20 June 2019

Not a fun ride to Minden

The humans woke early at around 05:30hrs and seemed keen to be off! 

They vacated and then took down the tent. Dave appeared with mugs of welcoming tea, so work stopped briefly.  Eventually all camping equipment was taken down and stowed away before breakfast.  And then we were off!

Chris was feeling fit and charged ahead using a fair bit of electric power all the way. Alan’s bike battery is not as good, and he can never match the distance Chris can, so we took it easy using as little power as necessary. This meant Chris got so far ahead they could no longer communicate! Sometimes we got stuck at a traffic light which made the gap even bigger.

Today was a very warm and sunny day. The Ride from Hannover was easy enough, but it was no fun! The route took cycle paths, but generally we followed roads with heavy traffic! 

Getting out of the city was tiresome too! Even when out we had the traffic thundering by!

The views though were nice and proved that Gernany is a beautiful country.

Sod’s Law dictated that when Alan stopped to take these pictures, no traffic was to be seen, but believe us there was enough about!

After more than 45 kilometres the humans finally stopped for a break in Stadthagen! 

We were not sure why this stone was erected in 1988 unless there was a Gebietsreform at that time, for the stone shows that the Weser River is the boundary between North Rhine Westfalia and Lower Saxony.

The Weser River was then crossed as we entered Minden. 

We cycled on to Minden-West where the barracks were that housed the Royal Engineers Troop attached to 130 Pioneer Bataillon of the Bundeswehr! Here we had our photos taken by a Sapper to prove we had been there!

Chris now made a phone call and we found ourselves being invited to stay with James Boielle, the Chairman of the local RBL Branch.

The heavens opened shortly after getting there! James was most hospitable gave us tea and biscuits and told tall tales of when men were men and women were glad of them! Showers and Egyptian PT were then done, before James took the humans out for an excellent Chinese meal. Then back at the ranch more isotonic drinks with more tales of daring do. Sadly our humans began to flag and had to retire to bed, to sleep perchance to dream!

18 June 2019

A sunny ride to Hannover

The humans were awake early and keen to be off, but Alan had ordered breakfast for 08:00 hrs so they were forced to wait half an hour! 

Once they set off we rode down the hill to the Rathaus where Mary from the Fallingbostel RBL Branch gave each of the boys a hug and waved us off on our next day’s adventure!

Generally we followed a minor road on the adjacent cycle path. Chris set a good pace and our humans were well rested so as the day was sunny and warm the cycling was most enjoyable! There were woods on either side of the road and once again we had the scent of pine in the air.

The Aller River was crossed and Alan was reminded of all the times he had been on its banks for a River crossing exercise and also that as the Services Liaison Officer in Verden, he lived beside it!

At one stage Alan’s Navi said we had to go straight, but there was no cycle path on the busy main road. Sensibly Chris suggested following a cycle path to the east, which we did and then he discovered the sign that led us again on safe cycle paths away from the traffic!

We stopped for a short rest at this barbecue place and we then insisted on having our photos taken in the seating area!

Did someone know we were passing this way?

Then we found ourselves cycling along a nice tarmac road through the forest. Here the humans were able to cycle side by side. Alan then noticed that Chris’s bike computer was showing a different speed to us, though we were keeping abreast? The two humans discussed this anomaly and then did a couple of measured kilometres. Alan’s bike was 0.20 Kms shorter than Chris’s! Our BBF will have to get it checked when we get back.

Riding into the city, the traffic got busier and nosier. Not really to our liking. The humans stopped about five kilometres from where we were going to change into the RBL shirts for the arrival!

Dave Brett of the Hannover Branch was waiting for us in the street and waved us in.

A tent had been erected for our accommodation and cold isotonic drinks were served. Then showers were in order and Dave kindly offered to do our human’s washing which was hung out in the hot sun to dry. 

More members arrived and then Dave presented our humans with a very special pin.

17 June 2019

Dinner in Fallingbostel

The welcoming committee of the RBL Branch in Fallingbostel are all young, compared to our old codgers and need to work for a living. Consequently it was agreed that they would meet us outside the town hall, or Rathaus at 19:00 hrs.

The missing member Alan took the obligatory photo and then we retired to a suitable hostilary for refreshments. They kindly fed and watered us, as well as promising a generous donation to our Poppy Fund!

After the formalities a very pleasant evening was had chatting amicably. Our BBF especially enjoyed chatting to the treasurer about cycling and was green with envy when he heard of this man’s exploits cycling the old Inner German Border when he was still serving! It is 1400 Kms long, so cycling it all including going up the Broken mountain (1141 metres) in the Harz is a tremendous achievement. As some of you will know we and our BBF did try to walk it in 2016, but Alan has to give up after 200 odd Kms because his right knee broke. After this conversation we can see the cogs of his mind working and wondering if we should have a second attempt at it!

All good things must come to an end and so it was that we parted company with our new friends, as we needed to prepare for the ride to Hannover tomorrow! 

