Well I hadn’t had a puncture for a few days……until very first thing this morning, before I’d even left the campsite. I had locked my bike in a secure cage on the site over night, but by the time I got it back to my pitch to load up, the front was flat. So off came the wheel and my last spare tube went in, delaying the start of play a little.

But once I got going, the route was fairly easy. I think it’s pretty much the same from here on in. Follow the river on the cycle path at the side of it, with occasional breaks to skirt round heavy industry in places.

The first place I hit reminded me of home…

The whole river bank looked great in the sunshine, nice flat cycle paths and a decided lack of the aggressive mosquitos which had blighted earlier days.

I was making good progress without having to try too hard. Exactly what my legs needed, just keeping the rhythm going without pushing and constantly changing gears.

I was intrigued by this on the right bank as I came round one bend;

I hadn’t really put the geography together in my head, but it turned out to be the remains of the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen;

The bridge was of massive strategic importance to the Allied armies advancing into Germany in 1945. This was one of only two bridges to remain in place. The Germans had wired it for demolition, but only part of the charges exploded and it was captured by the US army. Over the next 10 days, this provided the first crossing of the Rhine for allied troops and. German aircraft attacked the bridge with (apparently counted) 367 aircraft and finally with V2 rockets. None of these attempts succeeded directly, however the bridge collapsed on 17th March 1945, killing 28 US engineers.

For the rest of the day, I pootled along quite happily, stopping at a water front Italian for pizza and a couple of times at kiosks for ice cream. But essentially just enjoying the scenery;

Eventually I arrived at my campsite on the outskirts of Cologne. I was glad to set the bike down and grab a shower. It had been a hot day. Seriously hot. Hot enough that my shoes had melted. I have attempted a bodge with some surgical tape to hold them together (it’s also holing my bike and arm together, so why not shoes??) – but if not, it may be barefoot pedalling tomorrow.

The campsite is not bad. One of the better German ones so far on this trip. It is set in the grounds of a hotel and restaurant – very popular, but a nice setting. My only complaint so far is that it’s €3 for 2 hours on their WiFi…..

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