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We are back. I'll have our trip from Passau posted in a few days. Our tirp to Garmisch will likely be posted in September; On July 28, many of us are going to ride and camp at Ornbau Gern about 40 miles south west of Ansbach, Germany. Call me at 01721942677, if you are interested.


Day Trip With Nolan

June 2005        Volume 2               Issue 10

Altmuhltal River Ride

From the time this route was pointed out to me by my friend Gary, it has been a must ride to do.  I planned it from its start at Gunzenhausen to its finish at Kelheim.  However, looking at it from my computer program, it appeared that it did not start following the river until the town of Dietfurt. From previous experiences, this lead me to surmise that it could be a little more hilly than that to which my biking bud and I are accustomed.  So, it was back to the drawing board.

I ran a print out from various points along the river.  I reconnoitered it with a friend then with my very best friend, my wife.  Each trip revealed something different. While discussing it with Gary, he told me that he had ridden it once, and that it was flat and level.  So, that settled it; we would ride it from start to finish and have Dolores pick us up at Kelheim for a total of 145 km..

Speaking to my biking bud, he said a German neighbor told him there was a dinosaur museum in the little town of  Solnhofen; and, he indicated he would like to visit it. Another friend had told me that it was where they had found the once missing link between bird and dinosaur, and the rest of the museum was fossils, and not necessarily dinosaur. I told my wife about the museum; and, she said that she and Nolan could visit it with us.  So, once again, it was back to the planning board.  We had planned to get up at 0700 on Saturday May 28, 2005 and be on the road to get Michael by 0830.  Once we picked him up, we could be on the autobahn by 0900 and at the museum by 1100.

When I told Dolores that the museum was not an actual dinosaur museum, but instead, that a replica of the once missing link between bird and dinosaur was kept on display there and the rest were various fossils that had been found in the area, she no longer wanted to go.  But, Michael had indicated that he wanted to go.  So, I planned that we would still start at Solnhofen and not move our hotel reservations.  Instead, we would just ride about 20 miles the first day and extend the ride on the other end.  That would give us 20 and 30 for a total of 50 miles.  So, I printed off even another printout.

No pitter patter of Nolan's feet had to get me out of the rack on this Saturday morning. The sunlight finding its way through my partially drawn shutters triggered the wakeup chemical in my brain;  and I was out of the bed by 0600.  By 0800, I called Michael and asked where he was in his preparations.  He was ready.  So, we picked him up 30 minutes early and were on our way.

During the ride,  I indicated to him that Dolores and Nolan had decided to not visit the museum, and he said that he was itching to start the ride and cared not to visit it as well. So, another plan started to evolve.  Since we had already past the start of the trail, we decided that we would put in at Treuchtlingen.  This would give us 35 miles the first day, and we would ride from our hotel in Phunz to Muhlbach for another 35 miles on Sunday.

Arriving at Treuchtlingen, we spotted the trail and parked in a parking lot that facilitated Dolores exiting town without having to back up.  After readying our steeds for the ride ahead, I crossed the street, and Michael followed suit.  Generally, he leads on the trail because my trike can get very slow, and too slow is not too good for two wheels.  Did I spell all those T-words correctly?

It is amazing how soon I start to forget the specifics of a ride.  And now, several days after its completion, I'm having a difficult time remembering were we put into the trail.  Let it be said that it was a beautiful day and all was well with our souls.

I just can't put into words the beauty we experienced all along the way.  Each village, dorf, and town, had its own uniqueness. The brown water of the Altmuhl River would at times give way to a clearness that revealed the rock bed over which it flowed.  Canoe after canoe entered and exited the river all along the route.  Tents were erected to accommodate the canoers and their families. Smoke from grills revealed that, while man maybe should be herbivorous, he is more often omnivorous or just pretty much carnivores.

It was obvious that the folks who laid out the route did all they could to route us over river and dell, not over hill and hill.  It is always a point with me on these trips that I set and maintain a cadence that is consistently rhythmic to make for a more effortless and productive ride.  So it was,  that I concentrated on my strokes being partially pulled up--I don't use clips--by the upstroke foot just before exerting downward pressure on the down stroke.  I'm amazed at how this helps me to keep a steady pace.

If you knew me, you'd know that I have the least rhythm of anyone.  I'm so bad that I have to look at other folks in church to make sure my hands come together at the same time as the rest of the congregation when clapping to music. I was looking at a friend of mine for measure some years back, and he leaned over to me and said, "Brother, just because I'm black, that don't mean I got rhythm."  So much for that folk lore.

