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Day 35 ... Mannheim to Guntersblum....... 59 km ....(total 2,931 km)

Left Mannheim under leaden skies with the threat of rain ever present. Destination was Guntersblum where, after 9 consecutive days of riding,  I would enjoy a 2 day rest period in the wonderful company of the proprietors of the Weingold Hotel , Dirk and Stefanie Lob. 

Before then was the small matter of riding nearly 60 km which includes crossing the Rhine.

Pretty soon after setting off we passed under the shadow of the Mannheim Telecommunications Tower. 217.8 metres in height (that’s 217.8 PRECISELY... not 218 ... this is Germany after all) it was built between 1973-75 and is became infamous in 1994 when a helicopter on a medical emergency clipped the top of the tower and crashed to the ground resulting in 4 fatalities . 

Leaving the city limits we crossed acres of strawberry fields overshadowed by vast electrical lines carrying the power that had been produced on the Rhine to other parts of the country. Quite an “electrifying “ experience to witness first hand the combination of nature and man made infrastructure existing alongside each other. “Watt” The strawberries tasted like would remain to be seen. 

Like the oranges in Valencia this one just happened to drop into my hand. It tasted “berry” good. 

In all my years of driving I’ve never seen this sign. They’re either so big they’re a threat to cars or perhaps a rare species endangered. Where I grew up you’d go out of your way to drive over them. 

Weird and unexplainable sign no.104 ofthe trip so far.

The last members of the band enjoy their final meal together . 

First to wave farewell after lunch was Eddie.B who had a flight to catch home to Valencia tomorrow from Frankfurt. Eddie is more laid back than a fully reclined first class airplane seat. Nothing was an issue in the 3 days he rode with me. Just a real joy to have has a riding and dining companion. One of those who engages the brain before passing comment and when the brain didn’t engage you heard nought. Eddie, it was a pleasure and privilege and I look forward to doing it again some time soon. 

Next to wave farewell as he was joining Eddie and riding onto Frankfurt was Russ.K. A retired airline pilot with 35+ years of experience Russ is the consumate professional and just simply a great gentleman. With a wealth of knowledge about the world from his many travels he offered advice when it was sought but otherwise was happy to play co-pilot for the bulk of the ride. His quote ....”no one ever died on any of my flights but some sure didn’t look too good when they were carried off “  .. still makes me smile. Russ , it was an enlightening experience having you ride with me these last 3 days and I am humbled you would travel from San Francisco and return for merely 3 days of riding with me. To you goes a massive thanks and I hope to do it all again sometime soon. You’re a true gentleman. 

After Farewelling Eddie and Russ who set off to ride the remaining 50 km to Frankfurt I rode 1 km to the eastern banks of the Rhine at Gernsheim to catch the 5 min ferry to the posh (western) side and ride onto Guntersblum.  

Meet Frank. He is 55 years old, is an electrical engineer who deals in selling gas and electricity, is a keyboard player for a band called Long Life that does ZZ Top and Joe Cocker covers, has two children in their 20,s and has been in a relationship (now married) with the same woman since he was 16 and she 14. Frank was on his way to cycle to see his 89 year old father who had bypass surgery recently to celebrate Father’s Day today. (Incidentally they took an artery from his fathers calf muscle and used that  to replace the one in his heart ).

These are the things you learn when you cycle. 

Just before I arrived in Guntersblum I came across this joyful band of fathers. During the mornings ride I had noticed groups of men with bicycles pulled up roadside and consuming vast amounts of beer. Many of the bicycles were equipped with a small trailer that was carting a crate or two of beer . It is a Father’s Day tradition apparently in this part of the world that you and your fellow fathers enjoy the day together celebrating. It’s mothers day on Sunday .

Meet from right to left ... Markus , Pung, John and Peter. As I rode up to them I enquired as to whether I could take a photo. “ A photo?” They replied .”Sure you can and you’ll also have a bottle of Radlers with us.”. At which point the bottle was produced and opened and we spent the next 10 minutes asking and answering questions as to why they were doing what they were and why I was doing what I was . I think we all agreed they win. Gentlemen it was a delight to meet you and I thank you for the second bottle you gave me for my journey. I hope fatherhood is kind and rewarding to you all.

Tomorrow and Saturday I rest. Time to get the bike serviced and refitted with front panniers and equipment for the next leg of the journey up through Germany and Scandinavia where I shall do a whole lot of camping. Also time to give the body a break and a massage has been booked . 

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