This week I persuaded Elder Son to cycle with me to Tübingen. He wasn’t entirely convinced, possibly remembering my small topographical error on our last ride, where I managed to entirely forget a large hill, but agreed anyway on the basis someone should probably keep an eye on me.

We wriggled through the outer suburbs of Stuttgart until we got to the end of the Siebenmühlental cycleway, an old railway line that would take us through the valleys, and from which a dog-leg would bring us to a dip in the hills we could use to cross to the Neckar valley, which we could follow to Tübingen.


This cunning plan meant we could cover the first 20 kilometres before hitting any nasty steep hills. Elder Son was less convinced, but once on the cycle route he proceeded to disappear into the distance leaving the aged one trundling in his wake.

It was the Xtracycle: they’re heavy bikes you know.

At the end of the valley we ignored the signs to Tübingen because we knew them to be a cruel trick to make us cross several deep valleys, and instead followed the Aich valley until we got to the dip in the hills that we could use to reach the Neckar river.


This was decision time: turn left and we’d be going back towards our village, with a very respectable 60k in the bag, go right and we would be heading to Tübingen and a metric ton.

After a few minutes eating chocolate and looking at the view, Elder Son decided for Tübingen. We set off before he could change his mind and I completely missed the turning and had to bluff it out until I found the cycleway again. I don’t think he noticed.

At the next town we came across a “diversion for cyclists” sign pointing away from the cycleway and the nice shiny new bridge over the river. Lulled into a false sense of security by cyclists coming the other way, we followed this.

I know, this never works. As usual the diversion had been planned and marked out by someone in a car, and as usual by the time we’d realised this we’d climbed out of the valley and into the hills and the person-in-a-car had got bored and left us to work it out ourselves.


Very pretty: where are we?

We followed trails largely by instinct, with some commentary from Elder Son on the general subject of old men and their supposed inability to read a map. I took this as a good sign: if he’s being rude, he’s probably okay.

Finally we found a sign, then a road, village, fast descent and the cycleway.

At this point Elder Son was struggling with cramps in one leg. We hatched a plan that he could catch a train back from Tübingen, having ridden a very respectable 55 kilometres. He wasn’t keen, pointing out that the return route is mainly downhill and we’d had a slight headwind along the Neckar, so we’d have the wind behind us.

We arrived in Tübingen to find that half of Germany and a large chunk of the Japanese population had had the same idea that day. So we went with the flow and became tourists for a bit.


We also may have eaten some ice cream.

Possibly buoyed up by the atmosphere and extra sugar, or possibly because of sheer stubbornness, Elder Son decided to ride back.

As we left Tübingen we found that the wind had turned in the last half an hour.

We did find the cause of the monster diversion we’d taken earlier…
Notice the barrier on this end of the bridge, the barrier on the other end of the bridge, and the entirely empty and flat road in between. This had become a temporary pedestrian zone.

I’ll leave you, dear reader, to guess which route we took next.2019_06_03_Tübingen_with_Stephan_10

We also found a cast iron Post Box from the time of Edward VII.

The rest of the ride was uneventful until Elder Son’s leg went on strike again and he has to make a very dramatic dismount into a field.

He recovered, and by now determined to beat the cramp, ignored an opportunity to take the tram for the final few kilometres.


I checked the map again when we arrived. Including our unscheduled diversion into the hills we’d ridden 109km, with 350m climbing.

I creaked a bit at work the next day.

Elder Son on the other hand was annoyingly unaffected…