Today is our day out on the bikes. We googled and apped and have decided on a self made 70 km tour from Wesel, starting along the Lippe river canal, then following an old railroad to Schermbeck and back north and west through the fields and forests.
It’s dry when we leave, I even put on a 20 spf sun screen to be safe, though it’s unlikely to be very sunny today. The weather forecast shows showers and rain, so we’re prepared for wet weather as well as for sun. We ride through the center of Wesel to find the start of the route: we’ll be following numbered signposts (Knotenpunkte) all the way so the trick is to intersect one of these trails and find your first number.
We drive south and east through the industrial areas of Wesel along the port and canal, the route between Knotenpunkte is usually well marked so no need to stop and check the GPS. We cross from the canal to the Lippe river itself through green pastures dotted with woodland, looking forward to trying out the Lippe Fähre, which recently got a reward as Germany’s most bicycle friendly solution (see the article on the website of Wesel in German here). It looks very cool, a bright yellow metal raft laying in the middle of the river, but we soon learn it’s not so easy to make it to the other side. Maybe we have the wind against us, in any case it requires a lot of effort to pull ourselves the last few meters to the bank. In the mean while it starts raining, a light drizzle which will nonetheless get your clothes completely wet after an hour or so.
Onwards! We follow the gravel bicycle routes from one number to the next all the way to Schermbeck, cycling through the green lint surrounding the lenght of the Lippe river. For a long while we cycle along the same railway that we also encountered the day before yesterday, when we admired the remains of the 19th century brick railroad bridge over the Rhein river, destroyed during the second world war. In Schermbeck we find a bakery that has some indoor seating, we order our favourite unhealthy snacks (in my case a Rosinenschnecke and a hot chocolate) and enjoy the short break.
After lunch we have a quick look at the local Wasserschloss and then head north to start our loop. We make an understandable mistake when we encounter a very ambiguous route marker, but we discover a nice bit of forest with a cute bridge and cross it twice, once hopefull on the way to the next Knotenpunkte and then again after we realize we made a mistake. By this time the rain has intensified and we put on more rain gear: a bright yellow helmet cover for each of us and rain pants and shoe covers for Arne. I prefer getting wet over getting too hot under rain protection and stick with shorts and sandals. in the Dämmerwald we are a bit more sheltered by the trees, it’s a beautiful route through dense woods, we startle a roe deer a few meters from the road and admire it dashing off. Even when you know it’s right there, it’s still pretty difficult to spot in the underbrush.
We continue on through the rain on local roads with little traffic or bigger roads with a separate path for bicycles, between pastures with horses or cows and big patches of deciduous woods. It’s not very hilly, but the continuous fight against the wind and rain makes it tiring. When it finally stops raining, we have our afternoon snack (a muffin from the lunch bakery) looking out over the yacht harbour and castle at Diersfordt, then we follow the Rheindamm south and make it back to the hotel by five after a day total of 82,75 km. Dinner (again) in the Q-Stall (if you pronounce it in German, it sounds like Kuhstall: cowbarn) and dessert (again) from the reception: Knusperkeks chocolat.