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Kira's Cycling Expedition for Charities.

 Click her picture to visit her site.

May 2005        Volume 2                Issue 9

 

It is often that I’m thinking of my next ride and where it will be even while I’m on my current ride.  And, so it was while on my last tour. I was planning, in my mind, where to go on my next excursion.  Preplanning, re-planning, and reconnoitering the Altmuhltal-Radfernweg route was the order of the day.  At one point, I had decided not to ride the start of the route because  the presence or absences of hills could not be determined.  However, while speaking with a friend, who had made the ride before it was established that the route was flat and level.

 With that in mind, the decision to ride part of the Altmuhltal route was made. However, nothing had yet been put on paper. I was torn between making an overnight or a day trip; and, of course, none of this had been cleared with the boss for insertion and extraction ops. So, this was by no means a done deal.  At the same time, I had promised the chief that I’d mow the runaway lawn.  Wouldn’t you know after twenty years, our lawn mower would pick now to go on the blink?  So, it was that the better half had been out lawn mower shopping and was unable to find what she wanted locally.

 She had agreed, as she is so nice to do, that she would drop me off and then drive all the way to Heidelberg to see if she could find what she wanted.  Finally, deciding that I’d save any overnight ride till summer,  I suggested that she let me out at the same place she had picked me up on the last ride along the Neckar.  She could then do as she had on the previous trip, take Nolan and go into Heidelberg to shop.  It would be right on the way.  What a nice guy am I.

 Of course, being the great lady she is, she made sure I had several multigrain brochen along with sandwich meat in my day box.  Unloading “Tweety” and taking several pictures, I was soon on the bike path and headed toward Heidelberg on the way to Mannheim.   We had decided that the extraction point would be somewhere before Mannheim so she could better find me.  As you can tell by the pictures below, this was a truly beautiful sunshiny day.  The temperature was in the 70s and projected to get into the 80s.

 Climbing aboard, or falling back into, Tweety, it was a great feeling.  It was both a feeling of comfort and adventure.  It was a feeling of conquest and gratitude, gratitude to the God Who had created such beauty and had blessed me with such a great metal steed.  I was reminded of the quality of my trike with each shift of the gears and each turn of the pedals.  It never pays to go second rate.

 Prior to this trip, I had noticed an advertisement for “Knee Savers” on the net.  I ordered the 20 mm ones.  These are, essentially, machined extensions that are threaded into the crank arm and then the pedal is threaded into the extension.  This is designed to increase the distance between your foot and the movement of the pedal arm.  It is supposed to allow you to turn your foot at a more comfortable angel therefore better aliening your knees with the force that is being exerted on the pedal.

 I rummaged the house for where I had placed the extensions and then proceeded to taking off the pedals of my trike just before the trip.  Wouldn’t you know it?  The right pedal was easily removed; but I could not budge the left one.  Retrieving my WD 40, I was quite surprised to find it right away; I doused the left pedal bolt.  Still, there was no breaking the rust.  I decided it would be best to just put Tweety into the truck and let the WD 40 soak into the treads.  This, of course, was before it dawned on me that I had been turning the nut in the wrong direction. It goes backwards to the other side.

 Of course when I arrived on site, I did not want to take a chance of breaking or stripping anything on the trail; so, it was, I rode with one pedal with an extension and one without.  The right side, with the extension, was much more comfortable; but, it did not reduce the knee pain. In fact, the right knee was worse than normal.  It is often when on long trips, I develop hot sports on the bottom of my feet.  This is one reason I don’t ride with clips.  It is more comfortable for me to be able to move my feet around on the pedals.  So, for this reason, the extension was a blessing.  However, I’m not sure they were worth the $35.00 or $40.00 they cost.  I’ve also recently ordered a new lighting system “LightSpin”.  It seems to be taking forever to arrive.  However, once I’ve installed it, I’ll let you know if it is worth the $100.00 plus price tag.

 But, this trip was not going to require any light system at all.  The sun was up; and it would not sink before 2000 hrs.  I was going to enjoy this day that the Good Lord had created.  Mile after mile, turn after turn of the pedals, this was clearly a great way to pass the day and get exercise at the same time.  The route had been the same as the one before.  Bikes, had right-of-way on about a three foot span of pavement just to the right of a solid white line.  Veer to the left at your own peril; with cars moving along at 70 or so miles per hour any wobble across that solid white line could be a devastating wakeup call.

 Riding past a service station, I noticed motorcycles hurriedly pulling out in front of cars to reach a convoy lined up on my side of the street.  Now!  That is what I call beauty.  Just take a look at those awesome machines posted below.  I took way too many pictures of them.  But, I figured my friend—who rides—would at least go to the site and view them.  If he tells his riding buds, then that may be a source of more hits.  One can always hope.

 Arriving in Heidelberg, I got the distinct feeling of the geographic location.  What do I mean by this?  Let me explain.  When I was a boy growing up, I quickly noticed a different feeling associated with the various places we visited or lived.  I always just attributed this to my imagination until I spoke to a very smart and very God led pastor.  He assured me that there is a spiritual reason behind my feelings, of which I’d be willing to share should you ask.  But, at this point, suffice it to be said, I definitely get a different feel for various geographical areas.  Heidelberg, however, also has a second feel that is derived from my boyhood experiences.  Because of its hilly terrain, it reminds me of Hotsprings, Arkansas.  Also, Hotsprings has many old buildings and this is common to all cities in Europe.

 While riding along a narrow part of the trail in Heidelberg, a lady was standing right in the middle of the path trying to light a cigarette.  I stopped and waited.  Her husband was facing me and extended his hand to guide her to the side.  The look she gave me along with the out bursting tirade of foreign verbiage left little doubt she was a complete ass.   But, I was not about to allow her to interfere with my great day.

