Day 31: Entering the Hills

Having a good night sleep always helped and I woke to a prepared breakfast featuring all sorts of toppings for the brotchen, not to mention coffee at the ready. I was plesant to see Alexander’s girlfriend there, but the more company the better. It was interesting to talk and reflect on time spent at University. Enjoying the breakfast, it was time to pack everything and get moving for the day towards Paderborn.

Before we set off we were greeted by his grand parents who wanted to see a rickshaw and were excited to take many photos. They even provided me with some apples and plums for the journey fresh from their garden. Soon enough, everything was ready and me and Alexander set off with his girlfriend as a passenger. It was a short journey for her as we dropped her off at the end of the street. It was good to have a companion towards Paderborn – 14km away. It was nice to talk over cycle touring matters – for example why he ventured to Africa.

Arriving near Paderborn, we found two power cables (too charge my gadgets) in a small electric shop on the outskirts, we both remarked it look like some shop that could be found in Morocco. It was interesting to hear that the town’s name originates from the birth of the River Pader – and is the smallest/shortest river in Europe. Shortly after we made our farewells. It was great to have all his family around and made my stay much more enjoyable and especially comfortable. He gave me a farewell present of a Scho-Ka-Kola – this is a caffeine infused chocolate that was used by the German Aircrew – or so he told me. He joked that I’d need many pieces of it later in the day! Upon shaking hands again we finally commited to depart.

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The journey afterwards was fairly ordinary, until I got onto a bike path and couldn’t get through, so had to u-turn. The route was slightly up-hill, but mostly during the morning I felt slightly weak, without a reason. Hills loomed in front of me – these are hills with peaks at 400m.

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In anticipation, I gulped down sugar to shock my system into action, it took a while but eventually it kicked in around 30 minutes. By then I was entering a valley that would take me over the range of hills.

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I was very surprised to find how scenic this valley was. It escorted me along a stream and through forest – made more spectacular with Autumn. The path was gravel and muddy in places, but three wheels helped retain grip. It wasn’t too difficult thankfully in most parts, but some small sections were tremendously steep – I reckon 11% by the strenous pace in the bottom gear. I clenched my teeth and braced my arms on these sections and it was satisfying working my way up. There comes a point where you go that slow, that you don’t care how long it takes, and it was a moment where I could thoroughly enjoy it surrounded by nature.

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I reached what appeared to be the top – marked by a very quick downhill section which soon made me very cold. Rays of sunlight squeezed through the gaps between the trees at the side of me.

Then I saw a sign for Externsteine: three huge stoney monoliths potruding randomly from the ground. It’s something worth seeing and you can climb to the top, but I wasn’t feeling up to it (especially with a 3.50 euros admission) and the evening fast approaching.

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Around me were rolling hills of greens and browns and proved plesant in the remaining evening sun. Following a small river, made the final segment of the day easy.

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Steinheim was the final town of the day. Someone recognised me from a small village I earlier passed. They saw me and thought it was a project that used many rickshaws but after checking my website on his phone, soon realised that he didn’t want to miss his chance to see me. So they caught up with me in the town center of Steinheim and asked a few questions and took a photo. I took him for a brief tour around the Market Place. I was grateful they got me a few small items to help me on trip and if I had been closer had offered for me to stay at their house, but was too far away by then.

It’s great to have nice moments like that aswell as having such a fantastic time with Alexander and his family made my day feel that more special. Most importantly it makes me look forward to the many other encouters with people I meet along the way.

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Tonight marks another period of camping; although I am relucatant to be in this position. The sky is extremely clear with the moon hazely glowing in front of me as I type on the rickshaw. It’s going to be a cold night; already I can see my breath.