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June 2009 Volume 7 Issue 6
Bike Trip to Regensburg Thursday, June 18, 2009
Total mileage: 74
Total time: 8 hours and 25 minutes
Average speed per saddle time in computer: 11mph
Time in saddle: Forgotten
Real average speed: 8.8 mph
Before the end of school arrived this year, I had been biking 19--24 miles three of four times a week. While this in no way prepared me for a century, it did get some of the kinks out of some of my 61 year-old muscles as well as helping asthmatic bronchitis lungs to not wheeze and cough endlessly. I had been planning a ride to Regensburg for months and something always came up to prevent it. So, as it would happen a former colleague of mine and his wife were visiting Germany and staying with a mutual friend. Now, this fellow takes more grief than the law ought to allow and he takes it with such style. Through another mutual colleague, I got wind that the two of them were taking the very ride I had been planning. Do, you think they asked me? When I found out, I called Gary and feigned hurt feelings.
As it turned out, the two of them rode the route in seven hours. Now, I'm glad I stayed home on that one. That is not a pace I want to attempt. My average is about 11 mph and Gary's is about 17. Now, get this guy: He is older than I, about 100, just kidding; he is about 65 and does a ride for the Make-A-Wish-Foundation every year. This is a grueling 300 mile bike ride and proceeds go to granting wishes for sick children. Please go to their site and make a donation or check out the ride. Now, this is the fellow who we harass at every turn because he loves it. He doesn't know it, but he is, well, sort of a hero to some folks; not me, but someone somewhere. Anyway, they rode it in seven hours. I know they took the highways because they can't read a map; they didn't even have one. And, every one knows you can make much better time on the paved roads not having to look for the little biking signs that may or may not be there. And, the streets go a more direct route. Biking trails that follow the river tend to meander way out of your way. Then there is the gravel; it can be treacherous and it cuts back on speed by at least 5-10 mph. Now, have I sufficiently given all the excuses why my time was two hours behind theirs. No. I think Eric likely gave me saddle time.
Another friend, agreed that he would take the ride with me, and if we got too sore or tired along the way, we could just hop a train and come back. So, he and I took a small 15 or 20 mile practice run. He informed me that he had an all day appointment on Wednesday but could go on Thursday. Wednesday I called a couple of times and left messages. I think someone's drearier must have been pouting because, when I hit the trail at 0825 Mr. Lance was nowhere to be seen.
Thursday morning found the Tuckers getting around quite early for the summer months. Breakfast consisted of couple of pieces of dry multigrain toasts with some fruit and coffee. Dolores agreed to take me to Weiden where the ride was to start. She also informed me unequivocally that she would not drive to Regensburg and pick me up. I could catch a train back. I've learned to not argue with her and she will come round and offer to pick me up. I had figured the ride for about 55 miles and it likely would have been had my map not gotten broken. As indicated above, I was on the trail by 0825.
And, what a beautiful trail it was. I try to check the five day forecast on the weather station at the link above right bottom before taking a trip. Wednesday had been slated to be sunny. Thursday was to be overcast with rain on Friday. Usually you can make fairly good plans according to the forecasts from this site. However, for this trip, it was nothing but sunshine, a bit too much in fact. I got myself a bit of a burn on the arms, face, and neck. I had failed to properly prepare with cover and or screen. So, when I got home I bathed affected areas in ALOE I.C.E.. I highly recommend that you keep some of this around for just such occasions. The bottle I have is left over from about four or five years ago when I got so burned on my only century. It still worked soooo well.
The plans for this trip had been in my "current ride folder" for so long that I just grabbed the folder contents, reviewed the maps and placed them in my map case. I had broken one of the bottle cages on my bike by insisting that it accept an over-sized metal water bottle that I think looks so cool and keeps my water that way as well. I see where the other cage is cracking from the tugging and pulling to get the bottle free so I'll replace them both with a plastic one that will expand to accept multiple sizes. I had a pair of these nice metal bottles till the end of this past winter when I went out to my garage and, to my disappointment, found one had burst from frozen water.
