Le Grand Tour: Day 57 – Kehl To Phlippsburg (123km)

CURRENT LOCATION: Campingplatz Freyersee, Philippsburg

The best thing about day 57 is that it wasn’t day 56. That’s not to say that day 57 will go down in history as being a great day of cycling but it wasn’t anywhere near as monotonous as yesterday’s cycle. And in contrast (because it’s not all about the cycling…), yesterday evening was fun chatting with Dave from Seattle, the German chap and the French family with their very funny two boys. Tonight here in Phillipsburg it’s just me and the chap in the next tent who I saw for the first time about 30 seconds ago. He’s wearing a dressing gown and a head torch. It’s not a look that I have ever coveted on a campsite but who knows? It’s only 9pm. The evening could yet turn out to be an entertaining one… 

But back to the cycling. I stuck to the French side of the Rhine today for the first 40km or so of cycling. This meant retracing my steps back into France but the border was only metres away from the campsite so it was hardly an arduous task. The barbed wire fences came down long ago (although I hear rumours that our next ‘great leader’ Ms Truss is ordering razor wire as I type to further isolate the British from their European neighbours. You read it here first…) 

As noted, today’s cycle wasn’t yesterday’s cycle. The key thing here is variety. It kicked off with a bit of suburban Strasbourg, then some forest, then fields of corn, then a few Alsatian towns… The only thing missing from the Rhine Cycle Route this morning was the, err… Rhine. I haven’t really seen that much of it since watching the water crash over the rocks at the Rheinfall. 

The other curiosity with today’s cycling is the choice of routes on offer. I’ve always been aware that there is a cycle route on the left/French bank of the Rhine and one on the right/German bank of the river. Yet there also appears to be a new ‘EuroVelo 15’ route that winds its way north from Strasbourg a little way inland from the river. It’s very well sign-posted and it matches the route on OpenStreetMap but in the Cicerone Guide, Mike Wells refers to taking the ferry at Neuburg and continuing on the ‘French side’. Are there two French routes? Three in total? It’s all very confusing. I just followed the signs… 

The pain in the butt today was, once again, the wind. The BBC Weather app described it as a ‘gentle breeze’ but when you are cycling into such a gentle breeze of around 15km/hr at a speed of around 15km/hr yourself, that makes a stiff breeze of 30km/hr. It was tiresome and continued to the moment at which I rolled into tonight’s campsite at which point it realised that it could annoy me no more and sodded off to persecute some other poor traveller. Sitting here tonight in the dark with my mate in his dressing gown and head torch (we have yet to speak…) the air is as still as the water in Rishi Sunak’s new covered swimming pool but having looked at the forecast for the next few days I fear it will return to torment me more than once again… 

There were a few long stretches of utter boredom later in the afternoon as the route chose to follow some inordinately long German riverbanks but nothing as tedious as the French canal yesterday. I arrived at tonight’s campsite – beside a lake with a swimming platform, making it look suspiciously like something from a German remake of Dirty Dancing – just before 6pm and, after a shower without a towel (I seem to be doing this with worrying regularity) I sloped off the the Italian restaurant next door for a pizza. Could something please let me know if, in Germany, service is included? Claus?


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