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January 2006 Volume 3 Issue 5
A New Lighting System for Tweety
November 11, 2005
Several years ago I happened across this great writer, who doesn't seem to write much anymore, named Peter Marshall. Peter changed my life. It was through his writings that I became excited about biking. I wanted to ride in Paris Brest, Paris click here for history 1200 K bike race. The time limit is 90 hours. When I read that he had done it on a recumbent trike, I truly became interested in biking, the recumbent way. Apparently a problem for some of these riders is having enough light when they need it. If they use batteries, that constitutes more of a load to carry. Then they have a problem of where to discard the dead ones. If they use dynamos, the harsh weather kills them and the drag saps the riders' strength. Once you slow down (going uphill) then the light gets weaker the slower you go. He was trying out--then--a new type dynamo made by a Swiss company. All during the rain with the dirt and grime on the road being splashed and caked onto this equipment it worked well with only one adjustment made by the representative, himself. This light would also continue to burn even when the bike was at a standstill.
I never forgot that story. I've inquired about this system at various bike stores as well as the company itself. The company has always been between production when I've contacted them. Finally, I was able to get a commitment from the company just this past year. Then they were out of the head lamps but they had the dynamo. They recommended that I order a German light from them they said was as good as theirs.
In the years since first reading Peter's article, I've bought a recumbent trike that I've put over 3000 miles on and have now just recently received the lighting system for which I've waited all these years. Upon receiving it, I opened up the box and found no tail light. I wrote the company and was told that it was best to use a battery operated tail light. So, since I have a deal with the bike mechanic's association to not work on bikes if they agree not to teach, the first Saturday I had off, I stopped at a bike shop to ask the fellow to install it for me. I would have paid 30.00 euro to have him do it. When I stopped and inquired if he could install it for me, he indicated he could. He then asked why I didn't buy it from him instead of off the internet. I indicated that I'd tried several bike shops and none of them had it, and I certainly didn't know that he carried them. I handed the light to him and off-loaded Tweety. He told me I could pick it up on Monday afternoon. I told him that I was going to ride that day. He said he didn't work on Saturdays. I loaded Tweety and my light and had no intentions of ever darkening his doorway again. In the past, I've brought him at least two customers; but that won't likely happen again. It is obvious he doesn't need the business.
I could have taken it to my friend Peter, but that would have been a 120 mile round trip. When I mentioned this to a colleague of mine who used to be a shop teacher, he offered to help me. I arrived at his room at about 0900 that Friday which was November 11, 2005, Veterans Day. We spent about one hour putting it on. Part of that hour was spent looking for my keys which were in my day box, quite literally, right under our noses.
A New Trailer for Nolan
November 12, 2005
After installing my light, I went home. My wife suggested that I wait till the next day, Saturday 12, November so I could get an early start. However, when we tried to turn on the the heat that evening, it was not working. So, we called the repairman and spent most of the morning waiting for him to get the heating in our house fixed.
The Sunday before, while in the PX, I noticed a kids' bike trailer. Reading the information tag, I found that it would carry 100 lbs.. Nolan is only 62 lbs.. So, I figured he could use it for another couple of years. He had gotten too heavy for his first one a couple of years ago and we gave it away. Not being able to find anyone to do my November bike trip with, I asked Nolan if he would like to come along in his new trailer. He said he would. So, it was a date.
Ride From Hammelberg to Gemunden
Even though we were not getting an early start, Dolores agreed to take Nolan and me to Hammelberg. We would bike the twenty seven Ks to Gemunden and she would pick us up. Getting onto the bike trail at 1320, I flipped the dynamo to the on position to check out the drag. The day was overcast and cold. Even though I most always ride along a river, and this was no exception, the terrain has a way of always seeming to be up hill in both directions. With the 60 plus pounds in tow and 10 or 20 in my day box, it wasn't long before I could tell the drag on the dynamo was there. I stopped; the light did not remain on. I disengaged it. The lighting system was not used enough during this trip nor subsequent trips so far to warrant a review, as of yet. However, I am disappointed that it is not the standing light model. Speaking with one of the company reps, I was told that the battery system that stores the power to facilitate the standing power will not work properly at temperatures below zero to warrant its use. For my way of thinking, I'd say the company should put those limits in their literature and sell the light to those who want it when it is above freezing, as it usually is here in Germany. Come-on, LiteSpin, send me the standing model.
