Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Cycling Autobahn

Well, last I posted was from Isola d'Elba, that gorgeous island in the Mediterranean that I so love. I have since, and somewhat unexpectedly, spent a few weeks in Britain, where I caught up with boring paper work, did a few assignments for a short course I did, and bought a bike. However I have since had to leave the bike in Britain, but for all the right reasons. There was a bike here waiting for me when I arrived! Well, almost anyway. It's a little on the big side, which makes things interesting when I have to stop and wait for traffic (getting on/off is difficult when you can't reach the ground!) but that's okay. It's a bike, and it's here. And this place is amazing for cycling!

Where I am living for now is sorta out in the sticks, but not completely. And certainly not if you're on a bike.

The front of the sign, facing to Gelnhausen
This is where our local trail meets up with the Cycling Autobahn (I happen to think that simile is awesome, I've totally adopted it!), called the R3, which goes from Fulda to somewhere the other side of Frankfurt, totally 228km which you have to grant is a pretty damn long cycle ride!

So on Sunday I took myself to Wachtersbach (see back of sign), a total of 5.9km according to these signs. Wachtersbach itself was, as promised, not particularly exciting, so I just had some sorbet (it was really hot, it has been really hot a lot actually) and set off again, this time for Gelnhausen, 9.5km away.

At this point, I have to confess, it was not smooth sailing, nor was it particularly enjoyable, and I was quite concerned about getting back because I could tell that the path was more or less flat. There was strong headwind which made me feel every single kilo of what is a rather hefty bike (and the rider is none too light either!), not to mention the somewhat too soft tyre pressure (to be fixed as soon as my pump arrives!). Luckily, there was an ever-present back-up plan, in the form of good-old fashioned train. Germany has particularly nice ones, and on time to boot.

The back of the sign, facing to Wachtersbach
There is just one slight, small flaw with the train back-up plan, which is that Wachtersbach is actually our nearest station, so it's still 6km home from the train station! There are buses between Wachtersbach and Bad Orb, timed to meet the trains (Oh, German efficiency!!!) but I doubt you can get a bike on them. Thus, at points during my trip to Gelnhausen, I was really dreading the trip home. Even with the train I would still need to cycle another 6km, with the last bit uphill too.

Turns out that headwind had a lot to answer for. Coming home was a breeze. Sure it took an hour, but actually it only took an hour, and it wasn't a hard hour either.

I am really, really liking the cycle networks here. I was going to go out and ride this evening, but I was put off by the world's most epic thunderstorm, it was better even than the incredible ones Phuket had to offer when I was there. I love a good thunderstorm, and this was the finest, and possibly closest, I've ever had the fortune to watch, but it was accompanied by a lot of rain. I'm not keen on that horrible warm, sweaty, sticky dampness that comes from exercising in the rain. In fact I detest it. Thus I skipped a ride this evening, although I might do something else instead.

Anyhow, back to the Cycling Autobahn. If you have a separate road for bikes, you have separate bridges. Obviously. It has a ramp so that you can cycle right on up, over, and back down again without getting off. Nifty! Other good features of the Cycling Autobahn aside from the obvious lack of people in cars trying to run you over, are the lack of traffic lights, which, trust me, is a big deal when you can't reach the ground from your seat. Another good feature is the signposts. The ones in these pictures here are them. They're on the Cycling Autobahn. For cyclists. They don't tell us boring stuff like how far to the next motorway entry, or that you can't park a car here. They just tell you how far it is to whatever is in that direction. Brilliantly simple! (I may have learned to hate road signs in Britain while learning to drive. Far too many of them, far too many).
Nifty cycle bridge on the Cycling Autobahn (R3), and also my bike. 
That is my experience of the Cycling Autobahn so far, all 30km that I've explored. Well, technically only about 26km of it was even part of the R3, the route down to it from Bad Orb followed a dinky little train line (I believe an actual, real train line used to run there some time ago) which I think has tourist trains every now and again, or something. It was pretty cool anyway, and I definitely have a few more adventures planned for my lovely red bike on the Cycling Autobahn.

No comments:

Post a Comment