Today was a tough one, in fact the only really tough day of the Tour so far.
It was not the longest day, we ended up with 133km (the longest day was 156km)
It did not have the most climbing, we ended up with 305 metres (the most climbing was 598)
It was not on the fastest roads (other days used more Bundesstraßen)
However, it was the busiest day for traffic and we went through the most built-up sections. We also experienced lots of bad driving.
But it was a day cycling so it was good!
Breakfast at the hotel was from 06:00 on weekdays and Saturdays and 07:30 on Sundays and Public Holidays. As today was the public holiday of Fronleichnam (Corpus Christi) we didn’t get up particularly early. But I was peckish, and it suddenly occurred to us that not everywhere has Fronleichnam as a public holiday. Mr Google helped us to discover that for Niedersachsen it isn’t a day off, so we went for breakfast at 7am and it was open…
After breakfast we extracted the bikes from the garage. Yesterday I had adjusted my parking brake to make it a bit firmer and that had worked well.
Earlier in my tour reports I showed pictures of all the luggage in Millie but I realise I didn’t show pictures of the items I have with me, so here is one.
It’s a light blue dry bag which is very long and I can stuff that past Millie’s suspension and into the void at the back. The darker blue rucksack with iPad in goes into th dry bag once it is in place. The shoes go on top, then the seat is in place and nothing can be seen. (My red tool bag was still in Millie for this photo). I have a Velomobile bag (triangular shape) each side, and the water bottles each side. Works well.
Here is our planned route for the day:
We left Grafhorst at 08:30 and there was lots more traffic on the road than had been when we arrived last night. We were heading towards Wolfsburg, home of VW, and indeed the vast majority of cars on the road were VWs.
I was riding ahead as we left Danndorf on the approach to Wolfsburg at Reislingen. We had both been riding on the cycle paths but I decided to pop onto the road for a short stretch and whizzed ahead over a traffic light crossing. I rolled on a bit further, waiting for Klaus as I knew he had been caught by the lights. I had rolled round the corner so couldn’t see well but he didn’t appear. I tried calling him on the radio but got no response.
I was about to phone him when he appeared. He had been on the cycle path which forced him to turn up the L290 towards Vorsfelde, so turning right, rather than going straight across. He wasn’t able to turn round for quite some distance but eventually joined me.
Just a few minutes later a similar thing happened – I was ahead and realised Klaus was no longer behind me. Again I had to wait for a while before he appeared. More cycle path problems (I was being bolshy and using the roads).
We were now approaching the centre of Wolfsburg, home of the car. It really is, although it did also have a random white giraffe.
We were mostly using the cycle paths now but they weren’t great. Car is king in Wolfsburg and cyclists and pedestrians are much less important. But seeing a place like Wolfsburg makes you realise how dangerously dependent this whole region is on VW. If something happens to VW then this whole city would collapse.
We finally escaped the clutches of Wolfsburg and rode through Fallersleben, Sülfeld, Allerbüttel and Calberlah. Klaus suggested we stop for a cake in Calberlah as he was feeling really fed up with the traffic and cycle infrastructure and needed a break, even though we had only ridden 35km. But I was happy to stop too as I needed a drink.
We found a bakery and had tea/coffee and cake.
We had a half hour stop and then it was time to get going again. We followed lots of signs to Gifhorn but headed further west past Isenbuttel through Leiferde, Hillerse and then Edemissen which was our original plan for the first stop (although at 55km that would have been a bit too far I think).
We continued on, the day was warming up and as we approached Lehrte Klaus said he wanted to stop to buy some drink. Lehrte is where the name Lehrter Bahnhof for the Hauptbahnhof in Berlin comes from – it was the station for Hannover, although it is a surprisingly long way from Hannover!
Anyway, we found a Penny Markt and I bought an ice cream and Klaus some water. After a brief stop we continued on.
We had some sectors where we could ride faster but others where we struggled with the traffic and found we had to use cycle paths. We were going round the outskirts of Hannover now and it was a big sprawl of buildings, roads and again lots of traffic.
It was very warm and I wanted to stop for lunch as it was 13:00 and we had ridden for 95km so we stopped at an Eiscafé near a bridge over the Mittellandkanal.
Klaus had a yoghurt ice cream thingie and pulled a face to show what he thought of the traffic situation today.
I had a very nice piece of cheesecake!
Then it was time to continue on the final 38km but boy was the first 10km of this hard. I guess we didn’t average more than 18km/h as it was fiddly cycle paths which kept crossing the road, traffic lights, cones and bollards…
There were some fast stretches of road but there was so much traffic we felt we really had to stick to the cycle paths. We both saw some very bad overtaking manoeuvres when we were riding on the road and felt it wiser to slow down our pace and take the cycle paths but they were very bumpy and rattly and annoying.
We rode south of Hannover Airport and then finally left the busy main road and made our way onto quieter roads to Osterwald Oberende, Osterwald Unterende and Frielingen. Finally we could push a bit and increase the speed.
At Bordenau we crossed the river Leine and then rode through the excellently-named Poggenhagen where we waited at a level crossing for a train. We were out in the countryside now at last, but were hot and tired after our tricky ride.
We passed a large airfield and then were on the final stretch to Großenheidorn and then Steinhude. We found our hotel and were so relieved to be there!
We planned to have a short walk around Steinhude before dinner but there were clearly thunderstorms on the way so we decided to eat early after just a short look at the lake.
I had Spargel with Schnitzel as it is almost the end of asparagus time.
Klaus was feeling pooped so went to sleep after dinner. I felt the need for chocolate but didn’t have any in stock so resolved to walk to Lidl. I realised it would close in 10 minutes so had a very brisk walk but was pleased to be able to restock the M&M supply (don’t melt in the bags in hot weather).
I was treated to a beautiful sunset over the lake.
Tomorrow is a longer day, originally 160km to Rheine but it will be 5km shorter as we have changed hotels (due to no bike storage) and will be staying in a small village before Rheine. Once again we have been incredibly lucky with the weather today and the forecast suggests we might just stay dry tomorrow too!!