Pedal paradise: biking the Mosel River

Story and photos by Krystal White, Contributing writer
The Middle Mosel's jaw-dropping beauty always entertains the eye.
The Middle Mosel’s jaw-dropping beauty always entertains the eye.

We learn many things as children that become a habit once we are adults. Only some of these things make you feel as alive and free as riding your bike. Once we are grown-up, our cars often become a symbol of personal independence and freedom. It is easy to forget how powerful riding a bike can feel. Peddling your way through nature, the speed of life is achieved through a gratifying combination of endurance, terrain and mechanics.

The most accessible cycling adventure within Rheinland-Pfalz is the well renowned Saar Cycle Route. This route starts in the historic city of Trier and then follows the course of the Mosel downriver to Koblenz where the Mosel meets the Rhine river. Nearly 200 kilometers of varied landscape will entice any active enthusiast. The Mosel River blooms with vineyards as long and as high as the eye can see, and wineries, villages and castles await for exploration if you take the time. Major castles include the Landshut ruins in Bernkastel-Kues, the Imperial Castle in Cochem and the Ehrenburg in Brodenbach. The stunning Burg Eltz is within a short hike as well.

Peaceful, charming and lovely, the route is generally flat and friendly, given all the generally peaceful and idyllic settings, and the main roads had been diverted. A a group of four of us set off for a three-day “sprint tour” of this path. “Awesome” is a perfect word to describe our adventure.

Day One

We planned to get on the road by 8 a.m. to make it near our Trier starting position by 9:30 at the latest. In actuality, we got out the door almost 90 minutes late. However, we did find an easy parking spot in Longuich near the Norma parking lot.

Day Three

We all were wishing for one more day on the Mosel. Extending the holiday to four days would have allowed us the freedom to jump into the river, lounge at path-side beer gardens or to explore castles. Unfortunately, we had few breaks and were rushed and tired the last 30k. Those weren’t fun.

We planned where we would stop for the night well in advance. There are some advantages to this strategy: We pushed ourselves to go the distance for the day, we didn’t have the stress of finding a suitable place nor did we wonder if there would be a bed for us. However, some negatives were felt as well: If something looks “good” you have to cycle past it to get to your place, (that was sometimes a bummer), you have to navigate directly to your lodging rather than taking the first place open along the path, and you might select a place that takes 20 minutes for a group of four to “push off.” In other words, if you have more in your group, add ten minutes for every two people.

Prepare for the mental challenge of not wanting to bike anymore. Sure it’s fun to ride your bike, but when you know you have to go another 20k and don’t feel like it anymore, it can dampen your biking mojo. You can take a break for 15 minutes, but we found that breaks longer than 20 minutes (and those accompanied by any alcoholic drink) tend to decrease the desire to keep going farther. We saved longer stops for later in the afternoon when we had less distance to cover to stave-off any burn-out.

Packing necessities

  • Maximum padding bike shorts. Spending 175k on a bike for three to four days demands proper cushioning.
  • Invest in a padded seat if you don’t bike regularly.
  • Purchase snacks ahead of time and carry them with you. Sometimes there are beer gardens with views, but there is nothing better than laying your bike down whenever you feel like it and having some fruit and nuts for refuelling, just you and the river breeze.
  • Carry water in your pack and in your bike rack. Prevent dehydration by drinking every three hours.
    The Mosel at Bernkastel-Kues. Cloudy skies often give way to sun later on during long days of riding; wear layers.
    The Mosel at Bernkastel-Kues. Cloudy skies often give way to sun later on during long days of riding; wear layers.

    Wine anyone? Beer gardens and wine tasting along the route.
    Wine anyone? Beer gardens and wine tasting along the route.