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Kira's Cycling Expedition for Charities.

 Click her picture to visit her site.

 

Write your own book review. Click on the book above and, when you have read it, offer a review to our readers.

 

Some time back, I received an email from a fellow asking if I'd consider doing a book review on the book he had written about a long distance biking trip he had taken.  I agreed to do so, and soon the book arrived in the mail.

 

Now it is not like I don't have anything else to do.  I'm the athletic director for our school, I teach classes, and I'm the president of our local labor association.  Then, I'm a dad to our 8 year-old grandson and, to hear me say it, loving husband to my wife.  Oh yea, I'm also the publisher of 'Bent Miles.

 

There are times when I'd rather read about bike riding than actually ride.  But, that is not often.  So, when the book arrived I scanned through it and laid it aside for future reading.  I'd pick it up from time to time, but the verbiage was so verbose, I could hardly get into it.

 

One evening I was looking for something to read before going to sleep.  I picked up Spoked Dreams written by Charles Riddel out of Austin, Texas.  It is published by Air-Space Press where you may order the book for $16.95. www.air-spacepress.com

 

As I indicated above, I found the verbiage verbose.  However, once you are able to actually get into the book, it is spell binding.  With each turn of his pedals, you can't wait to turn the page.  His long distance bike trip was a time of finding himself.  He seemed to learn at the age of 31 what I had already learned at the age of 20; it takes a woman to complete a man's life.

 

State after state, desert, after desert, flat after flat, and camp spot after camp spot, you are actually there, living the experience, viewing the stars, feeling the burn up each mountain, and hearing each spoke as it breaks.

 

I thought the $16.95 price tag was a little steep; so, I went to Amazon. COM and did some comparative shopping and found it to be anywhere from four to seven dollars more than the biking books listed there.

 

Having said that, I'd not be without my copy.  So Charles, get busy riding and come back and sit down at the computer and write another one.  We are all waiting.  Just make it less wordy and less expensive.  Folks, go to www.air-spacepress.com  and buy your copy today.  If you take good care of it, you could sell it secondhand; or better still, put it in your library to read again.

 

 

 

 

Currency Converter                        Peter Weiss Recumbent Bike Shop 

Look to the left. We have a new 'Bent Miles Forum set up. Please go there and find a topic you want to discuss and get a discussion going.  If we don't have a topic of interest to you, please email us what you would like to have discussed.

December 2005        Volume 3               Issue 4

Bad Kreuznach, to Bingen, to St. Gore Bike Trip

By Archie L. Tucker

For years Jack Wayne and I had been talking about taking a bike trip together.  However, nothing seemed to ever quite gel until school year 2004--2005.  Just before school let out for the summer we agreed on a date after he and his family returned from their vacation in the States to do our trip.  We decided on a sixty-five km strip of bike path between Fischbach and Bingen along the Nahe River here in Germany.  The date would be 9--10 August 2005.

.

While Jack was scouting out some property in the States and riding a speedboat across a huge lake and renting a houseboat, fishing, and camping and just in general spending more money than I can count,  I was busy slaving away on logistical aspects of our up and coming trip; and of course, not scooting across lakes spending more money than I could count.  Weather reports, mileage, and quarters had to be considered. I was the dedicated ant; he, of course, was the carefree grasshopper.

During his absence, my family and I did a few trips about which you have already read. I started calling Jack and leaving messages for him to return my calls on Sunday. Monday, I went into school and ran into him there.  I found out that he had an appointment on the 9th.  So, we decided we would make the trip on the 10th and 11th of August.

That evening, I called and we decided to just do a local trip on the 11th.  We'd ride from Wuerzburg to Ochsenfurt to Kitzingen.  Dolores would pick us up in Kitzingen. This would be a trip of about 37 km..

Now for you folks who ride those little leather saddles, you can relate to Jack's propensity to stop at every bench along the way to find something that was actually wide enough on which to sit.  I did not mind this at all.  It gave us plenty of opportunity to communicate and bond.  I've found over the years that Jack is a sensitive, generous, and considerate friend.  Biking served only to fortify and reinforce this opinion.

