Biking over mountains has never been easier

Total Distance 280km (60 by bike)

See end of post for elevation profile, maps and GPX files.

We got a slow start this morning. We were starting to feel the three days of riding wear on us. There was a couple camped next to us who were really interested in the bike and we had as good a conversation as we could given my poor French. Before we left in the morning they took some pictures to share with their kids (who are about our age) so we might inspire them to get outdoors.

The campground was pretty much right on the bike path and we followed it through more beautiful French villages and some suburbs. We stopped to take a picture and realized our camera battery had died. We’ve had a hard time coming by outlets at the few campgrounds we’ve stayed at. Most of them will charge you for a hook up but without the appropriate adapter it’s useless to us anyway. We’ve been using the hair dryer outlets in the bathrooms for the most part.

village The first 15 km of the path were nice and flat then it started to get a little hilly. We hadn’t had a problem climbing hills on our previous rides with one suitcase full of camping gear but with the second one stacked on top and full of everything else we need/own it proved to be quite a challenge. The hills weren’t even that steep but after a few miles we were slowing down pretty fast. It seemed like a good time to take a break and we found a place in Marlenheim that had a 7 euro two course menu that helped give us enough energy to keep going. They also let us plug in our camera battery and we got enough juice to take some more pictures.

After a few more miles of climbing we finally started heading downhill again and into Saverne city to meet up with the canal to cross the mountains. The nice thing about this path is that it parallels a canal for boat navigation and is flat everywhere except where there is a lock. Even then it is only a couple meter elevation gain. It was a really amazing ride through the forested mountains with a natural creek on one side and the canal on the other. In Lutzelbourg we crossed the canal and headed down the other side of the river for awhile where it deviated from the main canal. The path then took us to and abandoned canal which we followed for another hour or so. This section of the ride was really gorgeous. The old lock houses were overgrown with vines and the canal itself was taken over by cat tails and other aquatic plants.

canal

The trail ended in Arzviller city and we followed the bike route signs through to Niderviller. There the signs mysteriously disappeared. We stopped a passing cyclist to ask if there was a path but he said that he didn’t know of one. So we continued downhill toward the next closest town which was Buhl Lorraine. On our way down we passed the only bike shop we have seen this trip and we thought they might be of some help. We asked if they had any velo maps and he suggested we get the Michelin map we already had. With no new information we continued toward town.

CanalToLutz

lockhouse

We unfortunately entered the outskirts at 5:30pm and had to contend with a bunch of traffic. It was kind of a bummer given how nice the ride had been so far. We went by a grocery store to pick up some food and checked our map for alternate routes but we didn’t see any bike specific paths for the foreseeable future. We checked the tracks and notes George gave us and noticed that he said it was going to be busy and hilly. Since we didn’t have a ton of time to bike around Belgium and visit the Trappist Breweries we figured we’d just head straight there. We went to the train station to see how far we could get. There was a train to Luxembourg leaving at 8pm that cost 21€ per person. We thought that was pretty reasonable even though we had no idea where to stay once we got there. We managed to get internet across the street from the train station and we found a hostel for 22€ per person. It was a little more expensive than we wanted to pay but it had free wifi and breakfast was included so we decided to bite the bullet and treat ourselves. We needed to use the internet to do more route planning and figured this would be a good opportunity.

biketrainWe were interested to see how it would go putting the assembled tandem on the train. Most European trains will have a designated place for regular bikes but these are often too small to accommodate the tandem. To board the train we removed the top suitcase from the trailer stacker and kept the bike and panniers as they were. As we waited for the train a conductor noticed us (how could he not) and showed us where to put the bike. We had to change trains in Metz and the same thing happened. I was pleasantly surprised to receive the help and happy that the bike had a great and secure spot on both trains.

The ride to the hostel from the train station was a bit interesting. It had been raining, but luckily it was dry for us when we set out on our way. We plugged the address into the GPS and started following the directions until it directed us to a flight of stairs. So we kept going and went downhill for a little while then back up before heading down again to find our hostel. The route was definitely not the most direct and we probably worked harder than we had to but at least we got there. We passed out after showering and relished being in a real bed for the first time in 3 days. Our sleeping set up isn’t that uncomfortable but we had forgotten how nice real mattresses were.

Here is a link to our GPS tracks.

Below is the elevation profile and map of our cycling route.

MolToSarEP

View Molsheim to Sarrebourg in a larger map

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