As I approached the first town on our trip, I looked at my computer printout. The town wasn't there. I had printed out the route from my biking program, and it is usually correct. However, the first town I came to was not on my list. The bike trail went both left and right. I went left and stopped to ask directions from two men working on the town fountain. I was told to proceed straight. I indicated that I wanted to stay away from the traffic and that put a whole new spin on the quarter. I was now to go right and head for another town not on the map, Diebach.
Getting into Diebach, Nolan was hollering he was hungry, and since my stomach was in agreement, we started hunting for a place to eat. I knew that if we found a place still serving, they would not be able to serve us much of a selection. I carefully marked, in my mind, where we left the bike path and took a lady's directions to the nearest guesthouse. After securing the trike to the railing at the entrance, I left Nolan in the trailer with strict instructions to stay in the trailer while I checked if they would still serve us a meal. Entering the spacious, but empty establishment, I saw no one. On my right was a vender-like space that served as a metzgerei, where meats were sold.
I hollered hello and was met with, "moment bitte". Then out hobbled this gray haired little old lady. She indicated that she could fix us a meal of sauerkraut with ham from the metzgerei. So, it was a done deal. I went out to get Nolan -- only to find that he had minded just like he always does -- headed up the steps to find his Pa Pa. Once on the inside, he tore into the bread and made his usual crumb laden mess of the table. Then out came the vittles. Just as I suspected, Nolan had no intentions of eating any of that stuff, kraut. So, out of his plate into mine it went. He ate only half of his ham, but, good old Pa Pa took care of the rest. I even remembered to take a picture of it before I downed it. I forgot to take a picture while mine was still on the plate. Maybe because it was not on there very long.
When I asked for a receipt, the lady indicated that she didn't have her glasses and handed me the pad to write. I think the total came out to 15.00 euro. So, it was back out into the cold, which was not so cold now that I had a hot meal in me. I took off my jacket and covered Nolan with it in addition the blanket he was sitting on and the one covering him. Then we were on our way. As we were about to exit the city limits, we were met with another fork and another decision to make. Now this decision making ordeal is getting to be just too much. I took the right fork. If there is a choice in directions, you can depend on me to take the wrong one. The sign exiting the town indicted the next city was not the one on my list. Seeing a lady entering the graveyard across the street, I crossed and asked for directions. She indicted we had to go back the same way we came and go back over the bridge.
I just did not feel that was the right direction. But, who am I? Oh, I'm the guy who when given a choice in directions will likely take the wrong one. So, back we traced our path. Seeing the bridge I was to cross again, I was even more convinced that was not the way. On the intersecting street to my right was a lady talking with another lady upon a high porch. Questioning them, it was decided that I should go back to the fork and take the left fork. Then take a farmer's road under the railroad. As I arrived at the fork, I saw the sign to the town for which I was looking. It was down the left fork. After taking the left fork, I saw the underpass going under the railroad with an older couple walking toward me. Now mind you, I'm right near the fork where the lady in the graveyard told me to go back the direction from whence I had traveled. Making the turn toward the underpass, I stopped the old couple and inquired of them about directions. The old fellow wanted to send me and the baby trailer down a main highway that he described as very nice. He indicated the road under the viaduct was bad and a steep hill was just up the trail a piece. I thanked them and moved on. I knew I was not taking his directions. But, the town I was looking for was just 3Ks down the left fork. While it was a secondary highway, it was still a highway. So, it was down the farmer's road for Nolan, me, and trailer.
The old man was right. The road was bad. I looked at my watch, and it was about 1500 hours. The sky was overcast, and it was going to be dark before we knew it. The hill seemed to get steeper. The trailer was a real drag. Then something felt strange. I seemed to be seated lower and more down in between the seat tubing than ever before. I could just see it in my mind's eye. The seat had split down the center. I had just some days earlier inquired of Mick Sims about a new seat and so it was no surprise that it may have given way. I stopped and got up to inspect the seat. I was pleased to see there was no split. But, that water bottle that used to be between my legs and forward of my seat seemed to be trying to work its way up my butt. Then I saw it. The shock cord had broken. I restrung it and pulled it as taunt as I could get it and sat back down. It seemed to be holding. I pedaled on around the curve. Another surprise, the hill could be seen for what seemed to be miles as it elongated and got steeper and steeper, and steeper. Where in the heck was that river? Should I turn around and take the highway the 3 Ks to Morlesau? Or, should I just turn around? The phone rang. It was Dolores inquiring as to where we were. I told her. She said it was not on her map. I told her it was just six miles from where she had let us off. She began to laugh. She couldn't believe we had taken so long getting no further than that. And honestly, I had to agree with her and was completely frustrated. I told her to meet us back where she had let us out. It was going to get dark before we could possibly get to Gemunden, and I didn't want to be on the roads after dark with Nolan.
