CYCLING LAKE CONSTANCE – Day 1.

We're not the only cyclists on this particular road - for good reason.

We’re not the only cyclists on this particular road – for good reason.



I’ve had my eye on this trip for years. The circuit of Lake Constance, the Bodensee to its German-speaking friends, is supposed to be Europe’s most popular bike ride.


It’s easy to see why. There are over 300km on safe cycle paths or quiet roads with slow-moving traffic, passing through picturesque villages, stopping for kaffee and local pastries and at night the option of warm, dry hotels and local wine.

We can cut a few corners and shorten the route by taking ferries across arms of the lake, or we can extend ourselves by making diversions. The exact route doesn’t matter that much. It’s all rather attractive.

Lake Constance. The water is flat, and so are most of the cycleways.

Lake Constance. The water is flat, and so are most of the cycleways.

Freedom Treks has provided us with bikes and a map and booked the accommodation. Mevrouw T gets an electric bike, which means she can power on ahead of me up the hills. I’m happy with my touring bike, built for comfort rather than speed.

I'm looking forward to this. Mevrouw T is a little more guarded.

I’m looking forward to this. Mevrouw T is a little more guarded. Rain is forecast and it’s 10 degrees max.

Our first day was designed by the route-planners as a warm-up. 20-30km to roll out of the town of Konstanz onto Reichenau Island, UNESCO World Heritage-listed for its churches and monasteries.

Reichenau. The chestnut trees are coming into flower which is a bonus.

Reichenau. The chestnut trees are coming into flower which is a bonus.

From there we took the ferry across to the Swiss side of the lake, half an hour away…

Cycling the easy way.

Cycling the easy way.

…which left us only a dozen kilometres or so to Stein am Rhein, surely one of the world’s cutest villages, in a Swiss-chocolate box, jigsaw-puzzle sort of way.

It’s well worth some photos anyway.

Stein am Rhein has built its reputation on the elaborately decorated walls of the main street.

Stein am Rhein has built its reputation on the elaborately decorated walls of the main street.

Cycling is allowed, but only at a walking pace.

Cycling is allowed, but only at a walking pace.

A splash of colour on a grey day.

A splash of colour on a grey day.

You want to take your time anyway.

You want to take your time anyway.

From Stein, I made a stupid mistake, turning left instead of right, heading east instead of west, and wondering why the dumb towns all had the wrong names.

The bike computer racked up an extra 15km and the rain was threatening as the error of my ways gradually dawned on my feeble brain. Well before this Mevrouw T had sensibly turned her e-bike back towards Stein. And our warm, dry hotel.

The rider on the electric bike is getting too far ahead of me.

The rider on the electric bike is getting too far ahead of me.


More tomorrow, weather permitting.

The writer was the guest of Freedom Treks and assisted by Internationale Bodensee Tourismus.

12 Comments

Filed under Cycle touring, Cycling, Switzerland

12 responses to “CYCLING LAKE CONSTANCE – Day 1.

  1. Sounds delightful. I will be in Konstanz in about a month.

  2. When you get to Friedrichshafen be sure to visit the Zeppelin Museum! I visited the city when Ryanair flew there but I think they have stopped now.

  3. betsey

    how cute is that! I’ll bet when the weather is hot it is wall-to-wall tourists. Good on Agnes for getting an electric bike.

  4. I’m enjoying this trip, you’re travelling through some really wonderful places.

  5. Harriet

    Harriet

    Richard I read your article on Electric Revolution in The Age Traveller (July 2013) about Lake Constance and have dreamed about this journey since then. Well, my best friend and I are about to embark on this trip and we are both in our late 60’s. We’re gutsy, adventurous, and know how to live life to the fullest. I hope its not too strenuous so we can thank you when we complete it, or…is this journey a poor choice considering our age? What do you think???

    • Harriet, I’d be delighted if people take my advice and do this trip (though I then feel slightly responsible if anything goes wrong!)

      I’m sure you’re gutsy and adventurous enough for it and there are plenty of 60-plussers (self included) doing it very comfortably. If in doubt (1) rent electric bikes (2) schedule an extra day as a rest day (3) in case of tiredness or bad weather, put the bike on the train or boat to get around (4) do a bit of practice beforehand (5) invest in padded cycling shorts to alleviate saddle pain (you can wear them under real trousers so nobody need see you in lycra!)

      Hope you enjoy it and please do let me know you you get on.

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