Day 1 – Mainz to Eltville am Rhein
Total Distance – 21.20km
Ride Time – 1h 22mins
l left my flat in Cologne at 13:00 and cycled to the main train station in a bid to catch the 13:53 to my start point in Mainz. The train was late arriving and fell further behind schedule on route. Not a big deal but it did make getting to Rudesheim by 19:00 unlikely. I eventually arrived into Mainz at 16:30 and once I had negotiated my way out of the station I was able to start my ride. Following signs to the Rhine Promenade was easy enough and I was soon crossing the Theodore-Heusse-Brucke to the right bank of the Rhine. This was the side of choice for this first section according to my Bikeline map and had more camping possibilities. Once over the bridge I could relax slightly as the dim of the rush hour traffic subsided and the anxiety of finally being on my way eased. It wasn’t long before I was relishing being on my first cycling adventure.
The route took me through a section of the Rheingau region and the towns of Biebrich, Sicherstein, Niederwalluf and into Eltville am Rhein; “a city of wine, champagne and roses”. Unfortunately I didn’t get to experience much of this because I was too busy trying to locate the next sign telling me that I was heading in the right direction..
After several U-turns and laboured interactions with locals over directions I found the river again and after a brief section of bumpy dust trail I turned a corner and saw the words “Campingplatz Anmeldung”. It was about 19:00 at this point and I had been on the road for about 2 hours. Although not the campsite I had planned on, it was well situated by the river and the 34 degree heat had taken it’s toll. The campsite was a bit basic but I did manage to find a nice spot to pitch my tent next to a 1,000yr old tree and I was able to have a well earned beer by the river.
Day 2 – Eltville am Rhein to Boppard
Total Distance – 88.05km
Ride Time – 5h 36mins
I set off at 7am after a refreshing cold shower and started cycling towards Rudesheim- my target for the first day. On the way I passed a luxurious looking campsite with an outdoor swimming pool and the thought occurred “that’s where I could have stayed…” Oh well. I got to Rudesheim before 9am and after a brief look around and a bite to eat (I successfully avoided the lure of MacDonalds) I boarded the cross river ferry to Bingen.
In hindsight I should probably have taken some time to explore Bingen but, conscious that I was a bit behind schedule and eager to just get on with it, I cycled on. I was now on the left bank of the river and coming up to the section that was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 2002. Looking up from the cycle path at the bottom of the valley the castles quickly came and went, Rheinstein, Reichenstein, Furstenburg, Schonberg, along with numerous cycle tourers headed in the opposite direction. Then came the rain. Fortunately I had an emergency poncho with me which did the job but only at significant cost to my street-cred (or should that be radweg-cred??). So I cycled on, looking like an escapee from a mental institution in my transparent plastic poncho flapping in the wind, for about another hour and after a few bends in the river I arrived in St Goar. My notes reminded me of a mythological landmark the other side of the river- the Loreley Rock. Legend has it that passing sailors and fishermen were so captivated by the sight of a woman’s figure in the rock formation that they lost control of their vessel, crashed and drowned. I’m not entirely sure I was looking in the right place but I couldn’t see a thing so quickly gave up and had lunch at a nearby restaurant.
Once re-fuelled I set off again towards Boppard where I planned to camp the second night. By this point the rain had stopped but dark clouds were still out in force. The only thing of note to report was the misfortune that befell a couple of cycle tourers in front of me. One of them was too busy taking in the scenery that she veered into her companions back wheel causing both of them to fly over their handlebars, panniers and all. No major damage done, apart from the psycological trauma of knowing that someone has just seen you come-a-cropper in public. “That’s why I tour alone”, I quipped.
Day 3 – Boppard to Remagen
Total Distance – 155.76km
Ride Time – 10h 24mins
After a great nights sleep I awoke to blue skies and a glistening river. I left the campsite at 8:30 and continued along this magnificent stretch of river valley. More castles and mountains followed and I was soon cycling through a very plush area of south Koblenz.
Getting through Koblenz was always going to be interesting and things were made more interesting due to an international flower festival which was being held slap bang in the middle of the city. This made getting to the Deutsches Eck a bit trickier than it otherwise would have been and I had to haul my bike up some steps to get to the corner itself. Once I caught my breath I took an obligatory photo and made my way back the way I came in the vague direction of the Balduinbrucke, which took me over the Mosel.
Leaving the scenic Upper Middle Rhein valley behind me the next section of the ride was a bit more ordinary, but once I escaped the construction works and industrial areas of North Koblenz the route took on a more familiar look as I made my way to Andernach. It was at this point when I began to feel the effects of a few hours in the saddle….The result was a few more pit-stops but luckily there were plenty of benches and seats for the weary traveller.
So after brief stops in Urmitz and Weiserthurm I arrived in Andernach. A glance at the map told me I was still a good 25km from Remagen. It had only just gone 2pm so time wasn’t an issue, but my neck and other areas were. It was time to dig in. A strong headwind didn’t help matters.
I arrived in Remagen around 3:45pm and found the planned camping site for the night. Desite not having a view of the river, it was another improvement on the last. I was able to charge my phone at reception and the bar also served Kolsch, a taste of home, and proof I was getting closer and closer to my destination.
Day 4 – Remagen to Cologne
Total Distance – 217km
Ride Time – 14h 34mins
My departure on the final day was delayed due to a persistent rain shower that kept me holed up in my tent for a good couple of hours. It was 10:00 by the time I eventually took my chances and packed away my stuff ready to begin the final phase of the trip. After a pause for breakfast outside a mini supermarket I continued up the left bank of the Rhine until I arrived in Rolandseck. Here I took a cross river ferry to Bad Honnef. I’m not entirely sure why because I was soon back on the left bank at Bonn-Mehlem, after a brief glimpse of Konigswinter and the Drachenfels mountains.
From here I cycled up through the posh areas of south Bonn, the business district and the city, eventually emerging on the north side where the signs for Cologne started to appear. 34km to go. I knew the landscape north of Bonn wasnt much to write home about but there were still nice stretches, namely on the approach to Rodenkirchen and the cyclepath into Cologne city. It was 3pm by the time I arrived at Cologne Dom, tired, a bit sore but having thoroughly enjoyed my first long distance cycle ride.