Again the trip back seemed like it was up hill all the way. I'm quite sure that it must have been since we were going against the current of the river when it was around to be seen. This was not at all a fun ride. It was more frustrating than anything else. For one reason, I like to feel in control, and I couldn't even project which town was next on my route. That was just infuriating. When I asked Nolan how he liked it, he replied that he had a great time. I suppose enjoyment depends on ones perspective.
Christmas Market at Rothenberg o.t.
November 26, 2005
Last year we decided to do an article on the Christmas market at Rothenberg o.d. Tauber.Rothenburg o.d. Tauber However, being on the spur of the moment kind of thing and the fact that we waited until Christmas Eve, December 24, 2004 and it closes on December 23 each year we missed it. Instead, we took some pictures of where it had been and stores that were still open and trying to make money right up to Jesus' birthday. Ooops, ooops, ooops, I said it, I said it. Christmas is Jesus' birthday. Oh, that would explain why it is called Christ's Mass; I guess. Then we said, "We won't miss it next year." And, we didn't.
The old walled city of Rothenberg is truly an awesome city even without the Christmas market and is one of my favorite places in Germany to visit. If you recall, for those who have been reading Bent Miles for a while, I did a bike ride from this town to Bad Mergentheim about two years ago. That is still the most favorite ride I've ever done. Lord, it was beautiful. The sun was out; and the roads were all cleared of motorized traffic. It was just human powered vehicles allowed on the roads; and I was still nearly wiped out by an idiot speed skating down hill around a blind curve into a village street filled with hundreds of celebrating people.
Built by The East Franconian Earl Reinger in 970 AD, Rothenberg was bequeathed to the monastery at Comburg in1108. This bequeath was ignored by Emperor Heinrich V. He gave the town to his nephew, Duke Konrad of Swabia. To get more on the history of this fabulous medieval town, you can purchase a guide book in English at the city hall for four euros. For a listing of more historic towns in Germany, click here.
Missed Christmas Market at Maulbronn
December 19, 2005
Each year, I tell myself that I'm going to get organized and cover Christmas markets that I've not yet covered and provide information on start and ending dates. This year was not much different from those in the past. My Christmas vacation got away from me before I knew it, and I was making plans to see Christmas markets for which I had not yet established opening and closing dates. So, it should come as no surprise that I arrived at Maulbronn some weeks after it had closed. Their market is held on 3/4 December. Go to their site here. Below are some pictures of where it was and our trip there. As I understand it, it was located in the courtyard of the monastery which dates back to the 1200s.
Christmas Market at Bamberg
So it came about, while headed to my office to turn in paperwork for new passports, that the sensible one, the thinking one, also known as Dolores, suggested that I look Christmas markets up on the Internet. I assumed she was referring to the list she had forwarded to my work email. To which I replied, that I had sent the list she has sent me to my home email; and it was no longer residing on my work computer. She insisted that I should be able to find the start and ending dates online.
Being the all--in--all believer in the internet that I am, it took no coaxing to get me started. So, while she was leaving the paperwork on our secretary's desk, I hit pay dirt. One of the helpful sites I found then and there alludes me as I write this. However, there is so much information out there that I've had difficulty on deciding what I want to include as versus what I want to exclude. The available information far exceeds that which you will actually need.
One of the ones I wanted to check was Dinkelsbuhl. When I went to the site, I can no longer find, I established that it had, in fact, come and gone. The dates were November 24--December 21. Since this was already December 21, 2005 and owing to the fact that Dinkelsbuhl was over 120 miles round trip, we decided on Bamberg, which was somewhat closer. Visit Dinkelsbuhl here. Once on the page, click on Anreise then select the English version at top. So it was, back to the house to pick up "Tweety" and Nolan's trailer and within less than an hour we were in Bamberg following the signs to downtown, stadtzentrum or just zentrum. Trying to follow the river and noticing that the signs to zentrum also followed the river, we soon came to a parking area that was adjacent to a bridge. The parking machine was broken, so parking was free. Stopping a lady for directions, I was told to cross the bridge and turn left after about two hundred meters. I was also advised to not take the car because there would be no place to park.
