Day Twelve: Münster to Ruurlo

Distance: 102.7 km

Time: 5 hours 26 minutes

Average speed: 18.9 kph

Total distance: 940.1 km

Total time: 46 hours 50 minutes

Wordle scores: Captain 3, Stoker 5

We both liked Münster enormously. It has some fine churches, a cathedral and Rathaus, elegant streets and a lively, welcoming atmosphere, not to mention thousands of bicycles.

It was an eye-opener, therefore, to read that 91% of the old town was completely destroyed in World War 2. Obviously some fine reconstruction work has taken place, and even where the replacement buildings are in a modern style, care has been taken to ensure a sympathetic blend of ancient and modern. The picture below shows the layout of old Münster, which is largely unchanged today.

We fancied the idea of something a little different for dinner, and as so often happens on our tours we were both craving rice – our bodies must be demanding carbohydrates! The Stoker found a Nepalese restaurant a short walk from our hotel, so we decided to give it a try.

The food was very similar to Indian, but with some dishes we didn’t recognise, so we plumped for those. One was a delicious mild creamy chicken dish not dissimilar to Chicken Makhani. The other, a prawn dish, was marked with two stars for the degree of spiciness. Seeing that there was a four star dish I decided two stars would be a medium style curry.

How wrong I was. It was the hottest thing I’ve eaten in years – I dread to think what the four star dish would have been like! Originally we’d planned to share the two dishes, but this one was well outside the Stoker’s comfort zone. Reader, I finished it. I was perspiring from every pore and demanding constant water refills, but I made it!

Once again we awoke to blue skies and scudding clouds. Today’s route was in a westerly direction, for just over a hundred kilometres, straight into the wind, so we knew it would be tough, and could take six hours or longer.

So we ate a hearty breakfast to make sure we had enough fuel for the morning, retrieved our tandem from the Radstation and pedalled off, past the Rathaus and out of the city.

Our expectations of a tough day were entirely accurate! Straight away we were buffeted by the westerly wind, directly into our faces. It grew stronger through the morning, and reached a peak as we ascended our only real hill of the day (and indeed the final hill of this tour) on beautiful quiet and leafy cycle paths and roads. Towards the top of the hill we saw many wind turbines, rotating rapidly.

On reaching the top of the climb we took our first rest, parking the tandem next to a large concrete Minion. Not quite sure what it was doing there, but we had to have a photograph.

Just as we pedalled out of the village, we spotted a second one!

We stayed at the same sort of altitude for a while, on the plateau which succeeded the climb. The headwind here was brutal – most of the time it was blowing at a steady-ish sixteen miles per hour, which kept our speed well down. Occasionally, though, there were huge gusts of wind, up to thirty-five miles per hour, It felt as though these brought us to a virtual standstill.

So it was with some relief that, after a few kilometres, we descended steeply for a while. We still had the wind in our faces for the rest of the day, but it was never quite as severe.

After about forty-five kilometres we stopped again for drinks and chocolate bars. On a long day I much prefer to do at least two-thirds of the distance before stopping for lunch, which meant that today we would stop after nearly seventy kilometres. We were making good progress, but getting pretty hungry, and with almost exactly seventy kilometres on the clock we stopped in the town of Vreden for sandwiches, copious quantities of drinks, and then cake. Beautiful rich Mocha cake! Boy, did it taste good!

A complex set of roadworks had us scratching our heads and trying to find the way out of Vreden, but eventually we threaded our way through to find the cycle path again.

After a few kilometres we found ourselves back in The Netherlands again. There was no ceremony, no border post or sign, just a change of language on the cycle path signs and the reappearance of the Dutch node system. What a marvellous thing the Schengen Agreement is, to permit such easy crossing of borders, and what fools our leaders are to take us in the opposite direction.

The remainder of the afternoon was spent pedalling into the same unvarying headwind, watching the remaining kilometres decrease and husbanding our resources.

Oh, and we overtook some families out cycling for the day, kids strapped securely inside their bikes.

At last, we turned into the grounds of the Forrest Hotel. So far our worries about this place appear to have been entirely unfounded – the room is friendly, the welcome very warm and the food smells delicious. Dinner, however, is strictly at seven, so this post is being written very quickly so we can make the deadline!

I’m really proud of us both today. I can’t remember a day when we cycled such a distance into an unforgiving headwind, but we just got on with it. Tomorrow, all being well, we will complete our journey by returning to Apeldoorn, where we hope to find that our car is still in the car park! We’ll still be cycling into the same headwind, but for only about half today’s distance.

Here’s today’s route, and a short video,

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