'Bent Miles, An Online Bike Touring Magazine
Bent Miles Forum
Has today's technology
really made shopping easier? If you live at an APO or FPO address, the answer may be no. A couple of years ago, after buying a new computer, I found that my, already paid for virus protection software would not work on my new system.. In order to buy on line, I had to select a state from the pop down menu. I don't live in a state; I live in Germany.
After hours of trying to make heads or sense on this company's website, I finally sent for it by snail mail. I told them that if they did not rectify the problem, I would not update with them the next year. Needless to say, I changed companies the next year, simply because Norton was not concerned enough to add APO to their drop down menu.
Did you ever try to contact a company that has a machine at the other end and tells you to push this button to get this department and another to get that department, and a different one to get something else? By the time I got to the department I wanted and got the recording that they were closed, I had forgotten why I had called anyway.
Well, it came to pass that I was looking for a simple wire desk organizer so that I could place files on my desk and clear the clutter. When I asked where others bought theirs I was told the PX or in the States. After driving hundreds of miles, asking the Wuerzburg representative to email me and not getting anywhere, I decided to look online.
Again what did I find? You got it. The largest and most known office stores could care less if they did business with APO residents. Office Depot even wanted to charge me $25.00 handling charges just for the privilege of buying their product. Office Max was not much better with all the high prices they want for their products.
Then there it was. A company who actually has an APO dropdown selection. Not only do they have a dropdown selection for APO, they also put their money where their mouth is with regards to customer service. Got a question? Right on the same page you are trying to make your order you can enter their chat room and get a real person on the other end to help. The three times I used it, I waited no longer than a minute before someone was online talking to me. This company is Quill. Their prices are reasonable as well. Handling charges? NOTHING!!!. Tax? NOTHING!!! Thanks, Quill, I'll be back; just call me Arnold.
Kira's Cycling Expedition for Charities.
Click her picture to visit her site.
April 2006 Volume 3 Issue 8
Muhlheim to Eddersheim:
With all the problems of finding a place to ride in the month of January, the bad weather coupled with my tax consultant trying to find all the reasons that 'Bent Miles is a hobby rather than a business, I, for the first time seriously voiced my intentions to quit writing. After all, who reads 'Bent Miles. As my wife says, most visitors come to the site to see the pictures. Then there are all of those problems getting the site posted, going back and cleaning up all the mistakes. Well, I've decided to try it for one more issue.
On the morning of February 18, 2006, Dolores convinced me that I should get out and try to get in a ride. She even had the ride I should make. She figured I should ride the stretch from Frankfurt to Bingen that I've never rode. Now, do you think there may have been an ulterior motive on her part? Sure there was. She wanted to go shopping in Wiesbaden while I rode.
We had not even cleared our drive when it started to sprinkle. I commented that if it "aint" raining in this blasted country it is snowing. "Maybe it will quit before we get the Frankfurt", soothed Dolores, while I steamed. Of course, we both knew that it was going to be another one of those, all too common, dreary and rainy days, that is if it didn't turn to ice or snow.
Trying to find the good in the dreariness, we both agreed, at her suggestion, that at least the trip could serve as a reconnaissance of the route. Of course with her memory, instead of mine, wouldn't you know, she even remembered the name of the town where she had picked me up on a previous ride. It was Muhlheim. Nearing Muhlheim, we found the perfect spot to enter the biking trail. I got out and by the time I had my coat adjusted properly, I was wet. It was cold; and, now I was wet. I was miserable and mad. Aren't you glad you don't have to live with such an ill-tempered cuss as I? Well, the weather did get worse. It rained so hard, we sometimes could barely see the car in front of us.
Being the athletic director for our school, I felt it only right for me to visit the basketball games and wrestling matches that our athletes were participating in at Wiesbaden. After visiting the PX, we went to the Wiesbaden high school, where I found out that the games had started two hours late because they had a problem getting ambulance service to arrive.
Next was the wrestling matches, then Dolores reminded me that we still had to drive the route to Bingen for my upcoming trip, whenever that might be. On the way home, the rain got even worse. Finally, arriving home and seeing the feather coverings on our beds, I was reminded of a trip that I had taken a couple of years back when I had just barely found a room, late at night. It was up three flights of stairs in the attic, and I would wake up off and on during the night hearing the pitter patter of rain drops on the roof and think how cozy warm my room and the feather covers were. On that trip, I had seen a barn in which I was totally prepared to enter for the night should I not get a room.
