A bit of an effort

Up at seven after a good night’s sleep, under just the sheet and with our head at the foot end to catch more air circulation. I’m not sure if any of it made a difference, but can’t have hurt. The bug bites were pretty itchy though.. We put on our masks to go down for the breakfast buffet, which has the usual provisions and eggs baked on demand as well. Today is our longest ride yet, so we make an effort to be efficient and set off by nine, first following the Feldmarksee (the lake by the meadow, about as generic a name as you get around here) and then north on small public roads. There is still a gentle roll to the hills, but we’re definitely in flatter land than the days before and I can really appreciate that right now. For some reason it takes a bit of an effort this morning to get ahead. I don’t want to be too slow – as we’re planning to do about 80 km today – so I focus and we get the average speed up to 15 km/h. I get a little grumpy but am easily distracted by some conversation. It’s amazing that we still find stuff to talk about after spending three months together in corona lockdown.

I spot a deer standing on the road about 50 m ahead, but it quickly hops away to the side before Arne can see it too. We sneak closer, stop in the location where it disappeared and try to spot it in the field. Invisible, but it seems it was very close by because after a minute we see the wheat moving violently a few meters away, the deer making a path through the wheat towards the trees. Arne can still see it for a few moments before it’s gone.

The weather is beautiful this morning: blue skies, bright sun and a bit of wind, feels like 25°C already, even in the morning. We soon come up to Schloss Harkotten and we start recognizing these roads: we were here for the northern-western loops and did this bit in the other direction – if you want you can read that blog entry here. We turn west towards Münster, the landscape here is pretty open, with big fields of waist-high crops and the occasional bit of forest in between. The farms are huge, mostly old but well maintained buildings, often with solar panels on the giant roofs. We take a short break by the old mill at the Vinnenberg abbey, briefly admire Schloss Loburg again and make it to the same bakery in Ostbeveren by lunchtime. The tables outside are occupied but the older gentleman politely signs that he’s leaving soon and soon we can sit down for lunch. The procedure is the same as usual in these bakeries, except we have to put on a mouth mask before we go in. You pick a bread roll from the selection on display, decide on ham and/or cheese and soon after they bring you a delicious sandwich with additional tomato and cucumber. Sounds simple, but it tastes great after 35 km of cycling.

After lunch I seem to have a bit more energy, but Arne now is a bit more bothered by the aches and pains that come with spending so much time on a bike. It’s a bit busier on the road now too, we see some locals going places on business and locals out for a day, you can easily tell the difference by whether they’re wearing bicycle helmets. After the beautiful Haus Langen we come to the wide green lint along the Ems river, there’s information panels explaining how they’re reconnecting old river loops again, to allow for a more diverse ecosystem. We briefly stop at a small observation platform, they’re really making an effort to make this area attractive for visitors. In the mean while we feel ready for an ice cream, but we’re not quite sure where on the route we’ll find one. The cafe at Habichtshorst looks charming, but is closed, the one near the Südmühle park is too far but finally we get lucky in the village of Handorf. Not quite by the route, but totally worth the detour!

We continue south by the charming Werse river and then finally make our way into Münster around four. We have a hotel reservation on the other side, so we follow the Promenade all the way, it’s incredibly busy with cyclists. It’s a bit shocking to come from the peaceful countryside – where you only have the singing birds, buzzing insects and Arne’s zooming tires as a sound track – to the city with its busy traffic and people. We arrive at the hotel around five, pretty respectable for an 80 km day, even if it took a bit of an effort.

Fancy dinner with a few glasses of excellent wine, including a ’94 Berenauslese Riesling, a bit uncommon. Tomorrow’s a resting day so we don’t need to worry about being bright and ready to go in the morning. The bug bites are really, really itchy. The big one is perhaps from a horsefly, I’ve always reacted badly to those but the cortisone salve is helping. The tiny ones are a bit weird, they might not even be bites but irritation from the tiny hairs of the oak processionary caterpillar, we saw several signs by the street warning that these were active. We’ll have to go to the apothecary again tomorrow..

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