Kempen-Usedom-Berlin-Kempen Day 1: Kempen to Bad Bentheim

The first day of the tour!

This is the planned route:

Before setting off we had breakfast and then packed everything into the bikes. Klaus had much more room than last time we rode to Bad Bentheim (9 days ago) as he had the tent then, as well as an Isomatte and sleeping bag. I had more clothes with me this time – for two weeks of riding I want a few more options, although stupidly only packed two cycling jerseys (I meant to have three) so I shall be alternating London Cyclists with Help For Heroes for the next 15 days.

We posted on the Velomobilforum to say we were going and friend TimB commented “it’s about time Helen went on a proper tour again!” He’s right, too.

The days before we left we were watching the weather forecast and it was looking a bit dodgy. Today was originally forecasted to have showers, 5mm rain, then it turned into thunderstorms and 12mm rain, then when I awoke at 4:15am this morning it said rain early morning, then at 17:00, totalling 6mm. Hopefully we could fit our ride in before the rain if we made good progress.

So at 9:20am we waved goodbye to the family I live with, and to Poppy, and headed out towards the Baltic Sea.

We stopped at the bridge over the A40 motorway, just 2km away, as Klaus managed to drop a spare inner tube through his foot hole. He rescued it and then started sneezing because of his hay fever. I had hay fever tablets with me so fished one out and gave it to him – it seemed to do the trick, although riding Velomobiles is also OK for him as somehow the pollens don’t get to you.

Although we rode to Bad Bentheim last week we had a different route today which started off going via the lovely long road to Sevelen and Issum. We maintained a steady 35km/h for this section and the light tailwind, although not really helping, was still nice to have. We whizzed along, Millie my Velomobile rolling really well again.

I have been really surprised by how well Millie coped with the tour last week. She’s really a racing bicycle, designed to go very fast but not particularly to carry luggage. But I have put three new, stronger wheels on her (two of the old ones were damaged) and some baffles to keep luggage out of the chain (which is mostly open). This means there is much more room for luggage and it doesn’t all end up instantly oily like it used to.

I had cleaned and oiled Millie’s chain last night and that had very much improved the smoothness of the chainline. When the chain is dirty/dry it can make a mega racket and had been doing so up till last week. Oiling the chain reduces the decibel count significantly so I have brought a small bottle of oil with me and will try to clean/oil every few days.

I had pumped up the tyres last night, they were down to 60psi (5 bar) so I put them back to 110psi (8.5 bar) and that makes you psychologically believe you can ride faster. I checked both front tyres and noticed they had a lot of cuts on them so I put a second spare front tyre in my luggage. Klaus also has 2 front and 1 rear spare tyres so we have 12 tyres altogether – not including the spare one around my waist!

Anyway, we were whizzing along making great progress and enjoying the scenery.

Soon we arrived again at the Wesel Bridge, stopping once again at the Drängelgitter onto the Deich Radweg to drink some water. There were a husband and wife on their bikes and they had a chat with us about where we were going. Saying ‘Usedom’ does get some surprised reactions!

After the bridge we had the faffy, traffic-lighty section through Wesel and then we were out onto faster roads. Again we had a different route to last week which was a quieter and more scenic road but a bit of a bumpy surface which slows me down.

At 55km we spotted a hotel that had a biergarten and stopped to see if they had cake. They did!

Yes, I have Grillagetorte there. For those of you not in the know, that is a cake made of ice cream, cream, meringue, chocolate and nuts and it is kept in the freezer. It was lovely and cooling as the temperature was around twenty five degrees by now. 

That’s my tea which had this rather nifty timer to tell me when to take the teabag out. It was suppose to be 3 minutes but I timed it at 3 minutes 15 seconds!

We stopped for perhaps 45 minutes and then headed off again, rejoining the route we took last week and whizzing along at around 35km/h. The fab downhill worked very well for Klaus today, he reached 65km/h and overtook me too.

