Bicycle trip LF4-R1 (NL-D)




Trip report LF4/R1/Weser (Holland-Germany)

Just a few days before the take off for a week long bike trip through Germany, a small disaster took place. My old and faithful Giant Expedition touring bike deceased! The (rear) fork end was broken, and this couldn't be fixed anymore. Luckily I could borrow my brother's city bike, a Giant Tourer. The Tourer is the smaller brother of the Expedition: same frame, but assembled with cheaper quality components. With my brothers permission, I started to disassemble my Expedition in order to transform his Giant Tourer into a high quality touring bike, suitable long distance trips with loaded gear. After a weekend hard labor it was all fixed, only the beautiful red frame reminded me it was not my old Expedition I was riding on, but my brothers Tourer.

Monday 26/5
Amersfoort-Wageningen-Arnhem-Dieren-Zutphen-Warnsveld (106 km)

Nat. park De Hoge Veluwe

With my reincarnated touring bike I head off with fully loaded gear over the bike path along the Valleikanaal. After picking up Yvonne, who's joining me on this trip, our first goal is to follow Landelijke Fietsroute (LF) 4. This is a sign posted bicycle route through the Middle of the Netherlands. The LF4 ends at the border and continues in Germany as Radweg 1 (R1). The R1 is a 275 km long sign posted route, starting at the Dutch border and ending in Höxter on the Weser river (roughly between Hannover and Kassel). After the hilly region of the National park Veluwezoom we have dinner in Brummen. Unfortunately the ferry across the IJssel river doesn't run anymore after 8 pm, so we've to cycle a small detour via the bridge near Zutphen. Near Warnsveld we find a good and cheap SVR campsite at a farm.

Tuesday 27/5
Warnsveld-Lochem-Borculo-Stadtlohn-Coesveld-Darfeld (109 km, avg. 16 km/hr)

Start Radweg 1

The next stage leads us over rolling hills and farmland around Lochem, reminding me of cycling in another country instead of our flat low lands.
Soon after a lunch break and shopping stop in Borculo the LF4 ends at the border. We're heading further east, following the R1 over small traffic free country roads, often bumpy and unpaved. The mushroom shaped signposts along the route are hardly visible. We're lucky to have the official route description with high detailed topo maps (1:50,000 scale) otherwise it would be likely to miss a sign and get completely lost here.

Just past Darfeld, 60 km after the border, we pitch our tents in a small forest. We've to wait until sunset to camp, because free camping isn't allowed here in Germany. Along the R1 are hardly any official campgrounds though. It seems that most German cyclists who follow the R1 are staying in hotels or pensions.

Wednesday 28/5
Darfeld-Havixbeck-Münster-Warendorf-Harsewinkel-Guetersloh-Verl (130 km)

The thought of arriving early in Münster, with probably internet accessible computers, gives us (E-mail junkies) wings. Münster is a large college town with nice bike lanes and a very scenic historical inner city. The library of the university is located in the city center. And yes, we're lucky to find some computers with internet access! It takes a while sending and checking our E-mail and it's already late in the afternoon as we're heading east out of Münster. The landscape east of Münster is again flat, we're cycling in the valley of the river Ems. Due to a strong tail wind we've managed to cycle 90 kilometers past Münster. Around dusk we eat a small pizza in Verl. It's getting dark around 10 pm and we still have to find a campsite somewhere in a dark forest...

Thursday 29/5
Verl-Schloss Holte Stukenbrock-Detmold-Externsteine-Marienmünster-Höxter (99 km)

The next morning our unofficial campground wasn't that bad after all. At least we've not been caught and it has been very quiet. The last 90 km until the end of the R1 follows the most interesting and scenic part of the route. The hilly and heavily forested Teutoburger Wald with it's 700 m high peaks means for us flatlanders almost mountainous terrain.

We meet a whole lot more cyclists than we've seen the days before. It turns out to be a holiday for the catholic state of Nordrhein Westfalen (Fronleichnam, the Feast of Corpus Christi (the Body of Christ). It is a Catholic feast to celebrate the mystery of the Eucharist (the bread and wine becoming the body and blood of Christ).

Around Detmold the R1 is climbing over the hills of the Teutoburgerwald, some steep nasty climbs. The Externsteinen, a 35 m. high rock formation, is a popular tourist destination. Today is a holiday so it's very crowded. For world travellers like us the stones aren't that impressive, but we've had a nice walk anyway. We leave the mountains behind us and with a quick descent we enter Höxter, the end of the R1. Along the borders of the Weser river there are plenty of campgrounds. After camping in the forests it's now time to take a shower.

Friday 30/5
Höxter-Holzminden-Bodenwerder-Hameln-Rinteln-Porta Westfalica (115 km)

Bike path along the Weser

The last day we're following another sign posted bike trail, the R99 along the Weser river. It promised to be a very relaxing day, sunny and dry, a flat bike lane down the river... It surprises us to see lots and lots of bicyclists with loaded gear along this river. It seems all the bicycle tourists of Germany are united on the R99.

As soon as a few racing bikes are passing by, Yvonne starts chasing them on her loaded bike. A few times not without success. I'm impressed, usually she's very slow starter, but at this early hour she's very active.
Near Bodenwerder we're slowing down a bit. We're now entering the region where I've done some field research in the past during my college years in Physical Geography. Bodenwerder is also the birthplace of Baron von Mönchhausen (a famous fairy tale character). A few kilometers down the river we visit the scenic inner city of Hameln, famous of the fairy tale of the Rat hunter.
North of Hameln the hills get lower and lower. Yvonne meets the so called "Man with the Hammer" (means she got tired and lost her energy). This proves she's just a person of flesh and blood and not a machine after all.
Due to lots of mosquitoes and campgrounds full of noisy campers we finally decide not to camp at one of the official campgrounds along the river. Instead we find a nice and quiet place in the woods near Porta Westfalica.

Saturday 31/5
Porta Westfalica-Kaiser Wilhelm Denkmal-Bad Oeynhausen 27 km (train to Rheine-Meppen) Meppen-Emmen (35 km)

The 2 km long climb to the top of Wittekindsberg is a nice end of our trip. from the top we enjoy a lovely view on the valley of the Weser. From Porta Westfalica, the Weser leaves the hilly region of Weserbergland and meanders through the flat plains of Northern Germany (Niedersaksen).

At the train station of Bad Oeynhausen we buy a so called Schönes Wochenende ticket. For 35 DM you're able to catch a train throughout whole Germany during the whole weekend. Plus: you can bring a maximum of four people with you who 're traveling on that same ticket as well! The only restrictions are that you can only use it on regional and city bounded trains (not valid on international or D-trains). (see also )

For 6 DM we take our bikes with us. Most trains have special wagons for bicycles. Very convenient, though sometimes hard to get access to with it's small doors and an entry of 1 m above the platform. Luckily there are always people (conductor, other cyclists) who will help you with carrying the bikes into the wagon.

From Bad Oeynhausen we take a train to Rheine and from Rheine to Meppen, near the Dutch border. From there it's a short ride to Emmen. Here our ways separate, Yvonne catches another train to Heerenveen and I've to cycle only a short ride to my mother's place near Emmen, where I end this 6 day trip after 638 km.