Charming Ravensburg, Germany

Ravensberg Blaserturm

Ravensberg leather house

One of the pleasures of this year’s Eurobike was further discovery of Ravensberg, the town we stay at in the Allgäu region of southern Germany. 

I stayed there last year and found it was charming town with an attractive car free town centre and a lively bustle of restaurants and bars. However because we only use the town as a dormitory I didn’t realise that there was much more to it than the streets between the station and the main central Marienplatz.

This time we stayed in the delightful Hotel Obertor which is actually built into the city walls and the Obertor (upper tower) itself. A few morning photos don’t quite do it justice but it is a great location.

Ravensberg Obertor and Obertor Hotel

And just beside it was another tower, known unusually as the Mehlsack or “flour sack”. Great name, especially as it had a much more imposing name of the White Tower at St Michael when it was built but locals nicknamed it because of its shape and colour and the name stuck.

The Flour sack Ravensberg

Apparently the town almost completely avoided war damage because it was of little strategic importance which is why it is so well preserved. Another time I must try to have enough time to do it justice and I recommend it you might do the same. Good restaurants and hotels too.

For more about the cycling in the area too see last years’s post here

Ravensburg morning Germany Allgau Ravensburg weigh tower

Bodensee, Allgäu, Southern Germany, bicycles and crimes against cycling

Test ride carbon fibreI am at the Eurobike trade fair for work. Mostly bike fairs involve being plunged into a morass  of competing booths and emerging blinking into the light after three or four days in complete exhaustion. Click the “Cycle Shows” tab below to catch a different flavour of the shows I have experienced since taking on my new job.

SwitzerlandBodensee ferry and bicyclesBut Eurobike has a treat in store. By an accident of history Europe’s largest bike show ended up in the town of Friedrichshaven on the shores of Lake Constance, the Bodensee in southern Germany. The industry types who have been coming here for 20 years or more moan and groan about the lack of access and hotels and the traffic jams because the town isn’t set up for a show in this scale.

But – but, but, but. You have to get here. And in many people’s case this means coming via Zurich. Two hours on Swiss Railways, then the ferry across the Bodensee from Ramshorn or Konstanz. As you cross the ferry you can also see the evidence of the booming cycle tourism culture building in the area, each time I come I see more and more cyclists – much better than my first lonely ride as a student visitor in 1984.

And you get to stay out in the small towns of the Allgäu with family run hotels in immaculate settings with restaurants set out on the traffic free market squares.

And demo day? A 30 minute bus ride up into a tiny town in the Allgäu hills where 2000 bike shop owners, business people and hangers-on like me get to try out hundreds of bikes on waymarked trails.

What’s not to like – especially as this year we were treated to roasting hot temperatures. We took two really nice road bikes from Ritchey out onto the road route which gave some lovely images of rolling hills, beautifuly kept farms and very smooth roads. We also tested two of the new range from Tern which were very impressive, and much more relevant to real life in Brussels!Allgau scenery

Allgau sceneI also noticed that even the smallest settlements had a lot of solar panels – showing just how far ahead of most of the rest of the world this aspect of German life is. All in all a picture of civilised living.

However what is unforgivable is the Australian who conformed to national stereotype and brought only flip-flops to a cycling demo day. (They are called “thongs” to Aussies – please avoid confusion with a piece of string pretending to be underwear, which could in fact be a worse sight on a bike).

Actually an even worse crime was committed here- actually trying to justify the “thongs” by telling the staff on the booth that Cadel Evans dresses like this at the weekend. Sorry – no, Cadel has some class.