Category Archives: Cycle Tours

New post on auntiehelen.co.uk

Hi all,

This is just a note for those who subscribe to this blog for information when I make new posts – the blog has now moved! I have bought a new domain, http://www.auntiehelen.co.uk, and all new posts will be made only on there (this blog will remain here as a reference).

If you’d like to follow my new blog, please do so!

And today’s new post is: http://www.auntiehelen.co.uk/new-touring-luggage-radical-banana-bags/

Thanks!

Auntie Helen

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Filed under Cycle Tours, Cycling

Koblenz – a boat trip to Boppard

No cycling this morning, instead we took a boat trip from Koblenz to Boppard and back.

First of all, though, we had to walk to Deutsches Eck. The long route involves going over the Balduinbrücke (bridge) but there’s a shorter option via  little passenger ferry, which James and I and Poppy took. 1€ each for James and I, 50 cents for Poppy.

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Once on the other side we watched the ferry return to the north side of the Mosel where it was picking up the in-laws shortly.

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Here is the ferry with M-i-L in white cap and F-i-L to her right. In the background you can see the very complicated boat-launching tracks.

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Heading up the steps to the Deutsches Eck monument.

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Dog and human in the middle window of the three tall ones!

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And then we walked along from Deutsches Eck to find our ship for the day.

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A bit of info on the bridge just down from the boat’s mooring. One we destroyed in WW2.

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Poppy enjoying the vantage point

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With a convenient headrest

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This is the point of land that Helen got ‘stuck’ on her first long ride.

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More dozing dog

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Approaching one of the bridges – there are two that cross the Rhein here and none southwards for a long way (past Bingen/Rüdesheim); you have to use ferries after this point.

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Looking up to the cycle path on the railway bridge – complete with holes!

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This tour guide told us that this building contains 15 million litres of beer!

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Dog on a different, comfy lap. You can see from the blue square with the flashing light on the left hand side of this picture that our boat was on the wrong side of the river! They use this system to show that they are driving on the left, not right, because of turning/current issues.

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This is the cafe we had stopped at the day before.

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This is where the Lahn flows into the Rhein. A fairly nondescript junction for a rather pretty river. Burg Lahneck in the distance.

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Schloss Stolzenfels – impressive!

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An attractive church at Braubach (I think!)

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Marksburg Castle at Braubach.

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Vineyards between Spey and Boppard, called the Bopparder Hamm.

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Boppard landing stages – the ship stopped for just a couple of minutes.

 

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We had got a bit chilly on the journey so decided to enjoy the return trip (which was half the time as it was going downstream) downstairs with some food and beer/wine.

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James the sailor was very impressed by this rope repair – a huge, thick rope repaired by a very thin piece.

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The boat on our return.

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This sculpture / fountain in one of the main squares of Koblenz depicts the history of the city in layers.

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Rude spitting-boy fountain! We hoped to trick Poppy into getting wet (whilst I stayed out of the fountain aim) but she wasn’t in the right place when he did his spitting act!

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James and Poppy outside the bike shop where we purchased a back tyre for the trike and some waterproof SPD shoes for James.

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Our goodies from the bike shop!

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A restorative cake each.

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We got back at 5pm and Poppy had been awake the entire day, which is exceptionally unusual (she spends a lot of the day asleep). In consequence she was absolutely shattered and jumped straight into her basket for a snooze.

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Whilst we went downstairs and fitted the shiny new back tyre to the trike. The bumpy wheel bumps no longer!

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We obviously had to go for a ride to test this out so James and I headed northwards towards Sankt Sebastian (where we bumped into the in-laws coming back – they’d been for a ride whilst we fitted the tyre) and then we came back inland which involved cycling past some nice fields which eventually turned into cycling through an industrial estate (less nice) which had a whole row of caravans parked beside the road which we soon realised were a troupe of travelling prostitutes. It’s surprising what you find on bike rides!

Once we got back Alfie was disassembled (seat and both front wheels removed which also involves removing the disk calipers) and put in the car ready for the full packing job tomorrow morning as we return home from Koblenz. It’s been a great holiday with lots of good cycle rides and I can certainly recommend the Lahntal route for a very enjoyable and picturesque (and downhill!) route!

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Filed under Cycle Tours, Cycling, Germany, Koblenz 2012

Koblenz – Nassau and the Lahn River

James and I decided to do a train-assisted cycle ride today to have a bit of variety and go a bit further. Having enjoyed our brief look up the Lahn river the other day we decided to take ourselves by train a fair way up the river and ride back. I looked at the map and saw Bad Ems was a possible destination but when I saw that a town 10km further up was called Nassau I thought it worth going there – I doubt I shall ever be taken to the Bahamas!

So we checked the train timetables and cycled to Koblenz Hauptbahnhof to catch our train.

We had two train options per hour, within five minutes of each other. The five-past-the-hour train was the fast train at 22 minutes to Nassau but was the sort of train that can sometimes have narrow doors. The next train was a local train which would take 33 minutes for the trip but would probably have wider doors.

