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Kira's Cycling Expedition for Charities.
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February 2006 Volume 3 Issue 6
After biking and writing for 'Bent Miles' readers for these past three years, it gets harder and harder to find an interesting ride that is still near home. Add to that the unforgiving weather of this January, my choices got progressively less attractive as the month passed.. I put off one holiday and one weekend after the other. The fact that we are looking at retirement within the next four years, and schools are closing down all around us, and we are in the middle of a drawdown, money became a prime factor in my planning. Then I had surgery; on Martin Luther King, weekend, I moped around complaining about being sore so much that Dolores insisted I ride.
During the month, I had looked and looked, and considered one route after the other. But, it all came back to the same thing. I didn't want to spend the money to travel the necessary distance or to pay for the hotel to do the trip. Then, as I've already said, the weather set in and I had surgery. I was not comfortable with the lack of planning nor was I comfortable with waiting till the last day of a four day weekend to do my ride.
Nevertheless, at about 0830 on the morning of Monday, January 16, 2006, Dolores woke me with the admonishment that I'd never get my ride in if I didn't get up and get ready. After my bath, Dolores served me beacon, eggs, biscuits, potatoes, coffee, and orange juice. Then it was down to my office to "fast plan" the trip. Not making much headway, I called her down and we decided on a route from Openheim to Mannheim.
This was going to be about 53 Km.. I ran the route off on my printer and snagged it on the way out of the office. Loading "Tweety" I noticed the ice in the truck bed. Getting into the cab, we noticed the thermometer reading 21 degrees F.. By the time we thought to take a picture of it, the heater had increased the reading to a warm 26 degrees. We departed home at about 10:30 on a bright sunny, but, very cold day. The water I keep in the truck was all frozen. The bottle on my trike, which had been parked in the unheated garage was still in the liquid state. Dolores brought fresh water from the house. Due to the total lack of any wind-chill factor, it was a deceptively cold day. After stopping on post to get gas, we were on the road by 11:00 hours.
The trip to Openheim was one of a winter postcard day with frozen trees and snow reflecting bright sunlight the entire way. The only thing missing was the one horse sleigh and covered wooden bridge. We were so happy just to be together in a warm, dry and, relatively new truck on our way to do what we love doing. We all gave thanks to God for his wonderful blessings. Nolan had his portable DVD player, two game boys, one charging the other ready for use, and his book to read. At his grandmother's insistence, he eagerly devoured one page after the other with the anticipation of making 100% on his accelerated reading test at some time in the not so distant future.
Within an hour, we were passing Frankfurt international airport. By 12:15 we were in Darmstadt looking for the Kentucky Fried Chicken place. By 13:00 we were picking the very last bit of meat from our chicken bones and licking our fingers. We had spotted a Toom Mart on our way into town. Remembering that I had stumbled over a great stash of biking maps at the Toom Mart in our town, we headed there to get a map of the route I was intending to ride.
Being male, it was into the store, finding someone who should know where things were and arriving at my disappointment in the most timely manner possible. Now, why would one Toom Mart have a wonderful selection of biking maps and another store in a different town have none at all? A lot of sense that makes. Now, do you think Dolores was ready to leave just because the only purpose that we had entered the store had been negated? Nah; she's a woman. It's either an unwritten law, or a matter of pride. She just can not come out without buying something. It's like admitting defeat to leave a store empty handed. You know; the old hunter gatherer syndrome. You just do not have any idea how much money she has saved me over the years by buying things on sale. Never mind that I didn't want them, wouldn't ware them, or the fact the items just laid around the house gathering dust. THEY WERE ON SALE.
Now, having voiced my maleness, I have to admit the old gal has saved us money because she knows where everything is and what it cost as compared to where ever else you might find it.
We decided to drive to Openheim and find a place to meet. Then she would drop me off in Mannheim and I'd ride down gradient to our rendezvous. By 1400, the writing was on the wall. I was not going to get much of a ride, if any, on that day. As we proceeded, it became clear that this route was not the biker friendly route we had anticipated. The one wide shoulder where we saw an occasional biker soon gave way to just a solid white line; no shoulder at all. Once again, I started to paying more attention to my soreness than necessary and started thinking I'd just can the ride and go home to bed. I was tired and sleepy.
Coming into Worms, we decided that I'd putter along the river as far as I could while Dolores shopped in a store that she had seen along the way. We had two way radios that had a planning range of 12 miles and each of us had just put new cards in our cells and recharged them. Initially I was going to put Nolan's trailer in the truck, and he was going to do the ride with me. I guess it didn't register with him when we told him we were not taking his trailer because it was too cold. Granny had to promise to buy him something before he would go into the store without kicking and screaming. I sure did feel sorry for the poor kid. But, better he than me.
Unloading "Tweety", I noticed an inordinate amount of glass all mixed into the frozen ground near the bike trail. I wondered at anyone who would use glass as a filler on or near a bike trail. Looking at my water bottle that had not been frozen at the start of the trip, I noticed it was solid. So, out came a fresh bottle. We all kissed and hugged goodbye and as the Dakota disappeared around the corner taking Dolores and poor lil-ol-Nolan to the store, I was faced with having to find a place to pee. It was cold! However, with the lack of any wind, the cold was probably more dangerous, you didn't even notice it except that nature called more often than normal.
Meeting a an old fellow on a bike, I established that the trail went about two K before it delivered you into town. The real-estate in between was solidly industrial. One barge after the other passed in both directions. Stopping at the first place of business, I found a conveyer belt delivering something from the parked barge below and dumping it into a front-end loader. Now, I know where all the glass came from. It would appear that the business was one of recycling glass, wine bottles, light bulbs...Groud glass was being unloaded from the bowels of the parked barge.
The next barge had a huge vacuum looking contraption sucking white powder from its hold. Upon questioning the workers, I established they were pumping ammonia sulfate across the bike path to a processing plant that in turn made synthetic fertilizer and shipped it out in tanker cars that were parked on a spur awaiting collection.
Coming to the end of the trail, I swung right into the industrial yard. There was very little traffic from trucks being loaded or unloaded and no one seemed to take note of a busy body just sifting through the yard. Many of the buildings had the run-down look that comes only with the loss of care that some places seem to go through sometime before their closure. If one didn't know better, one may think one was in the old East Germany.
It appeared that a couple of buildings were being rented out by slum lords. Broken windows, bikes with missing parts, and a homemade banner all told the story of hard times. A young fellow with multiple pricings, a full bottle of wine, and un-kept hair down to his thighs, spoke for the like of clientele which were being housed in the crumbling edifice.
Calling Dolores on the cell, I arranged for her to pick me up at the same place she had let me out. Again, this was not one of my better rides. But, it was somewhat of a ride.
We've posted some pictures for your pleasure, if you would like to peruse them.
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.