Apologies for the sparsity of updates recently. This is due to Stephen’s phone dying (it refuses to accept a charge) and poor WiFi access. This post covers three days (Monday to Wednesday, 18 to 20 May).
Now where were we? Sigmaringen, I think. We had a realtively relaxed start to the day (Monday) with a shopping expedition around a vast supermarket nearby to buy breakfast and lunch before setting off at aboyt 19.30.
The cycling did not get off to a great start as, not far out of town, there was a barrier across the cycle path saying “Closed. Diversion via xxxx” and xxxx didn’t appear on our maps!
We could, however, see a road that was sort of parallel for a while and then there was a track that looked as though it rejoined the cycle path. Unfortunately the road went up and up and up. And as soon as it reaches the top there was the track (a muddy, gravelly one) which went down and down and down. It was “horrible” to quote Christine! But at least it got us back on track and around the cause if the diversion.
From there, the countryside opened up into a wide plain with only low hills in the distance – such a contrast to the closeness of the cliff faces on the day before. Everywhere was much more pastoral with many hay meadows and lots of fields planted with baby sweetcorn.
The villages and towns were again picture postcard pretty and we took time out to wander around one if the larger ones, Riedlingen, enjoying an ice cream before setting off again.
As we had camped for the previous 9 nights and as it was exactly a month since we set out we decided to treat ourselves to a reasonable hotel and a celebratory meal. We had seen on an information board that there was a place that sounded potentially OK in a village 10 km further on but it turned out that Monday was their “ruhetag” (day off).
Slightly deflated we set off again to hit a hill which had a double arrow on the map signifying it was steep. It was “only” 20%! Even Stephen had to push from halfway up after he took a breather and was unable to get started again! Christine had no qualms about getting off as soon as the hill started!
Amazingly, at the top the kind people of the village had established a shaded area with seats and tables as well as a drinks fountain, soap and paper towels for the benefit of cyclists!
There was a short, not so steep, downhill before another double arrowed uphill (thankfully nowhere near as steep) before a long gentle downhill into Obermarchtal where there was a very comfortable gasthof and excellent restaurant which suited admirably. And at least we didn’t have to face that 20% hill first thing in the morning!
The forecast for Tuesday was not promising with rain expected in the afternoon after a dry start. So we set off trying to cover as much distancry as we could early on. This plan was a little stymied when Stephen had the first puncture of the trip – but that was not bad for a combined total of 3,000 km of cycling.
The rain arrived earlier than expected but fortunately wasn’t too heavy so we pressed on. As we arrived in Ulm, a potential point for taking shelter for the night if the weather was bad, the rain abated and so we continued for another 20km to Leipheim. For the fans of cycle racing we are guessing that this is where Levi (Leipheimer)’s ancestors came from.
We managed to get to the campsite, set up camp and cook and eat a meal before the rain returned in a more serious manner.
Ulm was somewhere we wanted to spend a little time as the guidebook said there was a pretty old town section but it came a little early the previous day and doesn’t have campsite. Fortunately Leipheim has a rail connection to the city so the plan was to use that.
The best laid plans of mice and men……. are disrupted by German traindrivers going on strike!
Plan B was to use the bus which was less frequent and took 45 minutes because it had a roundabout route (compared to 15 minutes on the train).
It was still raining in the morning so it was not a particularly pleasant 2km ride into town to catch the bus. The old town was only OK – there were some pretty and interesting old buildings but it didn’t really inspire us for some reason and we were soon taking shelter in a café enjoying coffee and cake and catching up on some reading.
Emerging we were surprised to find that the rain had stopped and the roads were ready half dry even though it was quite chilly for the time of year (about 10°). A quick look round the cathedral (which apparently has the highest steeple in the world at 166 metres) was followed by a trawl round phone shops to buy a new phone for Stephen and then it was time to catch the bus “home”.