So it turns out that Mainz is a) pretty ugly and b) a pig of a place to navigate out of, especially on a Monday morning and in the rain…
We set off early (no change there) but even at 0630 the traffic was busier than I’d seen previously. It was about 8 miles to navigate out of the main city centre and onto more bike friendly paths. This meant it was slow going for the first hour. Lots of stop-starts; up and down pavements; and looking lost at my GPX as it was saying “go left”, when there blatantly wasn’t one.
At one point I found myself crossing a bridge and ending up at a similar situation to Spaghetti Junction. The GPX wanted me to get across to the other side of it and it seemed like the only reasonable way was down some stairs, through the underpass, and back up the other side. Please bear in mind, I have a bike. Bikes and stairs don’t go well together. Loaded bikes and stairs go even worse. The down wasn’t so bad, it was coming up the other side that I genuinely thought I was going to topple backwards. The steps had a smooth railing on the side which you could use to walk the bike up. This started off ok, but as the gradient seemed to increase I literally couldn’t push hard enough to get the bike up. About four steps from the top I was frozen to the spot, pushing as hard as I could, Bikey going nowhere and me thinking “this is it, we’re going backwards”. All the while, it’s chucking it down with rain.
Thankfully we made it (very, very slowly) and we were heading for Frankfurt. Sheltering under a bridge twenty five miles later, in Frankfurt, was my choice stop for second breakfast. I didn’t hang around long as it was wet and by now, the path was much smoother and better signposted so it was a case of getting my head down and getting it done.
Once I had accepted I was going to be biking in the rain, it wasn’t too bad. It was just a bit cold and wet. And muddy. So muddy in fact. Later, in my hotel room, I had to spend a good half an hour with some newly purchased baby wipes, cleaning Bikey down.
The EuroVelo today was so much quieter than yesterday. Towards the end of yesterday’s ride, the cycle paths were the equivalent of Blackpool pleasure beach when Rishi’s deal is on. Today it was dead. Only the hardcore (read: idiots) go out in this weather, I thought.
Of the very few cyclists I did see, I did notice a common theme. Now, this maybe a massive generalisation and I don’t want to offend any Germans reading this, but German cyclists are not a friendly bunch! Everyone I pass I give a big “Hallo!” to and honestly, the best I get back is a real glare! They’re not like that in Yorkshire…
No coffee and croissant stop today as the cycle path was mostly through fields or parkland and there was just nothing around. Also, because it was raining and the scenery was oh so uneventful, I just wanted to get a shift on. The weather did dry up about 10 miles from the end, so I was able to park up and eat my PB sandwiches on a random park bench. Such a contrast to yesterday and the amazing vistas.
I realised I needed to clean Bikey down; no one was going to accept him in a hotel in the state he was in. About five miles from my hotel I passed a petrol station and saw a sign for “Wasser und Luft”. I had no idea what “Luft” was but when I saw the contraption I realised it was for air, and I knew “Wasser” was water (I’d been asking every shop assistant for it for the last week).
So I pulled up to this machine with a nozzle on thinking “brilliant! Bikey can get a wash, perfect”. I duly paid €0.50 and pressed the on button, assuming and hoping for water to come out. Only to hear this almighty great noise that sounded like a massive hoover. And that, my friends, is exactly what it was – a massive hoover. So there I was, in a random German petrol station, hoovering bits of mud off my bike and pretending that was what I wanted to do all along. And yes, there were lots of people around and yes, I’m sure they were thinking; “crazy English tourist” but I’ll say it again; act confident and no one will question you.
The hoover obviously didn’t have the desired effect so I gave up pretty quickly and just pedalled on my merry way. I made it to the hotel in super quick time today – fuelled mostly by the rain.
I checked in and went to find my purse to pay, and it wasn’t where I usually left it. Hmm that’s strange. I checked another pocket in my bag. Not there. Then another one. Still not there. By now I was a bit concerned. I knew I had taken it out of my bag yesterday before I went into Mainz, as I don’t like carrying both cards with me when I’m walking into a town. I paid with a different card whilst slightly panicking in my head about my purse, which had my credit card and some cash in.
Once Bikey was safely stowed in my room I literally emptied every bag, every pocket and frantically searched the floor on my hands and knees. No purse. Oh man. I messaged my previous Airbnb host to alert him to the fact that I may have left my purse behind, then made a call home to ask if they could cancel the credit card. I still had my debit card but weirdly, not everywhere accepts them and the purse did have some cash in too.
I was also tired and hungry so everything felt that bit worse. I didn’t have that real pit of the stomach sinking feeling that you get when you know something is really wrong. And it really wouldn’t be like me to leave something behind. I check and double check. And check again.
I saw my medical kit and in one final attempt to find it, I opened it up and ta-da! It was there! Oh the relief. Quick call back home to share the good news and a message to my Airbnb host to call off the search. Why I had put it in there, I’ll never know. But never again.
427 miles down…573 miles to go