So we stood on the platform for the first train and indeed it had narrow doors, so we walked a short distance to the other platform and hopped on the Vectis train. The conductor appeared and asked me to fold my trike as there would be other bikes getting on but I stowed it unfolded and there was plenty of room.

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The train wound its way up the Lahn valley and we caught occasional glimpses of the cycle path, as well as some of the villages we would be passing back through. In due course we arrived at Nassau.

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This is our train disappearing into the distance.

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Oh look, another castle!

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The scenery in this narrow valley was very attractive and the weather was much better than the forecast. We were expecting rain but we had a largely blue sky, although it was pretty windy (the wind whistles up the valley, I think).

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The cycle path was of very good quality and we didn’t see very many other cyclists, although we were overtaken by a woman on an ancient folder shopper bike, which was a bit embarrassing. We also saw a pair of recumbent tricyclists; the second trike was a Trice T, but the owners didn’t stop to talk to me which was a surprise (I had stopped to say hello to them).

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Here I am pootling along. The great thing about going down a fairly steep river valley is that you get a lot of downhills!

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The first village we came to after Nassau was Dausenau which had a rather impressive hydroelectric plant.

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Here is James demonstrating where the stick man in the plaque above was indicating (Ihr Standort)

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The noise from this rushing water was incredibly loud

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Looking up thee valley from the sluice – still, calm waters…

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A raging torrent below the sluice

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Here is James using the kindly-provided vantage point to get a good view of everything.

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We soon arrived in Bad Ems which was a lovely spa town, somewhere it would be good to visit again when we had more time. There was a wide bridge just for pedestrians/bicycles.

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We locked our bikes up to the railings alongside the river. This is probably not allowed as it looks messy but no-one told us off!

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The sun shining on this minaret was wonderful.

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My lunch – a pancake with fruit and cream

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James said he fancied a Wurst. It wasn’t on the menu at all but the chap happily provided Wurst with Brot at our request and only charged 2 Euros 50 for it.

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After our lunch we headed off through the main spa bit of Bad Ems and almost immediately came across a reminder of home!

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This sticker on the phone box explains it. “This telephone box is a gift from the English twin town Droitwich Spa to the community of Bad Ems at the founding of the partnership on 23 October 1983.”

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And inside was a functional phone – although a Deutsche Telekom one, not BT.

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A warning not to post letters in this letterbox but to use one round the corner for your post!

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We continued on, approaching the minaret we had seen which turned out to be a beautiful church.

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This fountain was in the middle of the river in front of the church.

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We continued on out of Bad Ems and saw lots of new building around the town, including these flats that looked like flights of stairs!

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Here the sailor finds a boat – one that’s not sailing anywhere in the near future – not with metal sails anyway!

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A bit further down the river we came across an old hut where there was a lock (at Friedrichssegen) which seemed to be of some historical significance – they had painted a mural of it on another building.

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This is looking back at the tranquil scene.

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We really liked the play of sunlight on the water and stopped to take a photo – during which a cloud of dust from the nearby cement works drifted across the river like a mist.

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More Lahntal scenery.

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Looking ahead to the next meander.

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This is the view from Friedland across to the monastery at Allerheiligen Berg.

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More river.

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Burg Lahneck.

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A view of the Fernmeldeturm on the Kühkopf (cool name!) hill.

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We didn’t spot this ship appearing out of a garage the last time we cycled through Lahnstein!

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Burg Lahneck in the late afternoon sunshine.

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We turned the corner onto the Rhein again and started our ride back to Koblenz. The light was a bit better for photographs but we still struggled to get a decent picture of Schloss Stolzenfels.

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So we consoled ourselves with some coffee and cake after stopping at the Rheinterasse.

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I had an apple and almond Streusel.

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James had an apple lattice pie thing.

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Another view of the aerial with the Koblenzer brewery below it.

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A signpost along the way – we had come from Bad Ems/Lahnstein and were on our way to KO-Zentrum and Pfaffendorf.

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Here am I in Pfaffendorf.

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With those annoying steps again!

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Still, I made it to the top!
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Looking down the Rhein towards Lahnstein.

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We stopped off at the supermarket on the way home as we’d run out of cereal and some other supplies. The rack on Alfie is eminently suitable for cornflakes!

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It became apparent during today’s ride that the bumping of my back wheel had got worse. James noticed just before we reached our apartment that there is now a visible bulge in the tyre. Further investigations show that the problem with my trike is the tyre rather than the rim so that’s good news (I have a replacement tyre at home and it was due a change anyway), but it looks like I ought not to ride tomorrow in case it goes pop!

Statistics For Today:
Distance travelled: 23.18 miles
Moving time: 2 hours 51 minutes
Average speed: 8.1mph
Maximum speed: 21.8mph

It is worth noting that we left the apartment at 10:20am and by 2:30pm had covered 14 miles by bike. That’s my kind of cycle ride – loads of stops for photographs, to examine scenery, eat cakes and more!

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Filed under Cycle Tours, Cycling, Germany, Koblenz 2012

Koblenz – to Winningen and back by bike

Today was another two-cycle-ride day.

The first ride was a short one to the centre of Koblenz to take the dog to the vet for her worm treatment as part of the Pet Passport scheme. It was a nice morning and we got lots of amused looks from people as a dog went past in a basket on the back of a recumbent tricycle.

