First of all, if you have looked at the statistics in the above link, did you notice this?
You probably didn’t. I stopped for a coffee and to write up about cycling day 44 in a supermarket. That was it. I stayed sitting in the same chair for about 45 minutes. Somehow, Cyclemeter has assumed that I was doing some kind of jigging on the spot – 4 km of jigging! – and thus the stated distance at the end of the day shouldn’t be 86 km but something around 82 km. I only spotted the discrepancy because there was a marked difference in the time recorded by Cyclemeter and my CatEye computer. It’s annoying rather than anything else but to rectify the situation I will only start recording tomorrow’s cycling after 4 km; that way the overall figures will be more or less correct. On the subject of which… I’m coming up to the half-way point over the next few days – my average is just below the target average of 75 km/day – so for a ride that I guesstimate to be about 7,500 km, I will probably pass the 3,750 km point late on Wednesday or early next Thursday. Something to look forward to!
I’m actually a bit ahead of myself this evening having arrived at the campsite tonight at about 4:30pm. That said, it’s still cold and at only 6:30pm I’ve just crawled into the tent to keep out of the wind. It is all cruelly unseasonable! The tent is a little chamber of warmth (within reason) and now inside I could quite happily spend all evening in here.
Get on with the cycling! (Who said that?) A pleasant yet short cycle to and then over the Rhine was first on the agenda this morning. The cycle route had been built on top of the levies making the experience not dissimilar to parts of the journey along the Loire. Some fabulous cycling infrastructure in the form of a long corkscrew-like access path brought me to the level of the bridge over the Rhine… but shortly afterwards it was back to the bumpy horrors of pavement cycling. Groan. At times I just cycled along the road but this ignighted the vocal wrath of two grumpy old men in their cars. Many more no doubt just stayed silent. Duisburg was a run down version of the more run down areas of Cologne and Dusseldorf and it was with relief that I finally made headway north and then east away from the far from cycling friendly section of the Rhine valley that links the three cities together.
Alas I was heading in the direction of the Ruhr, an area not famed for its great beauty. Could it really be an improvement upon its big adjacent brother, the Rhine? Well actually, yes, it could. Quite a big one. In fairness I wasn’t going to be following the Ruhr itself but the Rhine-Herne Canal that branches off the Ruhr shortly after the Ruhr itself branches away from the Rhine. The thing with canals is that they come with ready made tow paths and they are generally fairly straight. Guided by Google Maps I was to follow the canal as far as the town of Herne before following a recently converted railway track north to Reckling-Hausen. To put the icing on the cake, the town of Reckling-Hausen had taken the radical step of not putting the majority of its cycling paths on the pavement – they were mainly in a clearly marked band on the side of the road – making for a much more comfortable ride. I was finally in a good mood again!
The canal was not an area of outstanding natural beauty but it was a place of moderate interest. Money was being invested to make the most of the coal mining heritage of the area; the twinning of Doncaster with the town of Herten (just to the south of Reckling-Hausen) had even resulted in ‘Doncaster Platz’ (see sign below). The converted railway track was a first class example of how to do such things. A good end to the cycling day. Would I be so lucky with the campsite? Yes I would! I was a bit dubious that Haard-Camping actually existed as Google’s directions sent me on a path through a dense forest but there it was on the edge of the trees. The owner was as friendly as it’s possible to be without taking the piss finding a place for me even though officially the site was full. All for €5. Where’s the catch?