Fri 13th Sept.
A good day to fri hard.
I was adamant to make the in back to London on the day I’d planned to get there. I’d already made plans to meet friends in certain places and I didn’t want to mess that up by being late.
To keep to the plan I had to get past Münster today, tomorrow I’d head into Holland. One night there than three nights crossing Belgium, then England, one night there then London, getting me there on the Thursday. Less than a week now. It was hard to get excited with so much to be done, but the thought of being back in this time was very liberating. I just had to stay positive and keep moving.
I passed a sign for Münster, the city I should have reached yesterday and it was 40km away. Something needed to change. The bike was still sluggish and I knew I was averaging about 60km a day when it needed to be more like 100km. Everyday I didn’t make the distance added more to the days I had left. I was still putting out a maximum effort on the bike and getting nowhere. Also these facts and negativity were building up, so I decided to stop at the next chance and get to the route of the problem.
I examined the bike and gave the chain a full clean again removing a load of black stuff from it for the second time in two days. A build up of grime, dirt and oil.
It took an hour to do the job and when I tested it out in the car park it felt good, although the road could be different. I oiled up all the mechanisms and joints again and got moving.
The bike felt like it was flying now after two slow days. I felt like I could really do the distance I needed and complete the trip in the time planned.
After being on the bike for so many months, I got to know it. It feels like a living thing, responding to your output and interaction. It also tells you when things aren’t right, or an area needs special attention. You can ignore them, but with time it keeps occurring until you give it some time.
When you’re warmed up on the bike, it feels like an extension of your body. Swerving and accelerating can feel like bending your arms or stretching. It’s a strange thing to describe but this was the connection I had with the style framed machine on two wheels after living on the bike for the last few months.
At tines it felt like a marriage between two things. Sometimes you love it and sometimes you hate it. It has its own agenda and behaves in certain ways that aren’t always what you want. But for now, it was cleaned up and behaving well.
I got to Münster in good time now the bike was running well and I was receiving the output of energy I was putting in. I had a message from a host offering to put me up for the night. I hadn’t slept well and with the weather being inconsistent, it seemed like a very good idea. It was 60km away and it got dark around 7:30. Meaning I had about three hours to get there, averaging 20kph with breaks for food and toilet. I was up for the challenge, I dropped them a line and got moving.
20kph with the bags on isn’t amazingly fast, but it’s a quicker then my average pace, so it requires effort and concentration. It was quite exciting to have an aim for the evening, knowing that be rewarded with a bed if I made it. I went full-steam ahead.
Going through towns was annoying as it slowed me down a lot. Something guaranteed to make any cyclist impatient. In one town I hopped up on the curb and sped down a street and past a man leaving a shop, just missing him. He shouted after me in German, I looked back and apologised. I didn’t feel good about it, but on the bright side it seemed like something out of a cartoon, with fancy people dining in a restaurant and a cat and mouse chase whizzing past them, sweeping everything of the table in the after-wind.
More forests on the way made the ride pleasant and as always, there were cycle lanes. I would miss cycling in Germany. It was by far the most pleasant country for cycling in terms of the facilities provided and roads.
I’d made one stop for food and another stop for photos. I received a text from my host Gabi saying that an original German style potato soup was waiting for me. The second food text I’d had on the trip. I replied that this was the best news I’d had in days.
She delivered as promised when I arrived, with a bratwurst in the middle and mustard on the side. To top that off, the best melon ice cream I’d ever tasted was for dessert. It was a delicious feast and was much more than I had expected, setting me up for another long day. It still blows my mind that people can be so generous to strangers. The cycling community.
While I had a shower I found another tick on my arm. Now I had ample knowledge on removing these tiny beasts and had picked up some tweezers for the job. The idea is to dig deep and get hold of its head. Then slowly pull it out without twisting. It was incredible how firmly it burrowed into my arm and how much it clung to the skin. I was still on the antibiotics from the doctor for the last tick bite so didn’t have to worry about that.