A bike sign! So we weren't sure if this was the right bike route, let alone a bike route at all. But the little bicycle and an arrow let us know that at least we were allowed to be riding through the grass, next to somebody's fields. And it was glorious.
After a rough few days, including medical problems, translation problems, short days getting us to nowhere and forcing us to stay at over-priced hotels, we really needed some magic. And that's just what we got. Grass bike route? Yay! When we emerged out onto a road again, we could follow bike signs, and even though we were not really going the exact route we had wanted, we were at least going in the right direction - west.
And it was a castle route, apparently. We got our first look at a castle with a moat, and the route went through the surrounding forests - we could have been in any time, and there probably were some fairies.
Joshua has started to take photos of me with his iphone, while riding. The photo above is one of a series; watched in rapid progression you can see me ride around the corner. Available as a flip-book on request.
After a couple of criss-crosses on major roads, we took a turn onto a very narrow road that quickly turned to dirt, with a green grassy center. Along each side of the grass was a muddy tire track, with a lot of stinging nettles growing towards the center - something we've seen on many a bike path, actually. I was so happy from such a good morning that I careened at high speed into the grass. My new rear tire, with almost no tread, slid off the center divider and before I could adjust I was face down in the stinging nettles. First crash! Joshua was more upset than me - as he could see my elbow, which was scraped a little. I was only unhappy that I had basically ground stinging nettles into my arm, knee, and shin. Joshua inspected my bike, and called me reckless while demanding that I walk around to make sure I wasn't just in shock. I did what he said, and then he poured hydrogen peroxide over my elbow saying 'this might hurt a little'. Thank you nurse Moody.
We got back on the road without further incident, although I did end up walking through the muddiest parts of that particular road. Joshua took a photo of the chicken-in-action, to record how disapproving it's look was regarding my crash, and then managed to get a picture of me riding again.
Not long after that we found a nice picnic spot. We had our lunch, and then took a short nap before continuing on.
The rest of the day passed quickly, and we made it to Stadtlohn (where we stopped for a Radler - beer and lemonade) and then Vreden, our last city before the border. Vreden is a pretty nice little city. In fact, we stopped to check out the old church, just briefly.
We made it a goal to just make it to the Netherlands and stop at the first campsite, and that is exactly what we did. It had started to rain again, so we set up the tent and shelter quickly - the the rain stopped for a little while. We were just east of Groenlo, The Netherlands, and of two minds (mine and Joshua's) about whether we'd make it to Amsterdam by bike or be forced to take a train to arrive in time for the wedding.