Day 3: Arnhem to Münster

 The Stats:

  • Distance: 153km
  • Average Speed: 22.5km.h
  • Legs: ☹️
  • Undercarriage: 😕
  • Bike: 😐

Despite the picture of Arnhem Cathedral making it look like a lovely day, it was cloudy when I woke up. Sadly, my overnight washing and drying plan hadn’t worked too well for my shorts and they were still decidedly…moist.  This was an improvement on my socks which were decidedly…soaking.  I have been given some tips involving towels and twisting so I’ll give that a try later on today.

I’d prepaid for breakfast (woo hoo) and attempted to stuff as many calories as possible into my gob to fortify me for the ride ahead.  I did some mapping while I was feeling a bit sick after speed eating one bacon roll, one cheese roll and one jam roll.  I realised that the EuroVelo 2 route was 209km from Arnhem to Münster but creating a route on Garmin it was 150km.  In other places I might have gone with the Velocrats’ route but the infrastructure is just so good in Holland (and presumably Germany) that I was pretty certain that doing a “popularity routing” route wouldn’t leave me scrabbling along the edge of a 6 lane highway as amphetamine-fuelled truckers blasted past inches from my left elbow  

Rolling out of Arnhem was pretty easy and, as predicted, the straight route remained on the (bewilderingly good) Dutch cycle infrastructure.  In the 300k I rode in Holland, I was never on the same road as cars unless it was a very clearly marked shared car/bike path where the bikes had priority.  Amazing.

20k in, I was feeling a bit hot and so stopped in Beeks for some refreshment. 

 If there’s one thing I won’t miss about Holland — and it’s only one thing — it is that the contactless card systems in Holland are crap.  They only take “Maestro” cards.  So, for the first time in 3 years, I had to get some cash out of a cash machine,  

The Coop.  Purveyor of fine liquids to the thirsty traveller.

Two large bottles of full fat coke and I said goodbye to Beeks. And Beeks said goodbye to me.

Right outside Beeks there was the first climb of the day.  It was only 1.5km at an average of 3% but after that lovely day of Dutch Flatty McFlatface it felt like the final kilometre of the Planche des Belles Filles. Part of the trick to long distance cycling is to avoid going into the red zone  Low heart rate (<130bpm for me) and keeping the power below 200w makes it possible to do 7 to 9 hour long days  The devil’s kidney bean means that 200w up a hill doesn’t get you anywhere and thus there was a bit of a relapse regarding my Cyclists Tourette’s™ I’m afraid.

Once I had got my breath back it was a return to the long roads which all looked alike. 

This.  Just this.  For a long time.

For some reason this appeared to be tiny-horse country.  I saw loads of these midget horses.

Not everything is tall in Holland

I was looking forward to the border.  I had it all planned:  I’d get the selfie stick from the cursed kidney bean and take a snap of me beaming like a mad-man, the bike and the sign that said Deutschland.  That would be one for the blog and the family album.

However, there was nothing there.  One minute I was riding along a bike path called Europaweg and then it turned into Europastraße and I was in Germany.  When one is in the Schengen Zone, borders — and all the attendant noise that’s generated by idiots (yes, I am looking at you The Conservative Party and Nigel Farrage) — just seems so…last century.  

More water stops ensued.  After taking out money from the bank, it appears that Germany is fully up to speed with Apple Pay and it looks like I’ll be carrying around €300 in cash for the rest of the trip.  I saw a lot more litter too.

Depressing after the cleanliness of Holland

The cycling infrastructure deteriorated a bit.  In Holland, it’s all custom built and well maintained.  In Germany it’s more the case of a path down the side of a busy road or country roads with low traffic.  Still about 1,000,000 times better than what we’re used to in the UK (or Spain for that matter) but a step down from Holland.

A lot of this

And a small amount of this

Most of the cyclists on the roads and paths were elderly couples on electric bikes.  They’re limited to 25km/h and so I could definitely take them on the flat.  On the rises, the twinkly old couples would destroy me -- much to my chagrin.  It got hotter but a strong westerly wind started to blow behind me.  Oh thank you God Of Cycling, you have made my day.  It wasn’t strong enough on the second hill of the day to negate the drag of the kidney bean of doom but it did help a bit.  There were even a few drops of rain and when it is 30C, you really welcome the rain.  I put my iPods in and listened to some appropriately loud and energising music.

