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Day 40 ........ Cologne (Koln) to Dortmund ........100 km .......(total 3,244 km)

Let’s start with yesterday. As I noted there was an inspirational moment that will live long in the memory.

Russ and I had just crossed a small wooden bridge (think Bridges of Madison County ... because we did) when we came across two riders going the other waiting patiently for us to cross so they could then traverse the bridge .

One of them was seated in a tricycle the other on a bike. Nothing unusual there. They had come from central northern Germany and wet heading to Strasbourg. From there they were going north to Dijon , down the Moselle River to Cologne and back to home . Expected to be back sometime at the end of June. Nothing unusual there either as I have come across a lot of Europeans doing “local” bike trips. The exception here is that the gentleman in the tricycle is blind. Not completely but legally classified blind to the extent he can only make out approximate shapes and colours. His buddy travels in front on a standard bicycle and via a communications system link between the two of them basically guides his buddy along paths and roads . I believe his name is the German version of George. You can watch his adventures on YouTube . Simply search for “kitenteddy”. Transpires he also Nordic Cross skates too. It was a very humbling experience and a memory that will last a long time. Wasn’t travelling light either as he had 3 large pannier bags on that tricycle with him. 

The weather yesterday was a marked improvement on the first day Russ and I had met up. Foggy in the morning but at least it was dry. We had left the Rhine Gorge when we arrived in Koblenz and now this part of the Rhine was wider and far more industrial. 

Given the two options I chose “go left” 

Just another small inconsequential house we passed and the original section on the left “only” dates back to 1391. 

No prizes for guessing where this bus driver has gone. 

Colognes poorer version of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. 

They have rejuvenated the river foreshore as you approach the city and the buildings have a cutting edge architectural feel about them. 

Upon arriving at our cheap hotel we were told they had no area for bike storage and were directed to a secure lock up bike storage facility at the main train station some 400 metres away. 

For 1 EUR per 24 hours it’s clearly a money spinner . Having to walk the 400 metres from the hotel to store our bikes was a bit unusual but with every cloud there is a silver lining for attached to the storage facility is a bike rental business and a bike mechanic shop. 

Meet Olaf. He took one look at my chain and decreed that ol Andreas back in Gubtersblum had threaded the chain incorrectly around the derailleur. Hence the slipping of gears. Within 5 minutes he had taken the derailleur off , rethreaded the chain and confidently told me he had corrected the issue of slipping gears . 

Russ and I then planted ourselves in a beer garden in front of the magnificent Cologne Cathedral and watched it change colour as the sun appeared and then disappeared behind clouds . It’s a stunning building . It also happens to be the tallest twin spired church in the world , was heritage listed by UNESCO in 1996 and is Germany’s most visited landmark attracting over 20,000 tourists a day. Building began in 1248. Furthermore entry is free. 

So those were the photos from yesterday’s ride from Koblenz to Cologne that I couldn’t download last night . 

I liked what we saw of Cologne and would definitely come back. It has a certain buzz and vibe to it .

Now on to today’s trip northwards to Dortmund. 

Russ.K ended his second part of the ride with me and this morning departed by train back in the direction we had just spent two days cycling enjoying the views from the comfort of a padded seat on a fast moving train. He had a plane to catch this afternoon back to San Francisco. As I commented the first time I said farewell to him south of Frankfurt it was a pleasure and a privilege sir . 

So after 7 cycling days riding in the companionship of others it was back to covering the km’s on my own. 

Today I left the great river ways that I had been follow since just south of Lyon. Gone were the pedestrian and cycle friendly riverside pathways that I have enjoyed the last 12 days and back out onto the roads to do battle with drivers it was. After my first day of being on German roads properly , I will say they rank a distant 3rd at the moment behind the Spanish who lead, and the French in second in terms of their friendliness towards cyclists. I gesticulated and swore at more of them in one day than I had done in the previous 39 combined. 

Looking back up the Rhine towards Cologne as I crossed this majestic river for the last time. 

Iam sure there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation. 

The chances of a fellow cyclist responding to a ”hullo” from you is directly related to the cost of their bike and attire. A lady riding a 30 year old bike with a wicker basket on the front and dressed to go to market will ALWAYS respond with a “hullo” and a smile. From that peak the odds decline until you get to these characters . Matching cycling shorts, jersey, helmet , shoes and bicycle you have ZERO chance of getting a response . He didn’t even acknowledge my presence as he rolled past. 

You leave the riverside pathways youbalso leave behind the flat terrain. I have often wondered what it would be like to tackle hills with both front and rear panniers. Now I know. The road from Cologne to Dortmund climbs and falls and climbs and falls and climbs and falls it’s way through some very attractive green hills . All 100 km of it . 

Meet Goetz and his partner Hella. Upon discovering that I was Australian they proceeded to tell me that his sisters daughter lives in Brisbane, they have been to Sydney more than 10 times and are going again this year to stay with friends in the Sutherland Shire south of Sydney. I know some good people from the “Shire” . Goetz made me the best espresso I have had to date in Germany. 

Flagging after so many hills I stopped at this little stand run by Thomas who proudly told me his were the best currywurst in town. They were definitely good. So good in fact I ordered a second . Thomas hails from Berlin and has been operating this stand outside a local supermarket for the last 6 years . “ Mine is only a small business but it is MY business and I am the boss “ said Thomas as I slipped one of his currywursts down my throat. Washed down with a can of coke it was a lunch for champions. 

Having done the Rhône, the Saône, and the Rhine I thought I was done with famous rivers only to find myself crossing the Rhur. 

Very typical road scenery during the afternoon as I got closer to Dortmund. One thing I have already noticed in Germany is that even the smallest country roads are busy with traffic. Regardless of the size of the road I didn’t go more than a minute on any of them without seeing a car today. 

Me thinks you’d be hard pressed to find a more floral bus stop. 

After about 40 km I came across a disused rail track that had been transformed as others have into a cycle path. You cannot begin to imagine my joy given my mornings growing annoyance with the manner of the German drivers passing me. Sadly it only lasted 3 km.

This photo doesn’t do it justice. A 4 km stretch of road straight up a steep incline that took me 47 minutes to climb. Those two currywursts weren’t helping . 

Now I have passed quite a bit of interesting debris on my travels thus far. Half way up that hill above I came across not one but three unusued pistol bullets. I am sure there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation . 

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