Here in Germany, you will find rail, river, highway, autobahn, and bike trails within sight of each other. And the river traffic was just about as prolific as any of the rest on this day. It was so much so that I was amazed at all the boat activity.   I've been in Germany for over 20 years and have had a stint in Italy as well.  I've seen folks bare it on the beach, when it was not billed as a nude beach.  I've known of folks sitting nude in mixed saunas.  However, none of this prepared me for seeing the flopping of a woman's chest as she rowed a canoe with her male partner.

I had already taken a couple of pictures as we approached them from the rear. So, I still had my camera at the ready.  However, I was so taken back when Michael pointed out the bare facts, that I forgot I had a camera in my hand until I had already passed. I just held it up over my shoulder and snapped.  I'm sure the Good Lord censored it for me because it is the one where you can make out the man but most of the canoe and woman are behind weeds.  Too bad guys; I guess you'll just have to visit Europe and bike the trails for yourselves.

Noon found us in the small village of Popenheim looking for a place for Michael to buy some meat to put on the bread I had brought along.  I was trying to stay away from the animal protein; so, I was eating wholegrain bread only.

An hour or so later approaching an imbiss, Michael wanted to know if I wanted to stop for a drink.  He pulled to the left near the imbiss, and I rolled to a stop to the right of the trail under the shade of a tree with a canoe on the ground near me and a young fellow in one on the river trying to maneuver it to shore.

Here,  we ate some fruit and nuts and took long swigs from our 1.5 liter water bottles. I ate a few of the soybeans that Dolores had boiled for me;  but they were not quite done enough for me.  So, after just a few, they went back into the bag, and we were on our way.

We lost the bike trail in Eichstatt.  We stopped a group of eight ladies, who pointed us in the correct direction.  Before leaving us in their dust, they had indicated they were going in the proximity of our destination, and I reasoned they would likely have reservations in the same hotel as we had.

We arrived at our hotel too early to eat dinner; so, I took a shower and on our way down the stairs, who do you suppose we spotted climbing up the stairs.  You got it.  The eight ladies apparently stopped off somewhere in route and arrived after us.  We took our meals under the shade of the most beautiful Chestnut trees you have ever seen.  Being in bloom made them even more gorgeous.

The owner of the establishment told us there were the remains of a Roman garrison up a twenty % slope about a ten minute walk from the hotel.  We decided that it was way too early to go to bed; so, off we went.  After returning from our walk, we were still thirsty;  so we ordered a few more drinks.  The eight ladies were having their evening meal out under the trees as well.

Finishing their meals, they all got up and headed the same direction from whence we had just returned.  Still being too early to turn in, we walked off in the other direction through the part of the village we had ridden into on our arrival.  Walking past a yard with several men and women drinking, one of the ladies said something.  When she realized we spoke so little German, she inquired as to our rooms.  We indicted the guesthouse.  After a few laughs, we got the idea they may have gotten the idea that we were man and man.  So it was with a more exaggerated manly saunter that we proceeded in our walk insuring a measured deepness in our voices as we talked.

Passing back by the same house,  there were more exchanges of comments and laughs that we participated in with good sportsmanship, not knowing exactly what the sport might be.  At about 2100,  it was off to SEPARATE rooms.  After a few more nuts and beans, I laid back into a rather comfortable bed and rested my head on a very comfortable pillow from whence I drifted off into a very restful nothingness. This room--with breakfast--at only 18 euros per night for a single was a blessing.

I had made arrangements with the owner to serve us breakfast between 0700 and 0800.  Michael always wants to sleep late, get on the road late and eat early.  Me, I like to get up early, eat early, get on the road early so I can eat again.

Since I had no alarm clock, I left my blinds open so the morning light would waken me. However, this time of the year it starts getting light at around 0500;  and that is when I woke up.  I laid there till about 0530 or 0600.  I heard someone in the hall.  It couldn't be; but it was; it was Michael.

If we are up, we are hungry.  So, it was down the stairs looking for the breakfast room. It was locked. So, out for another walk it was. This time we reconnoitered the bike trail we would be taking out of town after breakfast.  Walking across a bridge,  we spotted a camp spot just below.  Finding the arched support system of the bridge to be so reminiscent of all the arched architecture left over by the Romans of this area, I regretted I had not brought my camera.

