I’m in the western Muensterland.
The land is flat or gently rolling.
Holland is just a stone’s throw away and it shows.
It’s not all little white hats and wooden clogs but it’s not too different either.
It’s Germany of course but the dutch influence is quite pronounced.
Everything is neat and tidy – in contrast to the Harz region – and bicycles are everywhere.
The cycle culture is unique and very different from New Zealand.
Everyone is cycle proud, cars take a lower priority.
No mountain bikes here. None of this shoot-down-the-mountain-come-hell-or-high water to get an adrenalin rush.
Not too many herds of road racing cyclists either.
Rather groups of families and friends, instead of business men frantically discussing the next deal wearing lycra shorts.
Here the cycling is genteel and gentlemanly and graceful.
I’m reminded of the penny farthing and times gone by.
The sitting position is upright, the pace seems distinctly slow motion, and the predominant type of bike is akin to what my grandmother used to ride.
The wheels on the bikes are enormous and a whole industry exists supplying add-ons and travel equipment.
These are high-tech bikes of course, designed to eat up and spit out the miles.
Accordingly the Muensterlaenders spend a lot of time traveling on their bikes to enjoy the countryside on specifically chosen and constructed cycle routes.
I have joint the crowd – although there is no crowd – and have been getting around on a borrowed bike.
I’ve been noticing a lot more of my new environment than if I was sitting in a car.
At first I missed my mountain bike and it’s gritty attitude and knobbly tires.
Now I enjoy this new style of cycling and the relaxing pace and meditative rolling through the countryside I find very refreshing.