Bremen – Vechta (65km)
23 riders. Average speed 16.1 km/h. Time pedalling 4hrs
Many of our private hosts woke early and gathered with us at our meeting point to see us off. We are indebted to those who so generously opened their homes to complete strangers. They were all incredibly sweet and generous to us! As we rolled out of Bremen we felt rested, supported and prepared for the day ahead.
It´s cold! It was 4° as we left Bremen on a grey wintery day and the temperature dropped more during the course of the day. The riders and our pair of hitchhikers felt the crisp air sharpen the tips of our noses and fingers. We´re glad that we are well equipped and will be able to withstand the colder days that will surely come. It was also a visceral reminder of how suspiciously mild November has been so far, complex as weather systems are, we know that unusual weather is no longer unusual.
Our navigation team was excited to get the ride going (like little kids on Christmas morning, really) because it was the debut of our newly acquired walkie-talkies. During the first week we found communication between the front and back of the line is crucial to make the ride smooth, so rather than shouting back and forth, today this was possible with technology. Walkie-talkies avoid one bike having to go to the front and back all the time and filling the gaps (when the second half falls a bit behind) is not a problem at all. And, hot damn, are they fun! But seriously, we are safer as a group to have this additional communication tool.
Lunch was in Harpstedt, where we met with the chairman from the local energy agency, Harpstedter Energie Agentur, and the mayor of the town. We were impressed to learn that this village of 800 people produces much more electricity than they need. HEA handed us a letter to take with us to COP21, which demands a legally binding Paris treaty that leads to a rapid transition towards locally owned renewable energy. Their letter calls for strong policies to reduce greenhouse gases, including phasing out coal. HEA´s main point is that local initiatives are essential for a low-carbon society and this should be supported from the global level. As an aside, Harpstedt has the oldest tulip tree in Europe, dating from the 14th century!
The ride was easier today (again no flat tires, hurrah) and we managed to cover the 65km in a manner that felt almost routine. The only minor mechanical melodrama was Julian R breaking a spoke on our approach into Harpstedt. As the group ate lunch, the problem was compounded by an inner-tube valve malfunctioning and then a wheel nut becoming threaded. With impressive ease, new parts were sourced and fitted and the group set off without stress.
We arrived in Vechta and treated ourselves to cake in a café/bakery before heading to our accommodation in a church hall. We have no public event this evening so we will be banner painting and relaxing as a group.