We went through Südlohn and Stadtlohn again but rather than continuing through Ahaus we went a more westerly route to Gronau. We stopped at an Aldi in Gronau to get some supplies for tomorrow – nuts, Müsli bars, drink etc. We then continued on and ended up on a rather bumpy narrow road which turns out to be the border between Germany and NL so some of the time one, two or three wheels were in the Netherlands. This is nice as when we are in Usedom we plan to pop over the border to Poland, so that means this tour is going right across Germany.

As we were going along this bumpy road we found a woman standing beside the road. She had just fallen off her bike and was rather shaken by it all. A car had overtaken her and then a second one was there which she wasn’t expecting and she fell off. It was her first longer ride in eighteen months as she had had a hip replacement and was only now getting back into cycling.

She was clearly shaken up so we stayed with her and chatted for a little while and Klaus checked her bike over for her.

She wanted to set off before us so if anything happened we would catch up with her so off she went and in fact because the road was so bumpy I was pretty slow and didn’t actually overtake her before we turned off one kilometre later.

We were now very close to our Ferienwohnung and zooming ahead of some rain clouds. Our average speed before we met the lady was an amazing 29.7km/h which is a definite record for me for 120km. The last 15km were slower because my right knee was a bit painful and we had to go up a hill to our Ferienwohnung.

As I was approaching a junction on a quiet road I saw a couple on their bikes to my left. As the person to the right has priority I continued on; the lady was so surprised to see a Velomobile (although Klaus had passed her 20 seconds ago) that she braked, then her husband behind her also braked and somehow fell off his bike. He landed on the sandy road edging and had slightly cut his hand. Some passers-by checked he was OK, as did Klaus, and he said yes, there home was just round the corner, but it was rather unfortunate. I was to blame but I had not done anything wrong. I offered them a plaster as I had some with me but they said they were fine. It was the second accident we had seen with elderly people on electric bikes – these things are heavy and I wonder if it makes them hard to handle during these incidents.

At 15:30 we arrived at our Ferienwohnung and the bikes were under a bit of shelter just as the first drops of rain began. Our Ferienwohnung was very nice!

We had showers, washed our clothes and hung them up to dry. Klaus had caught the sun a bit on his arms again and I had a recurrence of my heat rash I get on my legs (which are out of the sun). I think it’s a sweat rash, maybe reacting to moisturiser or shower gel or something on my skin. Anyway, I get it most years but always assumed it was the sun when I was triking but there is no sun on my legs in Millie!

I assume it will die down a bit overnight. It’s just one of those things.

We decided to go out for dinner fairly early as we were both hungry. We had made the mistake of not stopping for lunch; we had cake at midday and some nuts at 14:30. This meant we were very hungry after we had stopped cycling, and so we have decided to ensure we have both a tea & cake stop and a late lunch stop tomorrow.

Rather than get back into the bikes we decided to walk to Bad Bentheim which was 2km from our Ferienwohnung.

 It was a walk alongside a busy road but we were soon at the Italian restaurant. We sat outside in a very pleasant beer garden and drank our drinks but the food took a really long time to arrive – it was almost an hour before my soup came. I was on the verge of gnawing off one of my own legs.

Fortunately my lasagne and Klaus’s Penne arrived just 10 minutes later.

It wasn’t an especially great meal and I was feeling very tired so asked for bill without giving Klaus a chance to order a coffee. We walked back, watching the rain clouds heading towards us. This is a view looking back at Bad Bentheim which has a huge castle in the middle (photo by Klaus).

When we got back the rain started with some rumbles of thunder so once again we timed everything brilliantly!

My Garmin needs a computer to upload its tracks but Klaus’s Edge 1000 uploads to Strava so this is his page for today’s ride:

Tomorrow we have 140km to ride to get to Oldenburg. The weather forecast is perfect – 21 degrees and sunny. Hurrah!!

Day 1 of our ride went really well. 137km done, at least 1630 to go…

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