Day 6: Thursday 3 June – Spay to Bingen to Spay (62.06 miles)
After breakfast we retrieved our bikes from the garage and set off to Bingen along the main path. There were patches of cobbles but it was a generally good route, with loads of cyclists out and about which was a surprise.
As we cycled through Boppard a church bell was ringing and then a procession appeared from the church to block the road – with a fire engine in front of it. We stopped to watch as hundreds of people filed past saying Hail Marys. First there were adults in green blazers with hats and white shirts, wearing various medals and carrying flags/standards. Then there was the choir or altar boys in robes. Then some nuns and people in a different uniform with various musical instruments (which they weren’t playing at this point), then a very ornately-dressed chap who was inside four poles with material between them (rather like the hangings of a four-poster bed) and was holding a mask up to his face, although he smiled at us from the side. The general congregation followed, with a chap holding a loudspeaker at the rear (a man in a suit had been speaking into a radio mic towards the beginning of the procession). It took about ten minutes for them all to go past and was interesting, if a bit weird. I asked a passing cyclist if it was a public holiday today and she said yes, a catholic holiday but she didn’t know which. I later discovered it was Fronleichnam which is, I believe, Corpus Christi.
We carried on along the route getting passed by lots of cyclists today, although we were travelling light without all our luggage. There were many more younger people out today and they are much quicker than the pensioner cyclists we usually see. We also saw lots of dogs with cyclists, in baskets on the handlebars or back rack or in trailers.
We stopped at St Goar opposite Loreley (where the Rhein narrows) and I had a slice of black forest gateau with a cup of tea.
We continued on into the sunshine – the day was getting really hot now. We passed loads of castles up on hills and a few mini castles in the river as toll gates. The surface was generally good for cycling and there were an awful lot of cyclists out in the fresh air. We raced various barges and passenger ships, enjoyed watching barges navigating around the fast, narrow bit of the Rhein at Loreley, and looked forward to a drink in Bingen.
We arrived at Bingen at 2pm and had lunch by the Rhein. Our original plan was to get the train back but that seemed a bit faffy and expensive so we decided to ride the 31 miles back instead.
The ride back felt quicker but was also busier. There were masses of motorcycles going past – there must have been some kind of rally – and they were all very shiny. We stopped in St Goar again (a different place) for an ice cream.
We continued on to Boppard where we had decided to have dinner. We found a nice pizza place and sat outside in the shade. The sun was beginning to go behind the hills beside the route now so the journey back to Spay would probably be in the shade. Wowbagger did a little bit of cyclist-counting today; he decided to count 100 cyclists and this was 97 going the other way and 3 overtaking us, and this was all in three miles.
When we got back to the car park of the Hotel in Spay Wowbagger cycled round it a few times to make 62.4 miles which is 100km. It was a long day but with beautiful weather, if rather hot. The weekend is apparently going to be hotter so we will prepare with lots of water.