First full day of rest, great ! The day starts slowly, I have breakfast and send e-mail to Rohloff about that I need service for my gearbox. I have to fill out a very serious form with all the details.
I tell them that I expect to be there on Monday 26 Aug. I spend some time planning the route ahead, I use google maps to plan a route and it looks good on the screen.
Since the road to Andreas apartment is very steep and painful to walk or bike I coordinate so that I only have to make the journey back to sea level once every day. So around lunch I walk down to town and do some shopping and meet with Andreas on his break from work.
When Andreas get back from work he shows me how the washer works so that I can wash some dirty clothes. I spend the evening on the Internet and enjoy the third fastest Internet so far in Germany. At most accommodations the Internet is so slow that it is not usable, I wonder why that is, I thought Germany would have great Internet.
Yet another day of rest in Bielefeld, it’s so great to stop for a couple of days. It’s hard to describe but after a few weeks on the road all days start to melt in to one. Just the same old same old every day, pack bike, ride bike, unpack bike.
I really don’t like that feeling, I want to remember every day and that every day of my great adventure should be enjoyable and unique. So sometime I need to come to a full complete stop for a couple of days so that the brain can catch up.
I spend some time writing the blog, look at routes again, enjoy Internet and use Viber and Skype to call people.
For my daily decent to the lowlands I use the bike and bike to a big bike shop called Radwelt. It’s big, 10 times bigger than anything I have seen in Sweden but smaller than Rosetown. I buy some spare parts for my Vaude bags (just in case they break) and some new rain booties.
Then I bike back to central Bielefeld and have lunch with Andreas. I bike and walk back to Andreas apartment after shopping some groceries, back on the Internet, write some on my blog.
I wake up at 6 in the morning from hard rain hitting the window, a fantastic start of a day on the bike. I try to go back to sleep again but no luck. The rain fades and have breakfast and pack the bike.
When leaving I bump in to Andreas landlord who wishes me a great trip and tells me to bring her a monkey from Gibraltar.
Then I have to humiliate myself by walking the bike down the last steep part of the road off the mountain. It’s steep and ends in a tram track.
It seems Dr. Oetker has a big presence in Bielefeld and I see several signs while getting out of town. In world famous Schloss Holte-Stukenbrock it’s time for some lunch. So far the weather has been OK, cloudy and about 22 C. Paderborn seems to be a bit unorganized for bikes, or maybe my Google track is taking me through town the wrong way. This is where the hills start and as it will turn out goes on for some days.
My google GPX track is very efficient but it leads me through some crazy hills. It is almost always on small roads or forest tracks. In the small villages there are seldom any bike lanes.
When I get to Kleinenberg I see a big sign saying Landgasthaus pointing in the direction of the fields along a small road.
I stop and ask a local how far this Landgasthaus might be, it turns out to be just around the corner, before the fields starts. I ride up to the house, go inside and say I have bike you have bett ? Jawohl, Bike+Bett sehr gut ! 20 minutes later my bike is parked in the garage, bags in room, I had a shower and drink my after bike ice cold beer.
Very friendly and service minded host at the Landgasthaus. The Internet is slow and useless but I need to sleep anyway.
Today was the first day I tried riding with my new headphones, it’s really great to ride along the countryside and listen to Bloodhound gang and Dennis Leary.
I had some problems finding a place to have lunch at, weekends are a problem. It seems everything opens much later in the weekends.
There is some headwind, according to the radio it should start to rain later. The German country side is very, very busy. I am guessing it’s harvest time and there is a tractor on every bike lane. I only had an easy 55 km to bike today. I followed my GPX track to the Rohloff factory where I was to hand in my gearbox for service on Monday.
I went there to check the place out and see if I could guess if I could leave my bags there on Monday or not. Just as I am outside looking at my GPS trying to find accommodations the Rohloff family shows up. I am not sure if they actually live at their place of business or if they just happened to be there.
They ask if I am coming to see them, I say yes, and then tell them about my appointment on Monday. They ask what the problem is and I say that there is a leak.
I start to visit the nearest accommodations and call some other, they are all full or closed. I widen my search and start to try to ride to places that doesn’t have a phone number. The area around Kassel is very,very hilly.
After many hours and kilometers I end up in a shit camping and get a spot next to a small creek and the biergarten where drunk people smoke and drink until late. I AM SO HAPPY !
I just have time get the tent up before it gets dark, I have to inflate the mattress and arrange the stuff inside the tent using my flashlight. Tomorrow there will be failure evaluation and any and all persons involved in this failure will be fired. This must be avoided at any cost. 35 km useless biking with many 1000 meters altitude gained and lost for nothing.
The night sucks for obvious reasons. The camping is at the bottom of a valley and with the river going through the camping, there is plenty of moist during the night and morning.