The next day, February 19, 2006 was a Sunday. Since our favorite Sunday school teacher was being deployed for a month, we had decided to forgo Sunday school and just attend church service. Then, just as it happened in the Garden of Eden, I was tempted--far beyond my will to resist, by the very woman that God has given me. "Have you checked the weather outside?" Dolores asked. I have to tell you; it was all the woman's fault. She told me that another day like this may not come for a long time and that I should make good use of it on the bike trail. What is a man to do? I ask you, kind person, was it my fault?
So, when the punishment came, I was not surprised, neither was the woman that God has blessed me with. That morning, I had purposed to have a healthy breakfast which consisted of oatmeal and fruit, with coffee and fruit juice. However, when I realized that I may be on the biking trail for several hours in the cold, I once again succumbed to my wife's suggestion and ate rice and fish for the trail
Once again, I loaded Tweety and enough water for the day. Dolores packed me a sandwich, a roll, and some fruit along with a coke and we were on our way. Getting to the roundabout in Zellingen, I took the wrong exit, and pulled over to turn around. Only, once off the road, there was noting but spinning. "Well this is what I get for skipping church, I thought. Later Dolores confided that she had the same thought.
A very nice, considerate, and kind gentleman named Wolfgang, stopped. He said that he would go home and get his jeep and come back and pull us back to the road. Of course, being the--as my dad called me, hardhead that I am--I like to think of it as being tenacious--I again and again tried to get myself out of the predicament. Each time I tried, the truck would slide sideways closer and closer to the stream below. I decided that "warn't" good. As soon as Wolfgang got us out, we tried to give him a little something for his time and efforts. He would have nothing to do with taking money for doing a good deed. However, when I told him to use it to take his wife out to dinner, he conceded.
By the time we reached the entry into the bike trail it was almost 1200 hours. It was still cold; and though, the sun did shine at times it was dreary and the water from the recent thaws and rains, made for a thoroughly messy bike trial where there was no pavement. Dolores made sure I had everything to include the food in the ever present plastic bag.
Kissing her and Nolan, I was off on my ride. Before I got too far into it, I wanted to double check my directions; and, seeing how I had only a printout and no map, I stopped the first fellow along the way and asked about the towns on my printout. He had no idea about Bingen, but told me that Mainz was several kilometers down the river. He told me that Hanau was the town across the river.
So, on I went, knowing from the sign posted at the entrance that I was almost 19 kilometers from Frankfurt. Stopping a lady and her husband, she indicated that I was going in the correct direction. I asked if I was going in the direction of Bingen; she replied that I was, but, wagging her finger from side to side, added that I'd not get there on that, indicating Tweety. I could almost feel Tweety gasp as she took the insult like a lady.
I refrained form telling the woman about the thousands of miles that Tweety and I have traversed over the past four years. I said good day and proceeded on with the knowledge that the only reason Tweety and I may not make it to Bingen that day was because we got started way too late.
The trails were a mixture of pavement, sand, gravel, and mud. So, my slower than usual average speed could not be attributed solely to my laziness or out of shape body, just partially. As the day wore on, my steady pumping churned up a sweat. I stopped and took off my jacket. I was getting hungry. Looking through the bag of food Dolores had prepared for me, I found a sandwich. Undoing the bungee cord I normally use to tie the trike down in the truck, I secured one end to one of the frame piping, and brought it over my jacket that I had wedged between the seat and the day box. I secured the other end to the opposite side and, presto, I had a pillow.
I had arrived at a busy part of Frankfurt along the river. The pedestrians outnumbered bikers by at least forty to one. Some walking briskly, as if they had some place to be and some where to go. Others were strolling along the river leisurely, enjoying the company of friends. Sitting back in my comfortable mesh hammock of a seat, I took my first small bite of what had to be the most delicious sandwich I've ever tasted.
I reveled in the enjoyment of folks watching me with envy, as I munched and pumped at the same time. I'd pedal leisurely behind walkers so deep in conversation they sometimes didn't know I was behind them till I speeded up to pass them between the onslaught of legs coming my way. The simple pleasure of mayonnaise with meat on bread uplifted my spirit and made me proud to munch it in front of others. It added to my energy level. I enjoyed taking smaller than usual bites to savor the ecstasy of taste. After taking the last bite, I licked my fingers and dried them on my pants leg. How about that for etiquette, Ann?
