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June 2006 Volume 4 Issue 10
May 16, 2006 June 2006 Bike Review
Sometime back, Dolores started communicating with her brother's wife, Connie. Connie and her daughter, Michelle, were going to travel from Hawaii to various countries here in Europe. Dolores and Connie corresponded for several weeks and decided on a date we would pick them up at the Frankfurt Airport on their way from Ireland.
I had made arrangements to take off from work on 17, 18, and 19 May so we could take them to Garmisch. Connie wanted to see some castles. Dolores and I arranged for two adjoining apartments so near a river you could hear it as it lulled you to sleep at night. This is our story.
We arrived at our apartments at about 1300 on May 17, 2006. The following morning, I got up at about 0600 and was done with my three mile run by 0706 hours. Upon my return, I fixed breakfast and was on the bike trail by about 0845 hours.
Since the bike trail that I wanted to take was the same one that I did my morning run on and is located behind and over a raging river from the house we were renting, I had to ride down a busy two-lane highway to get to it. The walk bridge used to cross the river was in much poorer shape than it had been two years before when we stayed in the same house. There had been several floods since then and the bridge had to be repaired. They had made the middle section about half as wide as it had been which meant I had to carry Tweety across that largest section of the bridge.
Since I had not been able to run the full distance of the trail in the twenty minutes I had allotted myself that morning, I decided to go that direction just to see if I could get to the American campgrounds along that path. While I could get there, I could not get to the gate where I would be able to gain access. So, it was back in the direction I had attempted during our Thanksgiving trip two years before. At that time, I was sick with a particularly nasty case of bronchitis, and wheezed so much trying to climb the hills in the rain that I turned around and went back to the apartment. Not so today.
As you can see below, I took copious pictures along the route. Some, most, of the hills were so steep that I had to get down into number 72 and just snail my way up. It seemed for every third revolution of the pedals, Iíd spin in the gravel. This took its toll on these old 58 year-old legs. However, without the cough and the rain, Tweety and I challenged and beat each hill in its turn.
Only in Germany, while out in the wilderness, would one run into a young lady out on her morning run. It so occasioned that, while industriously engaged in taking a picture of Tweety with the raging river raging in the background, she came running along. I smiled made a movement out of her path so that she would not be afraid. She smiled and greeted me as she went on up the monster of a hill she was attacking much faster than Tweety and I.
After snapping my pictures, it was back into the saddle with old number 72 doing her snail assault up Agnus, the hill. Several spinouts later put us near the brow of the hill. I saw someone stretching; it was the same lady. As I neared her, she stepped out into the path and asked me about my trike and where I was from. I told her I was from the U.S. She then asked where I had traveled from to here. I told her, Wuerzburg. She wanted to know if I had room in my day box for all of my things for such a bike trip. I laughed and told her that I had transported my trike in the truck to Garmisch and that we were on a mini vacation with my wifeís relatives. We bid each other good day and parted ways.
Topping out on the next hill put me parallel with the rails. A few more ups and downs and I was at an intersection with the busy road that passed our apartment. Gearing up, I power pedaled across the road to the bike path on the other side. This path, Iíve been on several times as well as the road. I knew the path would follow the river on the left and the highway on the right. At about 1030, I heard American, not English, speaking bikers coming up from behind. When they past one greeted me in German. I purposely returned the greeting in American. As I was about to cross the rails into the next little village, just across the Austrian border, I spotted a bike that could just barely be seen off in the woods to my left. I slowed and pulled into the woods. It had been stolen and stripped for parts.
As I entered the little village, I spotted a guesthouse that was serving folks on the deck. As I approached, I was asked if Iíd like to join them for a beer. I said that I was looking for something to eat. One of the men said that he had noticed I was American when he greeted me on the path. I replied that I had returned the greeting in American so they would know I was a fellow American. I indicated that I had heard them speaking American as they came upon me.
We established that I was from Wuerzburg and they were actually living in Garmisch. When I asked what their vocations were, I was told that they were all ďdomestic engineersĒ and that all their spouses were working while they were out biking. I declined the beer and ordered me a meal and soda. Given the selection I was presented by the waitress, I ordered a wurst. I asked for sauerkraut and was told there was none. When I asked for a salad, I was given a lecture that I did not quite understand, and then she started talking to one of the other men. She gave me a choice of fries or potato salad to go with the wurst. I asked for the potato salad and requested bread to go with it.
One of the men asked if the beer had been paid for, yet. I said that I had paid for it. The other fellow objected, and I said that I had not. I was just going to wait and watch as they tried to ride away without paying. We had a little chuckle. Then, I asked if it was ok to take their pictures for my website and was told Iíd have to pay them royalties. We decided, instead, that Iíd take all their pictures together with their cameras and weíd call it even. When my food came, I had potato salad, immersed in fat laden mayonnaise. So much for not getting the fries. Iím still waiting on the bread. After a, somewhat enjoyable conversation and my less than desirable meal, it was back to the bike path for Tweety and me.
Just as I was getting ready to retrieve Tweety, the sky darkened. One of the guys commented that we were going to get some rain and asked if I had brought along my rain gear. I told him that I would just get wet and keep riding. We said our good byes and it was back to swapping gears and painful knees.
For those of you who are familiar with the area, as Tweety and I approached the once guarded border check-point, I noticed a brand spanking new ESSO station in place of the once upon a time official guard office changed into a once upon a time snack bar, now ESSO station. The trail turned into a very rough, but wide, shoulder hugging the highway pavement. About a hundred yards up it was every biker for himself. I donít think Iíve seen so much traffic since the border was declared open. Crossing the highway, I swung between the ESSO and another building where I had to brake, to engage an abrupt rise.
