Bielefeld to Diepholz

Distance 95km
Time ~7h

Time and distance are estimates as I still haven’t hooked up my cycle computer.

Bielefeld to Diepholz Route Very rough map

I am sitting on the bed of my room in the hotel Strangmeyer in Diepholz. I had planned to make it to Bremen today. I estimated it to be 135km, I would head north west and join the D7 cycle route which would take me first to Bremen and then I thought I would carry on the next day to Hamburg. I didn’t make it to Bremen, I only made around 95km and there is still another 70km to go to Bremen.

I knew that this first journey would be an experiment - I have done no training at all - the last time I rode any significant distance was in August last year. My journey lasted for about 7 hours. My legs were resisting and became sore. My bum is also sore. These are to be expected, but I didn’t expect pain in my fingers and wrists.

The third finger of my right hand has some muscle problem now (due to pulling the break lever) and I noticed early on that my left wrist became quite painful from being constantly engaged on the handlebar. I had this issue once before a years back and it crippled me for a week or so. So I took precaution to not put any more unnecessary pressure on it.

I woke up in the Bielefeld campsite this morning at about 7:00am and made myself a coffee using my Italian coffee maker (the first time I have used one for camping) and put the contents into my thermos mug. I then started chucking all of my gear out the tent onto the grass so that I could pack it up.

The bike was on the back of my brothers Land Rover, I haven’t seen it in over a year. My father has been riding it in that time and mentioned that the breaks and rear tire would need replacing. Luckily I had 2 sets of spare break pads in my bag from my last tour, so I set to work replacing and adjusting them. It started raining.

The weather forecast was ominous. Four days of rain.

Break pads were replaced but the breaks still were not working very well, I made a personal engineering breakthrough when I realised that the reason they didn’t work well was because the v-breaks had no tension and were loose. The v-break has a spring which pulls it away from the frame, the spring is hooked through one of three holes in different positions. The breaks were in the middle position, I moved them to the third and they were much better (I guess the springs are not as good as they used to be).

So happy that now my breaks are better they have been for years.

This took me some time and it was raining constantly and I was exposed. When I finished I jumped into the land-rover and woke my brother up (he was sleeping in the car and his friend in the tent). I was feeling a bit dizzy and shaking. I made a peanut-butter sandwich and finished my coffee and made to leave.

The previous night we had all sat down in the campsite’s biergarten and eaten pizza and drank a few beers. It turns out we had left the shower keys (you use the coupon and get charged after the fact) in the biergarten. But they found them and were happy to give my brother new ones.

I said goodbye to my brother and cycled out of the campsite. Wondering if I had forgotten anything. The weather improved, the sun came out. But it would alternate between gusty rain and sunshine all day.

The campsite was located south of Bielefeld (over the Bielefeld Berg[1], or the Teuton burger Forest). And I cycled over the Bielefeld Pass. In Mitte (center) I went to the bakery and got 2 chocolate cookies and set off.

The path was not clear to me at all, and there was no direct route, so I ended up zig-zagging my way up to Bad-Essen - which explains the extra distance.

I tried reciting my memorised poetry collection (I had 6 poems, including The Waste Land and The Raven). I tried 5 and couldn’t finish any of them, I think they will come back to me though. It’s a good resource to have and I could keep myself occupied for an hour or more when I could remember them all.

The breaks were replaced, but I still needed a back tire, it was smooth, there was no tread left on it at all. When the Schwarbe Marathon tires ware down too much they reveal a green color, which I think means “replace me now”. There was much green.

In Bad-Essen I found a pretty large cycle shop, and immediately found the required tire. I asked if I could replace the tire in the shop, and they were good enough to replace it for me. The bike was outside and the mechanic insisted that the baggage be removed (I just wanted to give the wheel). They put my baggage outside in the street, it wasn’t many people and it was a small town but this worried me, while I didn’t want to be awkard by moving it all inside the shop. I waited and guarded my luggage for about 20 minutes while the wheel was replaced. It cost about €54 including puncture repair patches and a water bottle.

I still need to get tire levers and some gloves.

It was cold at points today too, when it was raining and the wind was blowing at me my hands were going numb. I have gloves and will dig them out tomorrow.

For lunch I pulled into a forest track and sat down on a log. I had a bread roll, peanut butter and assorted nuts. Shortly afterwards I found a bakery and topped with with an apple cake and a fizzy drink,

At around 16:00 I realised that I wasn’t even half way to Bremen (I started at around 10:30) and that I could realistically be there if I carried on until 22:00 - but my body was suffering, I could have pushed through but would have caused myself damage one way or another. Epic 10 hour rides will have to wait.

I decided to stop early, my current waypoint was where I am now, Diepholz, I hoped to find a campsite, but when I got to the center, the nearest was another 10km away, and in the wrong direction. I must have been looking lost because a man asked me if he could help, I said I was looking for a campsite, he suggested “Dümmer See” - but again it was 10km in the wrong direction. I asked about hotels.

“Do you know any hotels in this town” “Yes, but I don’t know the prices”, he was thinking, “there is a guesthouse / pension Strangmeyer”

I didn’t understand all of what he said but got the directions and followed them. When I entered there was lots of people eating in the restaurant and the owner was very busy attending to them, but she managed to give me the key for the room and let me put my bike around the back.

They were serving food, but I thought I would try my chances in the town - oddly all the restaurants seem to stop serving at 20:00, and I was confused when I asked in an Italian restaurant “We start serving at eight” - “but it is eight” “No we stop serving at eight” and he looked at me like I was a mentally challenged (my German still sucks).

I ended up eating a simple Falafel Dürum from a Turkish Imbiss. I crowd of young kids were hanging around outside. The Dürum only cost €2 and it was slimmer than the ones I’m used to in Berlin (less salad). But it was good.

Now I need to plan where I will go tomorrow, passing surely through Bremen. Hoping there will be a campsite at around the 100km mark.

  1. I climbed over this “mountain” the evening before with half of my touring equipment, it was heavy work and probably explains some of the issues I had today.