Heidelberg where I spent two great days visiting with my daughter
Today's ride turned out to be the opposite of what I expected: I expected to have trouble finding radwegs between Heidelberg and the Rhine, but then I could follow the Rhine Radweg with no problem. Instead, I found it straight forward - or at least not difficult - to get to Darmstadt, about 50 km north of Heidelberg and then over to the Rhine, mostly on bike paths. However, the Rhine Radweg turned out to be impossible for me to follow west of Mainz, and a literal pain in the ass before that. I'm in Heidesheim tonight. It is about ten miles from Bingen and only four miles from Mainz, but I bet I rode ten miles getting here from Mainz. I got here by trying to follow the Rhine radweg to Bingen, but I have no idea why I ended up here or how I would get from here to Bingen on the radwegs, so I'm planing to take a highway, L422, to Bingen tomorrow morning. After Bingen, I may try the Rhine Radweg again, but, even when I didn't get lost, the radweg was often a bumpy dirt roads that wasn't much fun to ride, so I won't ride it again unless the highway is bad riding.
A typical section of the Rhine Radweg south of Mainz
Riding out of Heidelberg, I took B3 north until bicycles were no longer allowed, sometimes using the bike path alongside the road, then took bike paths and small roads between B3 and A5. Perhaps I was lucky, but, given the relatively small distance between the two roads and the hills on the other side of B3, it was straight forward to find roads and or paths between the towns. When I got farther north, I followed marked radwegs, first the Rundweg and later the R8, to near Darmstadt. I got on B3 again before riding into town. It was a moderately busy four lane highway with a good shoulder at that point. I was sprinkled on early in the ride, starting around Weinheim, but the sun was shining when I reached Darmstadt.
Riding towards the center of Darmstadt
The central platz in Darmstadt
Bikes at a train stop in Darmstadt
It was easy to ride through Darmstadt to the center of town and then to ride along Rhinestrasse going west out of town.
Following the bike path next to Rhinestrasse, B26, led me to radweg 20 which got me most of the way to the Rhine. Then I followed the road and rode right onto a ferry which took me across the Rhine five minutes later! During this section of the ride, wind was a bit of a problem, blowing out of the north at ten mph or so. My route was east and north east so that was a head/cross wind which slowed me down. There were no real hills on the ride since all of it was in the Rhine river valley.
Two other riders getting off the ferry
At first it looked like a repeat of the Alsace Wine Route
And some later sections were also paved
But this was not the worst section I rode
I was actually able to take a picture without stopping
although it is a little blurred by the bumps
Riding through Mainz was a mixture of ugly industrial sections and pretty city sections. The radweg is mostly along the river, but there are two sections, one before and one after the city where you have to go inland. I followed a local rider into town, but the second section I had to do on my own. That led to an interesting side trip back down to the river and along it to a dead end where a canal cut the road. It was pretty there, but frustrating to have to ride back the way I came around a big industrial section. The signed radweg to Bingen starts just past the Walmart Superstore (!) near the autoroute at the east end of town <grin>.
Riding in Mainz
The river, from my side trip
I suspect that riding the Rhineweg with a map and instructions on how to get through each town is much easier, but all I could do was follow the signs. There were great in some sections and totally absent in others. The worst section I rode was signed as the radweg to from Budenheim to Bingen. Part of it was more suitable for walking than riding. Given the number of inexperienced tourists I saw on the radweg south of Mainz, there must be a better radweg up here, but I don't know how to find it.