To RBL Fallingbostel

The two old codgers had gone to bed early so they were wide awake by 06:00 hrs! We Bears slept on.
The each made themselves a hot drink from the bar in the corridor, Chris tea, Alan coffee and chatted while slowly getting ready!

In the night, our BBF (Bestest Best Friend) had woken to attend to a call of nature, when he noticed that the socket where he had plugged in his mobile phone, his Garmin watch and his phone power pack was not working!

We Bears have to say that you humans do have a problem with the care of the planet! You are all totally dependent on electricity. If also like our BBF you are a Gadget geek, you are a hopeless case and will find it impossible to live CO2 neutral! In fact (Jamie speaking) I can remember that on our circumnavigation, power consumption and battery charging was one of Alan’s bug bears, if you excuse the pun!

Our sail boat at sea had navigation lights, cabin lights, a fridge, VHF Radio, an HF SSB Radio and a laptop. These necessary gizmos need power. The worst consumption was caused by the fridge and the navigation lights at night! 

Now we are not sailing, but cycling our BBF and Chris need access to a power point at night! Without one they would be lost and we have to admit that we couldn’t write a Blog either! 

Fortunately Alan noticed this charging problem and switched all the gadgets to socket that worked before going back to bed.

This morning at breakfast the humans were surprised to see it his hunting trophy of Dergl, supposedly shot in 1954! We just think the taxidermist was drunk at the time!

After breakfast we set off and rode towards Belsen. We paused at the Stone outside the entrance to what was once known as Hohne Camp to take pictures. Alan was the Officer Commanding 8 Pioneer Labour Support Unit in the 80’s and Bergen’s second largest employer. In fact he was tasked with amalgamating 7 PLSU, which was based in VERDEN and was responsible for Fallingbostel, and 8 PLSU into one unit and as a consequence employed 4,500 civilians from the Harz Mountains to the Danish Border! 

We rode on to the Belsen memorial where more photos were taken.

Our route also took past the Soviet POW cemetery so we had a stop there too!

A minimum of 19580 Soviet Prisoners are buried here in Hörsten. It is a quiet place and makes one reflect on man‘s inhumanity to man!

It was a lovely day to be out cycling. There was the scent of pine in the air and occasionally, as we were on a Road that circumnavigated the Live Firing Ranges the sound of heavy machine guns and the smell of cordite! Alan was in his element! He last was here in 1989 when the last Canadian Army Trophy Tank Gunnery Competition was held by HQ Northern Army Group, another unit he served in.

We passed the Fallingbostel Military Museum, which sadly was closed!

In Fallingbostel we sought out the Tourist Information Office which found US suitable accommodation for the night!

A relaxing isotonic drink was had and calls made to home.

It is hard to imagine a better end to the day! 

16 June 2019


Bergen-Hohne is the place where our BBF was stationed in the 80’s and so Alan was looking forward to arriving there.

We only had a short 30 km ride so there was no rush. The sun was shining when we set off, but the humans first had to visit a Cash Point to stock up with more money!

Occasionally the wind was against us, but generally speaking it was an easy ride! 

We had a short stop in a tiny hamlet which had a “Hermanns Eck”! Then it was off again across the pristine fields and country side. 

In Bergen our BBF knew the way and so took a short cut to get us to the road leading to the barracks.

He paused briefly on the railway bridge to show us where the NAZIS unloaded the trains with all the “undesirables “ destined for Belsen Concentration Camp!

And then we were there!

The Chairman, Keith Orton, of the Bergen Branch of the Royal British Legion was waiting to greet and congratulate us on our journey so far.

The humans were feted and given isotonic drinks and introduced to the small but warm welcoming committee!

The Chairman presented us with their Branch pennant a really nice gesture we thought.

The Bergen-Belsen Branch had kindly organised a barbecue supervised, organised and cooked by Niel! 

The food was not only excellent, but well organised considering the short notice they had of our arrival. A special thank you, from Chris and Alan and us Bears goes to the Chairman and all involved.

Suitably refreshed and sustained we took our leave of our new friends and retired to our hotel!

Alan did his daily washing, showered and then set off to visit good friends from his time in Bergen, leaving us Bears and Chris in the hotel.

The friends had had a problem with the Just Giving web site so kindly gave Alan cash for the fund which he added immediately to it online!

Tomorrow looks to be another short day as we are only going to Fallingbostel. We feel the other RBL Branches now have a high standard to follow with regards to a reception and a send off! 

15 June 2019

A long hard day!

Last night our BBF wanted to watch the final of Let’s Dance, so after dinner he retired to the room and sat and watched it, while we Bears wrote the blog! 

It had been a another strenuous day for the humans and Chris was the first to retire. Alan turned the TV down, but he never made it to the end, before he to succumbed to the need to sleep!

This morning the humans woke at 07:00 hrs and were fit and ready to rock and roll after a good breakfast! 

The day, however, had other ideas. To start with it was grey and overcast and it tried to rain a bit! This forced our human to put the rain cover on his helmet, us in his pack and then the rain cover on his pack! 

