Airbnb is very hit and miss. Sometimes you luck out and end up with an amazing place, like Ans’ garden house in Tilburg (that pool!!), and sometimes you lose out in the Airbnb lottery and end up in the tiny flat I found myself in last night.
It wasn’t so much the size that was the problem (now, now), more the neighbours; lack of ventilation in the 30 degree heat; and bed sheets that I think were created in the 19th century, with the coarse bristles of an elderly donkey. Yes, they were that bad. The drum and bass from next door was so loud that I genuinely thought they had set up a sound system in my flat, and then combined with a firework display outside the front door… well, I wasn’t getting any sleep anytime soon.
Another early start followed and we headed off in search, again, for the EuroVelo 15. Man, it was slow-going out of Koblenz. A combination of some wrong turns and terrible road surface, meant that for the first fifteen miles I was frustrated and annoyed.
Then all of a sudden, we hit our stride; the cycle paths went from miles of cobbled streets to smooth, traffic free tarmac and all the while tracking alongside the Rhine and the amazing scenery. I’ve never seen so many castles in all my life.
My first pit stop was a town called Sankt Goar. It was about 25 miles into my ride, so by then I was ready for my second breakfast. The headwind had also made a reappearance by now, so it was definitely a steady twenty five miles.
The EuroVelo was fairly quiet at this time – it was only 09:00 by the time I stopped. I do notice how much busier it gets throughout the morning. Smooth tarmac continued for the next twenty miles to my stop in Bingem. I’ve gotten myself into a real routine on these cycling days (ask anyone who knows me; I love a plan!) – early start; breakfast; 25 or so miles before second breakfast; 20 more miles; third (?!) breakfast then sometimes one more stop for lunch before reaching my accommodation. I usually wouldn’t do that many stops for a 100km ride but hey, why not! I’m in no rush and by the time my next stop is coming up, I usually need it; it feels as if my backpack is getting heavier, it takes me a second longer to unclip my shoes and I just generally feel a bit tired. But then it’s nothing that a coffee and a Clif bar can’t solve.
I’m currently writing this at my second pit stop of the day. I’m sat outside a lovely looking restaurant, surrounded by rather glamorous German tourists. I order a croissant (and was brought two, bonus) and I can just feel all these European eyes on me watching as I tear apart these croissants and eat them in probably the least European, and definitely unglamorous way possible. If I could speak German, I would probably hear them calling me all sorts of philistine but, I can’t, so who cares! Act confident and no one will question you…
I have an hour there before heading on again for my last stint before reaching Mainz. It’s hot, like really hot. The path meandered away from the river, mostly through fields and farmland so it was very exposed, with little shade. With five miles to go I was struggling – just really tired and exhausted from the heat. Those five miles seemed to go on and on and on.
Airbnb again tonight and thankfully, we have a fan!! Don’t get me wrong, actual air con would have been ideal, but considering last night we had nothing, I’ll take a poxy fan.
I headed off walking into Mainz but then just thought; “I really can’t be bothered with this”, so did a u-turn, hunted down some water and food, and returned back to the flat.
It’s only when I’m resting do I realise just how tired my body is now getting. Things are starting to ache, and it’s not actually my legs that are bad! My back and neck are aching from the backpack and weirdly, my arms and wrists are hurting too. I’m definitely at the middle bit of the marathon; around mile 11ish where everything is going ok but you just know, before long, things are going to start getting nasty.
Tomorrow we head east, as I start to make my way cross country, before dropping down into Austria. We’re leaving the River Rhine and following the River Main instead and we switch EuroVelos! EuroVelo 4 here we come…
368 miles down…632 miles to go