Click here to see my progress so far: Auntie Helen’s Berlin To London ride
My cycle ride is featuring on the Help For Heroes website at the moment: Berlin to London on a recumbent trike
If you think what I’m doing is pretty cool, perhaps you might sponsor me to give me some encouragement and, more importantly, to help a really good cause. All sponsorship greatly appreciated! The link to my sponsor page is here: Auntie Helen’s sponsorship page
Saturday 5 May 2012
I slept really well again and woke up to rather different weather – drizzle and cooler (about 10 degrees today, I think, compared to 20+ previously).
I went down to breakfast at 7:15, only to discover that they don’t start serving till 8:00.
When 8:00 finally came and I went down to breakfast the room was already full of other guests – all of whom were wearing greens, browns or camouflage and many of whom had leather trousers and dark shirts with elbow patches. I was the only person in bright colours and felt a bit conspicuous! This is clearly a hotel for hunting parties and I presume everyone will melt into the forest behind this building all day and shoot things, or whatever. There were a lot of young men with their fathers here but no young women (apart from me, if I can be called ‘young’).
So after my later breakfast it was 9am by the time I was ready to leave. I fetched Alfie from the garden shed and then saw there was a group of chaps about to go hunting standing around in the car park. There’s nothing like seeing lots of spotty teenagers with guns to make you feel bold so I asked one of the fathers to take a photo of me – I thought it was about time I featured in one or two. I explained how to use the iPhone camera but he proceeded to hold the phone with the screen facing me, trying to peer through the camera lens as far as I could tell. His son sighed, took the phone off him and took a pic of me. Score one to the modern youth with their technological awareness. Anyway, here’s the pic – and it appears my face has caught the sun rather considerably over the last week!
I set off in very light drizzle with occasional dry spells. Although my weather app said it would rain all day and might be up to 9mm of rain, it occured to me that 9mm over twelve hours isn’t necessarily all that much, and so it transpired. The rain wasn’t bad at all, my baseball cap kept the water out of my eyes and there wasn’t much spray from the roads (which can be a bit of an issue on a recumbent). I half hoped that the rain might wash some of the dust off Alfie but I suppose it will just turn it into mud.
The first mile was a fantastic downhill whizz, although my brakes protested at the bottom again. I think the disc pads are full of muck and now water so were squealing away quite impressively.
This rolling included, of course, far more uphills than down (or so it seemed) and I was also unlucky in that most of the significant uphills tended to be as I was cycling north (I did some north, some west today) and there was a fairly strong northerly wind so I was crawling up some hills at 4-5mph. Mostly on the main road, occasionally on a cycle track to the side, but all the roads today were white roads on my map (i.e. not equivalent of A-roads) except for one short stretch on an A-road equivalent, so it was a much pleasanter riding experience today than yesterday.
My B-road route (well, I think the Germans call them K roads) was a bit more direct than the meandering R1 official cycle route and it took me through Kohnsen, Vardeilsen, Amelsen, Lüthorst, Wangelnstedt, Stadtoldendorf, Arholzen, Lobach and Bevern. I stopped in Bevern, having decided to stop for a break about twenty minutes before but finding no bakeries in Arholzen or Lobach. In Bevern I stopped at a bakery and asked for a cup of tea but the lady said they didn’t do hot drinks – she recommended I went to the café in the REWE supermarket 200 metres down the road. So I did, and it was a fab suggestion as the moment I walked through the door, feeling rather wet (it had decided to rain a bit more convincingly for the last five minutes) I saw a lady making waffles and selling them for 50 cents each. Well I had to have two, of course, and then I got a cup of tea from the bakery (which was free of charge – they only seem to charge you if you use their teabags) and had a fantastically warming snack.
I returned to my bike which I’d left at the bike stand unlocked and with my clothing pannier still on it (I take the other pannier with money, iGadgets and more wherever I go). There were another nine bicycles in this bike stand and not a single one was locked. One had a trailer attached which had two cratesful of beer – just left out in the open. Not something one would particularly expect to see in the UK!
From Bevern I went through Holzminden which was a nice bit of downhill and then crossed a very large river on a huge bridge. The river was the Weser and is the border between Niedersachsen and Nordrhein-Westfalen so I had now crossed over to my original county. Readers of this may think I am an Essex Girl, having grown up in Essex and living there now, but I am actually from NRW originally.
Straight after the bridge over the Weser there was a big t-junction with the B64 which looked like a pretty busy road. Before I got to the t-junction I saw a cycle path beside the road and decided to be a good cyclist and get on it, assuming there would be a bicycle traffic light crossing up ahead (I could see general traffic lights).
I pootled along this cycle path for 30 metres and then found this:
So that’s another cycle path to nowhere then. I couldn’t safely get up the bank so turned round, cycled back along the path for 30 metres, joined the road and behaved like a car – which was much less effort!
I have noticed that as yet no-one has shouted at me for being on the road and not the cycle path. On some of my previous cycle tours along German rivers that tends to happen if you’re not on the Radweg (which, by law, you must use if it’s there). Perhaps because there are fewer cyclists on the R1 it’s less annoying for motorists but I’ve not been shouted at in six days of cycling and I’ve often been on the road beside an apparently very decent cycle path.
