Thursday 30 April 2015
Today’s track was 73km and the forecast was rain for most of the day but after a good breakfast (Klaus seemed to have avoided a post-wine headache) the view outside was rather good – dry!
The landlady had tales to tell about the vines and the special rock of Drachenfels from which the Köln Cathedral and others are built.
Joyce and Simon rolled up at 9:30 and we had a bit of a chat (their hotel had been considerably less salubrious than ours) and Joyce had a look at my cool room. Then it was time to head off, which started almost instantly with a detour as we couldn’t find the way that my Garmin was indicated. Needless to say the Garmin was correct, we were just all a bit dopey first thing in the morning.
After about half an hour it started to rain so we stopped under a bridge to put on waterproofs.
The route was unfamiliar to me but nice. We saw a lot of wildlife such as herons, a stoat, lots of birds of prey and more. I also saw this sign which I initially read as “a kick in the nuts”.
We felt the need for some cake after 30km so deviated from the route in Troisdorf in search of a bakery. We were successful.
The bakery didn’t have a loo so we asked where to find one – in the Rathaus they said, so we pootled off there.
We carried on, pleased that the rain had cleared. We had stopped several times in the morning to put waterproofs on and take them off again – but whenever I took my waterproof trousers off it started to rain. So there was much comment about paying me to keep my trousers on. I can see the wisdom of this!!!
We happened upon a concrete bowl which was clearly ideal for cycling.
I had wanted to have a go on Alfie but the chaps thought it a bit dangerous for me.
I had prepared Alfie by removing his panniers and in due course Simon was persuaded to attempt it.
He then attempted to ride up the side to where we were standing.
Klaus the Cormorant gave him a boost in the end.
Here is the track on my Garmin Oregon.
There was also a swing in the playground area so Joyce had a go on that.
After this faffing we continued on towards Köln, seeing dark clouds amassing before us.
We would be on the other side of the river to Köln, the Deutz side, but it was good to get a different view of this city. Including sheep grazing by the Rhine.
As we reached the centre of Köln-Deutz the rain came down really heavily and we were soon soaked. It made it a bit tricky to read the Garmin screen at times and the navigation was tricky but eventually we escaped and found a pizzeria for some lunch. We were dripping wet.
We had only 19km to go but the rain was uninviting. Nevertheless we sorted ourselves out and headed off, stopping after a few hundred metres to repair a puncture in Joyce’s front right tyre.
The route took us through Leverkusen which has a large pedestrianised centre which reminded me somehow of Basildon. I spotted this interesting inscription on a building.
The rain had eased off as we rode the last five miles to Hitdorf where our guest house for the evening was situated. It had fantastic wisteria outside!
And the owners kept lots of different birds – including two albino peacocks!
Joyce had got a second puncture in the same tyre over the last few kilometres but rode on – we wanted to get to the hotel and shower etc. She will fix it in the morning.
We went out for an Italian in the evening (it was the closest restaurant we could find) but were all pretty full so we left a fair bit of our main courses. We had had to put on our still-wet coats to walk to the restaurant so got a bit chilled – it was good to get back to the hotel.
Today we did 77km, tomorrow we wiill do a similar amount riding first to Viersen (to drop Klaus off and to eat with his family) and then back to Kempen. The tour is almost at an end which is really sad – I would happily have continued another week or two! But I think my clothes will appreciate a date with the washing machine…