The Flying Dutchman

The Flying Dutchman

On Friday morning I said goodbye to Tim. Tine wanted to accompany me a bit further with the racing bike.

However, my rear wheel made already after a short time strange noise. We could not find anything and decided to look for a bike shop. Although the mechanic did not have time for the first time, he was able to give a first diagnosis: the axle on the rear wheel was broken! Only after a long search we finally found a shop that could help us. When unscrewing the hub, the broken parts tumbled out nicely. As fate would have it, no new Shimano hub could be found. Fortunately, they were able to expand the demolished hub and re-save a cheaper version again.

The whole action lasted almost until 15:00 clock and I realized that I would not make it to Otto in Ridderkerk today. Fortunately, Tine accompanied me almost 50km to the ferry to Visslingen. Without her help I would probably have gotten stuck in Belgium. Thank you very much Tine for your help!

From Visslingen a networked dam system leads over many smaller islands to the actual mainland in Rotterdam. So far, I did not come that day. But I enjoyed a beautiful sunset over the sea and found on a beach the suitable place to sleep. Coincidentally, Harry, another bicyclist, had gotten himself there too. He is a retired electrical engineer from Holland and rides a bit by bike through Europe every summer. I was especially fascinated by his equipment. He made most of everything himself.

The next morning the seagulls woke us up. Harry invited me to tea and then I had to pedal powerfully to catch up on the lost time. Throughout Holland there is a "Knootpunt" system for cyclists. You really only need to follow the numbers. However, the signage is quite pathetic in places and so I acted several times. It was not until 15:00 clock I arrived completely late and rather exhausted at Otto's father in Ridderkerk. We did not have much time. After we said goodbye to Elsa and Otto's father, we jumped on the ferry and drove past the windmills in the direction of South Holland.

After 60km late at night was finally over. The next day became one of the hottest days in Holland since the beginning of the measurements. The thermometer rose to noon to over 38 degrees. We tried to cool down in one of the many lakes and got to know some nice Dutch people eating ice cream. The locals often speak German or English quite well and with Otto, my personal interpreter, communication was a breeze.

The evening was spent in Bakel with a few friends from Otto's hiking groups. Lisbeth and Rien spoiled us like kings and Rien showed us some curios from his collection. He has next to a bicycle with umbrella, a hat collection (about 2,000 pieces), an orange beetle and the matching throne.

For dinner we went to the cafeteria, which belongs to her son and were spoiled with delicious fries. Coincidentally, we drove over to Luc and Angela the next morning, where they gave us a few more energy donors on the way. Hartelijk thanks to Lisbeth, Rien, Angela and Luc for their great hospitality and do-noe!

Fortunately, the temperatures in the coming days were a lot more pleasant and the weather remained mostly beautiful. That's what happens when angels travel! Every day we mixed a lot of garlic and onions into our food. That gave some nice concerts on the way. Fortunately, the bike paths were wide enough that you could ride side by side. Otherwise one of us would have to suffer a lot. Otto also showed me some Dutch specialties. Especially the Vlaai, a kind Streuselkucken, I found very delicious.

Already on the fourth day came the last Knootpunt and thus the border to Germany. After almost a month in the Netherlands. Cycling in Holland is a real dream and the Dutch (and inside!) Are funny people. Certainly I will once again cycle through here with Kurd (my bike).

Immediately after the border we were welcomed in Aachen by Philipp. I visited him last time in Phnom Penh. He has been back in Germany since the beginning of May and now works at the Post. By spoking the old rim on my rear wheel had formed a high blow. Luckily Philipp knew a bike shop that could fix the damage the same day. In the meantime Philipp showed us the cathedral, the thermal springs and the ice cream parlor.

For dinner there was a delicious pizza and of course a lot to talk about. Since Otto did not have endless time, we had to travel the next day. Philipp recommended that we take the train from Aachen to Cologne, as the route to cycling is not supposed to be very spectacular. If you get off the train in Cologne, you are right in front of the imposing cathedral.

The Cologne Cathedral (official name Hohe Domkirche St. Peter and Mary) is a Roman Catholic church in Cologne under the patronage of the Apostle Peter. The Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Cologne was also the parish church of the cathedral community until the end of 2009; since 2010 she is exemt from the pastoral care. Since 1996, Cologne Cathedral has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Cologne Cathedral is the second highest church building in Europe with 157.38 meters height after Ulm Cathedral and the third highest in the world.

The Cologne Cathedral is one of the world's largest cathedrals in Gothic style. The huge area of ​​the west facade, including the two towers of more than 7100 m², has not been surpassed to this day. From 1880 to 1884 it was the tallest building in the world. In the 1960s, the Cologne Cathedral provided its two northern aisles also Islamic services of Turkish migrant workers. For example, at the end of Ramadan in 1965 around 400 Muslims spread their prayer rugs in the Cologne Cathedral to celebrate the end of the month of fasting with prayers and religious singing.

Cozy we drove in glorious weather in the further along the Rhine. Especially on the second day the route between Koblenz and Mainz was fantastic. The Rhine has eaten here in the hills and in the Middle Ages, many castles emerged here. The Romans have also left their mark here. This can be seen especially in the many vineyards. Otto had to stop constantly because of me, so I could capture the area photographically.

Shortly after Mainz, in Bodenheim, we visited Michael. We met in Iran last year. He drove his motorcycle through Pakistan and India. Now he is already planning the next one. With good wine we talked until late into the night.

