Up before the sun, I hit the road on my last push towards my destination - a 200 km 'sprint' along the Rhein valley. I discovered that the well publicized 'Rhein Radweg' was meant for short, slow, scenic trips between towns along the river, and not for any serious fast touring. It is bumpy, tilted (leaning quite scarily towards the Rhein in some places), and often little more than gravel tracks through wooded areas or along the edge of the river.
So I abandoned the bad conditions and attacked the parallel-running Route 9, primarily meant for autos and trucks. I had seen several cycle tourists and racing bikes using the main road, so I figured to be not only faster, but in good company. Coming out Koblenz, I pedaled through a series of roller coaster hills, cursing the climbs and grinning broadly on the descents. It was about 10 km outside Koblenz when I made my best downhill speed record: 62 kph (38 mph). I was thankful I didn't have the chance to go faster as there was an occasional crosswind coming off of the Rhein river towards the end of the descent, causing me to tap the brakes a few times as the trike was pushed around, nearly into the opposite side of the road.
(I later learned that Carl Georg Rasmussen - the builder of the Leitra-brand velomobiles, who I visit fairly often in Denmark - got a ticket for cycling on what was considered a 'highway' section of Route 9 earlier that same day.)
After that bit of fun, the terrain settled down to a series of gentle climbs and descents. The region afterwards, between Mainz and Lindgenhavn/Mannheim was virtually flat, and I was able to hold a 20-22 kph cruising speed, with little bursts up to 25-27 kph when the wind was at my back.
As the sun began to set, I took my last break, filled my belly with 2 high-energy drink mixes freely given by the cycle folks in Oldenburg. 'Charged up', I attacked the last 35 kilometers, and with a beautifully smooth cycle path with no stop lights, I made a blistering pace of 30-32 kph, occasionally dipping down to 25 kph on some gentle accents. I was determined to make the last leg of my trip as quickly as possible, and damn the consequences!
With my knees and upper thighs fighting for attention with growing spasms of ache and weakness, I rolled into Germersheim shortly after 9pm on Friday. I met up with the builder (Rasmussen) of the *real* Leitra velomobiles (who cheated by riding the train all the way from Copenhagen with one of his creations), chatted with some of the people still setting up for the weekend event, then grabbed a bite to eat at a local Asian restaurant.
Around midnight I pulled up to the entrance of the exhibition hall, built-up a cover hanging off one side of the trike, and crawled inside with my pillow and sleeping bag. I was asleep in minutes.
Next up: the Spezi!