My last blog finished with me wild camping on the banks of the river Main at Great Wallstadt, so that is where I will begin this long blog!.
After a good nights sleep on the riverbank, I set off following the river towards Hanau.
I then passed Offenbach closely followed by Frankfurt.
You can tell the German economy is strong from the amount of new building work going on and this very impressive new 125m tall building under construction.
I originally thought I would arrive in Frankfurt at 3pm ,but as the trip has progressed so has the my strength in my legs so Frankfurt was reached at 11.30 am. I had made a request to a Warmshower host but sadly they were working and unable to offer any accommodation. Now when your cycling alone and your bike is your only mode of transport you take extra care of it, and I decided against heading into the city centre to start looking for alternative accommodation with a safe place to leave “George”.
As time was on my side, I decided to press and leave the city behind me.
Later in the afternoon I came to the junction where the river Main Flows into the Rhine and the with another great sense of achievement I took a picture of the sign which shows Bamburg as 389km adding to that another 160 to Bad Berneck from where my journey down the River Main began making a total of 549 km.
So another tick in the box for one of my planned routes .
My campsite for the night was at Mainz
Another very good site for €8 all in. On the site I met some nice people including Adam from Jersery who was himself taking time out to cycle Europe but covering a lot more countries than me.
I Also met Peter from Denmark who was pitched next to me and having a 3 week tour , having previously completed the entire North Sea coast route.
At this point my original plan was to head towards Metz in France then down to Montpellier , but as ive always stated from the outset, when I felt the time was right to start heading home then I would, and watching the sunset over Mainz the decision was made to head up the Rhine as far as Dusseldorf then cut across towards the south of Holland then back through Holland to Amsterdam for the ferry to Newcastle.
The Rhine was not part of my plan but it made sense to me to follow it for a few hundred Km’s. Still I had not booked the ferry for the return, so decided to press on to see how long it would take me to reach Dusseldorf.
My daily target was approx 100km , and even though i was heading into a headwind i felt amazingly strong. To me the key factor is that im taking time to stop for a good lunch at a cafe or pub/ restaurant along with eating snacks on a more regular basis, basically every hour- two hours. I was going along a good speed of approx 20 -22 km ‘s so Bonn and Koln were reached very quickly. Being honest in my opinion the Rhine is not as nice to cycle as the Main or my favourite so far the River Saale. Its nice but maybe I was spoilt on the previous two rivers!
After 7 weeks cycling so far ive been very lucky and never once felt in danger, and my personal choice not wear my helmet , its being strapped to the bike since arriving in Holland, was nearly a bad move 3 times in one day. I know today is Friday the 13th, but my bad day was Thursday the 12th.
the weather has been very nice for a good five days , but then the rainstorms have appeared again, and event no1 happened near Bonn as I was approaching a couple who had stopped under bridge to shelter from the rain. The lady decided to set of trying to take her jacket off at the same time as cycling and swerved straight across my path forcing me swerve quickly, go onto the road and if a car or something bigger was approaching !!!
She apologised for it but it was a close call.
No2 happend at Koln when a pedestrian, who I had rang my bell for, to warm them I was behind decided to cut across my path , I locked up my brakes and hit her but not at the speed I was travelling a few seconds ago. She knew it was her fault and in good English said “she was sorry and was I alright”!
No3 came soon after and was potentially the worse of all. While going towards the very busy outskirts of Koln down a one way street I was “doored”.
Thats where someone without looking opens the car door ,without looking in the mirror to see if anyone was approaching from behind, I was and as Ive read about the nasty consequences of being “doored” I had left just enough space to at the very last second swerve,sharply left and miss the door but causing the car behind me lock up and also swerve to miss me and her now fully open car door! if the traffic had being coming from the other direction I have no doubt I would not be typing this now!
I gave her a lot of verbal abuse, which Im not proud of but it was in the heat of the moment and after two previous close calls in a few hours I had had enough. She did not understand my choice words but I am pretty certain she got the message!
Now to clear it up, I was not going to fast even though I was pressing on but if I had not being concentrating at the time then all three incidents could have been a lot worse.
The River Mossel also joins the Rhine and one day that is a route i would like to cycle as ive heard some very good reports about it.
My distances the last few days have been 112km ,134km 143 km, and not once at the end of the day have I felt tired only stopping for campsites, and the sun starting to set.
Once I reached Dusseldorf at approximately 7 pm , and now having the “Im ready for home feeling”. I stopped to use my iPhone to go online and book my ticket from Amsterdam to Newcastle for next Tue- 17th July. Again the iPhone has proved fantastic, allowing me to take some great pictures, do my blog, emails and use the sat nav (google maps) when needed.
So with ferry booked and a nice warm temprature of 20′ I made the decison to see how close to Holland I could get before dark. Setting the maps for the shortest route from Dusseldorf to Venlo in Holland I cycled on and stopped for a very nice Takeaway pizza and 1.5 litre bottle of coke at 8.30 pm. Quickly consumed and feeling great on I went and then my phone went to say an email had arrived. It was from Tony the lovely lady I met and stayed with in Vorden. she has been following the blog and as I had not blogged for 4 days she sent me an email to see if I was ok. I told her I was heading up the Rhine and now towards Venlo. A few minutes later I had a second email from Toos , Tony’s Best friend who She cycles with and we met up all those weeks ago in Harlingen . Amazingly she said she only lives 20km from Venlo on the German- Dutch Border and I was welcome to stay with her if I wished.
I had just enough battery power left to send her a quick email reply to say I would see her in the morning as the time was now approaching midnight.
Having made the decision to cycle on in the dark, using my fantastic Petzl headtorch to light the way I arrived at the town of Horst at 12.30 and headed to the town centre as it was now raining very hard. I made the decision to stay in a bus shelter till the early hours of the morning and sat and watched the world go by slowly in the night!
At 5 am a guy came out of his house across the street and asked if I was ok, I explained I was going to a friends at 8.30am but was not exactly sure of where it was. He vanished appearing quickly after with a detailed street map showing me exactly where Toos’ house was! this at 5am !!! again the kindness of strangers amazes me.
So at 8.30 am and after cycling a total distance the previous night of 207 km (129 miles)
I arrived at Toos’ house. Feeling pretty good for having approx 1 hrs sleep!
During the night I added additional layers of clothes to keep me warm and dry from the unrelenting rain, thank goodness for the glass wrap around bus shelter! then called at a local garage at 6 am once open to consume two cups of coffee, and then the bakers for warm croissants before meeting Toos.
we’ve had a second breakfast, Ive had a very nice warm shower, 3 hrs sleep and now while Toos does her job in the Tourist information office Im telling you about my last few days of craziness!
Im staying here until tomorrow morning then starting the ride towards Amsterdam, looking for somewhere to say two nights then the ferry from Ijmuiden back to Newcastle arriving on Wed 18th July.
You will have to put up with a few more blogs as I feel I still have more to add to this crazy adventure , then its decide my future time!.
Thanks for your patience reading this blog . I know its long but so has this adventure, now having covered 3112 km so far ! Just under 2000 miles.