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Day 38 ....... Guntersblum  to Koblenz ..... 110 km .......(total 3,041)

As I typed the above headline I realised I cycled through the 3,000 km barrier today. Yesterday I was all set to be ready to celebrate after 69km of riding today. However looking back on today I realise why the milestone passed me by. At the 3,000 km mark it was raining more than just cats and dogs. The rain was harder than cement and the raindrops bigger than small sparrows.  I once fell into a swimming pool fully clothed. I think I climbed out drier than I was today at the magical milestone. 

Before I get into today’s ride I just wanted to present this bouquet of flowers to my mother as it’s Mother’s Day here in Germany and Australia. We all have amazing mothers and the whole pregnancy and birth process is testament to that alone. What comes next is simply astounding. Born in the small outback town of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia and educated in Melbourne she went on to train as a teacher.  Somehow she found herself in the jungles of Papua New Guinea introducing the indigenous children to western education. Having met and married my father as a result of going to PNG she soon found herself posted with him to remote jungle outposts . From these humble beginnings my mother went onto teachers training college, then university lecturer both in PNG and Sydney (also slipping in a MA from London University along the way ) before being heavily involved in UNICEF’s educational program in Nepal for 4 years. From there it was onto the World Bank in Washington DC signing off on million dollar educational program loans for West African countries and elsewhere . She finally retired last year well well beyond that stage most do and for her efforts in furthering education in under developed nations was awarded Australia ‘s highest civilian honour. An AO. Officer of Australia medal which was bestowed upon her by the Queens representative in Australia. She is what I call a “super legend”.

Mum - happy Mother’s Day from a very proud son. I dedicate today’s to ride you.

Leaving Guntersblum my first port of call was Bingen, some 50 km away. It was here I was due to meet Russ.K . Yes the very same one I had farewelled on Thursday. Given his enjoyment of the ride from Strasbourg to Frankfurt he had made the decision to stay on for few days beyond his scheduled departure back to San Francisco and ride with me for 2 days through the steep valley section that is the Rhine river from Mainz to Cologne. 

My cycle maps told me that cutting across country from Guntersblum to Bingen rather than following the Rhine around the corner would cut 27km off the distance travelled. Distance saved for sure. Terrain not riverside flat . Think undulating hills under threatening skies on a bike that was proving more problematic than when I had dropped it off to be serviced 2 days ago. It wasn’t a great start to the day. At least the scenery was decent. Suddenly Andreas the bike repairman wasn’t my next best friend after all. 

This strawberry pickers trolley had all climatic conditions covered .

When I think of the Rhine Valley I think of all those tourist brochures that show a wide river running through a steep hill side valley adorned with old castles and chateaus. Well today the section from Bingen to Koblenz was EXACTLY that. Simply stunning at every turn. Even in belting rain. That’s surely saying something. 

Thinking about getting the peasants to dig a moat around your castle and filling it with water ? Make it easier for everyone and just build your castle on an island in the middle of the river . Result. 

You’d see this type of picture every 5 km along the entire route.

Plenty of seriously large barges too. 

Ho hum. Just another tower. 

Meet Joop. Thinking he was going to be made redundant he purchased a bike, and planned a 4 week bike trip from Amsterdam to Rome and here is mid way through day 4 . Small issue is that he was told he was too valuable to be included in the staffing cuts. However he was still allowed to go on his bike journey. 

We passed more than a few steep vineyards clinging to the side of the valley. 

“Castle of the day “ award goes to this one.

“Runner up” 

We stopped to ponder the story behind this garage mural. We rode away still pondering. 

Even railway tunnel entrances were attractive .

To say Koblenz was heavily targeted in WWII Would be a small understatement. The city lies at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle rivers and was established as a military outpost by the Roman general Drusus in 8 BC. Today the Rhine Gorge with Koblenz at its northern end is a UNESCO world heritage listed site. 

I be always wondered what it would be like to ride a bike with front panniers. After 110 km today I have ticked that box of curiosity . 

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