Unloading "Tweety" and the trailer, we soon had Nolan's blanket in the seat and his ski mask on and ready for the weather. Dolores pressed the buttons under each of the four tail lights to get them to blinking. I turned on the light attached to my flag and she mounted the bike flag as I mounted Nolan's trailer flag. Gloves on and steam emanating from our mouths and noses, we were ready to take in the Bamberg Christmas market. Notice that while these markets, as the name suggests, are commercial, no one is standing in line to take the Christmas out of the the holiday and call it "Winter Market". Only in America, which was founded "under God", do we have to put up with the minority governing the majority and misinterpreting the constitution with regard to separation of church and state to the detriment of the majority. I have an idea; why don't we do a constitutional amendment that makes it clear that separation of church and state means that the state can't designate the accepted church, not that the people can't use their tax paid for property to have Christian edifices and paraphernalia. You're not Christian? Have I got good news for you; Jesus died so you could have everlasting life. All you have to do is say, God, I'm sorry for my sins; please forgive me; I accept Jesus as my Lord and savior. Then tell someone that you have accepted Him into your heart. Now, it's a done deal. Let's eat. Oops, I'm sorry; my wife said eating is a part of church services only when severed as communion. You know how us Baptists and Assembly of God folks are, we see a crowd and we get hungry.
Then came another decision. "Lord, can't someone else make those things?" If I crossed at the crosswalk here, there was also a light to insure Nolan's safety. But that would be going against the designated flow of traffic. If I went down the side of the bridge designating the direction we were to travel, there was no light to protect our crossing at the other end. However, we would be going the correct direction with the flow of traffic. Crossing the adjacent intersecting street, I shifted up to speed ahead of Dolores in order to get directions to the Christmas market before she reached the exit point. Notice how I avoided that decision? I just went the way I was expected. At the other end of the bridge, the fellow to whom I spoke indicated that the route I wanted to take was pedestrians only and seemed somewhat confused as to how to tell me a round-about way to get to the place I needed to go. I thanked him and decided on the pedestrian route.
This paved sidewalk, spewed us out onto an intersecting street with a bike store just across from us. Following the street, it was once again, women looking and admiring the baby trailer and the trike and making a fuss about Nolan. That, alone, is sufficient reason to ride a trike. The day was very brisk and the overcast skies hinted at what the weather could have in store. Dolores had been very adamant about eating before we left home so that we would not waste money on overpriced prepared food. She was the first to want to buy donuts and a wurst. Nolan and I shared the five donuts with her, but each of us declined the wurst. I mean, after all, there was a crowd; and, we are Assembly of God, so eating was expected. You know; in order to fellowship.
This town of 1000 years has more to offer than can be covered in our article. For more information and a city map, to include restrooms, click here. Once on the page, click English version in the upper right and you are in business. We arrived in the market place at 1420 and were finished within about two hours. However, if you are interested in more than the Christmas market, study the site at the above link and plan your stay for days of interesting sites to see. Our visit was brief and rewarding. We enjoyed seeing the market and experiencing the smells that come only when folks are preparing fresh foods for consumption. However, it is my feelings that once you have experienced one Christmas market, the rest are simply overkill.
Christmas Market at Ansbach
December 23, 2005
If you remember, the shock cord on my GTO seat had been spliced twice; and I had recently received new mesh and shock cord in the mail. I had asked Peter if he could lace it on for me; and he had said that he would. Dolores had other ideas. She assured me that if I could get the seat skeleton off and bring it into the house, she would lace the mesh for me. I considered the agreement that I have with the bike mechanics' association and thought that I might be able to slip such a minimal repair job past them. However, upon inspecting the tools that I didn't have and the cold weather in which I had to work, I concluded that I'd likely strip the bolt heads trying to get the seat off, hurt my back, be miserable, bust a knuckle or two, say some words that are not becoming of me, all just to have to pack partially done job up and take to Peter after several hours of frustration. Boy, am I glad I did it my way. Reviewing the dates of some of the Christmas markets, I noticed that Ansbach's was still in session and opened at 1100 hours.