By the time we got to Ochsenfurt, it was time for lunch.  It was a nice day and we took our time with plenty of good conversation along the way.  We both knew of a bike shop in Kitzingen, and by the time we got to it, Jack was ready for a softer, and wider seat.  By the time he and the proprietor had the seat mounted, I spotted the Dakota coming our way.

Dolores picked us up at about 1430 and we were home by 1500.

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I've brought this guy at least two customers; but, I'm not likely to even stop in here after the way I was treated the last time.

Somewhere along the way, the bug for a longer trip returned.  Again plans started running through our minds, and we decided we would drive to Benign and park the Dakota, ride along the Nahe River until we came upon a place we wanted to stay and get a room.

Now this total lack of planning for a specific place to spend the night appealed to the grasshopper; but, the ant was more than just a little uneasy about trying to reenact the Joseph and Mary scenario. He was not too inclined to be sleeping in a barn. However, this total reliance on a room being available when and were we needed it did have one positive aspect.  We didn't have to worry about planning for a room too far out and not being able to make the appointment.  There is nothing like planning to not have a good plan and it all coming together in spite of plan of no plan.

So it was that the night of 16 August 2005 found me with my day box, caked dirt on the bottom and all, on my bed excitedly packing for our 17--18 August trip down the Nahe River.  The plan was that with Kern being one of the larger towns on our route along the river, we would stop there and get a room for the night.  The next morning we would ride on into Fischbach, turn around, pedal to the truck and then drive home.  Nothing like not so well laid plans; if they go wrong, so what?  You haven't lost all that planning time.

On the morning of August 17, 2005, I got up at 0500, showered, had breakfast of cornflakes, and fresh fruit. Loading the day box and Tweety into the Dakota, I was on the road to pick up Jack.  By 0640, we were departing the Burger King parking lot.

Arriving in Bingen, it was a matter of finding a place to park overnight and a place to pee.  My bladder was about to burst and the coolness of the morning did not help matters.  There it was;  parallel paring along a hedge row next to the river bike trail.  There were two free spots end to end that allowed enough room to drop the tailgate to unload.  The hedge was just right to get close enough to relieve myself without being embarrassed unless someone came along the bike trail.  Oh well, if they haven't seen one of these yet, it probably is about time they did, I thought as that wonderful feeling of released pressure came, and came, and came, and came....Ha....

We hit the bike trail at about 0910 with Jack in the lead.  As you know, folks generally have to wait on my slow trike and me.  Besides, this was a returning to home trip for Jack.  Sometime after his retirement from the army, he had worked at the American High School's JROTC department in Bad Kreuznach which was just down the river.  That is how I met Jack.  After the military and the school closed down, he came to our school in Wuerzburg and we have been friends ever since. 

The route was a mixture of paved bike path and streets.  There is nothing like having someone with you on a bike trip who knows the way as well as places to see and something about the area.  For this, Jack was the guy.  However, seeing as it had been years since he lived there, we sometimes had to cover our ground more than once because of poor memory or changing in the surroundings.  But this happened much less frequently than it would have had he not known the way.  And, when it did happen, he knew within a very short time that we were on the wrong street.

It didn't take long, with the sun's change in the sky along with the heat generated by pumping my 200 plus pounds and the trike of 42 pounds and my load of 30 or so pounds, before we stopped and shed our coats.  We stopped at a bench and had a well deserved long swig on the old water bottle.  Even this early in the morning, there were locals passing by going to and from village to village shopping in the markets with  baskets on their bikes.  We saw one lady up ahead of us and tried to catch her, but to no avail.  "Undoubtedly, she was not loaded and was not going nearly as far as we were", we soothed our prickly male prides.