So, it was that I went with one full bottle in the cage, and whatever Nolan had in the plastic bottle in the damaged cage as well as an almost full 1.5 liter bottle in the day-box. Now, you see where I'm going? I failed to do the little things that can become big things. Mind you, I was aware of and thought about the fact that I was departing on a Thursday and all the guesthouses would be open as well as stores to galore. And, of course, they were. It is just that I am a bit disappointed in that I was not as detailed in my planning as I know to be.
Right off the bat, the trail was not what I'm used to when riding the Main, Rhine, Mosel, Donau or as the Americans call it The Danube. However, it was quite sufficient even for the exquisite ride on which I was pedaling. The bike signs were very well marked until I got to the town of Pirk. By this time the signs had directed me to paved, but low traffic, streets. When I arrived at the first major intersection, there were no signs. I've learned when in doubt, you actually save time by going back a little ways and checking to see if you missed a sign. Nope; there just were none. I asked a lady for directions and was told to turn right onto another secondary street.
So, it was secondary highways and streets from Pirk to Pfreimd where I saw a bike headed to a river bike path. I went on by; I was making good time on the road. Seeing a fellow operating a motorized weed cutter, I inquired about the bike path. Going back a few yards, I engaged it with a bit of hesitation. It just didn't look right. A few hundred yards and I was back out onto the secondary highway. The weather was good, and I was making superb time. The traffic was light and the bike was right. Ohhhooo! What a glorious feeling. Leaving the city limits, I started recognizing some of the road from our previous truck recons. The hills were going to be kicking in soon.
As I was nearing the end of a 28 mph coast, from my peripheral vision, I saw a mountain bike ease up on my left. A heavyset fellow complimented me on my bike and asked from where I had started my ride. I assured him he had a nice bike and that it was better for up--hills than mine. It was at this point he waved bye and was gone. I'm always a bit relived when strangers move on out, not because I don't like company; but, because it is only with solid friends that one feels comfortable with miles of silence between each other; like, with Michael and me. Not that there were ever even several feet without conversation; but, in those few times when there was silence, it was never uncomfortable nor spent trying to MAKE conversation. Conversation between friends just comes, and it can be vocal or pure silence. His/her presence is enough. It is very similar to having family around. Just feeling their presence is enough. You never feel lonely with them. Their mere presence has a healing affect on ones spirit, mind, soul, and body.
At around 1130, I was in Schwandorf looking for a place to eat. Seeing a man on the sidewalk tending his garden, I asked where I could find pasta. He directed me to an area of town where I found several eating places of various international cuisines. I chose pasta. I asked for spaghetti Diablo without oil, cheese or any animal product; only tomato sauce. It was exquisite. It was a bit hot but not too hot. You knew it was Diablo without it being harsh. After spaghetti and cola mixed with Fanta, I had a great cup of German coffee. With this, I had some unhealthy cream and sugar. After complimenting the chef, I went about asking where to find the bike trail. I was given some very good instructions and was soon on the trail near the river. It was the Nab River bike trail. I found it to be nice with a mixture of paved and graveled paths. Looking at the map and seeing how it meandered way out of my direction, I had to restrain myself from hunting for the highway.
Soon, I was hearing nature's call and contemplated woods or gasthaus. On, I pushed. The urge was not great; I just knew I needed to be looking for a place. Then it came. The hill I remembered from our truck recon.. I had actually backed the truck up and tried to find a trail, any trail that would by-pass this hill from hell. It was the same this day as that day; again my eyes scanned for a trail that would spare me the air gasping, back aching, hip hurting, knee stressing excretion, but to no avail. I got off; I pushed; I sweated; I found some choice words to express my pure contempt for such a, literally, breath taking hill. When I got to the top, it was out with a large breath and a few words to express my exasperation. Then I looked up and saw a very elderly gentleman sitting on the porch of a nearby house. I hoped he spoke no English so that my poor choice of words would not have offended him. I told him, in English, what an absolute horrible hill he had in his town. He smiled and nodded his head. For a moment, I could have been back home in the Ozarks conversing with one of the old folks I'd grown up seeing on their porches.
