BONN The 124-kilometre-long Rhineland apple route was officially opened this weekend. Andreas Pinkwart, Minister for the Economy, Innovation, Digitisation and Energy of the State of NRW travelled from Düsseldorf especially for the occasion.
It is now official: after many announcements and much planning and implementation, the 124-kilometre-long Rhineland apple route was inaugurated on Saturday as part of an official ceremony. Heinz Bursch, managing director of the organic farm of the same name, made land available for the opening. After cutting the ribbon and being greeted by Rolf Schumacher, chairman of the Rhein-Voreifel Tourism association, the regional and supra-regional politicians got on their bikes and demonstrated their physical condition on the trails around the organic farm.
Andreas Pinkwart, State Minister for the Economy, Innovation, Digitisation and Energy, travelled from Düsseldorf especially for the occasion. He referred to the importance of the region as one of the largest fruit-growing areas in the heart of Europe. Rolf Schumacher, who was also present as Mayor of Alfter, was enthusiastic: “I am a passionate cyclist and have already cycled parts of the new apple route. This project combines the themes of leisure, tourism and self-marketing of regional farmers perfectly”. Bornheim’s mayor Wolfgang Henseler praised the many helpers who enabled the project to come to fruition. “We want to reach out to the many people who use the apple route. I hope that this will also help us to further market the region”.
Apple route: there is lots to discover
To experience the third-largest fruit and vegetable growing area in Germany not only by bike, there are numerous stop-offs to discover along the way in the form of farm shops, farm cafés, restaurants and accommodation.
These also include the Brauweiler distillery in Meckenheim-Altendorf. According to Managing Director Irmgard Brauweiler, it is the southernmost distillery in NRW. She also expressed her optimism: “the people here want to taste, get to know and enjoy regional delicacies”.
Thomas Baumann, project manager of Rhein-Voreifel-Touristik e.V., added: “within the framework of EFRE (European Fund for Regional Development) funding, we want to bring smaller companies to the fore. The aim of the Rhineland apple route is to guide guests to the region’s farm shops”. Baumann also had good news for the guests in Bornheim-Waldorf: the logo dispute with the US company Apple has now been settled after legal consultation.
Annette Quaedvlieg, chairwoman of the ADFC Bonn/Rhein-Sieg, is optimistic that the new cycle route will be well received: “personally, I particularly like the fact that a large part of the route is paved. This makes it perfectly suited for families and older people”.
Apple route: how the opening in Meckenheim unfolded
Mayor Bert Spilles and the head of the Rhine Voreifel Tourism, Rolf Schumacher, opened the apple route in glorious sunshine. With 124 kilometres of cycle track plus adventure loops of 15 to 40 kilometres per local authority in the Rhein-Sieg district on the left bank of the Rhine, cyclists will find an Eldorado. Cyclists checked out the first routes on a rally that started in the neighbouring communities in the direction of the church square in Meckenheim. The routes lead across the largest contiguous fruit and vegetable growing area in NRW to places of interest in each community. Schumacher gave examples: fruit growing and local apples in Meckenheim, asparagus in Bornheim and impressive landscape in Wachtberg.
At the start of the day, Pastor Reinhold Malcherek celebrated a Holy Mass in the church of St. John the Baptist. Afterwards he blessed the bicycles of the first visitors in front of the church. A pennyfarthing of Gerd Jajschick from Bad Honnef attracted particular attention. The nine-year-old twins Jana and Anna were allowed to ride on it around the high area above the church square with Jajschick’s help, at a height of almost one and a half metres. Jajschick wanted to cycle the guided ADFC tour on the special bike.
After the blessing, the cyclists took a look at the stands in the church square to background music from the town soldiers, and they enjoyed the first culinary highlights of the day. For the opening, the Rhine Voreifel Tourist Board provided information about the cycle routes and their highlights. The mobile forest school used exhibits to inform about local wildlife and its habitats that are worthy of protection. At the local ADFC group, the curious learned everything about the cycling possibilities in bicycle-friendly Meckenheim.
At 12.30 p.m., the cyclists set off on one of three guided tours. Families with small children followed the ten-kilometre route. Anyone who went further pedalled in the direction of the Iron Man/Roman Canal or on the Apple Rose Tour for about 25 kilometres. Meanwhile, Papa Tom’s jazz band provided musical entertainment on the church square.
Inge and Karl Ernst Rupperath from Meckenheim have been riding their bicycles for years. “We have older bikes, which we use for shopping or other short trips”, said Inge Rupperath. They bought e-bikes some time ago for longer outings, which they used to complete the first round trip of the day.
(Original text: Ralf Palm; translation John Chandler)