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
Monday 7 May 2012
I had an enjoyable moussaka at a Greek restaurant last night although it was a good fifteen minute walk to the first restaurant that was open and the evening was quite chilly.
I slept well (I had clearly got used to the cigar smoke smell eventually!) but woke up at 6am this morning, keen to get going.
I have pre-booked my hotel for this evening, the Hotel Marco Polo in Münster. Part of the reason for this was that hotels looked pretty expensive and I did need to be near the railway station as my good friend Stefan is getting the train to Münster to visit me this afternoon, thus if I were in one of the cheaper hotels several miles out then I’d need to get on the trike again. One of the hotel booking sites had a good price (well, relatively good) on the last of the single rooms in the Marco Polo so I went for that. This hotel is right next to the railway station so it ought to simplify matters!
I have been using three different hotel booking sites, all of which have Apps for the iPhone. The Hotel.de website which I have used for many years has generated the hotel.info app; the booking website hrs.de, which I think is one of the best on a ‘real’ computer for Germany, has the iHotel app, and yesterday I booked through Booking.com (which I think might be Dutch) so downloaded their app. The Booking.com app has the significant advantage that you can filter for hotels with wireless internet – with the other two apps I have to read the blurb on the individual hotels. They by no means have all the hotels listed but do tend to have the larger ones and sometimes it’s useful to know you do have a room, especially for today when I didn’t want to waste time looking for a hotel when Stefan was on his way to visit.
Last night I had another chat with Poppy the dog on Skype!
Poppy had been out sailing with James yesterday but is apparently not much of a seadog and sat shivering in the cockpit and howled when James went forward to do something to the sails. Sounds just like I used to be on the boat!
One good (I think!) thing about the Hotel Busch in Gütersloh is that something about the bathroom took me back to when I first started to visit Germany, about fifteen years ago but in the meantime has largely changed. What is it? Frequent visitors to Germany/Austria will recognise what I say whem I mention toilets with shelves.
I think this is partly because the Germans are generally a bit more interested in their digestive systems than Brits are (we tend to ignore them or soothe them with tea and chocolate) and a toilet with a shelf allows you to check that all is OK before you flush. However it can seem a bit yuk to visitors and these toilets now seem to be being replaced almost entirely with toilet designs that Brits might be familiar with – except that German toilets seem to now hang off the wall rather than standing on a pedestal. I am always worried that the bit of wall they are hanging off might crack when I sit down, but I console myself with the fact they must be tested to the weight of solid German types like Helmut Kohl so should manage to cope with me. So far so good.
Anyway, today dawned cloudy but the rain seemed to be keeping away and at least the temperature was due to be a bit warmer (although not till the afternoon – it was likely to be single figures all morning). The forecast for later in the week in Germany is good although in Holland it’s looking to be more like British weather – cold and rainy and windy. Still, I’ve had almost a week of fab sunshine so I mustn’t complain.
I went down to breakfast at 7am and, after having my cereal and then cheese and ham, checked on Alfie who was stored in the corner of the breakfast room. All looked fine – still no punctures (famous last words!)
I paid my bill (40 Euro) and set off just before 8am – my starts seem to be getting earlier and earlier! It was cool out so I wore both my windproof and my waterproof jacket, as well as gloves and two pairs of socks. It turned out that even two pairs of socks aren’t enough to keep feet warm in sandals when the temperature is just 7 degrees. Oh well!
I headed out of Gütersloh via Pavenstädt. I realised almost straight after leaving the village and getting onto the main road that there was a decent cycle path on the other side of the road but I couldn’t get to it as there weren’t any obvious access ramps – I would have to wait for a junction or something. Of course, immediately after I noticed this I heard a car coming up slowly behind me – a police car. He wound down his window, favoured me with a rather slack-jawed look and pointed at the cycle path. I started babbling on about missing its start (which was true) and he wound his window up and sped off. Fortunately there was a ramp to the cycle path almost straight away so I was able to get on it, and continued along it for what felt like miles (into a headwind, of course!)
I saw a number of signs on the path to say it was the Pixel Radweg and then came across a carved piece of stone which explained that this cycle path had been created voluntarily by the citizens of the area in their spare time. Rather a nice community project, I thought, and made the journey between Pixel and Gütersloh rather nicer than it would have been before.
From Pixel I turned southwest and went through a very arable-looking area which bore quite a few similarities to home. This view, for example, could almost be Essex.
And I thought it was time I took a photo of one of the many houses which have roofs entirely covered with solar panels.
Although the scenery wasn’t entirely unlike Essex, of course in our part of the world you don’t tend to see more than ten solar panels on a building as that’s the maximum amount you used to be allowed with the Feed-In Tariffs. Unlike Germany, clearly.
