Sunday, June 07, 2015

Bike trip on the Bodensee with kids

I have 2 smallish kids (9 and 7) who I am trying to get excited about bike touring. They like to ride their bicycles but in moderation and only if their a destination. The idea of riding a bicycle just for the joy of riding is crazy talk.  Two years ago we did a 20 km ride to Mainau with tents/sleeping bags etc, camped and came home. This was kind of the limit of their endurance at that point.

Ever since then my wife and I have been trying to talk up another bike trip, this time maybe a few days more, and ho much fun it was going to be.

This past week turned out to be the second week of Pfingstferien (Pentecost vacation) in Germany and the weather at the end of the week turned out brilliant. Sunny and warm (turned out to actually be hot and humid on top of that)

The plan a 4 day trip with 20-30 km of riding every day and camping every night. On the first day, we headed from Meersburg over to Konstanz with the car ferry and then rode the bikes over to Berlingen.

The ride from Konstanz to Berlingen is really nice. Heading out of Konstanz, you ride out directly on the shore of the Rhine, where the roads are really wide and the traffic is really light. There is a diversion to cross the border into Switzerland and then at T├Ągerwill, there is a really nice area to hang out by the lake (We made lots of stops to break up the tediousness of riding and to keep the kids happy. My wife's motto is to stop early and frequently. If you wait to stop till the kids start complaining, you've already lost) Then there are uninteresting stretches on dusty roads through farmland, but also jaunts through small swiss towns with really great modernist houses. I was really impressed with the adventurousness of the architecture. German towns are much more dressed down.

At Berlingen we caught a ferry across to Gaelingen (which is back in Germany) and then cycled 2 km to the camping ground at Horn. Its big, the facilities are really nice and they have a lot of activities for the kids. The lake shore though is not at the camping ground though it did not make a difference for us as we just went there, spent the rest of the day there and came back when it was time to hit the sack.

On day 2, we did a ride towards Stein am Rhein but it was really up and down. The kids did not enjoy the climbing and so we cut the bike ride short. We spent the day at the lake and the night in Horn again.

On day 3, we rode from Horn to Allensbach. This was a completely awesome bike ride.
The trails are flat, far from traffic for the most part, and through gorgeous country side. I couldn't help thinking of the French expressionists going to Arles to paint its gorgeous vistas when riding through this stretch. It was just as beautiful.

We camped in Allensbach. The campground is smaller and more crowded that the one at Horn but it is directly at the lake. The lake area is, I think, nicer than at Horn. You look out at Mainau, the areas to hang out are kept up better and the restaurant at the campsite is much better that the one at Horn. Lot more food options. Horn was just the typical restuarant offerings: Pizza, currywurst, french fries (plus a couple of other things) Here they had burgers, stir fry, more contemporary cuisine.

On the last day, we rode from Allensbach back into Konstanz and then to the ferry back to Meersburg. This is not such a picturesque ride. Its mostly on bike paths directly on the side of roads, or railroad tracks and not really anything special. Konstanz on a sunny weekend day is always interesting tough and as usual it was packed with people and music and kids and life.

All in all, a great bike ride. The kids have sworn off bike riding for the next couple of weeks but they will eventually be happy to go on another trip like this.

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