Poppy was very good at the vet but decided not to want to swallow the bitter pill and in the end managed to persuade the vet to give her a small bowl of duck-flavoured dog food into which was mixed the worming tablet. She ate that up very readily!

We rode back with Poppy still singing occcasionally (she whines and moans, probably through excitement as she loves going on the bike) and she had a few chances to run around loose and paddle in the Rhein.

After we returned, Poppy flaked out on the bed.
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It looked like she would sleep for the rest of the day so we decided to go out on the bikes with Jenny & Peter to travel a bit further afield.

My in-laws haven’t really cycled much in decades and so this Koblenz trip was partly an opportunity for them to get some practice on bikes on the safe and quiet cycle routes. We’ve done a few different rides and so they thought today they might like to go further afield (now we have found a more suitable saddle for my mother-in-law) and so I suggested Winningen down the Mosel, a lovely village that I have been through several times before. It was about eight miles away so that seemed just right.

We set off on the cycle path as usual towards Deutsches Eck.

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We stayed on the north side of the Mosel and headed west, stopping for a good half hour at the lock to watch a huge barge go through it. There was only a metre or so space at either end of the barge in this colossal lock!

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The Germans have conveniently stationed a pedestrian bridge over the lock so you can watch all the goings-on from a decent vantage point. I went up for a look and got chatting to a nun who asked me about my trike, about where I was going etc etc, and we spoke for about five minutes. Eventually she and her companion headed off.

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This pic is looking back at the main lock control tower with James, Jenny and Peter peering over the fence.

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We continued on, this time passing under the Kurt Schumacher Brücke which last time we took to cross the Mosel.

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Within a couple of miles of Koblenz the vineyards started.

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And soon enough we were cycling through vineyards. James tried a grape – he said it was very sharp!

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I am always fascinated by these wonderful miniature funicular railways that go up the steep vineyards.

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We followed our noses alongside the Mosel when cycling through Güls and realised later that we had diverted from the official Mosel Radweg route which goes a bit inland at this point. We cycled through a green park area and then found ourselves alongside a reasonably busy road. We found a cut-through across the road and under the railway and joined up with the official route before long, which was as lovely as I remembered.

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I was getting pretty hungry by the time we reached Winningen but it has lots of restaurants and cafés and we soon found a spare table and sat down to eat.

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The others all ordered a Flammkuchen which is a local speciality, a kind of very thin pizza with no tomato. They enjoyed theirs very much. I had a ham and egg and bread and potato platter thingie which was very tasty.

By the time we had finished most of the other cyclists had headed off (it was 2:30pm).

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We headed back the same way, this time sticking to the official Radweg route the whole way which was a bit more picturesque.
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More pics of the funicular railways.

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When we got to Güls, three miles from Winningen, we decided it was time for some cake. Fortunately we located a bakery straight away!

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This was my choice – a traditional black forest gateau slice!

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It was pretty difficult to choose, though – look at the options!

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We really enjoyed our cakes which are all handmade at a bakery in Koblenz (so said the lady serving us).

The day was getting cooler and cloudier so we set off back towards Koblenz, passing this rather interesting car in Metternich:

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The Olympics have clearly made it to Koblenz!

We trundled back happily to our apartment where we were welcomed by Poppy who had, presumably, been asleep the whole time we were out.

Statistics for today:

Morning ride: 7 miles

Afternoon ride: 16.7 miles
Average speed: 7.1mph
Maximum speed: 24.2mph
Time taken: 2 hours 21 minutes

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Filed under Cycle Tours, Cycling, Germany, Koblenz 2012

Koblenz – Lahnstein and Castles

Today I have done two cycle rides.

The first, in the morning, was a repeat of yesterday morning’s Mosel trip, but this time with husband, in-laws and dog in tow.

We had a very nice time and had lots of comments from people about Poppy in the bike basket. She had a bit of a swim in the Mosel.

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James won lots of brownie points with Poppy for playing Stick Fetch
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We sat on a bench near the hydroelectric lock on the Mosel near Koblenz and had various passers-by chat to us
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On the way back we stopped at Netto for some groceries and Poppy was banished from the bike basket so that we could fill it with shopping. She ran alongside me on the cycle path back to the accommodation.

That ride was 8.5 miles (at 5.9mph average) and helped us work up an appetite for lunch.

In the afternoon James and I decided to go for a bit of a ride together. The strange thing about Koblenz is that although it’s an interesting place with various rivers joining it, there aren’t actually that many different cycle routes you can do from here. We had a bit of a look at the map and decided to ride down to Lahnstein which is where the river Lahn joins the Rhein just a few miles south of Koblenz.

We headed off on the now-very-familiar route to Deutsches Eck and then south from there on the same route I took yesterday, crossing the Rhein via two bridges – the first to a little island full of VERY posh houses, and then across on a path beside the railway bridge which goes over the main part of the Rhein.

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The cycle path is nearest to you on the picture and, as you can see, the trains are VERY close. A huge freight train came past just after we had crossed the bridge. I was relieved that we were back on terra firma before it went past but I think James was a bit disappointed – I think he was hoping to see how much the bridge bends!