Once in Bad Kreuznach, Jack wanted to stop on the foot bridge and show me a couple of bridge houses that were in view from our position.  In Germany, a town that starts with the name Bad is a town with special baths that are supposed to promote healing of the body.  Turning and starting back across the bridge to my trike, I noticed another trike, not of the tadpole version.  It was a delta trike with a special pedal mounted on it that indicated it was likely being ridden by someone with a handicap.  In some countries, Germany being one, the insurance companies are reasonable enough to understand that special trikes can provide the needed therapy for some handicaps. These insurance companies provide for them as a part of the policy holder's insurance coverage.

For instance, just up the road from where we live a stroke victim with one side paralyzed from the effects of his stroke rides very well with a special pedal adapted to one side of the delta trike the insurance company provided for him.  I guess no one wants me to get on my soapbox about the American insurance companies taking thousands of dollars after thousands of dollars in policy payments and then the moment you need them deny the claim and or raise the insurance because you used it.  "President Bush, congress!!!, you want to deal with inequities? How about dealing with this money grubbing industry as well as the oil industry for price gouging.

Rounding the curve where Jack had taken a nasty spill some years before when he lived in this area, we saw a person on another trike with a similar specially adapted pedal.  I'm so glad there is a means whereby folks can bike who otherwise would not be able.  However, on a lighter side of that same coin, I've been looked at like I was on a special vehicle for the handicapped while riding Tweety.  I think she and I generate quite a bit of head turning wonderment.

Stopping on another bridge to view a specially designed building along the river, Jack was sharing with me times when he and his wife had eaten in that particular establishment when we noticed this fellow with, what seemed like a professional camera inspecting Tweety.  It wasn't long before we were all engaged in conversation.  He was a reporter for the local newspaper and wanted to interview us for a story.  When he found out that both of us had served in the military here in Germany and that Jack was returning to visit some years after the military had moved out, the fellow felt it would be a very interesting story for the local folks. Our next stop was at the statue of Otto Bismarck, which you can see below.

This is a picture of the place where Jack and his wife used to eat.  It was taken from the bridge where the reporter interviewed us.

As I indicated, this is a town of many health baths; and it is also a place where people can enjoy the benefits of salt air even though it is a land locked town with no ocean for hundreds of miles.  This marvel is accomplished partially by using the local river as a power source to pump water onto large salt filled, or treated walls.  The mist is then evaporated into the air so that folks walking in the nearby park or eating on the park benches, as Jack and I did our lunch, can breath in the supposedly healing effects of the salt air.

Following lunch, we found our way out of the park and back out onto the biking trail.  Sixteen miles down the road found us in the little place of Bad Munster, where Jack had another ice-cream craving attack.  After indulging we started looking for a place to put our bags and sleep for the night.  The first hotel where we stopped, after two helpings of ice-cream, was right along the river and they were full.  But, the proprietor said, "moment".  Jack dismounted and was in the wait mode when the fellow motioned for us to follow him.  Arriving at a guesthouse some few feet behind his, it was soon clear that this one had rooms available of which we promptly took too off the market for the night.

Jack went ahead and paid for the both of us.  After paying, we were back out the door, on our metal steeds headed back down the bike path.  The day was great, plenty of sun but not too hot and no humidity of which to speak. After negotiating one monster of a hill, the backside drop was both steep and long.  Soon it was one down hill hairpin curve after the other, up one rise and back down an even steeper decline.  It was constantly in the back of my mind that we had to come back up all of these descents. But, for now, the wind was whistling past my ears; I'd throw up one hand just in time to catch my cap from blowing off.  Lord, was this fun!

Swishing past a converted rail car, I slammed on the breaks.  Jack and I both determined it was time for a nice long cold drink of water.  So it was downshifting and up the incline to the makeshift little rail store.  I bought the largest bottle of cold water they had.  Soon it was depleted while I watched the little rail rides come and go up and down the tracks.  Going back into the store, I bought, yet, another bottle of which I consumed in a like manner.

This is where Jack had one of his ice-cream attacks after which we found a place to stay just around the corner.

Our first big hill that we circiled around on the way back.  You can't even see the top from here.  And the other side is even steeper.

