Maastricht to Birkensee, Germany

From 27/09/2014 to 08/10/2014

Day 1 – Saturday 27/09
Maastricht to Bruggen, Germany – 89kms

Got up at 06:00 with our daughter at the door. She was on her way to work and stopped by to say goodbye. As soon as she left a friend of ours stopped by to drop off a gift from his wife to Monique. After all that we finally got our stuff together and left the house at 08:45.
Our first stop was to Hoensbrook, about 20kms from Maastricht, to have coffee with some friends, Liesbeth and Henk. With all these goodbye’s you’d think were off for a couple of years.
Getting out of Hoensbrook and heading towards the German border is a bit dodgy as the whole area is built up with many winding roads and it gets more difficult with road works and detours.
By the time we reached Bruggen it became clear that we need to be set up at camp by 17:00 so we’ll have enough light, the shorter days will be a big problem on this tour.
The weather today was perfect for cycling despite the thick mist in the morning which only lasted about an hour anyway.  Camping here is pretty good, very clean and cheap.

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The traditional picture in front of our house. Notice the new additions to our bikes underneath the handle bar bags. We added them on to gain more space on our rear panniers. They hold our sleeping bags and pillows in waterproof bags.

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On the plateau near Hulberg, a few kms outside of Maastricht.

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The N274 we were following went into Germany for several kilometers before going back into Holland for about 10kms before returning yet again to Germany.

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Despite being a major national road the cycling path next to it is perfect.

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One of the many rest stops of the day.

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Great riding in the wooded area of the Meinweg.

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Day 2 – Sunday 28/09
Brugen to Wesel – 83kms – Total 172kms

We got on the road at 09:45. After a good nights sleep, if a bit cold being in the middle of these woods, we woke up to a soak wet tent.
The day warmed up good and the whole ride was great. We even found a green ways route (disused train track turned cycling path) that we rode for quite a few kilometers. When it did warm up a bit we stopped to dry the tent while having lunch. Later on we also managed to cycle along the Rhine’s great cycling paths before crossing it.
Camping here is a small canoe club campground, clean and cheap. Being so late in the season we were the only ones camping here.

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Early morning ride through the national park De Meinweg.

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Having our tea on the green way cycling path with a section of the disused train track in the background.

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Drying the tent while having lunch.

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The bridge we crossed over the Rhine at Wesel.

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Seemed brand new.

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Our camp on a small lake with the canoe club house on the right.

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You can pick a much worst place to camp for the night. We did sleep good along this lake.

Day 3 – Monday 29/09
Wesel to Ludinghausen – 76kms – Total 248kms

Got on the road by 09:00 to a wonderful morning. The first half of the day was really nice and warm and we had a fantastic time cycling along more green ways tracks. Around midday clouds started to roll in and by the time we neared the camping it began to drizzle lightly. So we set up the tent quickly and Monique went for a shower. By the time she returned it all went South, the sky opened up, I ran for the shower block in high winds and heavy rain, than the machine at the shower ate the only euro I had.
I then tried the reception to get my euro back but found it closed, so I gave up and headed back to the tent for the emergency wash with wet ties/baby wipes. Finally when trying to make a coffee our burner handle broke but luckily I had a pair of pliers in my tool box so used it. Besides all that the day was really good and the camping is ok also.

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Early morning cycling through the beautiful wooded area near our camping.

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Truly enjoying the ride.

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Harvesting was in full swing, this is corn mostly used for cow feed and bio-fuel.

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Lunch stop in the town of Haltern.

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Formations of geese heading South.

Day 4 – Tuesday 30/09
Ludinghausen to Sassenberg – 78kms – Total 326kms

We got on the road by 09:15 to a grey and cold morning. In the morning we mostly followed the L58 heading NE. Good fast roads so we put on our headphones, cranked up the music, got on a higher gear and cycled on. At the end of the day the average speed was the highest ever for a flat stretch, 15.9kph.
Later on it did clear up a bit and the sun came out, so feeling much warmer we got off the main roads and started cycling on smaller farmers tracks at a more leisurely pace.
Again we stopped to dry the tent and it turned out to be a very nice day indeed. We cycled through many beautiful little villages. So far we’re enjoying this tour and feel that we needed it.
Camping here is good but the most expensive yet at €16.

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Fast cycling paths next to the L58.

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And riding on the fast L58 itself. Very light traffic so it was nice riding.

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Fall is truly here.

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The sun beginning to come out from behind the clouds.

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Truthfully though, the ride did begin to get boring as most of the places we cycled through resembled the area immediately around Maastricht.

Day 5 – Wednesday 01/10
Sassenberg to Helensee (Rinteln) – 100kms – Total 426kms

On the road at 08:45 to a very misty morning. It got quite cold last night and this morning we needed to wear our sweaters, but by 11:00 the sun finally burned through the mist and it began to warm up nicely.
There were a few hills around midday but all went well. We did change routes after reading the map more closely and decided to go around a few hills instead of plowing through in a straight line over them. It was nice to see the river Weser again after all these years, 2007 being the last time when we rode along the Weser from Kasel to the Northsea.
We were aiming for Borlefzen where there were a couple of camping’s but once there we found out they wanted €20 without even a shower, electricity or internet, so we just moved on 12kms or so to Helensee were we found a lovely camping for €12.50 shower included. After setting up we went to the restaurant and had curry-worst and a few beers.

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The sun trying to break through, it took several more hours before it succeeded.

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The scenery pretty much stayed the same, and it began to get boring. We could have been cycling near Maastricht.

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We came across this farm were they had made this beautiful statues from rolls of hey. Good luck to them whoever they may be 🙂

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The junction between the Werre and Weser rivers meet.

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We needed to cross the Weser so we tried for the ferry (to the left of Monique) but they wanted €2 each plus €2 each for the bikes, so we cycled on to the nearest bridge at Vlotho several kilometers upriver.

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Crossing the Weser for free at Vlotho.

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It was getting late by the time we reached Helensee. The days are just too short to be cycling 100kms.

Day 6 – Thursday 02/10
Helensee (Rinteln) to Birkensee (South of Hanover) – 70kms – Total 496kms

It was cold and grey this morning and despite having slept well our legs felt heavy. The sun did try and burn through the mist around noon but no good there was just too much mist/low clouds around the hills. There were a couple of hills today and after yesterdays 100 kilometer ride they seemed difficult.
We have noticed that there is very heavy truck traffic around these parts, and even cycling along the paths the noise and pollution gets pretty bad.
Camping here is good but a bit expensive.

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View after one of the climbs this morning. Click to view larger.

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When the traffic was light it was pretty good riding.

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This looks just like many other places on the Dutch, Belgium, German border near our home, so yes it is getting boring.

Part 2 of this tour.