Some might say that thirty-seven miles is barely cycle touring others would find it plenty. This was a deliberately short day in the context of this trip. Bit of recovery time, chance to explore Munster - art galleries and breweries (actually only one of each and your recognition of the name Picasso or Pinkus-Muller will make plain your preference). We did intend to visit the Cathedral and some of the other churches, too, but ran out of time. Religion plays a big part in Munster's history. It was from the pulpit of St. Lambert's that Cardinal Galen lead protests against the Nazi government. In the sixteenth century the city was taken over by Anabaptists lead by Jan van Leiden. Eventually, the Catholic Bishop restored order and exacted revenge; the cages where the bodies of the Anabaptist leaders were displayed after execution still hand high up un the tower. and st. Lambert’s is not the only historic church in the city.
For the first time on the tour the cloud cast a low hazy impending drizzle across a constantly threatening sky. Warm tops on and away. This part of Westphalen is hiller than the Netherlands, but barely likely to take the puff out of a regular cyclist.
For the most part we Garminised the route - there was little to head off to see and, wrongly, we assumed that the rain would come and set in for the day. Belting along roadside cycle paths - often with little traffic on the road - we made rapid progress and found time to drop into an enormous cycle superstore that did not have a set of SPD cleats to sell.
Riding through the small towns and villages on the way, getting familiar the signage for when to and when not to use the often undifferentiated pavement or cycle lane, all was calm. Munster was a greater test - at first. Different to the Netherland cities we had ridden through, the were more light controlled crossings; the cycle lanes were not as wide, but the number of people riding bicycles was just as great.
Tucking in behind a local seems a good idea. Learn the ropes. At first the whole business of cyclists heading hither and thither across lanes, swooping along between cars and pedestrians, and waiting for lights to change appeared to be pure anarchy. In fact, it was just the speed at which the body of riders seems to move in different directions that gave the impression of disorganisation. This is Germany! It was organised and here was an innate patience and willingness to move and manoeuvre and look out for others as well as a distinct determination to claim the rights granted to cyclists. All afternoon and evening, there was hardly a lunatic cyclist to disrupt the order of the pedalling anthill. it just seemed to work. One lycra clad racer did zoom round corner off a cycle lane and onto a section of cobbled street, causing a bit of consternation, but that was it. People saw him coming.
Chatting to a native of the city who stopped to ask us about our tour, he pointed out that it had not been like this thirty years ago. Protests and leadership by the city council had made it so. Keep your wits about you and you’ll pedal fluently across the city. Mind you, don’t wander about in the cycle lane if you are on foot!
Next we will head out of the city and seek out some hiller roads …. eventually .... on the seventy-fourth anniversary of the destruction of the community of Lidice.