Today was hot, very hot. I'm glad I got up fairly early and made at least some headway before the heat really set in and slowed things down. HC was generous enough not only to give me breakfast and a few pointers as to the route, but also followed me for about a kilometer or so and made sure I got off in the right direction. After that, navigating through Hannover was a breeze, and with the sun out I took the time to do the tourist thing and snapped a few shots of the sights. Without the risk of rain hanging over me, my camera remained in my jersey pocket for the rest of the day.
Out of Hannover, I took the B65 via Bad Nenndorf, Stadthagen and Bückeburg. There I noticed that even though my average speed was lower than yesterday, I was making good time having set off a bit earlier in the morning. Then I saw a sign that showed the way to a helicopter museum. Still feeling like I had the time to look around, I went. I took a bunch of photos, but I'm not sure if any of them are any good. The lighting in the exhibition rooms wasn't anything near optimal for my little compact.
Riding in the southern outskirts of Minden, I found a bike path leading in the direction of Porta Westfalica. While following it, I stopped underneath a bridge to get in the shade for a while. Already there was an old couple also on bikes, with panniers. We said our hellos and had a nice little chat for about 10 minutes. These short moments, when lives connect in ways like this are really what makes travelling worth while. Best wishes all 'round, I continued my journey towards the pass ahead. With hills on both sides, the river Weser in the middle and a huge monument to Kaiser Wilhelm I high above, the northern gate of Westfahlen made an impressive sight. It'll probably take a while for me to digest. As will a lot of other things I've seen today. I would love to do another tour through these parts again some time, but at an even slower pace, to allow for more of the tourist bit. In Herford, for instance, with about 20 km to go today, I stopped in the middle of town and ate some of my remaining food. The center of town is made up of a network of pedestrian streets, with shops, cafés, biergartens and beautiful little (and not so little) churches making up the scenery.
East of Bielefeld I stopped at a bus stop to get my bearings. I knew the name of the part of town where my host lives, and found a road that took me around the center. Stopping at a gas station to get help with finding the right street, I made it all the way to B's front door. B is the host I phoned last night from Hannover, after browsing through the ADFC Dachgeber list. It's officially for members only, but there's a statement in their charter that says the same hospitality should also be shown to foreign bike tourers. Having been welcomed here with the use of a much needed shower, food and a wonderful conversation about cycling and other things that makes life interesting, I'm just about to hit the sack.
Tomorrow, depending a little bit on how I feel in the morning, I will most likely ride to Hamm and from there then take the train into Köln. Doing so lets me take a direct train connection and also, in my view, earns me the right to say I rode as far as I could without getting into the mountains of the Sauerland or the big cities of the Ruhr.
Today: 120,15 km, 6h40m10s, 18,01 kmh avg, 50,5 kmh max.
Tour total: 480,53 km.