With good weather and a lack of something to do on my day off, I decided cycle to Cologne. My plan was to leave my flat in Poppelsdorf (Bonn) and cycle north, staying as close to the River Rhein as possible. For the start of the trip I took my usual route into the city. After about 5 km, once I had left the city, I was on part of the cycle path I had never cycled before and making my way along with the river to my right.
After about 15 km, I cycled into Wesseling. The Rhein drifted away from the bike path as it flowed into the first of two large horse shoe bends. The bike path also ended and I found myself cycling through some quiet village roads. I passed through the village pretty quickly and from there on the skyline was dominated by the large chimneys of the Shell Oil Refinery, which were bellowing out smoke. Soon enough I was cycling among the factories. The next 20 km were dominated mainly with large industrial areas, busy roads and confusing junctions that didn’t mark the way to Cologne (for bikes).
Although this stretch is not what you would imagine when you think of cycling along the Rhein, I still found this sprawling industrial area intriguing but also unnerving. An interesting landscape to cycle through but not somewhere I would want to stay long in.
About 10 km or so before Cologne, the road rejoined the Rhein and turned into a proper bike path again. From there it was an easy cycle all the way to the city centre, only having to dodge joggers and other cyclist from time to time. I continued on to the Kölner Dom, right in the city centre. The massive gothic cathedral with its two 157m tall spires seemed like a good destination for the day. After a quick break and eating a sandwich, I crossed the Hohenzollernbrücke. This bridge is adorned with countless numbers of pad-locks. At a wild guess I would say there are hundreds of thousands of them but there could also be millions, if anyone knows of a relatively accurate approximate estimation then please let me know.
The tradition attached to the locks is that lovers lock them on the bridge and then throw the keys into the water, signifying their love for one another. A beautiful sentiment but the structural integrity of the bridge has often been questioned due the extra weight added by so many locks. Similar love bridges around the world have had their locks removed in fear of it becoming unsafe but with the heavy traffic of trains that this bridge can withstand, I sure it can also handle a few million locks.
I cycled back home on the other side of the Rhein. The first few kilometer were a bit dull as I left Cologne but after that I spent the rest of the way passing through agricultural land and small villages. Once back in Bonn I crossed the Kennedy Bridge and cycled back to my flat, completing a 80km circuit. It has been a long time since I have cycled anything close to this distance and It’s good to know I still can. My bike is still performing wonderfully, even though I have cycled it through all sorts of conditions during the winter and have only done some minimal repairs on over the past few months.
I wasn’t to tired when I got home, only a little saddle sore. I was very hungry though and I had a mad craving for omelette. I checked the fridge, no eggs. This wouldn’t do. I hopped back on my bike and cycled down to the shops and stocked up on all the ingredients for a massive feed.