- distance cycled: 36.8 miles (Worms to Mainz-Hechtsheim) + 7.3 miles (hotel to laundry in central Mainz and back)
- cumulative cycling: 556.1 miles
Oh my goodness! The joy of an almost entirely clean clothes on a clean body! You probably don’t want to know how I’ve made two sets of lycra and one set of civvies last 15 days. (If you do, please send your request for info on a microdot baked into a felafel to the usual address.)
By the way, Mainz-Hechtsheim is not in the centre of Mainz. That’s obvious from a map. What’s not so obvious is the bleep-off huge hill between the Rhine and this suburb. In reality, there’s only 150 metres of climb, but some of it is at least 15%. And some of that is on a busy road. The very worst gradients are on well-made cycle-paths but by then you’ve got off to walk on the busy road, to reduce the chances of becoming strawberry jam. OK, like I said it’s only 150 metres of climb, and real roadents will do far harder gradients for much, much longer. But we’re not real roadents, we’re a couple of 50-somethings with various ailments, on steel touring bikes carrying a bit too much stuff. Enough moaning!
One of our holiday traditions, at least when cycling in Germany, is to have a romantic evening at an Eco-Waschsalon. Tonight was the first of these occasions for this trip. So after a day long in saddle-time but short-ish in miles, we dumped everything but our foetid clothing in the hotel room and cycled into central Mainz to watch our lycra commingle. I quite enjoyed cycling in – Lev felt so light and nippy – and really enjoyed cycling out – Lev was now carrying no congealed mank, so he felt even nippier. The bonus was cycling in the cool dark along good tarmac. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy midnight miles!
By the way, today’s cycling wasn’t was very efficient. This is partly because Giggle Maps tried to take us up a 15° gradient on a rutted dirt track. (We didn’t discover this until we’d ascended a fair bit on steep tarmac.) We also stopped for brake-adjustments. I was delighted that this justified having a 6” adjustable spanner in my tool-kit.
I have to congratulate roads engineers here. Firstly, major roads have cycle-paths or non-advisory (that is, cars stay out) cycle-lanes that are wide enough to pass or overtake other cyclists. Secondly, when a cycle-route is blocked by repairs, there are clear explanations of diversions. Scotland has a lot to learn about cycling infrastructure!
It’s great to see families on cycling holidays, parents shepherding older children who are on their own bikes, maybe with smaller children in trailers or pull-along add-ons so the children experience being in the saddle in safety.
And that makes me think of three point :
- I call the many wooden bridges we’ve crossed ‘Silvio’s, because they gently vibrate our nethers with a sound like ‘bunga-bunga’
- you can tell we’re not continental cycle-tourists before we even open our mouths:
- they usually don’t wear helmets
- they usually wear sleeveless t-shirts (we wear lycra cycle-jerseys)
- they don’t often wear visible padding, just normal plain shorts (I wear colourful padded cycle-shorts under padded cycle-tights and still have a sore arse!)
- they often wear sandals or flip-flops, and no socks. (Elly wears stiff-soled Scarpa walking shoes that fit into toe-cages on Fidel’s pedals; I wear sandals that clip into Lev’s pedals and two layers of socks.)
- they naturally know how to manoeuvre cycle-path junctions on the right side of the road. (I’ve not quite got my euro-legs yet.)
- continental male roadents often look look like retired 70s porn-stars: all longish blond hair, moustaches and muscles. So far, I’ve not shouted at any ‘ach, Ich spritze’ but it’s been a close thing!
Finally, next trip I’ll bring just two sets of lycra, no civvies (and certainly no trainers), much less medication (I will be well next trip!), maybe a few more pairs of socks, and no bloody walking-poles! Tschuss!