I found this to be a very beautiful house to have such an unkept yard.  Unkept yards are very unusual in Germany.  The person may have fallen ill.

Where we bought water at an referbished rail car snack shack.The rail car snack shack.

After consuming all the water we could hold, we decided we had better start back to the hotel.  Having lived in the area at one time, Jack was familiar with the biking trails and knew of a route back that would take us around the mountain we had just descended.  But, he was concerned the trail might be too narrow and rocky for my trike.  I was willing to give it a try.  What did we have to loose?  We could always turn around and come back if it got too bad. Right?

Arriving at the turn off, one of the first things I had to do was to dismount and walk through a muddy underpass to assess the route on the other side.  We both realized that we would have to carry "Tweety" the first few hundred feet to get her over a huge rock mound.  Once on the other side, I mounted and took it very slow and careful.  The mountain crowded me from the left, and the only thing between me and thirty or so foot drop-off on the right was two strands of wire and a brier thicket.

Pedaling slowly, the soft earth started giving way under my right front tire, and off started "Tweety".  I grabbed briers and wire with my right hand.  I tried to pedal.  The slide got worse.  Pushing against the double strands of wire, I pushed myself from the seat and carried Tweety to where I was able to remount and proceed without danger of sliding off into the gorge below.

Soon we had pedaled out to intersect the road back to the hotel.  While we had not missed all the up-hills, we had went around the monster.  Pedaling out to the pavement, I started shifting down.  A couple of male bikers passed us. On we pedaled.  We got closer and closer.  A man and woman passed us.  On we pedaled, up, up, until we reached the peak.  There sat the two men.  Down the hill and around the curve to the right went the woman  with the man several hundred feet in the lead.  I reached for my cassette shifter.  They were not going to stay in the lead long.  Up one gear, then high.  Then the back gears all the way down, then to the second sprocket.  The speed was coming, the wind was blowing, up went my had to catch my hat.  Then the left shifter all the way up onto my top sprocket.  First I took out the woman; then as I closed on the man he pulled off and slid to a stop near his car that was waiting in a parking lot off to the right.  "I thought, so. You knew I'd take ya", I thought as I shot past.

Then it was left off the highway and back onto the bike trail.  Soon, we were once again on the hard packed dirt and gravel with just a short way to the hotel.  We  arrived back at the hotel by 16:40 with 39.7 miles on the bikes.  We took a well deserved nap, then it was up the street to a guesthouse/hotel for rump steak and a good view.  That was followed with more good conversation, and a walk along the river.

Returning to the hotel we sat in my room with the light out talking until 21:30.  Jack went to his room, and I caught up on my journal, or you would not be reading this.  Then came the sandman.

Where Tweety and I had a close call near the edge of no return.

Arriving back at our hotel.

My room.Where we had Rump Steak supper.

Jack at the outside dinning area where we ate supper.In side the resturant where we ate.

Day Two:

We had agreed to get up at 0600 but had failed to get a commitment from the proprietors on a time for breakfast. In the past, breakfast had always been ready, upon request, at 0700.  We were hoping for the same time this morning.  After Jack's shower, I had mine the night before and the only one we had was in my room, we went for a stroll along the river.  Standing and watching the ducks, we witnessed the bakery truck as it delivered bread to our hotel and leave it at the door.

Returning from our walk, we saw that the bread had not yet been retrieved.  So much for a 0700 breakfast. I had repaid Jack for my room, but I still needed a receipt for which the likelihood was getting slimmer as each minute ticked by and Jack became more impatient to be on the move.  Soon he had convinced me that we could be hanging around until 0800 for breakfast and could have been already eating at a place in Bingen by then.  So it was that we went inside left our keys in the doors, retrieved out belongings and were mounted and on the trail by 0710.

