Traffic free Sunday in Tauber Valley
“You are from Manchester, England?”
“Well, not exactly Manchester, but ..”
“I have trousers I call Manchester.”
“Oh. Right.” Stuart has told me all about the traditional Bavarian trousers; -long leather shorts that they go walking in. Now I feel more on top of the conversation. “You mean like Lederhosen?”
There is a seconds silence while he looks at me aghast. “Lederhosen? No! Cord. Manufactured in Manchester.”
After this gaffe, I need to steer the conversation back to cycling. “This is a very good Festival. I hear it’s been going for eight years. Who puts on all this lovely food in each village?”
All organised by local clubs
“Clubs,” he replies. “In this village it’s the singing club and the motorcycle club. You like the cake yes?” he says proudly. I look at the stocky young man with a slight smattering of stubble and conclude he must be there to represent the latter. “So you are a biker then?”
Again he is shocked by my lack of insight. “No, no, no. I am choir.”
“Right,” I say nervously.
“But I don’t sing,” he adds, in case I were to misunderstand him once again.
Auto freier sonntag
Today across the whole of the Tauber Valley, it is ‘auto freier sonntag’ day. In every one of eight villages and the long valley road that connects them all, cars are banned. Cyclists and skaters take over the road, pedalling and scooting between villages offering every type of cake, beer, coffee and sausage you can buy with a euro or two. It’s a party atmosphere, despite the morning rain. And we needed a party atmosphere to lighten our mood.
A wet start to a perfect traffic free day
Our first day on Germany’s romantic road started with a wet bed. Even at home that might not be the most romantic occurrence, but here, it was a disaster. As the rain poured down, we struggled to scrub thermarests and clean up sleeping bags. We pulled down a drenched tent and attempted to stuff the weighty mass of canvas and water into a bag. But while the day had begun badly for us, it was still on course for the kids. The night before, in 40 degrees of heat we promised them a morning at the open air swimming pool next door. They danced about in the rain on the open air chessboard, charging around as queens and knights, dreaming of water slides and water pistol fights, while all the campervans make for home; disappointed by the weather.
Unsurprisingly, we were the only people in the pool, but for a change we were in the majority on the road. We soon cheered up as grannies, toddlers and even dogs under umbrella’s were pedalled or pedalled themselves past us on the hills. Up to thirty thousand people apparently. The festival happens here every other year and is very popular. People read about it in the papers and come from miles around.
No cars, but for one day only
But at 6pm, it’s all over; the barriers are lifted by teams of stewards, and it’s something of a shock when cars push past you on the road once again.
“Quickly, pedal quicker,” Matthew hurries me along, as the first car revs up behind me.
“Relax, it’s not going to turn into the M1,” I say.
And it doesn’t. But it was better by bike, and only bike. What luck for a family of cyclists to stumble across a day just for us.