I called Peter and set up an appointment for him to work on my seat and got him to agree to allow me to ride one of his Hase KettWeisel Recumbent Trikes. The next morning was December 23, 2005. Dolores woke me at 0730. After I finished my bath, she treated me to an eggs and bacon, toast, coffee, and orange juice breakfast. For once, I remembered to get my camera and journal. However, when I asked what the package was laying on the floor in front of the door, she was quick to tell me that it would all be for naught if I failed to take the shock cord and mesh that I had received in the mail. "Oh!"
Home departure time was at 0830. All along the way, I kept thinking of how blessed I was to have a wife like Dolores, and how much I loved her. So, breaking the law; I pushed a couple of buttons on my cell and told her. By 0940, I was in Ansbach. We always park in the covered parking garage of the mall because the parking is much cheaper, and I can get out of the truck, unload Tweety, if needed, put on rain wear all without getting wet. So it was, I had my camera with which to take pictures; I placed the mesh in a plastic bag with my journal and hung it from the seat of my trike. I padded the pocket of my jacket where I keep my wallet; my heart sank. I, at that very moment, remembered that I had taken it out the day before and put it in my pants pocket. Only, not the pants I was currently wearing. I was just sickened.
I thought about calling Dolores. But, I didn't want to worry her or have her come out in such inclement weather just to take care of me. Then I remembered that I couldn't even get my truck out of the parking area without money. "Oh, that is why I brought my fanny pack, it has all kinds of change in it," I thought. I got into the seat of the trike and headed out the garage entrance. A couple of guys saw me as I went under the barrier and started to laugh and make comments about that was one way to not have to pay for parking. I laughed, not too heart-felt, more as a social obligation, and started swapping gears. "Well, I'll just ask Peter to bill me, and I'll either send it from my bank to his or come back with the cash", I thought, as I picked my way through the crowed walk/bike way.
Going over the arched bridge, across the street below, was like picking my way through a crowded carnival. At the end of the bridge, I had a choice. I could go left and follow the wall around to the street leading to Peter's place; or I could enter the gate and take my chance on finding the most direct route to Peter's shop. I chose the gate. I had enough sense of direction to know to bear to my left, and in so doing, quite by accident stumbled upon the Christmas market. I knew it didn't open till 1100 and it was only 1000 at the time. So, I marked in my mind where I came out onto the street just outside the walled portion of the city and was at Peter's by about 10:10.
I told him about leaving my wallet at home, and he agreed to bill me. I decided I had better call Dolores and ask her to insure my wallet was in my pants pocket and not lost. She confirmed that it was in my pocket; and, of course, she was concerned that I had no ID or drivers' license and wanted to bring it to me. I told her I didn't want her out in the weather, and we hung up. Peter got started on my trike at about 10:20, and my phone rang again. Dolores would not take no for an answer and told me that she and Nolan were on their way. In the meantime, Peter had taken my trike from the vice/stand and placed it upside-down on the floor so he could better lace the shock cord. Then, I heard him say, "oops. I knew that he had broken my brand-new light. A bit of glue and it worked fine. It took about 45 minutes to get my seat fixed; and, boy, was I glad I didn't try doing it out in the cold. When I spoke to Peter about riding the KettWeisel, he didn't want it out in the snow and mud. So, it was that I headed for the Christmas market on my beloved and trusted "Tweety".
After taking copious pictures for you folks, I headed back to the mall for a pee break and await Dolores' and Nolan's arrival. After loading Tweety back into the truck, I received a call from Dolores telling me she was in a nearby town. Following another phone call, Dolores and I married up and she gave me my wallet. She had a headache, but decided to do the mall anyway, since she drove sixty miles to get there. After riding Tweety back to Peter's to pay, I returned to the parking lot to, yet another, phone call. Dolores instructed me to meet them in the North Sea for lunch. I suppose she had been thinking about the "Mix Box" of seafood I had told her that Michael and I had a day or two before at the North Sea in Wuerzburg. Even though the lady gave us the wrong sauce, the meal was still good.
Upon finishing our mixed seafood meal, Dolores ordered calamari; after which, it was once again time to hit the icy road home. This time, our little Nolan road with Pa Pa.
To get ahead of the game next year, click here.
Christmas Market at Baden-Wurttemberg
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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.