In each town along the way, we checked for a restaurant to have breakfast.  No luck. Everything was closed tighter that the preverbal "Dick's hat band."  Riding into Bingen at 0850, we pulled into a restaurant area of which Jack was very familiar. We had a great breakfast and discussed if we were going to pack it in and go home.  I decided that we had driven too far to not ride both days.  Jack wanted to go a ways up river then turn around and go home.  I suggested that we go to the very nice little town of St. Gore and have lunch and the return to the truck at Benign.  So, St. Gore it was.

Upon returning from our morning walk, just before going in and getting our bags to depart our hotelRemember this place? This is where we had our ice-cream the day before.

This is where we were finally able to get breakfast.

Inside the resturant where we had breakfast.Jack getting breakfast.Na, get your had out of there, Jack.

Since there was one of those ever present up-hills between us and the Rhein River, we decided to ride back to the truck, load the bikes, and drive to the Rhein.  I knew of a place to park from the time that Michael, Sam, and I rode the Rhein a couple of years ago.  Arriving at the rail crossing/parking lot, it was the same one of which Jack was thinking.  I'm sure it is quite popular seeing that each time I've been there folks have been parked there and it is right on the bike trail.

It wasn't long before the river was to our right and pretty women in shorts were passing us on the left.  Lord, it was an exquisite day.  There was a couple who passed us several times.  Each time they would stop and we would pass them.  I couldn't tell if the younger of the two was a woman in a man's coat or merely a young man.  Finally, as the morning wore on and the young biker got warmer and took off the coat, my question was answered; it was a man.  I told Jack, that I was sure glad that I had not made some foolish comment like, "nice looking lady".  Sometimes it is better for one to just keep one's mouth shut.  In my case that sometimes is most of the time.

The path was busy with bikers.  Some were traveling in packs, some in twos or threes and a few by themselves.  At one point a group of young men and women passed us and were very cordial. One of the girls commented about "Tweety".  I would have preferred that she said, "Hey, look at that good looking guy on the tight trike."  But, alas, it was not to be. "Tweety" got all of the attention.

On we pedaled, sometimes meeting groups of 10 or 15 bikers at a time.  At times, we would have the path mostly to ourselves.  This is when our conversations would tend to drift to army days, sharing times in Vietnam when we were both younger, dumber, and in general stupid.  What could they possibly do to us?  Where could they send us that was worse than someone trying to kill us on a daily basis?

The group of young men and women would stop along the way and we would pass them.  Then they would pass us.  Right after a particularly steep upgrade, and less steep descent, they were stopped and talking.  We passed and waved.  While descending, one of the young ladies pulled up beside me and started talking in German.  When she saw I was having a difficult time speaking the language, she just as easily slipped into English.  She wanted to know how fast my bike would go.  I told her it all depended on the legs that were pedaling it.  We each had a laugh and talked about the different places we had ridden.  After establishing that she was from Austria, she soon bid me good day and pedaled off as to say that I was just too slow for her.

As we rode, I reminisced down memory lane; nostalgia hit me like a ton of bricks.  I longed for the time when Michael, Sam, and I had made this very same trip.  However, at that time road construction was gong on.  And now, we were reaping the benefits of that construction.  We were riding up and off the road away from the traffic.  I could see in my mind's eye the descent into St. Gore and all of the stores and hotels.  Jack remembered a different St. Gore.  He remembered one with no stores or eating places.

It soon became obvious why we had two different memories of the same place.  When we passed the sign post of St. Gore, it was not much more than a wide spot in the road.  But, I knew that I knew that I remembered a beautiful town full of hotels, stores and restaurants.  Then we saw it; and, Jack remembered it as well.

Once breakfast was over, we hit the Mosel in search of lunch.

Now, it doesn't get much better than this, full bellies, beautiful scenery all the way around

Getting into more familiar territory, I was soon becoming very disappointed.  The touristy landmark in which I had sat two summers ago to have my picture taken wasn't here.  Had it been taken away?  Why would they do such a thing?  Then, around the bend, I saw it.  All of a sudden I felt much better.  It was as if I had reclaimed something I had for a while lost.  Then it was into St. Gore proper.  We pulled under the same shade tree that Michael, Sam, and I had pulled under two years ago.  While we were locking our bikes, my heart sank.  A 50 passenger tourist bus pulled up and deposited its full load at the doorsteps of the restaurant at which we were intending to eat.

