Cyclocross on the frontier north of the Rhine
Itinerary: Footbridge Nohl – Rheinau – Ellikon am Rhein (German side) – circuit around the frontier – Rheinsfelden power station, all by bicycle
Distance: 45,3 km
Time: 5 hours (plus 20 minutes for the stops)
Vertical distance: 620 m uphill; 630 m downhill
After Schaffhausen there is a stretch of frontier on the Rhine, then a large part of Switzerland north of the Rhine – mainly the canton of Zurich but also a small exclave of the canton of Schaffhouse – starting opposite Ellikon am Rhein and finishing upstream of Eglisau power station at Rheinsfelden. Then the frontier lies in the middle of the Rhine all the way to Basle.
My reconnaissance on July 16th showed it would be very difficult to access the river, both with a kayak and by car, where the frontier hits it about 1½ km below Nohl (2½ km below the Rhine Falls). Furthermore, there are 3 weirs, all requiring portage of the kayak, around the “loop” of Rheinau, famous for its abbey on an island in the Rhine. So I decided to do this stretch by bicycle.
I left home at 5.55 a.m. and drove to Eglisau railway station north of Zurich getting there in good time to reassemble Sally’s bicycle (inside the car with the front wheel off) and prepare my rucksack before taking the train to Neuhausen (near the Rhine Falls) at 8.40 a.m. From Neuhausen station it was less than 2 km to the Nohl footbridge, the actual start of the day’s circuit. I followed good cycle tracks on the Swiss side up to Rheinau, where I crossed the Rhine to do the next part on the German side (no bridge at Ellikon am Rhein).
The rest of the land circuit was mostly on paths and untarred roads in forests or in open agricultural land, with the occasional track that was either no longer there or completely overgrown (but luckily not with brambles!) or very muddy and/or steep, or led through a fenced-off field, probably somewhat worse on the German side of the frontier. A lot of up and down, all quite exhausting. Finally I reached the end of the day’s circuit at the Eglisau (Rheinsfelden) power station where it is possible for pedestrians and cyclists to cross the river.
A further 3-4 km on the main road took me back to Eglisau railway station, from where I was able to drive home again. Total round trip – just over 12 hours.
1. Another view of the Rhine Falls
2. Rheinau abbey (taken on July 16th)
3. An interesting border stone, called Rafzerstein
4. Border stone with coat of arms of the Grand Duchy of Baden