One of the great things about many of Europe’s river-adjacent bike paths are the alternative transportation options if you want to shorten a day’s ride. Maybe you’ve dallied longer than planned over a leisurely lunch or maybe your legs are a bit spent!
I recently condensed the Mosel Bike Path tour in Germany from five riding days to four, which meant a few days of longer-than-typical rides. But, I really enjoy my time off the bike as much as on it while touring, so buying back a bit of time out of the saddle is important for me.
Here are a few tricks I’ve found to shorten the cycling and enjoy the landscape from a different perspective!
Passenger ferries run along many stretches of the Mosel and stop at towns along the cycling route. I took advantage of a floating lift after a lovely morning ride from Neumagen-Dhron to Bernkastel-Kues.
It’s a good idea to request the ferry schedule from the tour company in advance or look it up online so you’ll know what time you need to be at a given port by to hitch a ride – these ferries often only run two or three times per day. My ticket from Bernkastel-Kues to Traben-Trarbach was about €15, including fare for my bike, and shaved about 22 km. (about 14 miles) out of the middle of my day’s planned 75 km. (about 45 miles) ride. (Note that I did a condensed version of this tour, so my daily distances were longer than you’ll do on the normal 6-night program.)
Ticket booths are at the end of the gangway at each ferry station and display stops and schedules. Buy your ticket (for yourself plus bike), then roll onboard and they’ll instruct you on where to store it (usually on the rear deck). Then, you’re free to enjoy a nice river cruise! There are enclosed seats downstairs and open and covered decks above. What’s more: there’s plenty of local wine available by the glass or bottle to enjoy while watching cyclists along the bike path hugging the river.
While not available along the entirety of the Mosel bike path, there are rail connections between Traben Trarbach and Bullay, and again from Cochem to Koblenz. The route maps indicate which villages have train stations (follow the signs in town to the “Bahnhof”).
In these small village train stations, there may or may not be a human at a ticket counter. But no worries, the ticket machines are really easy to use with several language options (including English). Enter your destination to see upcoming departures. *Be sure to look for listings with a bicycle icon to indicate there is a compartment equipped for your gear.*
Some stations will have an elevator (“Lift”) you can roll the bike onto, but be prepared for the possibility of hauling it up and down stairs.
There are two kinds of train connections in these areas. “RE” means regional express and connects larger towns (for example, Cochem to Koblenz). If you don’t want to go all the way to the next large town, don’t assume the RE trains will stop at the smaller villages in between! If you want your choice of villages along the cycling route, instead catch an “RB” train (“regional bahn,” the regional railway) – these stop at the smaller hamlets.
When the train arrives, look for the compartment marked with a bicycle icon (usually at the rear). Roll on and you’ll find an open area with jump seats that flip down from the wall (making it easy to hold the bike steady in front of you). A rail system employee (in dark blue uniform) may or may not come by to stamp your ticket. Intercom announcements and overhead digital signs announce the “Naechste halt” (next stop). Keep an eye out for your destination and be ready to roll off when arriving at your station; stop times are typically rather brief on these regional trains.
Once you’re off the train, just look for the white and green cycle route signs outside the station to hop back on the back path and resume the ride!
Buses called “RegioRadler” (“Regional Cyclist”) ply the Mosel region with bike trailers in tow. For the Trier to Koblenz segment you can book through BikeTours.com, there are frequent stops from Trier to Bullay (about halfway to Koblenz). Their route then diverges from the Mosel Bike Path, rejoining only briefly again downriver between Treis-Karden and Hatzenport.
There are bus stops (usually with a shed) in the villages along this bus route that display expected pick-up times. Buy two tickets (one for you, one for your bike) from the driver or in advance online. Throw your bike on the trailer and board the bus for a bit of pedaling relief!
I did not personally take the RegioRadler, but it seemed a very popular option. It passed me a few times with a trailer nearly full of bikes! More info and route maps >
Want to know more? Read the nitty gritty on the Mosel Bike Path for notes and tips on terrain, surface, safety, traffic, navigation, and more!