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It’s better to cross the bridge first before looking too closely at it – the cycle path bit doesn’t seem held on by much!

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Looking back at the bridge – the road bridge is right beside it.

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And looking southwards – this beautifully colourful wall.
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After crossing the Rhein we were in Horchheim which seemed to have a good selection of restaurants and cafés. We pressed on by bike, following the cycle path right alongside the Rhein. We went past Niederlahnstein and then the river curved a little and we caught our first glimpse of Schloss Stolzenfels (which just happens to be the name of our apartment).
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And here am I enjoying the sunshine.

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Here is a close-up of the Schloss with some friendly geese.

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Right around the corner from here was the river Lahn and the main part of the town of Lahnstein. James and I faffed around a bit crossing the river and trying to see if we could cycle up one side and down the other but weren’t sure where the nearest bridge that we could use was, so in the end we cycled up the north bank of the Lahn which had a very decent path.

There were some adverts for a bar called Shark (Haifisch) and outside this bar was a pirate boat.

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Lahnstein has, of course, its own casle – Burg Lahneck.

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Here is James pontificating upon the road bridge. We concluded that we wouldn’t be able to cross on this one as we couldn’t see any sign of a path on our maps.

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And here is a closer view of Burg Lahneck. The Germans were very good at castle-building!

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We cycled up alongside the Lahn to the lock at Friedland (they named doorbells after it!)

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The scenery was different from alongside the Rhein with far more trees and everything much narrower.

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We saw what we think is a Prout catamaran moored in the marina up the Lahn river.

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We weren’t sure how far up to cycle and in the end turned round when we reached 10 miles cycled. This is heading back towards Koblenz – anyone familiar with the area will recognise this radio antenna.

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When visiting the Rhein or other rivers you are often reminded how often they flood (and presumably why they are spending a fortune doing flood defences in front of our apartment). This building has high-water marks almost twice as high as James!

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The inscription tells you that Goethe stopped there for lunch once.

And this is a pretty old customs building!

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We passed this mural and Neptune did rather remind us of Wowbagger. And, rather topically, the mermaid looked a bit like Kate Middleton.

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Here am I posing in front of the mural.

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A little further on we saw another mural by the same artist. This interesting building, with its artwork, was the local public toilets!

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Lahnstein turned out to be a very nice place to visit and eventually we headed back up the Rhein, retracing our previous route. We decided to cross the Rhein back to Koblenz on a different bridge so cycled further up the east bank, this time to Pfaffendorf. The bridge crossing was very wide and easy to find.

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When up on the bridge we had a lovely view of Ehrenbreitstein glowing in the afternoon sunlight.

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When we came off the bridge we somehow missed a cycle path sign and found ourselves riding the wrong way down a slip road. Fortunately there was no traffic so I survived!

We routed ourselves back via Deutsches Eck and who should we bump into there but my in-laws who had walked to the foot ferry and taken that across. We cycled back and they headed back by boat – but we got home first!

Didn’t actually have any cakes on this trip but I have an Apfeltasche to eat as my dessert this evening!

Statistics for today
Total cycled: 27+ miles
Afternoon cycle ride:
total distance: 19.07 miles
Average speed: 8.5mph
Maximum speed: 18.6mph
Total time: 2 hours 14 minutes

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Filed under Cycle Tours, Cycling, Germany, Koblenz 2012

Koblenz – four bridges over the Mosel and Rhein

I am currently in Germany with my trike again!

In fact, this holiday (with husband, dog and in-laws) isn’t particularly a cycling holiday, more of a holiday that might involve some cycling. And has indeed already involved some cycling.

It was an interesting challenge getting four adults, their luggage, one dog, her luggage and one recumbent trike in my car, but we managed it (with a roofbox).

There wasn’t room for Poppy the dog in the boot during the journey so she got to travel on the passenger’s lap!

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We are staying in a Ferienwohnung (holiday apartment) just outside Koblenz in the area of Neuendorf which is north of Koblenz, across the Mosel river. It’s somewhere I’ve cycled past many times on my previous tours and the Wohnung lies directly facing the Rhein river with just a strip of grass and the cycle track between the apartment and the river. Except they are currently building some flood defences (18 ft deep!) which means that there are building works out the front. We are very near a crossing point over to the grassy area, though, so it’s not a problem.

Our accommodation also includes free bicycle hire and so James, Jenny (mother in law) and Peter (father in law) have some German bikes of varying quality. Jenny has done barely any riding for decades so yesterday we had a gentle pootle out to Deutsches Eck, three miles away, to get the hang of it.

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Here are Jenny and Peter in front of Kaiser Wilhelm II

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And here is James pontificating upon the Rhine.

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After all that energy expenditure we needed to stop for an ice cream and crepes.

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Then on the way home we stopped off at the supermarket and bought a few odds and ends, variously distributed amongst the bike rack carriers and my sidepods on my trike.

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Today (Sunday 16 September) I decided to make the most of the good weather forecast and go out for a bit of a ride on my own. I had downloaded a couple of possible routes onto my Garmin and set off, deciding to do a bit of the Mosel river and then the other side of the Rhein.