My tire had a tissue damage after more than 20,000km and the bottom bracket had loosened. So my Kurd had to go back to the workshop. Otto decided to continue on the same day to be in Basel on time. I took one day rest and said goodbye to the Flying Dutchman after 7 days together. Many thanks Ottili for the fun time with you and see you soon in little Switzerland!

Michael showed me the old town of Mainz in the afternoon. Mainz is the capital and with its 200,000 inhabitants at the same time the largest city in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate. Mainz sees itself as a stronghold of the Rhenish Carnival. The population of Mainz in the first decade of the 20th Century exceeded the limit of 100,000, making the city a major city.

The First World War ended the brief upswing that started after the city walls had been sanded. After the war, the Golden Twenties almost completely passed the Mainz again occupied by the French. After the end of the occupation in 1930, there were again extensive incorporations, which doubled the city area. National Socialism was initially unable to gain a foothold in Mainz. Still on the seizure of power on January 30, 1933, more people demonstrated against the new system than for it.

Nevertheless, the 3,000-member Jewish community of Mainz was almost completely deported. The city was spared from World War II until 1942. The first heavy bombing increased to the worst attack on 27 February 1945, when Mainz was almost completely destroyed by British bombers and about 1200 people were killed. Incendiary bombs had sparked a firestorm. At the end of the war, the city was 80% destroyed.

Mainz was again occupied by the French after the war. The border of the French and American occupation zones formed at the height of Mainz the Rhine. In 1962, the city celebrated its 2000th anniversary, based on the then (unoccupied) view that the Romans under Agrippa already 38 v. Chr. Founded a military camp at the confluence of the Rhine and Main. The emergence of Mainz-Lerchenberg as a new district after 1962 and large-scale incorporations around Mainz in 1969 ended the stagnation in urban development resulting from the Second World War and offered extensive expansion and development opportunities for the city. With the settlement of ZDF on the Lerchenberg began in 1976, the expansion of the media city of Mainz.

In the news, I learned that conflicts broke out in the Pamir (Tajikistan), where I drove off last year. The government's approach seems pretty useless. Instead of decimating the problems by force, they'd better start helping people in the region with sustainable projects. I have seldom met such helpful and hospitable people as in the Pamir on my journey.

In the evening Michael and I visited the wine market in Mainz. Then it was time to say goodbye the next morning. Thank you Michael for the time in Bodenheim and see you soon, somewhere on this planet!

With the new tire I rolled nicely down the Rhine and arrived in Heidelberg the next day. The castle and the old town provide a great backdrop. Unfortunately the weather was not great. Just as I was struggling up the slope, it started to rain. So I left pretty soon again from the city.

Shortly before the Hockenheim Ring I set up my tent and continued the next day on the French side of the Rhine.

At the campsite I met Marlies in the evening. She is on the road for 2 months and started her tour in Sweden before she took the ferry to Germany and now cycled back to Switzerland.

We drove the 56km the next day to Strasbourg together. There I visited the cathedral and crossed the Rhine in the direction of the Black Forest.

Finally, after a long time, the first real climbs came again and on the hills you had a great view of the area. My destination was Herbertingen on the Danube, where Albert and his family invited me last year. Of course, after so long, there was a lot to talk about. Thank you Albert!

Unfortunately, the weather changed completely the next day. The rain was henceforth my daily companion. The drive over the Swabian Alp to the Wutach Gorge was still very scenic.

During the rainy season, I fled under one of the many bus shelters and tried to regulate my Schoggi shortcoming. Finally, my body has to slowly get used to the huge assortment of chocolate. On Sunday morning I passed the Rothaus brewery. Unfortunately, the master brewer was still under the table which meant I had to do without my Tannenzäpfle. At least I could take a proof photo.

The day remained largely dry and the descent down to the Rhine was after the many climbs a real treat. In Rheinfelden I crossed the border and was back on Swiss soil after 17 months.

Suddenly people speak Swiss German and Swiss flags are hanging everywhere. The cows also greeted me with their big cowbells while driving over the Hauenstein to Olten. At dawn I arrived in Herzogenbuchsee and visited Sabine. We met last year in Yazd, Iran. She drove in 7 months from Switzerland along the Silk Road to China. For dinner, I was spoiled with a real helping of Älplermakaronen.

Exactly the perfect meal for the first day in the home. Sabine accompanied me the next day with her Fuchur (her bike) on the journey via Bern to Friborg. Of course we had to take a picture in front of the Bundeshaus. The Federal Council was unfortunately not present to receive me honorably, but I could finally enjoy my first bottle of Coop Rivella!

On the way we met Andi from Bonn. He attacks the Alps with his bicycle for 3 weeks before returning home.

Also in Switzerland, the bike paths like to make a short detour into the hinterland. So we finally arrived after a few detours to Friborg. Sabine is definitely superior to Velotechnic.

In Friborg there was a great reunion with the Nomadbikefamily After 2.5 years on the journey, they also found their way back home. For dinner there were delicious noodles and a lot to tell. Sabine had to leave after breakfast. Thanks a lot Sabine for your great welcome in Switzerland!
On Tuesday evening we celebrated the 6th birthday of Leroy.

After that, this short visit was already over. Merci beaucoup Sandra, Ella, Patrick, Manu and Leeroy et a la prochaîne! At the end of my trip, I'm doing a little Tour de Suisse. My journey will be over at the end of September. If you have the time and inclination to accompany me on Saturday the 29th of September on my last leg from Lake Hallwiler via Lenzburg to Baden, you can roll in front of the Hallwil Castle at 10:00 am with lots of good humor. No matter what the weather. Only the tough get into the garden!