Day 3 of NL to SLO
Looking back, I realize I must have made a comical sight, spending the whole morning pounding my aching legs into submission in battle against the wind, fully hunched over in time trial position and going at a staggering speed of 20 kph (12 mph). At the time, I was not so amused. I had thought to myself that my self-punishment tolerance reserves were emptied yesterday, but clearly I had a little left in me.
Although it’s great to get this complaining out of my system, I can imagine it’s not great to read. First, some good news. My shoes mostly dried out overnight, helped by some toilet paper stuffing. And even better, my bike’s creaky noses stopped too after a fresh coat of chain lube.
I’ll move on to some context about the route. Heading south from Mainz, I continued following the Rhine until Worms. Unlike the dramatic gorges in the section the day before, the landscape here widens out. The route takes a few detours up onto the hillsides, where vineyards carpet the angled terrain.
From Worms, where I almost became a fresh bus pancake (one last complaint: sending bikes onto sidewalks is evil!!), I crossed the Rhine for the one and only time of the trip. Here, flat farming fields and industrial areas dominated the environment. At Weinheim, I tilted due south, and the surroundings were abruptly switched to massive hardware stores and furniture outlets as I followed a main road for a while.
Eventually I could veer off the main road and dive through small farming paths toward the river Neckar. Home to the oldest university in Germany, Heidelberg was absolutely the visual highlight of the day. The bright sunlight brought out the blue of the river, and the massive castle, built some 800 years ago, towered over the town.
After Heidelberg, I followed a main road along the river (unfortunately no alternative route because of the steep cliffs) before crossing it and turning inland at Neckargemünd. Slicing over the hills in this part both gave me some shelter from the wind and reminded me of parts of my trip in France last summer. The combination of low traffic serenity, rolling hills, sunny weather and rustic villages sent my memory back to that trip.
My destination today was Heilbronn, which also sits on the Neckar (my inland route saves some time over following the river exactly). The whole place was flattened in WW2, then rebuilt after the war. Now it’s known for wine production, but that’s not my thing. A big pad thai though? Yes, please!