Monday, 13 August 2012

17. July 12th- Mainz to Frankfurt and the biggest bike shop in the world.

July 12th.

We woke early after a night of heavy rain which lasted for some time.  The weather was dry at the start of the day, and so we packed up the wet tents and started on the road again.  Well, we were somewhat delayed because Fred decided to add some air to his back tyre, and the whole valve came away, deflating the tyre completely. Fred and the tyre were both deflated.  Bruce’s help was again invaluable and he replaced the inner tube with the spare, the bike was packed up again and we really did leave about 20 minutes later.

It was good to pick up the route in minutes again, and we were soon on our way to Mainz.  This turned out to be our best day’s cycling, with a total of 68.76 miles, and we were helped by a noticeable tail wind.  The weather was changeable, though, with quite heavy showers interspersed with warm sunshine; we made a few stops to either put on or take off waterproofs.

The breakfast stop was at Bingen, famous for the early sacred music of Hildegard of Bingen and for the fact that Fred lost a sock there.  After that, it was a clear run to Mainz, where we stopped to have Bruce’s bike looked at – the pedals and gears were making an unaccustomed noise.  Sheltering under a bridge whilst the usual rain squall hammered down gave us chance to look at the map, but in fact we found a massive bike shop on the outskirts, which made things simpler for us.  It was a huge, modern steel and glass building reminiscent of John Lewis at Milton Keynes, with an indoor track for customers to ride the bikes they were thinking of buying.  Bruce’s bike was dealt with almost immediately, and half an hour later as ready to continue.

 Bruce's bike had been making a 'clonking' [ technical term], noise and so stumbling upon, what to us, seemed like the biggest bike shop in the world was a real blesssing.

During this time, we partook of luncheon at a nearby Burger King, completely out of our depth with the ordering procedure and the mores of fast food, none of which was due to the fact that this was in Germany.  We ate, though, and set off again confidently following the route we’d used to get into Mainz until we came to another of those bike direction signs which made things more obscure.  This time our German shepherd came shooting by like Father Christmas on a bike.  He was great, another of those people that saved us miles – and hours.

We re-traced our journey to the bike mega store and from there went through the town until we reached a huge bridge to cross the river.  By now, we’d had issues with all of the bikes and assumed that would be it, even though Fred’s computer, brand new for the trip, indicated that his bike needed a service.
From the bridge you could see the confluence of the Rhine and the Main, after we crossed the bridge we said goodbye to the Rhine [ we don't think it noticed], and said hello to the Main, a far gentler, more sedate river.
We carried on in the same positive way and reached Frankfurt in the late afternoon.  There was a sense of prosperity, purpose and success.  It was fascinating to see a major city beginning to relax at the end of the working day, and the cycle way became a broad promenade, with joggers, roller bladers, cyclists and walkers all enjoying the early evening sun.
As ever, even with maps showing campsites, we managed to miss the first campsite and, as we were heading out of Frankfurt, we asked someone if there was a campsite ahead. This person said he didn't know but, just as we were about to pedal off, a jogger who had passed us, turned around and told us that he had overheard our enquiry and there was a campsite about five Km ahead on the track we were on- as we said, our German shepherds almost popped out of the ground to help us.
We reached our campsite at Offenbach early enough to put the tents up before we ate.  We met a couple of young English lads who were doing our route in reverse, and they warned us that following the cycle way along the river would take us on a loop which would need two days to complete.  Food for thought, since this would seriously affect our arrival date.
Speaking of food, we had a pretty good meal with a salad accompaniment and an unexpected liver dumpling, since we thought we’d ordered pasta.

 We were getting used of this sort of river view as we powered towards Frankfurt. This fairly random shot shows just how busy the Rhine is at all times.

 We skirted Mainz and took fleeting photos from the other bank of the Main . . . .

. . . . like this one.

                               A view of Frankfurt, confident and modern, at the end of the day.

We felt that this was a well deserved beer after cycling nearly seventy miles.
We then followed this up with another, equally deserved beer.

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