Pulheim – Koblenz, 108km, (7.10.21)

No rain all day, but magical morning scenes while cycling around Cologne to get to the Rhine.

(Unfortunately?) I did not take any pictures of the industrial/chemical plants along the Rhine just South of Cologne, everybody complaining about wind generators should be made to look at the devastation of the countryside caused by just the oil refineries. The next time I saw the Rhine was much nicer, and showed me how many people are interested in cycling here.

I have cycled many bits of the Rhine before, but not this stretch. As usual there is a lot of history, Roman, Medieval and second World War are the main times referenced on information signs – as usual I am learning a lot. I must admit I had not been aware of the story (and film) behind the bridge of Remagen, for example.

At one point I could no longer follow the Rhine bike route, as a bridge was closed. So I went inland a bit further to find another crossing point, and slowly realised where I was and what had happened: This was the Ahr valley, where there had been major floods and destruction in the summer. Along the street I was cycling up several plots were empty, where obviously houses had been pulled down, several houses were abandoned and the remaining houses had empty ground floors. This was all quite high above the normal level of the little stream I could see. The next bridge was also uncrossable, so I had to go one further still. Again, I did not take any pictures of unpleasant things, but the explanation was then given on the bike path coming from the South.

After I had had ‘Currywurst’ for lunch at a typical kiosk (and all the locals spoke to me) I decided to have tea and cake in Bad Breisig, which seemed made for the generation of my grandparents ­čÖé

After that the cycle route became much more just an addendum to roads and rail lines. I had to constantly go under and over them, and signs told me to get off and push the bike – not a good solution! At one stage there was a road at the level of the Rhine, the rail track was above that, the bike path above again, and on the fourth level a bigger road (had it rained, it would have sheltered me). Reminded me of Tokyo with the different layers of traffic. By this point I was just trying to get to Koblenz, so did not stick to the Rhine – amazing how one can manage so many different lanes of traffic. But not nice.

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