“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.”John F. Kennedy
Cycling along the streets and gravel-roads through smaller growing towns towards cologne, the sun was shining on our sides and everything was working smooth. The bike and the trailer were doing fine, we were good spirited. Our first time cycling into a big city, actually the biggest one considering the inhabitants, with 1 Million was a fun experience. Cycling along Venloer Strasse we drove past the cathedral into the heart of cologne. From there we reached the Rhine the first time and continued along it upstream. People where out and cycling along both sides of the river. Long iconic ships, called Barges were passing us on our left and pushing against or racing with the strong currents. A Barge is a shoal-draft flat-bottomed boat build for river and canal transport of bulk goods. Originally they were towed by draft horses on a towpath just on the side of the river. Loads of those we cycled, they make cycling the Rhine very relaxed, because you stay so close to it, unless you cycle to Hessen or France.
Our first proper mission was cycling past the Rheinland Raffinery south of Cologne. We didn’t got lost and soon left the massive area of petrochemicals behind us. From here we approached Bonn, took the Friedrich Ebert Bruecke and cycled the first time on the right side with the steam of the Rhine, “die Chillerseite”. We considered it to be the chillout side of the Rhine, due to facing the sunset. People simply have to be more relaxed over there. Continuing along that side we ended up in a little beach area, with BBQ, music, and drinks, facing the Rhine. Leaning our bikes next to a tree, this side was less strong build with houses, the parks where wider and the trees seemed more, we ordered a beer each to celebrate our first day.
We sat down in low leaning beach chairs, while following the sun approaching the horizon and covering Bonn in a gentle stream of orange-gold. As it turned out, we accidentally sat us straight into the seat of a guy that just grabbed a beer from the bar. He was bold with a bit of beard. Normal size beer belly and as average hight. He simply sat next to us, after telling us to leave his place. As we appologized and started to make a move he started laughing and said he just made fun. We started talking about what we are doing there, how we ended up and where we want to go. Surprisingly he was originally from Marseille, our final destination. The toppic quickly shifted to the two parties having a group celebration, maybe a marriage or a birthday further back on the beach. The BBQ area was in the middle of everything and two people were serving and grilling meat and vegetables. After observing the two parties for a while we decided to ask if we can have some leftover. The staff was not very happy about our request and told us to move away with a clear no. While all that was happening I was positioned on the other side of the BBQ area and managed to grab a few sausages for us. Sad he and Max left empty handed I suprised them with the sausages.
Mhh, they were so good. We were hooked. We wanted more. So we tried to get some more, sneaky again, but got caught and told off. We simply said we are part of the parties, but after the staff asked us what the name of them was, and our guess wrong was we left all three empty handed. But we were hooked, so what to do? I went to one of the groups and askes them if they mind, when everyone did finish and is satisfied if we have a bit. No one minded except a fat woman, haha. That was actually quite funny, but after her single no I asked the head of the group after another 5 minutes, he confirmed that it is absolute fine and we could enjoy as much as we wanted. AMAZING.
Back with Max and our friend from Marseille, I shared the good news and we packed our plates with bread, cake, sausages, chicken, pork, beef and some vegetables! Wow what a treat for our first day! After filling our plates a few times we thanked for the food and wanted to leave and start looking for a camp spot, when our new friend told us he is happy to take us in his van 20km up the Rhine to his home, where we would hang out, have some wine make a bonfire at the bank of the river. So yeah we packed the van and once at his house took some winebottles and started having a little party. We were talking of stories and things of his family and how he ended up in Germany and all kind of stuff. We went swimming and warmed us on a huge bonfire.
Once the fire was gone, we wanted to continue a bit further and look for a nice sleeping spot. We thanked our new friend for this great evening mounted the bikes and continued a bit tipsy another 10 km or so. We left Bonn, behind us left as well as Kasbach, Linz until we found a great sleeping place next to a campsite under some big trees with the river at our feet. We set up our camp, carried the bikes down and fell asleep in our sleeping bags and a yoga mat underneath us.
The next morning started great, but ended with a little disaster. We had to cycle back. Why we did so and that it was actually quite good to cycle back will you find out in the next blog of our ‘zwei Oldschoolracers durch die tallen Alpen’ journey!