Friday, 5 May 2017

Oh, Cologne

We like cycling in Germany.  There are bike paths everywhere - even between small villages - and folk stop to ask us where we are going when we are having our lunch.  We're on our way to Cologne and the going is good at first, after getting through a conurbation early morning we are out on the open road, well, bike path, and flying along when we come to a place where the path ends and we join the road.  But the road is a little fast and busy with trucks and we realise that we should probably not be on this particular road, but hey, we're here now and there's no where else to go except forward, so we might as well continue and go as fast as we can to the next junction. Phew.   
not all German bike paths are perfect...

The rest of the way is calm and peaceful again as we find the quiet roads that finally lead to a bike path into the city around about rush hour.  It's quite a nice feeling riding past all the stationary vehicles queueing along the main road.   Soon we are in the city and knocking on Angie and Peter's door.  Angie is an old friend from England and we are excited to catch up after how many years (?) and meet Peter for the first time.  They both cycle around the city and while we were on our last trip they also had a year off, beginning on bikes in Britain before heading over to explore the Americas.

There's much to catch up with and we have a good rest here with them.  Peter runs his own business and it took a radical shift in his working life to get away for a year.   But we think he hasn't regretted it - he's so enthusiastic about the journeys of other cycling tourers and keeps an eye open for blogs of the more interesting ones.  It's quite funny because Gayle also does this when we're not travelling and she's always looking for ideas for new places to visit.  Peter also has been following people around the world through their blogs.  Since their big journey Angie has knuckled down to learn German well enough to qualify to teach full-time in German state schools - with only the tricky writing exam to pass.  Our time with them is non-stop talking and great fun.  Peter is really helpful finding us a tool I need and that all-important 45mm bolt that enables me to adjust my front mudguard.  I am trying to get everything right on the bikes while we have access to good supplies and Peter goes out of his way to help.

We reassess our planned route north to Denmark - we are conscious of the limits in time and our comfort zone.  Since we left home we've been pushing harder than our usual slothful style.  Regretfully we have to miss our friends Friedel and Andrew in the Hague and go straight on to Amsterdam.  After one more lovely night tasting the local beer and food at a local hostelry with Peter and Angie, they ride out of the city with us, leading us in the right direction to avoid the big roads and find the way into the Netherlands.  It's a fairly flat ride dodging between Dusseldorf and Moechengladbach and not so beautiful, but it's easy enough for us to reach the Dutch border by the end of the day.  It is raining when we find a pine forest to pitch the tent and after a long day we're happy to have such an easy camp.