomach. Obviously, the only natural choice for Chris & I was to go for a Schlager Musik party in a popular local bar and have 6 or so Kölsch beers each. Properly imbibed with both beer and party spirit we headed home around 1:30AM, then partied on the balcony for a while, right above the gas station and then engaging in drunken philosophy until 3AM.
The end. Wake up.