At least there was a bit of a down hill and around the corner was a guesthouse just before another up-hill. I saw it from the road. The men's room. I parked my bike and briefly scanned the outside dinning area before heading straight to the restroom. Getting inside, I was almost blind till my eyes adjusted from the bright sunlight to the dark inside. Finding the john, it was obvious that one of the men now sitting in the dinning area just outside the open window had been there just moments before; so, the loud breaking of wind reverberating off the walls was not quite so disturbing as it may have otherwise been. Appreciating their service, I did what it has taken Dolores over forty years to teach me. To repay them, I sat down to order a large glass of cold water with a slice of lemon. I knew the couple at the table next to mine were the same folks who had been so engrossed in looking at my bike back at the restaurant in Schwandorf. I took their picture and made small talk before finishing my glass and remounting.
As I mentioned earlier, it was an uphill climb out of the area, and then came the down-hill ride. I remembered that there was a roadside park at the bottom of the hill through which the the bike trail would route me before delivering me onto a secondary highway. Some miles later it was back to the dirt and gravel trails. I went past another couple who I had seen earlier at a water stop that morning. I had stopped in Kallmunz to get into my box for bread and an apple. I had also emptied the last of my water. Only Nolan's partially filled bottle was left. I had asked a lady who was busy cleaning her car about where to buy water. She directed me on down the street. When I had asked how far it was to Regensburg by bike she had no idea. I went back to nursing my almost empty bottle of water. Another lady stopped to talk to her and told me it was about 15 km to Regensburg. Then the lady cleaning her car remembered that the bakery sold water and it was just a few steps away.
After buying a bottle of water and filling my bottle; I drank the rest and returned the empty for my deposit. I sat on a bench near another biker and she informed me there was free water at a fountain just a few steps away. I reached into my day-box and retrieved the plastic bottle I had emptied earlier in the day and filled it for just in case. Now, on this grave trail I was passing another couple who had been inspecting my bike back at the watering hole. They had apparently had the urge to hit them near a couple of portable potties, and were standing there resting. He was quite heavy, even more so than I and both looked to be out of shape, again resembling me.
As I hit the gravel, pedaling was no longer as easy as it had been. All of a sudden, I felt spent. Now my butt hurt. The sun was zapping my strength. I was sunburned; I knew I should stop and take a drink; but, I was just too tired. I stopped pedaling. I moved my butt. Nowhere on the seat was comfortable. Had it not hurt, I would have thought it to be dead; my butt, that is. I was sun burned; I was beat. I coasted. I kept them in my side-view mirror. They were closing on me. I didn't care. I could hear their tires in the gravel. The crunching just kept getting closer. Finally, they passed. "I can't; I won't stop", I thought, as I pushed back into the seat and applied pressure to the pedals. Surprising, it got easier. I pedaled on. They were not leaving me; I was not gaining. Then came the incline just before the gravel trail dumped us onto another secondary highway. Pavement! Yes! And down hill. This is where my recumbent long wheel base shines. I added power; it was even easier; I shifted down; more speed; I shifted; the rapid fire shifters where like pulling the trigger on a semiautomatic rifle. And, with each shift, I felt power surging back into my legs, back into my body. I was back in the game, so-to-speak.
Once again, I was feeling the challenge of competition. We went by some kids in bathing suits playing near the river. I snapped a quick picture. They applauded me. The wife turned and saw I was closing in. I shifted. An uphill was coming. I heard them shifting for the engagement. I shifted; I passed the wife. More bikes were meeting us. I pulled in behind hubby. He didn't have a mirror and had no clue I was there. I shifted; he thought it was his wife. I looked in my mirror; she had fallen way behind; the lane was clear; I pulled to the left and applied the pressure. He was surprised to see that it was me and not his wife.