I headed off at 9:30am on Alfie towards a rather misty Koblenz. This is a now-familiar route as I’ve ridden it four or five times already this holiday. It’s a bit more complicated than normal due to the flood defences building work which means they have rerouted the cycle path but we have managed to find a suitable alternative!

I joined the Mosel cycle route and headed off south-west. I came across the first (or last, I suppose) lock on the Mosel with one of the huge KD tour boats in it.

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I stopped to dip my toe in the Mosel before beating a retreat as a swan headed purposely towards me.

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I carried on around the bend in the Mosel before arriving at the Kurt Schumacher Brücke at Metternich where I crossed over. This is the view from the bridge.

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I then wound my way up the other side of the Mosel towards the centre of Koblenz. I’ve done this particular bit of cycle path many times previously, including two years ago with James and the Wowbaggers, where we stopped at a rather unusual café for food. I saw the café again this time but as I’d only done a few miles I carried on.

Once again I reached Deutsches Eck, this time carrying straight on round going south along the Rhein and passing under the new cablecar from Koblenz which goes up to Ehrenbreitstein fortress.

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I then continued on the familiar route but this time enjoying the fact that the riverfront area refurbishment has been completed and it’s all lovely smooth asphalt. As it was a Sunday there were loads of people around walking, cycling or just faffing.

The Rhein route crosses a small bridge (bridge number 2 on this journey) to the spit of land Oberwerth which has lots of very posh houses on it. Then I carried on a short distance before reaching the Horchheimer Brücke (railway bridge) which crosses over the Rhein with the road bridge beside it but separated by just a few dozen metres. This is looking north towards Koblenz and Ehrenbreitstein fortress, the golden coloured huge fort on the mountain on the right.

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I was now in new territory, having not cycled this particular bit of the Rhein before.

I headed northwards again with a vague plan to ride until the next bridge, then cross back to the west bank of the Rhein. I knew there were a couple of bridges not too far away so this should work OK.

It was great to get a view of the newly-completed Koblenz waterfront from the other side of the river.

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In fact, I was enjoying riding along so much that I wasn’t quite paying attention to the Garmin and the signage. Fortunately I was looking vaguely where I was going and managed to stop before disappearing into the drink at the end of this spit of land.

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I had failed to notice the signage for the cycle route as there’s a mini marina here. So after getting a good look at the scenery I turned round and went back to the cycle path.

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Here is a very traditional Rhein view – a huge barge with some nice buildings in the background!

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It’s not so surprising that I missed the turn-off of the cycle route and ended up on the spit of land. This is where I had to go to follow the Radweg!
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It wasn’t too bad in the end as this is actully recumbent-friendly. I pushed the trike up before me, walking up the steps in the middle with the front wheels either side.

In a few minutes I was once again opposite Deutsches Eck. There have been lots of photos of this bit of land as I have now seen it from all three sides of the Rhein/Mosel confluence.
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And just a bit further along I was opposite the Ferienwohnung where we are staying, it’s in the middle group of houses in this photo.
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This is looking back at the cable cars over the Rhein.

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This is looking ahead up the Rhein past the apartment and church – what a beautiful day!

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This bit of cycle path was really nice, right next to the river with the railway and then the road squeezed in before the steep hills. The route was rolling in places but good fun.

Soon it turned inland, passing under the railway line, as I wended my way through the town of Vallendar which seemed very well supplied with supermarkets (all shut as it is Sunday). This was mostly cycling along the main road which was fine on a Sunday but which could have been a bit traffic-heavy on a weekday; the Rhine route this side of the river isn’t generally recommended by the books and I guess this is why.

The route headed towards Bendorf from Vallendar and I knew that this was where the bridge crossing the river was. It’s sometimes difficult to find how to get up onto the bridges (which are very elevated and the road often starts quite a long way back from the riverside) so I wasn’t too surprised when the route started doing odd things, heading up steep slopes and away from the river. The bridge is also the road bridge for the A48/E44 motorway (there is a cycle path alongside it) so I knew it might be a bit awkward to get there. Looking at the map now it’s clear that the route had to wend its way around, underneath and alongside various motorway slip roads, but eventually I arrived at the bottom of the ramp up to join this bridge cycle path. It looked like this.
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Oh dear, that clearly wasn’t going to work!

I had a good look at my Garmin and there wasn’t an alternative way onto the bridge and I didn’t think it was safe to try to get round the closed road – not to mention the thought of carrying Alfie up all those steps. So it was on to the next bridge at Engers which I knew was about another 4km. Which isn’t far, but I was hungry and wanted my lunch which was back at the apartment with the others (who had texted me to say they were on their way back and would be home shortly).

I had no alternative but to carry on so I pedalled on, bypassing a huge factory area and going inland from the river to do it. The route quality was reasonable and I was making a better average speed than before but it was still pretty slow compared to my usual speed.

In Mülhofen the route turned back towards the river and I rode alongside it, enjoying the scenery, for another mile or so before I saw the bridge in the distance. It was a rather spindly-looking railway bridge with some weird towers at either end.