 Moving on along the river, I soon encountered a multitude of retirees cueing up to board river boats that were lined up like taxies waiting their turn for customer pickup.  April is early for vacationers here in Europe, but there were a few.  August is the very high season for tourists. 

Seeing a sign at some distance across the way that directed traffic onto the street to Mannheim, I veered from the river assuming there would be a path along the highway similar to the one on the way to Heidelberg.  How wrong can one be? Very!

 After stumble bopping around for thirty minutes, I finally found out that the route continued along the Neckar; and I would have to find the Neckar if I were to find the route.  So it was, asking this lady, who referred me to a passing biker who indicated that I had to continue down the street till I came to a bridge, over which I would have to navigate to get to the trail.

 In search of the river, I came across a compound of barracks like houses.  In front of one was an African on a cell phone.  It was clearly less than a low rent district.  It seemed to be set up to accommodate refugees.  While it appeared that money was a limiting factor for these poor disenfranchised, each building had a satellite dish.  Lord forbid that folks not be able to indulge in the finer filth, decadence, and total waste of time watching the TV programs and movies of our society.  If they didn’t, they might find the time to actually work and to educate themselves.

 Finally finding the bike path, it was once again, laid back and steadily pumping to reach my goal.  Mannheim.  Mile after mile revealed green overgrown grass, bikers, walkers, and runners.  At some point one has to relieve oneself.  And so, as not often is the case on the biking trail, a perfect place revealed itself in the form of the underside of an autobahn bridge.  The large pylons were just the thing to get behind and do ones business.

 So it was, down the steep embankment and across the rub board surface.  Of course the return trip was the same except it was up the steep embankment.  No problem, I just dropped down into my lowest gear on the front, back, and cassette.  I gave it the force necessary in advance to negotiate the incline; then, there the idiot was!  A black mongrel just gingerly ambled right into my path, sit down, lopped out his tongue and looked at me.

 Heat seamed to boil from the bottom of my stomach to the top of my head leaving its red ambers just under the skin all the way up.  Not only did I have to stop pedaling, but I also had to stiffen one leg to keep the pedals from breaking my shins on my backward skid back down the steep incline.  Back tire skidding in the hardened dirt, it was, “keep the trike straight or risk turning over and having it flip over me all the way back down”. Then along comes the “butt hole” owner, a young female, who casually grabs him by the collar—as if it surely was not a bother to me that she failed to keep her mutt on leash.  Once again, I renegotiated the incline but at a more of an angle this time.  And, out I came onto the path. 

 We all know the old saying, “the grass always seems greener on the other side of the fence”.  Well, so I wondered about the other side of the river.  When there is a trail on each side of the river, this is always one of my concerns.  And, of course, if one has to travel back along the same river, it is always good to have another trail, even if it is just across the river, to travel on the return trip.

 So arriving at a point where I had to make a decision which way to go, you know how difficult those can be--decisions that is--I stopped at an eatery and asked about the other side of the river.  I was given directions and soon was traveling along a highway with bike trails on each side.  “Humm.. do I want to cross over…?”  Na, my side was new and the other not.  A family on a biking outing had dad out front and mom and the kids following along in a row on the other side.

I soon had out distanced the biking family and was running out of bike path.  So, it was over a bridge and back to the original side of the river.  The biking paths were changing rather rapidly at this point; and, they were not changing for the better.  Approaching a walking group from behind, this rather handsome man turned around and then had the group to make way for this weird looking guy and his weird looking metal steed.

 At this point the trail followed along the top of a dyke and, I was viewing a recreational area consisting of a baseball, basketball, soccer, and another area for which I’m not sure how it was to be used.  However, the one containing the only eating establishment was the put-put golf area.

 Traveling straight ahead, it soon became obvious that I had just run out of bike path.  Returning to the sports area, I called Dolores.  She was not sure how to get to my location, so we agreed to meet in the town just about 3 k up the road.  With the help of a fellow who spoke English, I was able to locate myself on the map and headed for my extraction point.  I’m sure I was told to go over the bridge and turn left and go straight.  However when I double-checked on the other side of the bridge, I was told to go back across the bridge, turn left and go straight for about 3 k.  So, it was back across the bridge.

 After traveling about 3k, I arrived at my pickup point and was told that the guesthouse in town was too expensive, but the Turkish imbiss was good with reasonable prices.  Once again, I had a craving for wurst and sauerkraut. Reckon just how well a Turkish Donor Kabob place could mess up a wurst? “NO ONE could mess up a wurst; all you have to do is boil it”, right?  Well, they didn’t have sauerkraut; but they did have wurst.

 So, it was at the Turkish Donor Kabob place near the Italian ice-cream place that this American ordered a completely German food in the country of Germany.  Now mind you, all one has to do with a wurst is kind of like with a hot dog; just boil it.  So, it was that I waited; I waited; I waited; then I get a call from Dolores.  She has found the town and wants me to find where she is parked.  I told her I had ordered food and was waiting to devour it.

Finally,  I see the Dakota approaching; still, there is no food.  She gets out.  I go across the street to the truck and take Nolan’s hand and walk him across the street where he received an ice cream.   Then, finally came my wurst.  Was it good???????????  It was horrid. It would appear that in all that time it took them to prepare it, it had been sitting in the microwave on high.  Its outer layer had the texture of shoe leather.

 So, it was; one great ride and one awful wurst.  In all of my twenty plus years in Germany, I’ve never tasted a worse wurst.

  

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Senior Journal

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