Germany is bigger than Holland.  Much bigger.  So the farming is less intense and they’ve obviously managed to keep a lot of woodland.  The woods are old and not a little scary.
Little red riding hood country

As I barrelled along singing power ballads out of tune, I totally forgot the key feature of strong tail winds: when you turn left, they turn into a Sneaky Side Wind™.  At the end of a straight path, there was a right angled bend, it was a bit gravelly and the Sneaky Side Wind grabbed a hold of the kidney bean of death as I was wobbling round the corner, I hit the gravel, slipped and ended up in a hedge.  

I got up and prepared to give the kidney bean a foul-mouthed and richly deserved shoeing.  I’d just delivered the first kick in time to a great beat from Prince when I realised that (a) my iPad was in the kidney bean and (b) somebody was tapping me on the shoulder.  I turned round to see a twinkly old bloke holding his top of the line electric bike, looking concerned and motioning me to remove my headphones.  I was preparing my stock German phrase (which ironically is “Es tut mir schrecklich leid, aber ich spreche kein Deutsch.  Sprechen Sie Englisch?” which translates as “I’m sorry, I speak no German, do you speak English?”) when he interrupted and said (in perfect English) “I hope you are alright, that graze on your leg next to the old one looks a bit worrying, would you like a plaster?  Also, I find that abusing one’s equipment is a bad strategy for long distance cycling”.  Clearly some of the foul-mouthed adjectives had made it out of my mouth before the first kick.  I apologised and blamed my lack of food.  To be fair, it was 4pm and I hadn’t eaten since 7am but I think I might need to adjust my fuelling strategy if only to avoid upsetting the locals with my Cyclists Tourette’s™. 

At great length, as the dreaded “bonk” took hold, Münster hove into view.  I took the headphones out and spent a adrenaline-filled 30 minutes working my way to the hotel.  Münster had saved up some cobbles (or pavé as it is known in the trade) for the final 500m.  My undercarriage did not thank Münster for that.
Oh great.

The hotel is ok but once again, I couldn't take my bike to the room but have to leave it in some bike park 500m away from the hotel which was a giant pain in the bum on top of 150km of cycling which had already pained my bum. 

I unpacked and washed my clothes including my spare socks and pants which were unfortunately covered in toothpaste probably as a result of the loss of temper with the kidney bean.  That’ll teach me to lose my temper with inanimate objects.

The receptionist at the hotel was a little reserved when I asked her for a good restaurant. I think my expression of displeasure at having to walk 500m to park my bike had soured our relationship a bit. However, after a grovelling apology and a description of why I had been a little tetchy when I arrived, she understood what I wanted. 
Beer and…
…stodge. 

Two very large and very strong beers later and a lot of stodge, I was feeling a bit better about the world. One of the great things about Germany is that everybody eats early. At 8:20pm people are going home. Thank god I’m not in Spain and I can eat early without looking like a Nobby-no-mates who eats…early.

As I walked back to the hotel, full of stodge and beer, I felt good about Münster.  The populace was out and about, sitting in the setting sun outside in the twee little cafes and restaurants eating their own stodge and drinking their own beer. They looked happy and contented.  And so was I.


Tomorrow I’m going to try to get to Höxter. On the EuroVelo 2 “let’s go the long way round” route, it’s 210k. My route is 150k.  Take that Velocrats!

The Germany part of today was an introduction to the rolling hills that I’m going to be “enjoying” for the next three or four days. Not looking forward to fighting the angry hippo and the kidney bean of desolation up and down hills. 

I had planned to do a round up of my experiences of Holland in this blog but I am going to wait for a few days. Let it all settle and think about it for  a while. If there is one thing I have more than enough of right now, it’s time to think when I’m riding along.

Comments

  1. Glad that you enjoyed Münster and the lovely stodge!! And impressive cycling, keep it going! Coming from Southern Germany I think of the North being all flat, but a long-distance cyclist might disagree! Good luck today, and looking forward to the next report. (PS Those descriptions of the kidney bean of doom are hilarious! Hope it behaves itself today.) Rosa

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Day 1: Cambridge to Harwich…again

Day 15: Nyköping to Stockholm

Day 2: Hoek van Holland to Zwolle