SPEZI 12 – Hitdorf to Kempen

Friday 1 May 2015

Today’s route was originally planned to go through Düsseldorf but we realised before the tour started that 1st May (a bank holiday) through the Düsseldorf Altstadt would be a recipe for disaster in terms of dodging pedestrians and other cyclists, so we’d work out a different route home when the time came.

This meant that we relied on Klaus’s routefinding which is always a bit risky as he tends to head for off-road sections.

Here is the track from today.

Hitdorf to Kempen

I was late to bed due to writing up my blog for two days and woke up early again because of a lack of decent curtains in my room. It was the last day of the tour and that was a bit sad too.

I went down to breakfast which was in a room just off the art gallery – most peculiar! There were sculptures on pedestals around the room – one had a price tag of 3,600€ so I was rather hoping I wouldn’t accidentally knock it over.

The choice was good – and when we asked for scrambled eggs we got them in the pan too!

It was a very interesting Guest House with so many different birds. When I went to collect my trike the albino peacock was displaying.

Simon had mended Joyce’s puncture (she had one as we arrived at the Guest House last night) and we were ready for the off.

After 2km we stopped… Joyce had another puncture.

Simon found another significant piece of glass in the tyre and checked the rest of it well – two different glass punctures in two days was rather bad luck.

Klaus looked rather bored whilst waiting. He was looking forward to leading us all over miles of off-road surfaces I suppose.

I saw another interesting milestone – not that far to Rotterdam (where Simon and Joyce would be riding after today).

We had ridden alongside the Rhein on some very good tracks – through some attractive villages and lots of well-asphalted Deich paths too. We reached the outskirts of Düsseldorf and were passing Schloss Benrath, a smallish castle in a large park, so decided to detour briefly to visit the park (although a No Cycling sign put us off briefly but we ignored that eventually).

Here we are lined up outside the castle.

Joyce went off to find a loo and we played games with swapping hats.

We continued on, with one sour moment when a man on a mountain bike called us “lazy *******” when he passed us. Klaus gave chase and had a go at him for it. That was unnecessary, especially as lots of people ride recumbents due to disability (me, for example). But generally people were positive and nice to us.

We soon arrived at Himmelgeist which has a ferry crossing but just for pedestrians and bikes, not for cars.

This was a rather pricey ferry – the cost for the four of us was 9,50€, which included 1,50€ for Simon’s trailer. But it was a ferry with style!

As soon as we had crossed we happened upon a café and it seemed rude to pass it by.

The original plan was to stop for waffles which were advertised for sale but when we asked the lady she said they didn’t do waffles until 2:30pm. We thought it might be worth her turning on the waffle iron for us but clearly that was too much of a break from the normal run of things.

So we admitted defeat against the typical German customer service and had cakes instead.

This was the end of my routefinding – it was now over to Klaus.

we set off and after about two minutes were off-road. Normal service was resumed…

We were heading for the Nordkanal route which is the route that Napoleon started to build in 1806 (but didn’t finish) from the Rhein at Neuss to Antwerp. This route runs almost past Klaus’s house so we often ride bits of it but he hadn’t done this section before (although it turned out that I had when I stayed in Düsseldorf a few years ago).

We passed this hospital which had a special entrance for recumbent people…

We enjoyed the ride along the Nordkanal route. It was the 1st May so there were lots of people about (and unfortunately also lots of glass from some overnight revelry). We also saw lots of Maibaumen, these are branches of trees decorated with coloured paper which are placed outside your beloved’s house.

We rode along the rather uninspiring road through Kaarst before leaving the Nordkanal route for a more attractive route through Schiefbahn. We passed the point where Klaus had joined us for the tour twelve days ago (although at that point we had Nigel with us too), I had to stop off at a bank but then we were back in Viersen to a very warm welcome from Lara and Claudia (which involved chocolate and cups of tea).

Claudia had made us some food which we really needed after 62km. We then took some photos of us all before the three Brits headed back to Kempen.

It was just 20km back for us along various Bahnradwege. As for the whole tour we had people waving at us and chatting – lots of people smile as they see all our flags floating past.

When we arrived in Kempen we put Joyce’s and Simon’s trikes and trailer in the garage, along with Penelope and Alfie. It was a bit of a squash in there!

We did a load of washing for Joyce and Simon whilst sorting out a GPS track for Simon to follow to Arnhem and then back to the Hook of Holland.

In total today I rode 81.23km at 15.01km/h. The total tour distance was 928.55km at an average speed of 14.83km/h.

It was a brilliant tour with only two rainy days, great companions and comfortable trikes. We had a few mechanicals but nothing too dramatic and it was good to bump into various friends at SPEZI as well.

Needless to say the only reason I opened my heavy tools bag was to get out cable ties to attach the flag to Klaus’s trike flagpole. Alfie’s Alfine gear was not perfectly adjusted (so I lost the top two gears at times) but it wasn’t annoying enough for me ever to remember to fix it when stopped. It’s just a small adjustment of a widget that I will do next time I remember.

It was also good fun having our tame German along with us. He was the butt of several jokes, particularly with regard to some of his rather eclectic English phrases. Joyce’s favourite was when he called knitting ‘kniddling’ and mine was when he called something noisy ‘soundful’. He had almost two weeks speaking English and regularly being mistaken for an Englishman due to the flag on his bike so he was overall a very good sport, especially as when we usually referred to him as ‘Mr Grumpy’ or ‘the Cormorant’.

Joyce and Simon were also excellent company and it worked really well that we all cycled at roughly the same speed. It was also nice that we could cycle on our own for a bit without chatting and other times could ride alongside each other and talk. Cycle touring is very relaxing (it’s just eat-ride-sleep-repeat) but with the wrong companions it can be stressful. This tour was very low stress and overall great fun. I enjoyed every minute!

Joyce and Simon seem to have fallen in love with Germany so I am hoping they’ll make another visit soon and will need Auntie Helen their translator and routefinder again!


  1. Moin,

    ein schöner Bericht Eurer Tour! Es macht immer wieder Spaß Deine Blogeinträge zu lesen.

    Wie, bzw. womit erstellst Du, während Du unterwegs bist, Deine Einträge? Nutzt Du ein Laptop, das Handy?


  2. Thanks for posting all of this Helen, it has been entertaining and educational. Probably the nearest I will get to seeing your area from a trike seat but you never know..

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