Here is the map of where I have got to so far on the whole tour:
Quite a long way really!
And here’s today’s ride, also a long way.
Once again I had a hotel room without breakfast (which was 8,50€ extra so I didn’t bother), so I was out of the door at 8am ready to head off on my rather long journey. This was the longest planned day of my tour and I wanted to make sure I was underway without too much faffage.
I didn’t choose the most direct route to the bridge over the Mosel as I wanted to see Deutsches Eck again, so I pootled along the pedestrian/cyclist bit beside the Rhein.
I wouldn’t fancy this job – there are chaps on that contraption right under the bridge!
I also caught sight of another recumbent, a Challenge Wizard.
I arrived at Deutsches Eck and Alfie had a look at the Mosel (left) and Rhein (right) in the misty morning.
After Deutsches Eck it was time to head over the Balduinbrücke. I’ve done this loads of times so have finally got to grips with where to go by bike to avoid steps and stairs etc; however, when I got there the bridge was being resurfaced and there was one-way traffic only, although fortunately bikes could still go over in the north direction.
I was now the other side of the Mosel and was on familiar ground – we had a week’s holiday here in Neuendorf last September. On that holiday we had watched them building an enormous flood barrier – I thought this was an ideal time to check if it worked. It did!
The cycle path had some diversions because of the flood barrier building and so I followed those signs which took us along the quiet roads from Neuendorf to Kesselheim.
In Kesselheim there’s a short bit through a woodland which was rather pretty.
However, at the bottom, where the cycle path starts following the river, there were two chaps working on clearing up after the flooding and their van was completely blocking the cycle path. They were very friendly and offered to help me lift it round their van but they warned me that other chaps from their work detail were further up the path and I might do better on the road. I’d stopped next to a flight of steps to the road and so they lifted Alfie up for me, including heaving him over a barrier. The young, talkative chap had very oily hands after this (he’d gripped a bit of the chain) and I apologised but he said it was no problem, he was at work and was meant to get his hands dirty!
So now I was cycling along the road towards St Sebastian and Kaltenengers. This road was nice and quiet and led easily to Urmitz, at which point I took a short cut (the main road does two sides of a triangle). After Urmitz there’s a long stretch of road with nothing to see except for this rather unattractive chimney.
Although I saw the cycle path again at Weißenthurm I decided to stay on the road to be safe and whizzed along all the way to Andernach.
I’ve cycled through Andernach several times but always on the cycle path. it turns out there’s a fairly large town lurking behind the path including a lovely pedestrian precinct crammed with shops and some old buildings and an old arch and tower (Runder Turm).
I’d spent a lot more time today looking at the map (after yesterday’s missed opportunities) and realised that after Andernach the cycle path goes the other side of the railway to the river so is therefore away from the flooding zone. So at Andernach I rejoined the path
Which does some complicated manoeuvring to end up under the road (the B9 again).
I’d thought vaguely about stopping for breakfast in Namedy but it didn’t seem to have any shops so I continued on.
After Namedy there was a nice bit of country route with fields all round. I had forgotten how attractive this section of the Rhein route can be!
I was getting close to Bad Breisig which has lots of restaurants/cafés so decided to stop there for breakfast. I rode through Brohl-Lützing and then had to do the fiddly under-the-railway-line underpass which has some rather sharp bends!
I’ve photographed this marker several times as I can never work out what the scale is. At this point I was about 40 miles from Köln and 23 from Koblenz so it just doesn’t add up!
Edit: John Cave who I meet below has contacted me subsequent to his tour to say that this is the distance in Prussian Miles (i.e. 7.5km). Thanks John!
I arrived at Bad Breisig and noticed a Thorn Tandem parked up. I commented to the chap that you don’t see many of those in Germany and he replied that he didn’t speak German – another Englishman. We had a nice chat; he and his group of four in total had ridden from Andermatt (the beginning of the Rhein) and had taken several days in Frankfurt to let the flood waters get out of the way. They were hoping the worst was now over as they had originally planned to camp but had been staying in hotels due to washed-out campsites. Their bikes were as muddy as Alfie!