Speed was not an option for a recumbent trike through this area. Someone had put what appeared to be a very thin layer of cemented gravel on top of the former dirt trail resulting in bouncy little ups and downs. This soon turned into a gravel trail running along the whitewater river on my right. When I came to a choice of following the trail I had ridden twice before, or traveling the highway, I took the highway. Big mistake. While I felt safe enough, I still did not like the big trucks trying to blow me off the road and the BMWs and Mercedes blaring past me.
Seeing what appeared to be a secondary road that might lead to the bike path, I took it only to come to a skidding stop at a sheer drop-off into the boiling river. So as to not be at a total loss, I took a leak behind the protective undergrowth. While looking across the river at the bike trail, I saw one of the Americans I had met at the guesthouse. I hollered but could not be heard over the roar of the gorging waters below. I trued around and hit the highway again.
Crossing the bridge, I saw the same fellow following the bike trail along the highway. The other man and two women were following close behind. I shifted down and attacked the hill. More cars and motorcycles passed and met me. I soon spotted the familiar entrance to the bike trail. I pedaled harder; I looked in my side view mirror. I looked up ahead. I was getting ready to turn across the oncoming lane; once again, I checked my side view mirror. There was a motorcycle closing in fast. I judged my pace; as soon as he bellowed past, I gave my left turn sign and was across and dipping down to an under pass filled with stagnated water. I braked and forgot to shift down. Coming out of the water, there was a steep rise on the other side. I shifted down on my front sprocket and heard and felt the grind as my rear gears screamed out at my stupidity.
Now, I felt much more comfortable not having the threat of a semi running down the middle of my spine. The rest of the trip was on familiar ground. I stopped at the waterfalls that I took pictures of a year or so ago. At that time they had climbers following a rope along the cliffs. This time there were no such daredevils. But the air was still a good five degrees cooler here than before or after the falls.
Iíve always been comfortable in the knowledge that most Germans are very honest. Iíve had them pick up my wallet and return it to me. Iíve lived here for 23 years and have never had anything stolen. However, I have seen mopeds and bikes that were obviously stolen just to ride down hill, thrown into creeks or left abandoned along the street.
Having been blessed with a very nice trike, Iím attuned to indicators in the areas where I ride. Here in Garmisch, Iíve noticed unprecedented indicators of bike thievery. I donít know if it is because Garmisch is so close to an adjoining border and folks come across to steal, of if it is because there is such a high turnover of tourists. For whatever reason, on this trip I noticed a frame of a discarded bike, a bike that had been obviously stolen and parts stripped and the remains left in the woods. I saw a young boyís bike near the waterfalls that had been left behind with two flats. Was it stolen then left??? Then on the bridge that crossed the river near our apartment, I noticed the stolen bike lock that had been locked on the bridge. Two years ago, I met a fellow whom I later surmised was riding a stolen bike as I was coming down one of the hills I rode up on this trip.
As Iíve mentioned before, Garmish has had several floods over the past few years and the last one really did some damage to the bike trails. As I was rounding a curve at about 15 miles per hour, I had to come to a sliding stop at the edge of a washed out hollow. Further up the path, on what is normally a well paved trail, I encountered freshly laid river gravel/rock and was painfully aware of areas that had been cut a paved again as well as areas along the riverbank that had been marked for cutting in the future. I also noticed a man in florescent vest inspecting the bank under the bike path. In many areas of Germany, they take as good a care of their bike trails as they do their roads. And it pays off in dividends. Just come over and see the tourist traffic each year and the amount of revenue generated along these prolific bike paths. The U.S. could take lessons on this issue.
Unlike two years ago when I made this same trip and got back to the apartment well after nightfall, this time there were hours of daylight left when I crossed from one bike path across the highway to the other side. This soon, however, spilled me out onto the, at times, very busy secondary road that passes right by our apartment. Noting that the truck had not yet returned with Nolan and the women who had went to Neuschwanstein Castle, I continued on to the nearest market and bought the fixings for a great salad.
Upon the ladies return, we fixed salad and fish with rice for a great dinner. At the end of the day, I had 31 miles on the odometer. The next day Nolan and I were going to remain home. Michele, our niece, decided that she had seen all the castles she wanted and would stay home as well. Having side-swiped the gate with the truck the day before, Dolores asked me to drive her and Connie to the Linderhof Castle and assured me they would not take long. Yeah! Right!
Approaching the entrance to the Castle area, we spotted a tollgate where we would have to pay parking. I indicated that I was going to turn around and was allowed to enter. After depositing the girls at the hotel area where the tours started, Nolan and I turned around and found a place in the woods to park the truck. I fixed him a comfortable seat on the luggage rack of the trike and we hit the bike trail heading toward Linderhof. I told you they have great trails here.
After a few miles it was back into good old number 72 where my 215 lbs and Nolanís 60 lbs slowly ascended the hill to the Linderhof hotel were I used the restroom, bought him an ice-cream and me a wurst with bread and sauerkraut. Now, that was a good meal.
Connie had expressed a desire to stop at a wood carving shop. I remembered there were several on our way back. However, there was one in particular that I had noticed on several trips and could not remember whether or not we had ever stopped there. Well, if we hadnít, we have now.
The following day we packed all of our things; and me being the only man, I carried the same suitcases back down the same stairs I had carried them up just a few days before. Once we had breakfast and cleared away all the trash, we said goodbye to our hosts and were on our way back to Wuerzburg.
Archie L. Tucker
Archie L. Tucker
publisher 'Bent Miles
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