westwards

So warm in the room, we left the windows wide open during the night and the shutters a bit open, so they let through a bit of cool air, but still not much improvement. We really must start remembering looking for hotels with airconditioning when travelling in the summer. Breakfast around seven in the big empty restaurant of the hotel. It looks like it’s mainly frequented by business travelers or large groups and we feel a bit out of place.

Around nine we start our way back north. We need to switch from the north to the west loop at this point and the most efficient way to do this turns out to be going back a bit the way we came yesterday. We take a note to plan our hotels a bit better: we’re doing seven extra kilometers today because we did not overnight in town proper. We admire the Schloss Steinfurt again and just as we’re leaving town my odometer tells me it’s almost out of battery. No problem, we’re right in the shopping area and the second store we try sells these, problem fixed. We use my odometer to keep track of daily counts, totals and averages and Arne’s for the statistics of the entire trip.

We don’t mind going back a bit, it’s a comfortable bike/footpath through the woods, following the route of an old railroad. At one intersection, the barriers are preserved, it’s fun to see them from the ‘inside’.

we follow this old railroad track from Steinfurt almost all the way to Heek. Comfortable, but slow since the wind is dead against us

When the track turns west, we immediately have to drop our speed to 14 or 15 kmph, as there is a constant strong wind against us. My knees feel pretty weak, but the lower speed seems (barely) sustainable. The planned kilometers today – admittedly on a planning that has already proven to be a gross underestimation – is 55 km. The new planning, based on the map in the folder, is 81 km, so we’re now prepared to just chug on and make it on endurance. We’re both tired and the mood is not great, so we indulge in a bout of complaining, vowing to plan better and dreaming of using electric bikes on the next trip. We’ve seen a lot of cyclists these past few days, quite some travellers like us too, but almost none (not the day trip seniors nor the travellers) do it without electrical support.

The weather is perfect for cycling (or would be, if the wind were blowing in the opposite direction), sunny, a few clouds, not too hot. Each town reached is a victory, we buy the usual sandwiches/dessert in a bakery in Heek, admire the small Haus Lange and have a picnic at the corner of yet another maize field in a little shelter built for hikers and cyclists. On to Ahaus, this is one of the highlights of the trip, indeed a very handsome castle. We admire it from left and right and then settle down on a terrace for an afternoon suger intake: a shared piece of cheesecake, coffee for Arne and a really impressive hot chocolate for me.

The mood much improved, we continue to zigzag our way across the landscape. Definitely not the most efficient route, but we’re grateful for every turned corner that gets us out of the strong wind.

In Vreden we fight our way through the crowds visiting the big fun fair in the middle of town, see the Fürstbischöfliche Burg (sounds grand, but it’s basically a big house and some medieval walls) and pick up the route again with the help of a local on a bike, towed by his dog. The final bit to Oeding is tackled with good spirits, it’s gotten warm enough to cycle in a tshirt and we continue cataloguing and critiquing the different types of cornfield we encounter. Arne is better at inventing corn-based puns, at one point I laugh so hard I inhale an insect.

Arrival around six, shower, excellent german dinner at the hotel. Sort pictures, write blog, that about ends the evening. The lady of the house shows us around the 13th century vaults, the only remaining parts of the original castle, the family owning the hotel have lived in this neighbourhood since at least the 17th century and she shows us the old maps and deeds on the walls.

Statistics:

  • today’s distance: 87 km
  • driving time: 5h45
  • average speed: 14,4 kmph

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