The camping is very cheap 8.30 Euro, the state of everything reflects the low price. Most of the buildings are probably more than 40 years old and had at least 10 years since the last coat of paint. I have an improvised breakfast in the tent, hoping there will be a big lunch at the restaurant whenever that opens.
There is no Internet since the telephone is broken. There is no lunch until 12, so I read my book for a bit. Once the sun hits the bottom of the valley it becomes very hot and humid. This will be a long day.
I slowly kill the day, reading, eating, counting the seconds before I can leave. Why didn’t I stay in Bielefeld or at least at the Landgasthaus ? Who could have known that half the accommodation in Kassel closes for holidays.
I had found a route back to Fuldatal along the river Fulda on an old map at the camping. Since I didn’t want to ride the forest track over the mountain that I came in on I decided to try the river route. It was much longer but since there was a river there it should be flat unless there was a waterfall somewhere.
So to be sure to be at Rohloff by 8 I set the alarm for 5. Since I was so bored with this camping I woke up at 4:30, tore down the camp in the dark. Everything was wet. Just as I leave the camping the dawn starts and my B+M Luxos 90 Lux front light lowers the power. There is a long nice downhill to the river, then I ride the road since I can’t find any bike paths, this apparently annoys some car drivers, but I couldn’t really care less.
After a few kilometers I find the Hessen Radfernweg R1, and life is back to normal. I exit the R1 a bit to early so I have to ride over another hill.
I arrive at Rohloff by 7:30 and I seem to be expected, I am directed to bring the bike inside and get a spot where I can dump my bags. Then I have to roll the bike over to the service department. Even though I filled out “the form” and sent it I am not in the database, so we have to fill some information out and then I leave. They will call when it’s ready.
First stop is the local bakery at the supermarket for massive breakfast. Then I walk to Lidl and buy a 15 Euro refill for my SIM card. Lately some annoying lady gives me a warning every time I call someone. “You only have 2 Euro and bla bla cents left, please refill, bla bla bla bla, Telekom is so great”. The 15 Euro shuts her up.
Then I have to walk to another part of the suburb to find a bank with an ATM so I can get some more dirty cash. At about 9:30 I get a call to notify me that the gearbox will be ready at 10. So I start to walk back to Rohloff and when I get there the bike is ready.
It turns out that Rohloff is not impressed with the way the gearbox was installed on my bike, it seems Schauff didn’t read the page in the manual that said you must not install the torque support in front of the rear axle. If you do this you could risk that the torque (i.e. force in to the pedals) push the rear axle out of the frame. Luckily this only applies to lightweight people. I will never be able to generate enough torque to push the axle out.
Since there was a crack in one of the suspension springs on my saddle I decided to see if I could get that fixed in Kassel. I found 2 bike stores on google maps. The first one was manned by a grumpy lady, she only had plastic cheap saddles and my ass deserves better than that. When I asked her if she knew another store that might have spare parts for Brooks saddles I got the full lecture on how that she couldn’t really be expected to know what the competition sold and so one. AUF (NICHT) WIEDERSEHEN.
I went to the next store, it looked much cooler and there was an elderly man that came out and asked me if he could help. I asked if they had Brooks and he said no, but go to Fahrradhof Wilhelmshöher they will have them. So I found that on Google maps and 15 minutes later I rolled in to their shop. Their only question was, is it the left of the right spring that is broken. They had a look and both springs had to be replaced. 15 minutes later it was fixed and I was back on the street. I really like stuff that can be repaired, stuff that doesn’t need repairing is of course better.
By now I was well off my track so I had to improvise my way out of Kassel and suburbs. There were some really nasty hills and I was starting to think that this is no fun, I have to find another way. But for that I need Internet I thought.
As it turns out I didn’t need Internet, while I was going up a nasty hill at 3 km/h a nice man who was gardening shouted out to me and asked where I was going. I answered the name of the next big city. He said, this is the wrong way, go back down the hill and turn right and you will be on the Hessen Radfernweg R1 and you have a flat road along the river.
I did as the nice man said, and there it was again, bike autobahn along the river, the highest decent was 11 cm. Fantastic. Then I spied some information boards with maps of all the Radfernweg in Hessen. Just as I was planning a new route another nice man out riding his carbon racer stopped and explained the system and which route I should take to avoid hills. Amazing, and all of this without Internet.
So my new plan was to find the first available accommodation and get on the Internet and find all these roads and put them in my GPS. After a short while I found a place, I called ahead and asked if they had a room free. When I arrived the inn keeper arrived and helped me to put the bike in the garage and carry some bags. This time I had my after bike beer before showering.
I found lots of routes and even an online planner just for bike routes, so my plan is to go Eder radweg, Hessen Radfernweg R4 → R2 and then some normal bike roads towards Bonn. From there I will turn south to pass by Schauff in Remagen and then to Koblenz where Mosel radweg starts. It will be interesting to see how this works out.