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Day 34 ........ Neuberg am Rheim To Mannheim.......83 km .......(total 2,872 km)

Mannheim was our destination today. Some 83 km downstream from Neuberg. Ostensibly it meant following the Rhine along Velo Route 15 and where necessary deviating away from the river to bypass large industrial estates including a Mercedes Benz truck production factory and a nuclear power station along with a riverside container depot.

Erm. Perhaps STRAVA navigational system is falliable after all. When do I tell them that perhaps we should’ve taken a right at the last T-intersection?

You see a great deal of many types of transport on the cycle paths adjacent to the Rhine. Of increasing significance are E-bikes which have seemingly opened up the world of outdoor cycling to a group of individuals who perhaps would never have had the confidence or ability to be able to cycle in the past. What you call this contraption I have no Idea but he seemed to be enjoying himself nonetheless.

German farmer men do “proper dogs”. Here you can see a local farmer taking his small horse for a walk masquerading as a dog.

After riding alongside or near the Rhine for 52 km we lunched in Speyer. Birthplace to the Protestant religious order for it was here in 1529 following the reformation that the local evangelicals wrote to the German imperial court a letter of “protest” about being forced to adhere to Catholicism and their desire to move away from it.

As we left Speyer the Velo route 15 moved away from the river and across agricultural land.

As the tedium of passing numerous fields grew the desire to take unique photos grew.

Eventually our route took us back down to the Rhine where we opted to take a ferry ride for all of 3.45 minutes across the river and towards Mannheim.

Just prior to entering Mannheim proper there was one last chance for the band to have a group shot before one of them had to leave to return to London for a solo gig. Special thanks here to Eddie.B who despite proclaiming that my water proof jacket was “like a furnace “ still manned up and donned it for the photo.

And with a final wave of the hand he was gone. Last time Gareth.W gave me the farewell wave was last year in a small French town called Piney. It was 6 am and dark and wet. His logistics for getting home this year almost rival if not surpass those required to meet me In Montbeliard 4 days ago. Leaving today in Mannheim he will catch a train to Cologne where he will stay overnight. Tomorrow it’s a series of local trains to Rotterdam where he will catch a ferry to the English port of Harwich in Essex . From there it’s a train into London. Cycle across the city to Waterloo station and then another train to St Margaret’s in south west London. Truly epic. Sir - many thanks for your company these last 4 days. It’s been a pleasure and a privilege . Gareth’s knowledge of all things French and nature is already well documented and riding with him is like having a “cycle-pedia “. He will be missed as I head north. Thank you.

Karl Benz, he of car fame, was born just around the corner from Manneheim in 1844 . His “Benz Patent Motocar” in 1885 is considered the first practical automobile and he received a patent for it in 1886. Mannheim was essentially flattened in World War II because of its industrial significance. Ironically, today it hosts the largest concentration of US military in Germany.

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