16/7/18. (It remains to be seen whether we complete the above sequence with a “…Quick, Slow”)
With the train arriving back in Tübingen (where we had left the Neckar Valley bike route to go to the Bodensee) at lunchtime it was probably an ambitious target to make the first campsite downriver since it was more than 60 km away. With the heat building up through the afternoon and Christine’s legs “blocked” by a week off the bike it proved to be too much and she started to wilt. After a couple of stops to cool off in the shade we decided that a hotel in Köngen or Wendlingen am Neckar (twin towns either side of the river) was the sensible option. At the fourth time of asking we found a hotel that was both open and had a room but of course it was the most expensive looking one!
Christine crashed out at about 5.30 and slept until 8 the next morning other than rousing herself for half an hour to eat a pretzel and take a drink of apple juice mid evening.
In the morning she still felt tired! After a couple of hours sitting still for her “pill day” we set off just before the final check out time of 11 o’clock and headed for the campsite which was about 30 km away in Stuttgart. Although the sun was shining when we set out the clouds started to roll in and, by the time we reached the campsite in Stuttgart 2½ hours later (having passed at least three Mercedes factories – Stuttgart is the company’s headquarters), the forecast thunderstorm looked very imminent.
With reception shut for lunch we were tempted to put up the tent and check in afterwards but we’re dissuaded from doing so by man who was very insistent that “ Reception opens at 2 o’clock”. A few spots of rain were falling by the time we had paid our fees and were “legal” campers so we rushed to get the tent up and were just in time before the heavy stuff arrived. Luckily it only lasted for 15 minutes or so.
The showers continued throughout the afternoon and night (but without thunder) and the clouds were still looming when we set off on Monday morning. The initial part of the route was OK being off road but it passed through an industrial and unattractive part of Stuttgart, but once we left the city behind us the river meandered its way through some steep sided valleys covered with vineyards. Who knew that this was a wine producing region? We certainly didn’t! It was all rather lovely.
Gradually the clouds were burnt off and the sun started to warm things up. However, we made good time thanks to some long shaded stretches and the gentle downward slope. (We’re heading downriver of course. There are no flies on us!) Naturally, the river’s meanders meant that we didn’t make as much progress as the crow flies (at one stage Stephen saw on his Garmin that our starting point was almost exactly half of the 54 km that we had cycled) but that’s not the point. And our intended destination campsite took account of the indirect, scenic route we were following.
It was nearing 6 o’clock when we reached the campsite but Christine in particular felt pretty pleased with herself for having achieved our joint longest day (other than the unloaded blast around Lake Constance) on this trip at 84 km. With the temperature having got close to 30° in the afternoon the showers (normal ones where the water flowed without having to hit a button every few seconds) were really, really welcome and we were more than ready for the usual pasta in tomato sauce washed down with a choice of apfelschörle and beer!