Back in 2014, I decided to do a long distance cycling tour around North Rhein Westphalia. Shortly I also went to Belgium and the Netherlands (the Aachen’s neighboring towns, Liege and Maastricht). In this and the few following posts, I will document this experience and share some information on the track, the organization, the sights, etc. I hope some readers will find this useful on one or another way.
At that time, I was a student, so the budget was one of the requirements. I also had only about a week for this tour. Here are the basic facts of the trip:
- Duration: 8 days
- Start: Home (Paderborn)
- End: Cologne
- Distance: 575 km
- Accommodation: Couchsurfing, Hostel and Friends
- Overnight in 6 cities: Münster, Bochum, Mönchengladbach, Aachen, Liege, again Aachen and Bonn
- Bike: Bulls Cross Pulsar
- Tracking app: Runtastic
Day structure: On average I cycled 70 km per day. My longest day was Day 1 with 100 km, and the shortest was Day 8 with 45 km. Generally, I started cycling around 9 am. On each 20 km I usually did small 5-10 min break. Lunch break was always after 40-50 km and it took one hour. I did the lunch breaks always in some of the towns on the way where I also did some walking and sightseeing. On the second part of the cycling, my breaks were always longer. My goal was always to finish the cycling around 5 pm, but often it was 6 pm or a bit later. Then, I had small rest time for showering followed by dinner, walking around and often some social time with the people I met.
Physical preps: This was my first long distance cycling experience. Before I have only cycled for few hours around the city I live, visiting some neighboring towns and villages. On average, I did small trips cycling 40-70 km per day. More than 2 days in a row cycling I have not experienced before. So this was the challenge I was taking with this experience.
Planning: Before the trip, I prepared roughly the towns and the route I wanted to go. For some of the days I fixed the accommodation especially for the first 3-4 days. I contacted more people at Couchsurfing. Of course, some did not answer or answered too late, but that is part of the process. I also collected a list of hostels where to go in case something does not work out as planned. Also for the second part of the tour I have not fixed the places where to stay because I was not sure how far I will get and where exactly to finish. On Couchsurfing, I tried to find people that are also into cycling, but it was not always possible. On the topic how to use Couchsurfing there are many other articles on the internet that may help you. I could also write a whole post just on that 🙂 After the tour I also found out about Warmshowers, which is a specialized community for cyclists and now I recommend it over Couchsurfing for this purpose. I am still member of this community and I host people in Paderborn when they contact me.
Packing: I have bought two bags that are attached to the back wheel plus one backpack which I kept on top of the back wheel. The clothing was minimal. I had one pair of jeans and two t-shirts for the evenings, enough underwear for every day, a sleeping t-shirt, and two outfits for the cycling which I changed each day. I washed each day the outfit that I wore on that day. In the backpack, I kept external battery, water, snacks and the lunch for the day. I had only one pair of shoes for the whole trip and one wind jacket. Additionally, I had few tools for the bike which, luckily, I did not have to use 🙂
Navigation: In Germany, there are plenty of bike ways that are marked. Most of the towns and villages are also shown on the signs. Usually, in radius of 20 km each place will start to appear on the sign. The bigger cities will be shown even in radius of 30 or 40 km. So, to avoid checking the map all the time, I always remembered the next few villages and towns I have on the way to my final destination, and just followed the signs. Sometimes, it happens that you get lost from the official way and then you have to check the map more often. Mostly this happens when you enter a bigger town. In general, it is really easy to orient with all the signs in Germany and the Netherlands. But Belgium is a story on its own. Check one of the next posts where I write about the time in Liege 🙂
Day 1: Paderborn to Münster
- Distance: 100 km
- Duration: 6 hours
- Route: Paderborn – Schloß Neuhaus – Sande – Delbrück – Rietberg – Rheda Wiedenbrück – Herzebrock – Beelen – Warendorf – Münster
- Accommodation: Couchsurfing in Münster (Simon)
- Highlight: Warendorf is very nice town
The trip started not so promising. Still in Paderborn, after 1 km, a heavy rain started. I got completely wet until I found a roof to cover myself. After 20 minutes, it was over, and I decided to start the tour again. Luckily that was the only real rain for the whole trip. There were just few times heavy clouds with some rain drops but nothing that was disturbing.
After Paderborn, I continued to Schloß Neuhaus, passing by the Castle, and then to Lippesee and Sande. After Sande, there is a nice off road way that through the fields leads to Delbrück. Very nice path! Delbrück is a bit confusing to orientate even with navigation and there is nothing special to be seen.
Rietberg was then a nice surprise. The way from Delbrück was quite nice, passing through some nice woods and lakes until entering the nice old town of Rietberg. There I made my first break. Here is also one photo:
After short ride comes Rheda-Wiedenbrück. Here, I spent some time to find the castle, but at the end I decided to skip and continue, since I realized I was going slower than planned and the break in Rietberg was already long. Then, I was cycling along the bigger street (Bundesstraße) with the cars, which was not the nicest part of the track. I passed by Herzebrock-Carlholz and Beelen, until I reached Warendorf. Here, I made another break and I walked a bit in the town, which is really cute. Here another photo:
Then, I did not want to continue the big street, so I found another way through the fields. It was probably a bit longer but it was very nice! There I felt the beauty of Müsterland, which is very nice region for cycling. There were also more cyclists on the ways compared to the previous regions. The last kilometers were tiring but real enjoyment. I was happy that I managed to cycle 100 km in a single day.
In Münster, I met my Couchsurfing host, Simon, who was very friendly. We went to a nice place for a dinner, then some bars for a drink 🙂