ONWARD AND UPWARD


Today, along with remembering Orator and Diatom, we think of Lidice and the victims of a cruel regime. We can think too how a brighter future was brought to Europe and that one of the greatest symbols of this was the work of Sir Barnett Stross and the determination of the people of Stoke-on-Trent.

After yesterday afternoon spent wandering around Munster, getting back onto the bikes after a lazy breakfast - a filling one, too, with lots of fruit, cheese, cold meat, fresh bread - was eagerly anticipated. The Hotel Haus zum guten Hirten, was right on our route out and what a great route out of a city to was. The quiet residential roads of Sankt Mauritz, gave way to shaded lanes after a light controlled crossing of a main road. Bridges swept over the unhealthy looking waters of a canal and over the autobahn. Then it was miles of rural Westphalia on quiet lanes and farm tracks.

The countryside put me in mind of the Breckland of Norfolk and Suffolk. The gentlest undulations, light soil supporting patches of woodland, scattered farms under a huge sky. Eventually the scene changed as we entered the charmingly busy town of Warendorf, where we discoveredd gaily painted horses (wooden ones, some on rollers), an art gallery where the artist owner mixed traditional themes with street art, a fine historic brewery (Pott’s) and a generally relaxed atmosphere. we even found the way out and whizzed back into the countryside.

Finding the cycle route to Gutersloh blocked, we Garminised and were taken on a journey that mixed patches of countryside with industrial estates on the urban fringes of the Bielefeld conurbation. In fairness, the route turned out well, despite steep climbs over the cobbles in Oerlinghausen and a run up dirt tracks to the Tonsberg. The hills had begun. It reminded me rather of the Surrey Hills; steep-sided and wooded. Indeed if you have cycled on the tracks over Leith Hill or Handheld, you will get the ides.

The views of other wooded, steep-sided hills were extensive, with towns dotting the valleys.

Screaching down loose-surfaced forest tracks on twenty-eight tyres with a medium load and rim brakes is an interesting experience. the road to Detmold continued to descend, until the inevitable climb up to the hill to DJH Detmold - Deutsche Jugend Herberge. As the assistant warden said, “It was the Germans who put the ‘berg’ in ‘hostel.’ This was the second German joke of the day. The first was this ….

Please do not be offended, of course Germans have a sense of humour, but it is not always on the surface. So, in Warendorf thee is a figure of a woman standing on a beam high above the pavement. She holds some scales and in one hand and a scrawny, much smaller figure in the other. feeling that it was odd that a mother might cutch her baby by the neck and dangle the poor thing, it was suggested that it might actually be her husband. A passer-by laughed out loud and others may have been sniggering.

Anyway, here is something to do with cycling. We all know the impressive route-finding and navigation capability of the Garmin Edge series of bicycle GPS systems. Once it actually finds the satellites it seems to work well and has been precise and effective as expected. the filters are interesting. Removing main roads and unpaved roads from the route has caused some interesting issues. Short lengths of unpaved roads often link paved roads; avoiding them can make for a ride round the houses. Likewise, some main roads have decent infrastructure next to them. Whilst not a fan of fumes, a short stretch of main road can, as with a similar length of unpaved road, avoid peculiar detours. Of course, a paper map does not necessarily, show the quality of the surface, either. so navigation has been a combination of map, GPS, google maps and generally excellent signposting.

For me the jury remains out on whether to rely totally on a GPS, though there is no doubting its use - specially for getting through urban areas.

The next couple of days promise more hills and deeper valleys, lots of forest on a trip that will skirt the northern slopes of the Harz mountains through some of Germany's oldest towns.

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