Tuesday 4 December 2012: Windberg and Willich
A half-circle around Mönchengladbach
Today was my second day in Mönchengladbach and had the only fixed event in the whole holiday – a meeting with Babs from the Toytown Forum (for English speakers in Germany). She suggested that we met at 2:15 at the Landescafé Streithof which is east of Willich (12 miles from my apartment) so I had plotted a route there and back whilst at home and looked forward to getting out to somewhere new.
However, the morning turned out to be clear and bright with a fair amount of blue sky. It seemed a shame to waste good cycling weather so I decided to head off on the circular ride around MG that I had vaguely thought of doing yesterday. If I was running out of time then I could go straight over to Willich and meet Babs, or maybe I would have time to go home first for lunch.
Here is Alfie all ready to go outside the apartment.
I started off by riding south towards Rheydt, down the cycle track in the middle of the road.
I headed west past yet another big cemetery and past the wonderfully-named Pongs before heading northwards to Holt. Some of this riding was on cycle paths alongside fields and it was very attractive.
I carried on northwards to Rönneterberg (which wasn’t very mountainous) on some very attractive paths.
I had now reached the north-western point on the route and the track turned eastwards which afforded me a rather enjoyable tailwind. It was a useful wind as I had a little bit of uphill; not loads, but enough that they named the area “Windberg”.
Windberg was very posh with nice houses, lots of cycle paths through woodland and green spaces and the Botanischer Garten which I cycled through.
They were also fiddling about with a bridge on my route and it was closed so I had to do a bit of a diversion. However this was no bad thing as I passed a very singular second hand shop which had one of Alfie’s distant relatives displayed outside!
As usual when cycling around towns in Germany using cycle paths the going was quite slow and I decided that I was way too early to go to the Streithöfe but I would be pushed for time if I did the second half of this route (I was now halfway round it, having done eight miles) so I decided to ride directly back to the flat.
The Garmin routed me through the pedestrian precinct of Regentenstraße which was nice but strangely empty.
And at the bottom of this road I found myself somewhere I had been before (albeit in a hurry), the main station.
I continued down the main pedestrian shopping street, the Hindenburgstraße, which has buses down the middle (no cars) and a rather nice cycle path.
I stopped off a the supermarket on my way back to get some rolls for lunch. I got in at 11:30 and had to leave at about 12:30 so I had plenty of time for a restorative cup of tea!
Distance: 10.81 miles
Time taken: 1 hour 20 minutes
Average Speed: 8.1mph
Maximum Speed: 19.3mph
To Landescafé Streithof, Willich
So I was heading off to the north east which was great with the strong tailwind but boded a little bit ill for the cycle ride home, especially as heavy rain was forecast at 4pm. Oh well, I had my waterproofs with me and decided I could cope with a bit more weather.
This was my planned route out:
The route out went past the Volksgarten which looked very nice for walking before heading north through Lürrip.
I crossed over a small canal and saw these signs. This one has various cycle paths:
And this one shows that I am leaving the Mönchengladbach region and heading into Neuss which is part of the Rheinland (Neuss is the other side of the Rhein to Düsseldorf).
This goose farm was interesting as a whole bunch of geese had escaped from their fenced area (out of shot to the right) and massacred a field of sweetcorn but also in the background not that far away at all is Mönchengladbach airport. You wouldn’t want a goose to hit you when you are coming in to land!
I headed up to Schiefbahn, crossing over the Nordkanal which comes from/goes to the Rhein further east.
As I was approaching Willich I saw this sign to advertise the farm shop at Broicher Hof; these figures were huge!
I’d made very good time as I was mostly cycling on good, fast cycle paths beside long, straight roads with few junctions/traffic lights and it was only 1:30pm when I had just two miles to go so I diverted into Willich centre and had a little look around, including photographing the church.
I then headed east for a mile and a half until I saw the sign for the Streithöfe
The Hof with the café was a square with buildings around three sides. The open side happened to be the side from which the strong wind was blowing and it was freezing standing outside locking Alfie. I wasn’t looking forward to riding back into the teeth of that wind, particularly if we had icy rain, so I thought it best to fortify myself with some cake.
I had arrived first (was half an hour early) but decided to wait for Babs before eating/drinking. Some chaps who were in the café asked me if I were Norwegian. This was after I had taken off my waterproof coat to display my Union Jack jersey.
The choice of cakes was good (of course).
I popped to use their loo and when I returned Babs had arrived. We said hello and then got down to the important business of choosing cakes and drinks. Well Babs eschewed a cake but I decided to go for the Mohnstreusel (with cream) and of course a cup of tea.
Babs and I chatted for ages (we ended up leaving at 5:45pm so I’d been there for four hours!) In that time I wasn’t able to finish my Mohnstreusel as it was such a generous portion. Me unable to finish a cake!!!!! This is what was left.
Here is a pic of me and Babs. I am holding a little parcel of biscuits that she has baked for me (traditional German Christmas goodies).
It was a really enjoyable afternoon and the mega bonus was that the rain held off until I arrived at the café (it started about 15 minutes after I got there) and had completely stopped by the time I was ready to leave so I had an entirely dry day!
The twelve miles back home in the dark was quite enjoyable and I went at a good speed. It was a slightly different route than my outward journey (I had plotted a variation for the fun of it) although one bit of the road didn’t have a cycle path alongside and seemed a bit busy for me to ride on in the dark so I had to do some Garmin-assisted diversions which were fine.
As I approached MG I had a real hankering for a Chinese take-away for tea. I checked on my Garmin if there were any Chinese restaurants on the way back and it suggested one near the main station so I did a small diversion to there (which became a larger diversion when there were yet more road works without cycle path provision). When I arrived at the Chinese I discovered it was an all-you-can-eat buffet without take-away service. Argh!
So I looked at the next offering on the Garmin which was in Rheydt (i.e. past the flat and a mile further on). I still fancied a Chinese so I went for it and found Lin’s Palace was fairly decent. I brought my spoils back to the flat and had the delay of packing Alfie into the car before I could go up to my room but in due course I was back and scoffing the food. I was very hungry after a big mileage today!
My conversation with Babs about where might be suitable for my year in Germany was very helpful. She suggested the possibility of Kempen which I had visited before and really liked – it’s much smaller than MG and has a very friendly feel. I am beginning to think that MG might actually be a bit too big and I might prefer somewhere smaller. Babs also recommends Krefeld (although I think that is also big) and I might go there tomorrow by bike/train to have a look. Although we have more snow forecast tomorrow, although Thursday is dry and sunshiny. I shall see how energetic I feel tomorrow morning!
Statistics for this afternoon’s ride:
Distance: 28.35 miles
Time taken: 2 hours 44 minutes
Average Speed: 10.3mph
Maximum Speed: 16.8mph
Total distance for today: 39 miles