At some point, I ran out of bike trail and was forced upon the streets. I stopped at a parked city bus and asked the driver what town I was in. Yep, I was still in Frankfurt. He had no clue how to get to the Main biking trail, mind you, I've yet to get to the Rhein. Seeing a gas station just down the street, I thanked him and proceed to the station where the operator gave me the instructions I needed.
I had counted the streets on the map the service attendant had shown me and was looking for the forth street named Hutmarketstrass, or some such spelling. On I went asking directions along the way. Within about thirty minutes, I was back on the the river trail. The path continued to go from pavement to mud. It took about two hours to get to and through Frankfurt.
At about 1500, I stopped for another meal. The plastic bag did not yield such tasty morsels as it had earlier. I retrieved a dry multigrain roll with an apple. The apple had at some time in the past been frozen and less than half was eatable. As I was munching on my roll and drinking from my water bottle, a little lady who appeared to be in her seventies, stopped to tell my what a nice bike I had. We spoke haltingly in my limited German. As she walked away, I was reminded that younger folks today do not seem to appreciate the experience and, or company of the elderly as I did as a young man. They haven't a clue as to what they are missing.
At approximately 1600, I was entering the little town of Okriftel. It was starting to get late. I had a new light, but was not sure that it was still working; I had flashers on the back and sides of my day box; but, I was still not wanting to be caught on the road after dark. I called Dolores. She was at the PX in Darmstadt and didn't want to be bothered. So, on I moved towards Eddersheim. The route took me through a wooded area where I was told by a couple of women walking their dogs that I must turn right. Tweety's tires sunk in the mud. I dropped gears till I found one that traversed the muck with the least resistance and slippage.
Within a mile or so, this sludge spewed me onto a paved strip that led past what appeared to be a recreational area. Seeing signs of bike route 3 posted, I was reassured that I was on my way in the direction of Mainz. This town must not have been as small as I had originally thought. By the time I found a place to be picked up it was about 1515 and getting darker and colder. Dolores and I have discovered that it is easier to find a well known shopping center or grocery store parking lot in which to marry up. All she has to do is ask someone where the store is and she is directed right to my spot. I called her and told her I was in the parking lot of the Penny Market. There was a pizza parlor and a Donor Kabob place in the same area. Dolores indicated she had picked up some KFC, so I refrained from eating out.
I rode up the street and back. I took out an over ripe banana and ate it. I tried to eat a tangerine, but it had also been frozen at some point and was not eatable. I opened the only coke in the bag and drank it. I was getting colder, not too smart to drink the coke. It just made me colder and increased the problem of having to pee in an open parking lot. I took out my rain pants and put them on. I tucked my outer shirt into them and zipped my coat to the throat. My ear muffs were tucked into my cap, so I put them over my ears and put up my hood. Taking out my gloves, I put them on and laid back on my trike to await Dolores' arrival. This was at 1800. At about 1810 the phone rung. I tried to push the button with my gloves on. It just kept ringing. Finally, grasping one glove finger in my teeth, I pulled it off. Dolores was in Florsheim. She couldn't find my town and asked me to head her way.
By now it was totally dark. I engaged my dynamo and started all four blinkers to blinking. Florsheim was seven kilometers away. She said she was by the bike trail. I was irritated and told her I was not going back and trying to find the bike trail in the dark. I'd just take the road. She agreed to head my way. I had every intentions of parking in Eddersheim and waiting near the road for her. I started pedaling. Eddersheim was only one kilometer away. Cars were meeting me, and cars were passing me. Almost as soon as I had swung up onto the main road, I encountered a hill. Dolores called me. I told her I was almost in Eddersheim.
As I entered the town, I saw some folks getting into a car. I crossed the street and verified the town name and rode upon the sidewalk. Lights were meeting me. I was checking for the Dakota. Then, unmistakable, there they were, the lights of the Dakota. I was sitting still without lights. She didn't see me. I yelled and on came the brake lights. I had expected her to back into the side street next to where I was setting. When she got out, I took that as my queue that she had no intentions of backing up. While loading the trike, a car passed and blared his horn for which I felt like shooting him the international sign; but refrained.
Once loaded, I pulled down a side road to find that it ended at the bike trail. Here, I did partake of the feastful bird. It was a long drive home, and our little Nolan was ready for me to carry up to his bed when did finally arrive.
Archie L. Tucker
Archie L. Tucker
publisher 'Bent Miles
Discover: Route Planner
Interactive Biking Map Austria and Germany
An on-line map source at InfoHub.com - Maps of worldwide destinations.
An on-line map source at InfoHub.com - Maps of worldwide destinations.