I started mid-morning and in the first two hours made 40km of good progress along fast smooth cycle tracks to the city of Mainz.
I stopped for an amazing 15 euro set lunch at a yacht club on the bank of the Rhine. It was incredible value and one of the best meals of the trip so far.
I was making giood progress, free from the directional issues that had plagued me the previous morning, and set off again at 1.45pm.
However today the issues would all be mechanical.
I couldn’t have been more than 10 mins into the afternoon’s ride when I heard a sickeningly familiar clanking from the rear wheel.
I’d broken another spoke.
At least this time it hadn’t wedged itself in the derailleur, and I was in a city full of bikes and bike shops. The only problem was finding one that could fit me in for an unscheduled repair. It took four attempts, but eventually I found one and got work underway.
It seems there is an underlying radial problem with the wheel, but they hoped that by replacing the spokes immediately either side of the broken one that the repair would hold this time.
We shall see.
So it wasn’t until 3.30pm that the mission for the day could resume, and I set out to complete the further 100km to Koblenz.
The section of the Rhine just beyond Mainz was pretty industrial, but after 15km or so it gave way to open countryside and then beyond Bingen (the end of stage 4) the valley sides steepened and I was into a long section of picture postcard perfect town’s overlooked by castles as the Rhine flowed beneath.
The riding was also pretty good, with smooth surfaces and long sections in shade that enabled me to put in a steady 25kmph average.
With the unscheduled repairs I hadn’t been sure whether I could make it to Koblenz, but arrive I did just before 9pm and checked into my hotel.
I wasn’t sure how I felt about being assigned room 101, but let’s hope it’s not an omen for the rest of the journey.
Time 10hrs 20mins (8hrs 20mins ride time)
Total distance so far, 1172kms
Despite the spoke break I enjoyed the riding that day.
I think I had just got used to it and learnt to take it in my stride.
I also knew that if I pushed myself I could achieve great distances, and decided to press on to Koblenz even when I had plenty of opportunities to stop beforehand.
It was the first evening I noticed the cold, and realised that my sole (no pun intended) set of evening footwear (flip-flops) was not going to be sufficient the further north I went.
I really hadn’t thought this through.
I think the first bit might be a bit hilly
Day 2 – Chur to Rorschach and lunching in Lichtenstein
Day 3 – Rorschach to Shaffhausen and the need for professional help
Day 4 – Schaffausen to Basel and the end of the Swiss section
Day 6 – Strasbourg to Karlsruhe
Day 7 – Karlsruhe to Goddelau and more getting lost
Day 8 – Goddelau to Koblenz on a spoke and a prayer
Day 9 – Koblenz to Cologne, the day I hit the wall
Day 10 – moving North from Cologne
Day 11 – Nijmegen to Gorinchem, clogging it along the dijks
Day 12-13 Gronichem to Hoek van Holland and the end of the Rhine
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