I have had a mention in their blog too: http://rhine-sourcetosea.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/andernach-to-koln-warm-and-flat.html?m=1
They headed off and I settled down to breakfast – Sachertorte!
The waiter was very chatty and was telling me about Sachertorte (I think he said he was from Austria) and also about the flood waters which a week ago had been up to the bottom of the steps of his restaurant. Everything looked perfectly normal and he said they’d all worked really hard to clean up.
When I headed off I could see the evidence of the clean up – presumably a road sweeper or something has been along and piled the mud up on the right hand side.
There was an unexpected bonus in that this surface is usually pretty bumpy with the gaps between the bricks but as they had all been filled with silt it was all a bit smoother!
After a couple of miles I met this chap who was from Japan (I think) and riding to Budapest. He was asking me about campsites further down the Rhein but unfortunately I couldn’t help him with much info apart from what JenM had told me about flooded campsites.
He said there were problems with the path about 3km further on so I bore that in mind.
I remember this little bridge just after Sinzig.
But round the corner was some rather deep water on the path.
I supposed this was what the Japanese chap had warned me about but I’d have a fair detour to go back and avoid it.
While I was faffing an elderly gentleman arrived behind me on a rickety old bike and set off into the water. If he can do it then so can I, I thought.
I’m writing this so I clearly survived but it turned out to be deeper than I expected and deeper than the water on the way in to Worms. The hubs of my front wheels were underwater and I was once again holding the banana bags up out of the water as much as I could, although they both dragged through the water a bit when I had to steer. I had wet feet and Alfie’s mudguard flaps got a good clean!
There was about 100 metres of water so I was most relieved when I got to the end – where there was a group of four cyclists contemplating going through. I recommended they went on the road at this point (Interestingly, when I got to my hotel this evening everything in the bags was dry – clearly the insulating tape over the holes in the bottom did the trick!)
The people waiting at the flooded bit told me all was fine towards Bonn except a bit muddy so I headed off, enjoying the fact the sun had come out and it was a beautiful day.
This is the apporoach to Remagen – a weird dark stone thing on the far riverbank.
Oh look, there’s one on my side too!
Clearly it used to be a bridge. Wikipedia tells me that the capture of this bridge by American troops was a very important part of World War 2 as it was the only significent bridge still standing over the Rhine from the West into the heartland of Nazi Germany. It collapsed into the Rhine ten days after its capture but by then it had been used to move lots of heavy artillery etc.
I continued on, really enjoying the day and the chance for speed on tthe smooth Radweg. This is the Apollinariskirche,
And across the river from Remagen is Erpel.
Auntie Helen was pleased to see somewhere named Unkel!
More blue skies!
I saw this and thought of my cycling friend Tomsk who runs an Audax (a long-distance cycling event) called the “Asparagus and Strawberries”. It’s not 100 metres though, but 300km. Or is it 400…
I liked this random arch on this building somewhere near Oberwinter.
And a view of a pair of castles across the river – these were at Bad Honnef.
More cycle path.
The castles again.
And again, from a different angle. The lower-down one looked fabulous!
And here is Bad Honnef with tour boat disguised as Moby Dick.
On the approach to Bonn I discovered evidence of German efficiency in the clean-up efforts.
There was still a fair bit of muck by the side of the path though. Sometimes I had to put my right-hand wheel through this if passing some other cyclists so I felt like I was still getting a bit mucky.
I arrived in Bonn having ridden 40 miles and with 25ish to do. It was time for lunch (1:30pm) and so I stopped at a rather posh café as my attention was drawn to its sign for waffles.
I looked out over the river as I had my waffle and cuppa.
It was time to set off again, I wanted to get to Köln before it was too late to give me time to have my customary wander around before dinner.
At Bonn the official cycle route crosses the river to the other side but I wanted to stay on this side (it was a shorter distance, plus I was going to do a short-cut across a meander) but I found the signage rather lacking once the main Rhein route had gone.