Soon it was back to gravel. I saw two bikers ahead. The woods started closing in. They saw me behind them and formed a single line. I passed. I shifted and was up to 15 mph. I shifted and went up to 20. Then came some knolls; I applied pressure and was rewarded with increased speed and the feeling of power; I was not even exerted. Now speeding over the bumps and around the curves and past extended tree branches at 25 mph my phone rang. I started shifting down and came to a stop. Dolores had decided to come and pick me up. I told her about where I was. It was a short conversation. I didn't want either couple catching up with me.
Soon I was on pavement and was seeing much more bike traffic. Trees on my right had roots that were causing the pavement to ripple with bumps. I hit one that I though might have damaged my tire or my axel. I exercised evasive maneuvers. I looked in my mirror. A new couple was behind me. They apparently learned from my encounter with the bumps and remained a respectful distance behind. Traffic got thicker and the bike path widened and the street appeared on my left filled with cars. I saw the sign and reached for my camera. I had a hard time getting it out and turning it on while biking at 15 plus mph. I snapped a picture of the Regensburg sign on both sides of the road. Up ahead was a group of bikers. The leader was trying to keep them together. I pulled to the left. Someone in their pack rang his bell. The leader looked back. He motioned the others to get into a single file. I nodded and passed.
I knew Dolores was coming in on B15; but, I had no idea where I was nor where to find B15. I spotted a woman going off the bike trail onto the street. I hesitated; I kept to the bike trail along the river. I kept her in sight. At the next exit, off I went. She went one way and that did not feel right. I continued. I soon had cars to my right. I stayed on the bike path/sidewalk. I saw a nice looking blond getting out of her car dressed as though she was going to work. I inquired about B15. She tried to be helpful but didn't know. This ugly looking and acting woman biked past with miles of pavement to her right and made a snarling face at me. I'm sure she was jealous that a nice looking woman was talking to me and likely could think of no other reason than we were flirting. I returned the snarling face she made and her hubby glared. The mood I was in, I'd welcome the opportunity to take out my frustration on his jaw and nose. They both pedaled on.
Another lady was sitting on her bike. I asked her. She was more helpful, and I soon found myself where I thought B15 came into Regensburg. Dolores called. I told her I'd call back once I figured out where I was. I saw a sign to McDonalds. I figured anyone, especially a teenager, would know where that was. I asked a young fellow who looked like a skateboarder. He didn't know. I looked around and positioned myself between Kaufland and Norma. I then called Dolores. I waited. I pushed my bike away from the smokers and silently wished I could shove the cigarettes down their throats. I took out my water. I had waited too long to re-hydrate. I drank. It was not satisfying. I opened my day-box and rummaged for the cherry-tomatoes I knew I had. I couldn't find them. I rummaged some more; I still couldn't, "OH good! there they are", I thought, as I spotted them under my pump. One after the other they seemed to do more good than my water. Then more water. I was tired. I was irritable. I was hot, weak and burned from the sun. Nolan called and told me they were on the backside of the building. I thought, yeah, sure; what is the likelihood there is only one Kaufland in Regensburg and we are all at the correct one at the same time the first time.
Nevertheless, I pushed my bike to the back; no Dakota. I called the truck. Nolan answered and said they were coming to the front. I waited. I watched. Then I saw the Dakota. She had to park across the street near a Turkish imbess. I waited till I could cross safely. After loading the bike Nolan voiced his desire to eat in a restaurant. Driving through Schwandorf, we found a small Italian imbiss and ordered spaghetti without any animal products and found a roadside park table on which to eat. I then turned the steering wheel over to Dolores and drifted in and out of sleep all the way back home.
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