I had to do some weird routing to get up to the height of this bridge but the signage was good, fortunately (it said Koblenz and Andernach, both of which were on the west side of the river so I knew the signs were right).

I headed up onto the bridge and discovered it was rather narrow. No problem, it’s unlikely to change width as you go along.

But then as I got to the first tower/turret thingie I discovered it had an S-bend in it.
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I had to get off the trike to negotiate this!

The bridge continued very narrow and with a wooden slatted base through which I could see the river. I made sure my phone was safely stowed in my sidepods with the zips shut as I didn’t want to lose that in the drink!

The view whilst crossing was lovely – see the fishermen standing in the river.

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You can see from this picture how narrow the bridge was – this cyclist was following me but I did have to backtrack earlier when I saw a cyclist coming towards me; I went back to the turret and he was able to squeeze by. Fortunately I didn’t meet anyone else when crossing.
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When I got to the turret on the other side a slightly shady-looking character starting chatting to me, asking me how much my trike cost (I was wheeling it at this point as it was another of those S-bends that I couldn’t ride though). I hedged a bit and got back on the bike before saying that this trike wasn’t new and that they varied in prices. He was probably fine but I thought it best not to tell him how expensive they are in case he fancied helping himself to my trike!

I was now on the correct side of the river and at Kaltenengers. I’ve cycled this bit of the Rhein several times before so it was surprisingly familiar. I zoomed along at a pretty good pace and increased my average speed fairly well.

From Kaltenengers I made my way to Sankt Sebastian (where the others had cycled to today on their shorter journey) and then continued south round the container port and then I took the direct road (rather than the cycle path) to Neuendorf.

I got back whilst the others were still eating their lunch so I made better time than I had thought when first coming across the closed bridge.

The afternoon involved some bike fettling. James sorted out the gears on one of the hire bikes (and did a few bits to the other two) and I started trying to discover why the rear wheel of my trike has a slight bump when I cycle. I noticed it on some of the very smooth paths, as if I had a bit of something stuck to the tyre, but the tyre was fine. I couldn’t see anything wrong and all the spokes looked OK so in the end I decided to deflate the tyre, re-seat it and reinflate it and hopefully that might have fixed it (if the tube was slightly weird due to a pothole or something). I shall find out tomorrow!

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I did take the opportunity to give Alfie a good clean!
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No cakes were consumed today (shock horror!) but I did manage a rather nice dessert after my evening meal.

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Distance travelled: 27.46 miles
Time taken: 2 hours 46 minutes
Average speed: 9.9mph
Maximum speed: 25.4mph

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Filed under Cycle Tours, Cycling, Germany, Koblenz 2012

B2L – Great Bromley to London (Day 17)

The Final Day!

So the final day dawned, my ride into London. This was the day that I had been least looking forward to (in fact, the only day I wasn’t looking forward to) in that riding in London is not something I particularly enjoy. Wonderful as recumbent tricycles are, they aren’t really suited to London traffic and drivers.

Still, there was plenty to look forward to today apart from this. The chance to tour the Colchester Personnel Recovery Centre, riding with some friends through Essex, the chance to finish this task I had set myself, more sponsorship being raised. So I was keen to get going!

Arrangements had been made for me to have a quick tour of the Colchester PRC at 9am and so James and I set out from home fairly early (8am) to cycle the six miles and then give ourselves plenty of time to find out where we should check in, in case we couldn’t find it (not having been to the barracks before). Fortunately Steve Schollar, the Help For Heroes Centre Manager, was waiting for us in the car park even though we were 25 minutes early. After checking in and getting our security passes we headed off on what must be the smoothest roads in Colchester across the new barracks to the PRC which is on the south end. This included going over the bridge across Berechurch Hall Road which I have only ever cycled under previously – and the road under it is one of the most potholey and bumpy roads in Colchester. What a contrast!

We arrived at the centre and were greeted by several people who made us a cup of tea and had a good chat about my tour and the PRC and more. After we had finished our cups of tea we were shown around what is clearly an excellent new facility. It was really good to see the quality of everything there and also how many wonderful outside seating areas there are to relax and recuperate and have time to think. We had the workings of the PRC explained to us – it all looks very positive. What I hadn’t realised is that it isn’t just for those wounded by IEDs but is also for military personnel who may have MS, for example, or other issues.

After we’d had a bit of a look around we took some photographs outside with the brand new name plaque for the building.

And here is a picture with James and with Steve the H4H Centre Manager:

Our visit actually lasted almost an hour and a half and culminated with the bravest of the centre staff having a go on Alfie – he went pretty quickly! We were very grateful people had given up their Sunday morning to show us around and to give us such personal attention!

Then James and I were let out of the pedestrian gate which opens at the Corporal Budd VC Gymnasium where our friend Mark was waiting for us. Some others who had planned to cycle with us to London had decided it was wisest not to due to the engineering works on the trains – they wouldn’t have been able to get home afterwards!

The plan was for Mark, James and I to cycle to Maldon where we would meet Martin (another cyclist friend) and at this point James would turn round and cycle home so that he would be available to collect Mark and I in the car at the end of the ride.