Oh well, we had to come back this way. I'd take pictures then.  Of course,  Michael reminded me that the sun would no longer be in the same position; and the effect would likely be different.  At that time of the morning, the light would reveal the coolness and freshness of the morning.  When the sun rose higher, that effect would be lost.

By the time we returned to the hotel, it was 0655; and the ladies were starting to form up at the door of the dinning area.  Soon it was opened;  and we followed the owner into an area that had tables set for two on one side and eight on the other. Michael and I, of course, headed to the table with the most food.  Just kidding. We were gentlemen.  We went to our table set for two and sobbed quietly that they had more food than we.

After a very tasty meal of boiled egg, cold cuts, and rolls, we paid our bills and headed to the garage where our bikes had been locked for safekeeping, or to insure that we did pay our bills. After carrying my trike out of the door, it was just a matter of snapping on the day box, and I was ready to ride.  The girls told us bye and were off.

We followed suit sometime later with a stop down by the bridge to take my pictures.  Then, we settled into our pace. After about ten minutes on the road, we meet two of the ladies coming back our way.  At first, I just knew that they just had to see me one more time.  But, it was not to be. They had lost one of their riders.  We assured them we had not taken her captive and wished them luck on finding the wayward lass.

We soon passed the other five beside the road waiting for the return of their missing members.  We waved and passed on.  It seems like about an hour or so later, we heard them coming up behind us.  They passed; there were still just seven.  Michael inquired as to the 8th;  and the ladies pointed behind us.  I looked in my mirror.  And, here she came.  She was closing in on us like a fire truck on its way to burning blazes.  She streaked past with a puff of dust, and was gone.  Their straggler lift us in her wake.  Wow, and just how do think that makes a couple of MEN feel?  Well, we felt like; just taking it easy; and, maybe, just maybe, eating.

However, it wasn't long before we rounded a corner, and she was about to make a right.  The gang had waited at the left turn for her.  She saw them and changed to the left. Then they were off with one of the gang hanging back with her.  Our next sighting of the two was resting just before dropping off the backside of a hill they had just climbed and we were just about to negotiate.

It was at the top of this hill that we had to stop to take care of business. As we were dropping off the backside, a man and woman zipped past on their mountain bikes. I was having none of this. I shifted to the top ring on my front cog, took the rear through all of its clicks, and reached for the cassette.  I shifted from first to second.  The wind caught my hat. I reached up and pulled it down to my ears. Again, I reached for the cassette shifter and clicked it into third.  The man looked back and saw me dogging his woman. He pulled over for me to pass.  I stayed in her slip stream.  I had to brake to stay behind them, but the path was too narrow to be passing. We approached a sign.  One way went straight, the other crossed the highway toward the river.  Michael hollered that he wanted to take the right.  Grabbing my right brake, I slide the GTO to the right.  Michael passes on my right, and I'm hot on his fender.  We are gone and never see the two again.

Nine-forty-five found us at a pastry shop having coffee and pie.  After about 30 minutes, it was back on the road past one eatery after the other, past a church in each little village till be got to Beilngries.  Here, we stopped to get directions from an older fellow biking with his dog.  He informed us that we should stop in Kottingworth for lunch.  He couldn't tell us enough good things about it.  Sooner than I realized, we were passing this very congested beer garden.  I then determined we had arrived in Kottingworth  The congested restaurant was where the old fellow had been telling us to go.  I've had folks tell me to go to a lot worse place.

This was just after 1200, and by the time we got waited on, it was about 1300.  The waitress made no attempt to accommodate my request for chicken or turkey in my salad;  and I had to look for her to get the bill.  Do you think I tipped any more than what was already figured into the bill?

At about 1530, we arrived at our extraction point of Muhlbach.  We found the local biergarten where we ordered two bottles of water, and  had to listen to the incessant barking of an idiot dog while waiting on my salad.  After eating, we moved away from the guesthouse to free ourselves of the mangy critter.

I pulled the GTO under a shade and set the brake.  Laying my head back on the pillow, I'd dose till that ill mannered dog would bark and wake me again, and again, and....  Soon I spotted the Dakota bearing down on our location.  Then, came the bikes and trikes of which I missed most before I thought to snap some pictures you see below.

In the two days, we rested a lot and lounged around and still covered 35 miles each day. It was a great ride.  It will likely be remembered in my top three or four rides for some time to come.  So, if you ever get the chance to bike it, don't hesitate. Do the entire 145 km, though. It's easy.




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