I stayed on the A-road (although on its cycle path to the side, which was a decent one) for the five miles or so between Holzminden and Höxter. At Höxter I turned off towards Lutmarsen in a more northerly, and consequently uphill and hard work, direction. This turned into a lovely, quiet, attractive cycle along a little valley between some hills. There was hardly any traffic coming my way but the other way had lots of really lovely cars – there must have been some kind of rally on somewhere. Aston Martins, Bentleys, posh old cars which I couldn’t identify, about twenty different interesting cars went past. As a cyclist you tend to notice old cars by smell as much as anything else – there is a very specific odour to the LRP petrol that they use and it was noticeable as these cars whizzed past. Of course I never had my camera at the ready, despite trundling along uphill at just 4mph so I could probably have taken a reasonably steady shot.
Because of the cold weather my Alfine hub gear complained once or twice in its ninth gear. I tend to find the Alfine is sensitive to the cable length; if it is adjusted correctly (there are two little yellow marks which should be lined up in sixth gear) then it works perfectly, but in winter the cable obviously shrinks a bit so the alignment is different. Two days or so ago it was 27 degrees and I had adjusted the cable to be right for that temperature (there’s a little barrel adjuster on the trigger shifter). Now we were down to 8-9 degrees the cable was a bit short and it meant that sometimes ninth gear skipped into neutral, which is a bit surprising when it happens but you just change up a gear and things are OK again. If I remember I’ve do the adjustment before I set off tomorrow morning as the forecast is a cold and rainy day again.
It was a long old way up this valley (and it was a lot of uphill too!) but eventually I arrived at Vörden. I thought I might stop there for lunch, even though it was only another five miles to Nieheim, but as I arrived in Vörden the rain started to become really heavy and my legs got pretty wet and cold. I decided it was best to press on so I could have a warm shower at the hotel.
From Vörden I had a fantastic downhill run to Bredenborn and then I was swooping towards Nieheim when my Garmin asked me to turn off onto a track to the left rather than staying on the main road. I was a bit indecisive about this (well, for the twenty seconds of warning I had) but in the end decided to go with the Garmin as it was displaying a shorter distance to Nieheim than the road signs. It turned out this was a shortcut but it did involve going up a hill and down the other side – the road went round the hill. Oh well, it’s all good for my fitness grinding up these hills!
When I got to Nieheim my Garmin sent me off to the south before I hit the centre as I had programmed in the location of the hotel. Its name should have tipped me off about where it would be positioned – Hotel Berghof (Berg meaning mountain). Yes, it was up yet another huge hill. And by huge hill I mean super-steep, if only about three quarters of a mile long. I actually had to put my trike into first gear out of its 33 for the final stretch – I don’t think I’ve used that gear in months!
But the climb was worth it as this is the best hotel yet. I booked using the HRS iPhone app yesterday (HRS is a German hotel booking site) for 42 Euro and it’s clearly excellent value for money. The WiFi is super-fast which is a real treat as well. I have a large room with a balcony that looked out onto… Alfie
He has since been installed in the hotel owner’s locked garage.
This is the view over Nieheim:
And this is the view of the hearty Gulaschsuppe that I ordered once I got in, wet and a bit chilled. It had huge chunks of beef floating around in it and was just what I needed to warm me up. The hotel owner chap was really friendly and helpful as well.
Here is a pic of my room (before I emptied out my panniers and made it look as though a bomb had gone off):
And here is a view of the traditional cycle tourer’s bathroom. Things hanging in the shower…
And that most wonderful of inventions, a heated towel rail…
Because it was a colder day today I had extra layers so much more needed to be washed. Tomorrow is also cold but then it warms up again to 18 or 19 so I should be able to get the shorts out again (they dry more quickly).
After my shower I decided to see if I could rustle up a cup of tea whilst I wrote this blog. The hotel owner asked if I’d like a small or a large Kännchen (that’s a pot) and I said large – I got a gallon flask of hot water!
I also bought my first chocolate for five or six days (if you exclude the chocolate topping on that giant cake yesterday). I think I need some more energy as I haven’t been eating enough on this trip really, I haven’t felt like I wanted to. But it’s hard not to want a Snickers if it’s there, looking at you.
I’m thinking I will try to cycle as far as Gütersloh tomorrow which is a bit further than the last few days but it’s a large enough place that I think there should be a good choice of hotel (I may well book one this evening again as it’s nice to be sure I’ll have a room). The cold I have been nursing for a few days seems to be easing a little which is a relief, particularly as the weather is now a bit grotty. I will probably be right as rain by the time I get home again.
Statistics for today:
Distance travelled: 44.11 miles
Moving time: 4 hours 48 minutes 46 seconds
Maximum speed: 31.3 mph
Average speed: 9.2 mph
Average heart rate: 121
Maximum heart rate: 154
Calorie burn: 1,792 calories