I also found a rather dramatic gate blocking the way, even though this was cycle path.
I squeezed by on the right hand side, following in the wheeltracks of hundreds of bikes.
Unfortunately, two miles later I met this obstacle I couldn’t safely negotiate.
This was at Graurheindorf and there were plenty of decent roads so I gave up with the Radweg and became a motorist for a bit!
At Uedorf I rejoined the Radweg although it was quite mucky.
And then at Urfeld I was a bit unsure of where the route was and was concerned about getting stuck somewhere. I decided to take the safe option and use the roads again, which would probably be slightly further but a bit more predictable. I ended up going round the other side of this monstrosity.
I rejoined my old friend the B9 (the road that went to Mainz from Worms), although this time it had a cycle path beside this. A brief look at the map showed me I could follow this road all the way to Köln, missing out the meander at Sürth and Weiß, so I decided to do that.
I liked this unfortunate name in Wesseling – it works in German but sadly not in English!
And I really liked this huge flowerbed outside a rather boring-looking industrial unit in Godorf.
My Garmin was now set to head to my hotel and I only had seven miles to go, hurrah! I sped along the cycle path on the B9, being a bit careful when setting off from stationary as my right knee was slightly complaining if I put a lot of pressure on it. I’m being careful with it this evening and expect it to be back to normal tomorrow.
The last few miles went very quickly and I passed the bridge for the A4 Autobahn.
And look what I could see in the distance – the twin spires of Köln Cathedral!
The route in on the left bank is fully of new, shiny, glass-fronted buildings and posh cafés. There are a few old things though, like this crane with a sign hinting at my weight after eating all those cakes!
I followed the path, knowing where I was going and looking forward to seeing the cathedral up close again. I had decided against going straight to my hotel – I wanted to arrive at the central point in Köln, having left the central point in Koblenz that morning.
This is some of the back of the cathedral.
The front door.
I went up a side street to try to get more of a view!
My hotel was a mile away although there were lots of one-way streets which my Garmin insisted I took the right way (it didn’t realise there were cycle paths both sides) so I probably did a bit extra.
I arrived at the hotel Leonet Novum, having done my longest day of the tour.
My total tour distance is (roughly) 672 miles/1,081 kilometres.
The very helpful receptionist chappie unlocked the luggage storage room and helped me to lift Alfie in (he had to be tipped on his side as the door was too narrow) (Alfie, not the receptionist).
I had been slightly concerned about this hotel as it was ridiculously cheap (33,50€ including breakfast) but it was absolutely fine! The wifi works well, I have my own bathroom and my room is larger than I expected. My window is very high so you can’t really see out of it which probably partly accounts for the price but it doesn’t bother me at all.
I had my shower and washed my clothes. I noticed that the seam on the backside of my favourite lycra shorts seems to be coming apart – oh dear! Too many cakes! Or too much sitting down, perhaps.
I am displaying very effectively the disadvantages of recumbent cycle touring with regard to an even suntan.
I was pretty hungry so headed out early for dinner. I found myself at Rudolfplatz which was clearly a very cool bit of Köln as it was heaving with young people and very vibrant and exciting.
I had a pizza which was very good value too.
I had a little walk around afterwards to get the feel of the place. I’ve always found Köln a bit disappointing, and too full of English people/Americans, but this bit of it was much more appealing (although too noisy and towny for me).
I bought myself a banana from Rewe and couldn’t resist a pastry too for my dessert!
Tomorrow I am finishing my Rhein riding by going to Kempen (which isn’t on the Rhein). What I shall probably do is ridde to Düsseldorf (or Neuss, the other side of the Rhein to Düsseldorf) to ‘join up’ my ride as I started out at Dü a couple of weeks ago. I’ll then head cross country to Kempen which should make it a shorter day at probably under 50 miles. I’ve been invited to go to the choir singing evening in Sankt Hubert again (which I did when I stayed in Kempen in March) which is rather lovely! And then it’ll be riding from Kempen to Venlo on Thursday morning and catching the train back to the Hoek van Holland. The holiday is nearly over!!!