We had chosen it because no one was there.  The one next to us was crowded.  But there were seats open.  If we waited too long, some of that bus load might fill them before we could make up our minds.  It would be better to take a seat and change our minds than not have seats at which to eat, I reasoned, as I hurried to join dinners on the outside platform.

Taking our seats, it wasn't long before a waitress arrived presenting us with menus. The day was pleasant and the atmosphere was pleasing.  St. Gore is one of those towns where there is a since of class but yet a feeling of excitement in the air.  We agreed that God is surely good to us.

After almost finishing our salad and spaghetti, I noticed a couple walking into the area.  The lady had a book.  I tried to see if the text was English but couldn't make it out.  They took up seats near and to my right and Jack's left.  We soon had a conversation going with her and her husband.  She was an RN and they were visiting Germany from their summer house in Sweden.

I found my long lost shaker of salt; woops, I mean boat.

We parked under the same tree where Michael and Sam and I parked two summers before.  Look at the restaruant just across from us. Now click on the next picture to see the hoard let off the tour bus.

Look what we found for lunch.

By 1315 we were on our return trip to the truck.  Just before arriving at the boat where we had taken our pictures, we met a group of bikers with what looked like 30 folks biking together.  A few more miles and Jack had to stop at a small place to get ice-cream, and I bought a small bottle of water.  You talk about highway robbery, these folks charged 1.75 euro for a very small bottle.  I had bought a .7 liter of water for the same price the day before on the other bike trail.

We arrived back at the Dakota at 1535 with 51.69 miles on our bikes.  Loading up the cycles, we took a couple more pictures and pulled into line where cars were waiting for a train to arrive so that the barriers could be raised and we could all depart the parking area.  We waited, we waited, we waited, and we waited some more.

One car turned around and parked.  We pulled up. I spoke with a German man who had become quite nosey about us American killers as he called us.  I suggested that someone who spoke the language better than either Jack or I, call the police and have them call the rail folks to fix the barrier.  I suggested this with yet another fellow.  No one could see the importance of it.  They had all rather wait.  Everywhere, cell phones abounded.  Yet, no one would call the police.

This blond bimbo in a bathing suit, came strutting by with a cell phone glued to her ear and a cigarette smoking.  It was obvious she was talking to her boyfriend just on the other side of the 6or 8 rails.  She went under the barrier and ran across the track.  Still no one would call the police.  My temper is not doing well about now.  A couple on bikes turned around and went back, I supposed to go under the tracks.  A man on foot came to my door and asked how long we had been waiting.  He went across.  The car behind us finally pulled around and skirted the barrier.  That was it, we were not waiting.  We had sit for one hour and saw five trains pass and the barrier had not moved.  It was time we did.

The remaining trip home was uneventful, just more great conversation and a measure of relaxation, as much as you can behind the wheel. After taking Jack home, I arrived at the house at about 2000 hours.  It was a great trip, and I hope you enjoyed the read.

Even after you have read this December issue; it's not over.  We will be posting a Christmas Market addendum once the Christmas Markets start to open in the various towns here in Germany.  I don't know that we will do Wuerzburg this year or not since we did that one last year.  However, we were too late for the Christmas Market in Rothenberg ob` or Žabove` the Tauber last year.  Hopefully, we will be able to cover it and a couple of others for you this year.  So, keep coming back for our Christmas update.

Look at Jack sit up erect and look around; he's having another ice-cream attack.Pulling up to the stand where Jack bought his ice-cream.This fellow has more than ice-cream on his mind.I don't know what the ice-cream cost; but, I can tell you that a small bottle of water was highway robbery.

Back at the parking lot where we waited five trains and an hour before running the barricade to get out of the lot.

 

 

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