We were lucky with the weather as it was a bright morning without too many clouds although it wasn’t as warm as it looked. James, Mark and I made reasonable progress to Maldon although the strong headwind (which was with us the whole way to London!) was a bit of a pain.

We met Martin at Maldon Tesco’s where I took the opportunity to buy a cup of tea and shared round some of the fantastic fruit cake my next-door neighbour had made for me yesterday. We then waved goodbye to James who was taking a more scenic route home (we had come the most direct route which had a fair bit of traffic for a Sunday morning).

We headed off up the awful hill to the centre of Maldon for which I had to use my granny ring. We then headed off through Hazeleigh and then Bicknacre. We had various text messages from Wowbagger whom we were planning to meet along the way. He, Jane and Delthebike had met each other at Shenfield and then cycled to a tea room. My little cycling party was a bit later than expected (due to us spending longer at the PRC than we had planned) and so they cycled towards us to meet us. We all met in the village of East Hanningfield and Del was ready with his camera:

And another Del took of me pulling a silly face:

We had a quick chat with Del (who had to ride home again) and then the group of five (me, Jane, Wowbagger, Mark and Martin) headed off towards the Ingatestone Garden Centre for a spot of lunch.

Wowbagger and I had eaten here before – tea and cake sort of food – but it was heaving with people when we got there, they’d run out of lots of options for lunch, and it also seemed rather dramatically overpriced this time. However we were hungry (as it was 2:00pm) and so decided to eat there. As we arrived we saw Jurek, another cycling chum, awaiting us – he had ridden over from London to come back with us. He and Mark also shop at the same bike clothing store (Aldi!)

Lunch took about an hour so our schedule had slipped even more. I had originally said to various people that I expected to be into London at 5pm but had now revised this to 6pm and Jurek was concerned about how slow the last fifteen miles would be as it’s busy in East London on Sunday evenings. Still, there wasn’t much we could do about that and we headed off, keeping a respectable pace (for me, at least) for a lot of the riding. It was a bit up and down in places, we went through Shenfield/Brentwood and then crossed the M25. Now we felt like we were approaching London! We headed through Gidea Park

At one point I started to go round a mini roundabout the wrong way (my brain was still on cycling on the right!) but fortunately realised pretty quickly and swerved back to the correct side, which provided a laugh for my companions.

The scenery was rather different than my route out of Berlin!

As we approached Chadwell Heath a loo stop was requested. We fetched up at the Goodmayes Tesco and various people went off to find the loo (which ended up a bit of an experience in itself for them!). I took the opportunity to take some photographs as I realised I hadn’t been doing much of this – I was concentrating too much on trying to cycle as fast as I could!

We had a very interesting collection of bikes on this ride including 3 lovely Titanium ones.

After the loo stop we headed off into London proper. This was for me a rather unpicturesque bit of my entire tour and although there were interesting sights there were some very dodgy motorists. Jurek did an absolutely fabulous job of ride leader – I followed his back wheel closely and he led me through all the lane changes, round the dodgy potholes and more. Jane sat on my right shoulder shielding me from the worst of the traffic. They were both quite brilliant!

This was my view for a lot of the ride – concrete, cars and Jurek trailblazing

Then we found ourselves on one of Boris’s new Cycling Superhighways. I liked the blue paint as it made the ride smoother but was told by the upright cyclists that it could be very slippery in the rain. We didn’t stick to the blue paint by any means as sometimes it made you do dangerous manoeuvres.

In a stretch of about two miles Jane was nearly sideswiped by a car (she saw the lady driver was texting at the time), then someone nearly squashed Jurek (fortunately he saw it coming and swerved out of the way) and finally a car tried to muscle past me in a pinch point and I had to slam my brakes on to avoid being hit by it. Not fun, and a reminder of why I don’t like riding in London! On the other hand, lots of passers by seemed amused by this little group of cyclists and a few people waved at me and shouted encouraging (I choose to believe they were encouraging anyway!) comments.

Martin came to the front for a little while as we were heading through Whitechapel (I saw the bell foundry as we waited at yet another set of traffic lights) and so I was following Jurek and him. I was watching the “miles to destination” count down from 15 to 12 to 10… it seemed to be going slowly because of the traffic lights although we were actually riding fairly fast (for me). Then finally we got some views of central London landmarks.

Sorry that pic is appallingly dark – I had very little time for photography whilst whizzing along at 15 miles an hour through glass-littered streets!

We arrived at Stratford and then the roads opened out a bit and felt easier. Jurek had originally decided we would go over a flyover (not sure which one – I was just following him without paying much attention to where I was!) but the wind was so strong he decided against it in the end and we went round the roundabout – unscathed, fortunately.

I was moaning to Jurek and Jane how little I liked riding in London and Jane said she enjoyed it – she’s made of much sterner stuff than me!

And then we rounded a corner and there was the Tower of London and it all looked wonderful bathed in sunshine. Jurek said “I love this city” and I could see why.

We rode along the embankment, knowing there was only two miles to go – hurrah – and it looked as though we would make it by 6pm.

