Cycling the Romantische Strasse
Friday, May 21, 1999
Eberbach to Bad Mergentheim
Shortly after leaving Eberbach, we found our first of what was to be many detours - umleitung. We couldn't read the German, but it was obvious that cars were being rerouted. However, when we saw a car bypass the sign, we decided to continue on ourselves. Soon, we came upon a ribbon similar to those used on crime scenes blocking the entire entrance to the rest of the road, and another detour sign. We stopped long enough to let a car pass under the banner from the blocked off side. That was our invitation to continue. Besides, after consulting the map, we figured the detour would add on another 15 km of riding through some very hilly terrain. As we continued riding we could see the reason for the detour - there was road work in progress. To be more accurate, workers were cutting down trees along side the road, and some portions were blocked entirely by tree debris. No problem for a couple of dumb Canucks on bikes. One of the workers started gesturing to us, and after realizing we did not speak German, he motioned us on while admonishing us with his index finger (you naughty, naughty boys).
Today we had rain almost all day. As the day wore on, the rain seemed to increase in intensity. There were many hills on this day as well. In Bad Wimpfen, we decided not to go all the way into town because of the hills, and because this would be a very long day cycling as it was (yeah, I know - a feeble excuse). We stopped at the rail station - about halfway up the steep incline into the altstadt. Here, Tom ordered six of something neither one of us could make heads or tails of, but we thought it sounded as if they were something like sausage. About ten minutes later the waitress arrived with Tom's order of six snails! Escargot is spelt schnecken in Deutsche!
Just after leaving Bad Wimpfen, and crossing the Neckar River, we encountered a long, steep hill that ended at the junction of a road near a churchyard. I made it up the hill first, and while waiting for Tom, started a conversation with a 62 year old German gentleman with a one-speed coaster bicycle. He commented on how he would love to travel to North America. After Tom made it up the hill, this man directed us to a cycle path that would take us all the way to Mockmuhl without the traffic of the main road. And it was paved most of the way! He would even lead us to the entrance. I wished we had met this cyclist prior to the long hill, as he lead us down once again. His rear tire wobbled visibly from side to side as we made the descent at speeds in excess of 45 kph. The cycle path lasted 24 km., following the twisting path of the Jagst River valley.
In Mockmuhl, we refueled on donut like pastries at a local bakery. The rest of the day was uneventful for the most part - just more rain! We got slightly "lost" in Dorzbach, where we left the Jagst River valley and headed up a long hill northeast towards Bad Mergentheim. The guidebook indicated the uphill would last about 8 km, followed by a long 6 km descent into the city. I did not seem to find it that long - perhaps 5 km, followed by a 6 km descent. In any event, it was nice to coast into town. Our total mileage for the day: 133.8 km in 6 hours, 53 minutes, for an average speed of 19.4 kph.
Bad Mergentheim was the birthplace of my German friend, Birgit (with whom we would be staying at the end of our trip). She had asked if I could take a photograph of the hospital where she was born, as she had not been back "home" for many years. Unfortunately, it was raining fairly hard, so we bypassed this opportunity without too much thought.
The first pension we checked out on the road into town, just after the hospital was full. We rode downtown where we were given directions to a local hotel. This hotel quoted us 148 DM for the night - a marked increase over what we were used to paying. Sensing we did not want to spend quite that much money, the receptionist called around to a couple other hotels in the area, then redirected us to the Hotel Wolfgang. This hotel was priced at 100 DM for the two of us, which included "fruhstuck," or breakfast. Hotel Wolfgang was very nice with big rooms. They also allowed us to store our bikes in their garage for the night.
For dinner we wandered down to the markplatz where there appeared to be a blood donor clinic in progress, with entertainment provided, as well as food and refreshments. I considered giving a pint, but I wasn't quite sure how well I would perform on the bike for the next week. I passed on this opportunity.
We found a very nice Greek restaurant right next door to all the festivities. After the standard menu items, we once again indulged in that great German pastime - drinking beer. Tom had pils, while I once again had weisenbier.
Scenery out of Eberbach
Scenery around Bad Wimpfen