Thursday, Day 6
It took a while to get out of Hanover but once I did I was rewarded with quiet radwegs and a one-on-one encounter with an owl.
It began to get quite hilly and I dragged my overladen bike up the hills.
I had my only mechanical of the trip: changing gears, my drivechain suddenly stopped. My chain had got stuck underneath one of the bolts holding my pannier rack on! For a moment I thought I’d have to find a bike shop or a garage, but I was able to sort it out quickly and with a minimum of mess, and set off again – phew!
I’d been cycling on the cycle paths when they were there, but sometimes they weren’t convenient: they switched sides of the road with little warning; often the other cyclists were going slowly; the road surface was still superior; and in built up areas they were annoying as it was like riding on the pavement, with paving slabs and curbs. A woman honked her horn at me as she passed me on the road and pointed at the cycle path on the opposite pavement. I pointed at the road in front of me and waved her on. She stopped her car, got out and started shouting at me that I needed to use the cycle path. I told her I wasn’t a child and was perfectly able to cycle on the road. She wasn’t impressed, and I later found out that I was wrong and that you have to use the path where there’s a sign indicating a cycle path. Sorry, angry German lady!
It flattened out as I approached Porta Westfalica, and there was a nice route along the river (my garmin would have preferred me to take the motorway…).
My stop for the evening was a house on the outskirts of a village and I couldn’t for the life of me find the house, nestled at the bottom of a hill. When I eventually got there my host told me that a chap had visited recently on a “very funny recumbent” – the second time this trip I’d been told I was following a man on a recumbent. She had some photos, it looked like a loo roll on wheels.
Strava: 72 miles
Friday, Day 7
It was a beautiful morning, misty but sunny. There were horses in the fields and I was in high spirits.
I saw a few signs with what looked like speed limits for tanks, though thankfully no actual tanks. The first part of the day was a little hilly but the countryside became more Dutch, and the radwegs got better too.
I’d decided I wasn’t eating enough fruit and bought some plums, and finished off the punnet. Big mistake! I immediately got a sharp stomach pain and almost convinced myself it was appendicitis. I had to stop to lie down on a bench to try to make it stop hurting. I felt terrible, but there wasn’t far to go, and then I could lie down, very still.
And then I ran out of map. I had 4 maps on my garmin:
- Europe basemap (utterly pointless map that comes with the GPS)
- German (recently downloaded and very high quality)
- The Netherlands (downloaded last year for my tour then)
I was reaching the edge of the Germany map but the Netherlands map wasn’t showing. I was riding into a black void. Of course, it was getting dark and my planned route involved going down a farm track. No!! No more frickin’ farm tracks! I headed down the main road, crossed into the Netherlands (the border wasn’t marked at all) and eventually got the map to show, though the garmin kept bleeping that it was low on batteries.
Enschede on a Friday night made me feel a bit lonely. Everyone was, unsurprisingly, out with their friends. I went to a restaurant and ate cheese fondue, and the two very sweet (and not unattractive) waiters kept checking up on me. Oh god, I realised, this is what it’s like to be an old lady when everyone is nice to you but they’re thinking ‘aww, poor dear, she must be lonely’.
That night I didn’t get a huge amount of sleep as fireworks were being set off and Enschede is where the Netherland’s biggest firework disaster took place.
Strava: 84 miles