It didn’t take too long to find our way back to the Vennbahn. It was quite cool to begin with and until mid morning it was very peaceful riding along the ultra-smooth surface.
Around mid-morning we started to hear jet fighter planes over head and would hear them for the remainder of the day. They were clearly a part of some training exercise, “dog-fighting” and racing across the sky in pairs, at times they were so low that we could see the pilot in the cockpit.
As we approached St. Vith we started to see signage for the East Belgian Rally, along with warnings about detours for the following day. We hadn’t anticipated having to leave the security of the closed Vennbahn but luckily we managed to miss all the closures. In St. Vith the town was full of revving cars in temporary workshops preparing for the rally. Some roads were actually closed to cars but with the bikes we managed to work our way through. Just outside the town we passed directly in front of a campground, and we debated if we should stop or push on. We knew that finding a campsite might be difficult but we hadn’t even stopped for lunch. We found the nearest campsite was 15-20 km ahead and decided we could make the distance.
A few kilometers after leaving St. Vith we stopped at a little shelter for lunch. Whilst eating we dried out the sopping tent. We didn’t see too many riders along the Vennbahn but here we were visited by a Dutch couple who were riding electric bikes and must have been in their very late 70’s or early 80’s. The man in particular, was quite interested in our trip and in explaining all the local history.
A little while after our lunch break the quality of the Vennbahn deteriorated from perfect cycling trails to winding gravel back roads with little to no signage. We even wondered if somehow we had actually left the Vennbahn. It seems, at least when we rode it, that although it is open and being advertised as complete, a good deal of “finishing touches” were being made to the route. The sections which were complete were fantastic but the intervening sections were a cycle trail only in that they joined two other finished sections.
Our campsite was a picturesque 8 km ride off the Vennbahn along the side of a valley with the Our River below. The road was not that busy but it was very narrow, making us a little apprehensive.
We arrived to discover that Camping International AG (Ouren) was in its last few days of operation for the season. Half of the shower/bathroom area had been closed down and men and women were sharing the same facilities, it didn’t bother us. The campsite sits right next to the river and had a friendly atmosphere. It seemed like pretty much everyone there was was Dutch. We set up and then watched the girls play on the playground from the little pub/restaurant deck with a beer and bowl of chips.
Some older Dutch ladies, who were knocking back round after round of beer, took great delight in translating the interaction between Audrey and an enthusiastic little Dutch boy who was chasing her around the playground for a kiss.
To see the route, elevation profile, etc., click the link to Ride with GPS below (it should be able to be embedded but WordPress does not allow this).