I saw several fields which looked like they were for potatoes (rows of high mounds of earth) but covered with a long row of black plastic, a bit like you sometimes see for strawberries to start. Then I noticed a field further on that had people working in it – there was a contraption that ran on wheels and lifted the plastic and the worker harvested whatever was underneath – which turned out to be white asparagus. I meant to take a photo but had gone past – I’ll take one when I see another field, I thought, and of course didn’t see any other fields!
When I got to Lette I saw a rather attractive, relatively new church which had its clock built separately and behind glass. I took a few pics, although unfortunately I seem to have appeared in all of them as a reflection!
I was making better progress now that I had changed direction slightly and was less into the wind. I was mostly riding directly on the quiet roads now as they were less busy than the earlier roads and didn’t have cycle paths.
After eighteen miles, and still at only ten in the morning, I arrived at a bakery in Ostenfelde and stopped for an iced nutty pastry ring thingie and a cup of tea (the tea was free, of course!)
After I had eaten I asked if they had a loo and they took me through to the staff one which involved going through lots of huge rooms where they clearly do the baking and cake making and other preparation. It’s not like a UK bakery which gets it bread and stuff part-baked from the freezer, in Germany they often make everything from scratch every day.
I meant to say that the other day, too, after I had the Waffle in the REWE supermarket I asked for the loo. In the UK if you provide a sit-down place for food that you buy there, they have to provide a loo. I’m not sure if that’s the same in Germany but anyway I was taken to the staff toilet in the REWE supermarket warehouse on that occasion.
I was ready to hit the road again at 10:30, hoping that it would get a little warmer for my poor toes!
I noticed a large number of wayside shrines as I was cycling today. I’ve seen some on other days but there were noticeably larger numbers today. They vary in size, complexity and artistry enormously – this was a random one I chose to photograph.
I was making good progress through Westkirchen and then found myself at a large junction with some road signs with familiar names.
My friend Stefan who I am seeing today lives in Hamm. I wasn’t that far away – nor from Münster!
I carried on through Freckenhorst. Somewhere along the way I saw this interesting totem pole thingie with various different signs hanging on it. I think it might be another community cycle path thing.
From Freckenhorst I carried along the main road (but on a cycle path) towards Everswinkel. This was a lovely long, smooth ride which helped my average speed a bit.
In Everswinkel the Garmin directed me off the main road and onto a side road which was a slightly shorter distance (and had much less traffic). There were lots of bus stops along this road, all of which had huge numbers of bicycles locked up there. I assume people ride to the bus stop, then get the bus into Münster. Park & Ride!
I was soon back on the main road (which isn’t officially a B road but was getting quite a lot of traffic) and there was no cycle path so this was a slightly less pleasant bit of the day’s ride but as up till this point it had been low traffic, good cycle paths I can’t complain. And very soon I found myself on the outskirts of Münster.
It was just two miles from here to the centre, all along a cycle path which was pretty decent. I passed the Hauptbahnhof where my hotel was, but as it was only 13:00 it was too early to check in so I carried on into the centre of town on the cycle path to get some lunch.
Outside the church there was some kind of event by the police – lots of police on motorbikes and stands saying they would service your bicycle, etc. I trundled in to the area and peered around. Lots of men in uniform, various people doing things to bicycles. Then my eye was caught by a sandwich board with writing on it. I had a quick look down – it was a list of rules for bicycles and the amount of fine that can be charged for failures (i.e. no bell is a 10 Euro fine). I got out of there quickly before they checked my trike; although it has a bell it doesn’t have reflective pedals (not sure if these are obligatory in Germany but they are in the UK) and I don’t have a rear reflector either… I didn’t want to have a run-in with the police today!
I also saw a most bizarre sight – a policeman on a Segway which was marked up with police markings. Rather amusing!
After lunch I made my way to the hotel, not sure what to expect. It was right behind the station and could have been a bit seedy so I was slightly nervous.
A very, very friendly receptionist welcomed me. I asked if there was bike storage and she said no, but I could bring Alfie into the reception area for now and she’d think of something. So there he was, next to the sofa where people can sit and wait.
The rooms are all named, rather than numbered, and I am in Venedig (Venice). It turned out to be a huge room with even a little kitchenette.
After my shower and clothes washing I went down for a cup of tea and discovered the receptionist had moved Alfie to somewhere more comfortable – he’s now in the bar area!
So I put my information boards on him and left him to his drink.
Stefan will be arriving shortly by train – I may write a bit more about Münster later!
Statistics for today:
Distance travelled: 42.85 miles
Moving time: 4 hours 32 minutes 15 seconds
Maximum speed: 20.1 mph
Average speed: 9.4 mph
Average heart rate: 107
Maximum heart rate: 152
Calorie burn: 1,344 calories