Jurek led me up Northumberland Avenue and then we arrived at the bottom of Trafalgar Square to “hello!” from my mother and father in law, but we rode around the side of the square up to St Martin-in-the-Fields where there was a dropped kerb so we could get off the road. Clare from YACF (the cycling forum) was there with her camera as well and she took several photos.

Arrived at last!

Clare took a few photos of me with my phone as well so I could post the pics on Facebook.

Here we have Wowbagger, Jurek, me, Mark and Martin (Jane had to dash straight off, unfortunately).

My in-laws had found us and went to buy me a bottle of water (which was much needed) and Miranda (Mice) arrived with some little biscuits for me which were fab as I was pretty hungry.

Then Stephanie, the Help For Heroes fundraising rep, appeared and she gave me a medal and a certificate for completing the ride.

Sorry I look a bit gloomy there – I was feeling pretty tired!

Here is the certificate:

I chatted with Stephanie and her friend for a while, along with the others, and eventually people had to go so it was just Mark and I awaiting James (our taxi service) and his parents. Unfortunately there was a huge queue on the A12 so James had to do a significant detour which added at least an hour to his journey time so in the end we agreed that Mark and I would ride eastwards to Trinity Square (near the Tower of London) where James knew of some parking and which was a bit easier for him to get to. Mark was feeling a bit chilly by this point so we said goodbye to James’s parents who were taking the train home, I bought a sandwich at Pret a Manger (and a cup of tea – I offered my own teabag and they didn’t charge me for the tea!!!!) and then Mark and I got back on the bikes for another two and a half miles to the Tower. I didn’t mind this short extra ride as when I had reached Trafalgar Square my total tour distance was 698 miles – that last little trip clicked it over to 701. Phew!

Mark had a hot drink whilst we waited at Trinity Square and then James arrived. The bikes were dismantled and put in the car and then we headed off home. We were on the road by 8pm, feeling pretty tired but I was delighted to have finished the tour.

I was still carrying around my bag of tools and pump, etc. This toolbag was fairly heavy as I have a decent spanner to remove the back wheel, various allen keys, two spare tubes, the pump, tyre boots, cable ties, insulating tape, puncture repair kits with dozens of patches, other general tools… and on the entire tour I used just one piece of gaffer tape. Typical! Still, I was prepared for the worst so it was worth it!

More donations were arriving as I was approaching London (I get emails each time someone gives via Bmycharity) so that was really encouraging, as were all the messages of support on Facebook when I posted that I had made it!

So now it’s back to normality – I have lots of work to catch up on, I need to give the dog lots of nice long walkies and cook James some nice meals as he’s been fending for himself for two and a half weeks. And I need to try to raise a bit more money to hit my £2,000 target… and to think up the next recumbent tricycle challenge. Watch this space!

Statistics for today:

Distance travelled: 72.4 miles
Moving time: 6 hours 59 minutes 11 seconds
Maximum speed: 33.mph
Average speed: 10.4mph
Average heart rate: 144
Maximum heart rate: 182
Calorie burn (estimate as heart rate monitor didn’t always get a reading): 3,200 calories

Total tour distance: 701 miles

Thanks to all who sponsored me, including:

Lots of friends at Lion Walk URC, people in the village of Great Bromley and further afield, Ardleigh Fish & Chip shop, various friends of my parents and my in-laws, County Broadband, Alan & Paula Bridges, Kevin Wiggins, Canardly, Hotel Zum Schwan, Maureen & Dave, Stephen Breddy, Geordieonabike, Kate McGuire, Grace Lee & Andrew, Clive Banks, Doug Priest, Jenny & Peter Hancox, Heather & Tess, Philip & Yvonne, Ann Jarrett, Charles & Jacqueline Hall, Claire Witham, Moyna Adam, Juliet Whitty, Gina & Alan Reames, Ham, TimC, Jean Armstrong, Sam Armstrong, David & Michele Jenner, Ruth Wiggins, Diane Oshisanwo, Kirstie & Howard & Rose, Roger Smith, John & Shirley England, The Sutherlands, Orienteer, Alan & Jan Bullard, Liz Chamberlain, Huw Jones from Madison, Frances & Ken Eastty, Wowbagger, Chris Samuel, Katy Watts & Lola, John & Jean Tilley, Stuart Affleck, Lindsay Goubel, Auntie Charlotte, Linda Freestone, Gwenllian South, Joe Bellett, Thomas Bennett, Julie Lovegrove, Mum & Dad, Duncan Adam, Kirsty & Steve Rowley, Louise Brooks, Jim & Lesley, Olaf Storbeck, Adam Bell, Anna Buttimore, Ianrauk, Linda Harrison (with Claire & Wendy), Kate Strowbridge and of course all the anonymous donors and those who have filled in sponsor forms or given me cash!

Click here to see my actual ride route: Auntie Helen’s Berlin To London ride

My cycle ride is featuring on the Help For Heroes website at the moment: Berlin to London on a recumbent trike

If you think what I’m doing is pretty cool, perhaps you might sponsor me to give me some encouragement and, more importantly, to help a really good cause. All sponsorship greatly appreciated! The link to my sponsor page is here: Auntie Helen’s sponsorship page

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Filed under Berlin to London, Cycle Tours