Fortunately the drizzle didn’t last and so the two humans set off on their journey! Bad Bodenteich was where Chris wanted to go, but Alan thought they could cycle on to Sunderburg which is what he had programmed into his Navi! 

Though grey the day was fresh and clean with the scent of Linden Blossom on the air.

We passed fields where farmers had planted strips to encourage and help bees. 

The route today seemed a steady up hill one, sometimes with long dragging hills at others with a short up followed by a short down, and then another up and down.

We came to a large white pillar which indicated the border between Saxon-Anhalt and Lower Saxony! 

As another sign showed this was the old Iron Curtain Border which came down in 1989. 

At one short stop for an isotonic drink the humans discussed how far they could go today. Alan favoured a more Northern route to Sunderburg, while Chris wanted to go the southern way via Eschede. It was decided that they would decide which way in Bad Bodenteich which they hoped to reach around lunchtime!

This is now where our BBF made a mistake. He set off like a greyhound after a rabbit, not realising that his planned route to Sunderburg did not go through Bad Bodenteich! 

When Chris realised Alan was off on the wrong track he called him up and we turned back to rejoin Chris.

Now on the road to Bad Bodenteich they met a man who gave them general directions which amounted to, go straight on not turning off at all!

At another junction Alan now made a grave error of judgement! He went straight on instead of following the road round to the left! He saw too, that the path went up hill and into a wood and that the tarmac ended and they would be on Forest tracks. 

He can be reckless and just forged on. Chris to give him his due followed though he knew it was wrong! The going got tough and both humans were forced by the soft ground to get off their bikes before they fell off! About three kilometres they rode through the wood until they came to a tarmac road again! Chris was rightly angry and told Alan off. They did not have mountain bikes, each had a replacement knee and Chris had a replacement hip as well! To fall off their bikes would be a disaster for them and not to be contemplated. Alan apologised and was suitably humbled by the fact that Chris was actually with his hip and knee 50% disabled!! 

The track through the forest they had traveled on was actually an historic road as it was the old freight road! 

Once in Bad Bodenteich we found a nice pub called “Zum Alten Ritter”! We stopped for lunch and large isotonic drinks. Alan charged his bike battery and Chris his Navi. Eschede was the destination it was decided!

The first shock when we reached the hotel in Eschede was that there was no room in the Inn! Using the Bett and Bike App Alan found a  B and B which had two single rooms!

The landlady was kindness itself! She not only provided rooms, but isotonic drinks and a meal! 

The humans had pedalled over 105 kilometres today! Another personal best for our BBF so all’s well that ends well! 

Tomorrow we reach Bergen-Hohne where we understand a lunchtime barbecue awaits us!

14 June 2019

Ferry across the Elbe

The accommodation in our former Railway Station is to be recommended. Mind you we are in the middle of nowhere and we’re it not for the petrol station opposite where the isotonic drinks came from we would be lost.

Our two humans were up early and keen to be off, but now we had the first problem they could not get the door to where the bikes were kept open! Each human tried, but it seemed as if the door was bolted from the inside at the top!

They decided to visit the Café in the petrol station to have breakfast! That done when they returned there were two women who had locked the door loading their car! Now they could get started.

After the thunderstorms of last night the day was sunny and promised to get hot. 

The route took us across the flood plains of the Elbe River and the scenery was lovely. If you want to see the stars this is the place to come, for there would be no ambient light from streets and buildings!

The Boys made good progress over these paths, until they got to the banks of the Elbe where the road was a bone shaker of an old cobblestone road!  

But first we crossed the Havel and as you can see the country side is beautiful.

Storks there were aplenty! From here we followed the dyke and the Elbe Radweg!

And then the bone shaker road to the ferry.

There were a couple of other cyclists there. 

The ferry was attached to a long wire anchored upstream and by pulling on one wire to position the bow it used the power of the River Stream to cross from side to side.

We followed the dyke along the River for quite a bit! 

We stopped at a place where there was a seat and shade for a short break, when a couple of cyclists we had seen on the ferry joined us. They had Trecking bikes without an emotor and were in their 60‘s and had started in Munich and were on their way to Hamburg!

At one stage our BBF needed to water a tree! Chris cycled on and when we followed we came to a point where our Navi said we had to turn off, but Chris was nowhere to be seen. The humans then spoke on the telephone and Chris kindly came back to us, but when we did turn off at the point Alan wanted the road we needed was closed for repair! We should have cycled on to join him after all! 

We cycled on to the village of Beuster where Chris led us off route to a great little Hofladen and Café where the humans had an isotonic drink and some lunch! 

Then it seemed a long drag to Arendsee particularly because we had a strong headwind against us.
In Arendsee Chris saw a cycle shop where he asked if they knew of a place we could stay! One kind cyclist showed us the way to the other side of the village to a small hotel, which did have a room for us. 

And so ended another 86 km day! As we write the clouds have closed in and there is thunder and rain again. We wonder what tomorrow will bring?