After some “stretching exercises” in the vineyards, we vanish for two hours in the sparsely populated Palatinate Forest. First we climb up, unhurriedly, to the Totenkopf pass, and ride a long, sometimes pretty quick, descent into the Elmstein Valley. If it's been almost traffic-free and idyllic up to now, it gets even better on the way up to our first break at the Schwarzsohl lodge. We press on, sometimes up, sometimes down, until, pressing firmly on the pedals, we reach Bad Dürkheim, where suddenly we reach the other, lively, wine-drenched Palatinate world. And they're waiting for us in historic Freinsheim with “Grumbeersupp und Quetschekuche” (potato soup and plum cake). This combination of a fortifying appetiser and sweet ?n sour dessert (cake in the left hand, soup spoon in the right) is another traditional staple of Palatinate cuisine for successful cyclists, as you will no doubt confirm after the subsequent summit sprint on the Lindemannsruhe. This is where we begin to head home, with a great descent through woods and vineyards down to the Wine Route. We're now in the Mittelhaardt area. Here the best-known wine-producing areas, including some globally known wine estates, lie side by side. Although Dürkheim, Forst, Deidesheim, Gimmeldingen, Haardt and Neustadt are all only a few kilometres away from one another, they are all very different and very lovely. Individuals can, as they wish, ride through the villages with their sometimes narrow, picturesque streets, some cobbled, or take the easier and quicker roads that bypass them. As there are so many temptations to stop and look, the three groups are likely to turn up back at the hotel with substantial time gaps; unless the quick ones opt to ride up to the Weinbiet and/or visit Hambach Castle.