Updated: Oct 10, 2019
The man who saved my day.
I hate to break it to you, but I don't sit down and write these posts in one go immediately after my ride. In fact, they are not all contemporaneous accounts of my day at all. Sometimes I think of things I want to include and jot them down in rough form in advance. Other times I stop along the way a write a couple of words or phrases. Why bother explaining this? Because on the flight over here, Michael asked me what my 'process for writing' was and when I shared this, he simply answered: "you're a fraud". It's still making me laugh three days later. This is all the funnier because one reader this morning suggested that Michael's writing was "suspiciously like mine". Try as he might, he can't escape nature and nurture.
Thankfully we both have plenty more to write about today, as at least for the morning half of the ride, we got away from the dreaded flat road/empty town merry go round. We still had the headwind of course, but now we were going up hills and through forests.
Right at the start of the morning, I had tried to fix the slipping gears issue I had been suffering from. I was unable to do it or at least, my usual tactic of clicking through the gears and swearing a lot, had little effect. "I will get that fixed at a bike shop" I confidently told Michael, given there are so many of them. We passed two shortly before we reached the hills and rejected each of them as 'just ebike specialists. I regretted this when we reached the first hill and Michael disappeared into the distance leaving me fighting with half a cassette. This is not the first time a combination of stupidity and laziness has cost me. Anyway, I determined to stop at the next one (that I liked the look of).
Close to our half way point for the day in Münster, we found a third shop set back from the road that required us to ride back to an entrance. My mind was made up when I saw the Bianchis hanging in the window. Turned out to be the only Bianchi shop for 100km in any direction. I explained in my broken German that I had a problem with my gears, although of course I could just have been reeling off the names of Kevin Keegan's Hamburger SV teammates from 1979 (see yesterday's blog for full explanation). A series of employees pointed me to different people around the store where I repeated my issue with ever-decreasing confidence that I was saying it right.
Finally, I explained it to a mechanic who said: "right then mate let's get that sorted ". It turns out that Alistair was ex British Army and loved Germany so much he stayed. He handed my bike over to the 'meister' mechanic, who was an expert with Bianchis. He spoke no English, but I know enough German to hear him say 'why don't you get it fixed in England now that you don't want to be part of Europe'. But he said it with a smile and got working.
Alistair explained that in Germany you have to do a three year apprenticeship before you can work on a bike alone. He also confirmed our suspicions about German traffic laws and told us that Münster was the cycling capital of Germany with three bikes to every inhabitant.
By the time he had given us this little potted history, the Meister was finished and there was no charge. He had even cleaned, then re-oiled my chain. There's a Brexit metaphor in there but I can't be arsed to make it. Come up with your own reason why Germans are so helpful.
Münster turned out to be a beautiful city and on another type of trip, we would have stayed longer to explore. Just as we had been told, there were bikes everywhere, like Amsterdam in rush hour. We stopped at Bier Keller for lunch of a massive pretzel but avoided beer as we still had 40km to go.
On the way out through many different bike paths, we got passed about 10 times in quick succession by old men and women, despite the fact we were getting progressively faster. There's something disconcerting about being overtaken by a pensioner on a bike at 30kph, but half of all new bikes sold in Germany today are ebikes, so it shouldn't be a surprise.
The ride to Haltern am See was fairly uneventful. Just more long straights into a headwind with me hanging onto my son's wheel. He really is proving to be a tower of strength on this trip. Although at one stage the road was closed to bikes and I suggested a work around through single track roads in the forest. "Where's your sense of adventure?" I asked Michael. "I lost it after 140km yesterday," he said. Fair enough. We did it anyway - I'm all heart.
Accommodation Rating (I forgot this)
Monday - IKEA's finest
Tuesday - 1970's sitcom
Tonight - Downton Abbey
Reading the replies to the blog so far, it was mentioned that my style of writing, is very similar to my Dad's. Suspiciously similar. Well, I can assure you that it really is me, Michael writing, being a smug sarcastic git must just run in the family.
Anyway, this morning began with a roll-out of Osnabrück towards... *drum roll* a hill! Wow, something other than ceaseless cornfields and ruler-straight roads. The views were beautiful and the silence even more so. That is until it was broken by the sound of (and I quote)
"F*ckin' c*ntin' Garmin, tw*tty Mctw*tface, F*CK YOU." Nice.
The roads today were quieter and the towns and cities more pretty. The city of Münster yielded an interesting combination of feta and pretzel for lunch.
In a return to familiarity, the road to Haltern was bolt-straight and "shit-long". Haltern itself is beautiful, probably very beautiful if we'd been arsed to walk around it but as it happens tired legs weighed down by stomachs full of burgers doesn't leave much self-discipline for walking.
Anyway, stats for the day:
Number of copy-paste lookalike German towns: at least 8
Number of broken promises to visit McDonald's: 4 (He claims he didn't hear me ask to stop but I know better)
Number of times we were mistaken for Germans: 3