'Bent Miles, An Online Bike Touring Magazine
Just how do I decide on where to ride? Well, that all depends on where Dolores wants to shop. On Tuesday, December 28, 2004, Dolores wanted to shop in Schweinfurt. We decided that she would drop me off by the River Main in Schweinfurt and I could start pedaling back towards Wuerzburg. How I felt and the time I made would dictate the place from whence she would extract me.
It was about 1130 when I kissed her and Nolan bye. I could see the bike trail down by the river from where I was riding on the city sidewalk. I was tempted to negotiate a path down the steep embankment near the bridge. But, a broken leg or jammed this or that would not be worth it. See how much differently one thinks when one is accompanied by daily pain? This is a condition where more is not better; more pain, I did not need. Twenty years ago, it would have been the exhilarating shortcut down the steep bank. If I wrecked, I'd right the trike and keep on trucking. It took more to injure me and I healed more quickly then than now.
Looking up ahead, I thought I saw a worn spot that might indicate a path down to the bike trail. "Good", I thought, as I swung right and down toward the river. The short paved route soon gave way to grass and mud. My rear tire slipped; I shifted gears and was soon onto the paved bike trail. I decided to get another picture. Taking off my gloves, I could feel the wind chill factor was much worse than the thermometer would indicate. "My goodness, that wind is cold", I thought, as I snapped a couple of pictures.
Just a few feet up the trail, I decided I had better consult the map to make sure I was not going the wrong way. Wouldn't you know it, the map showed the bike trail crossing the river. So, if I was not sure just were I had put into the trail, how would I know just by looking at the map which direction I was to go. "Da...orient the the map dummy", I thought, as I looked at the clouds; no sun! Searching in my day box for an extra pair of mittens turned up only a single. I could see the other one laying on my desk from the time that I cleaned the extra pair of pants out from the day box. "Dang, I could use those mittens over my gloves", I bemoaned. At Dolores' probing, I had also removed my extra fleece shirt for washing.
Oh well, "I know I'm going the right direction", I consoled myself, as I zipped my jacket against the cold wind. As I pedaled, I tried to estimate the degree of difficulty as compared to my Frankfurt trip of a couple of days before. Already, it was feeling more difficult. I shifted gears and tried to get down the same cadence I had fallen into so easily during that trip. No matter how I tried, the cadence was intermittent at best.
A few more miles and I saw a sign. I pulled off my left glove so I could reach into my pocket and get the printout. I compared it to the sign and was comforted to know that all the towns were on my printout, and I could now gauge the distance between them. Looking at my watch!!!!!! "Where is it?" I had lost my watch. My daughter had given me this very nice Seiko for a birthday or Christmas years ago. "I just can't leave till I find it", I anguished.
I turned the trike around and rode back. I then rode back to the sign. I got off. I walked back along the trail. Now, I couldn't remember if I had pulled my glove off up the road before the sign or at the sign. I met a couple and asked if they had seen it. They had not. I met a man and he thought I wanted to know the time. When I finally got it across to him that I had lost my watch, he indicated he had not seen it. I prayed; I asked God to help me find it. I walked both sides of the road. No watch could be found. I came to the conclusion that maybe there was a well deserving being who cut the freshly cut grass along the roadside who needed a watch. I hoped he was a good man and would get as much use out of the watch as I had.
I approached my trike as I have hundreds of times to position myself to straddle it. "Oh My God; you do answer prayer." I had thought before that it may have gotten hung some where on the frame, but I had not even considered the brake lever. There it was just as plain as day hanging from my right brake lever. The first thing I thought was that I had pulled off my left glove taking the watch with it. Holding the left glove in my right gloved hand had allowed the watch to drop down onto the lever. Or, the man I had spoken to could have found it and placed it on the lever. Whatever, I was elated that it had not done as I had originally thought. I figured the elastic band had functioned as a slingshot and flipped the watch to some distance into the taller weeds.
I soon started to recognize the trail from a previous trip to Schweinfurt. I also noticed in places where I must have gotten off track on the previous trip because I remembered coming in a totally different direction.. Some of the trail was very familiar and other parts only vaguely so. One area where they had cut trees had been a densely wooded area where Mike and I had stopped and carried on quite a lengthily conversation about bike cards. It would seem that years ago bike cards used to be similar to baseball cards today.
The day remained overcast and cold. At about 1300 I stopped and had meat, cheese, and bread leftover from the Frankfurt trip. Dolores had also dropped a coke into the bag as well. While eating, I noticed the water in the bottomland woods was frozen. So, it was not just the wind-chill, it was actually cold. Finishing my last drop of soda, I slung the last drops from the empty can and placed it upright into my day box.
In spite of the cold, I had unzipped my coat and the neck of my shirt. The lunch break had brought about a reduction in body heat, and I felt a bit of a chill. So, up went the zippers. Laying back in the seat, I released the brake; and started gearing up, in search of that ever elusive cadence of the previous trip.
Some miles down the road, and still not in my comfortable cadence, the trail becomes more and more familiar. Just up ahead and to the left I see a wall that I want to take a picture of; and across the street a frozen lake again reminds me that the cold is not just the wind-chill factor. Stepping across the street, I turn to take a picture of the wall. Just as I snapped the picture and returned to my trike an older man passed by on his bike and made a comment and laughed.
I turned and snapped a shot of the lake. Looking ahead, I could see the other rider was only a short distance in front of me. I engaged in hot pursuit. Coming to the end of the wall the bike trail intersected a street which a bus, that seemed a city block long, pulled into effectively canceling my chase. It was about this time that the major secondary highway on my right decided to get busy and the bus seemed to take for ever clearing the intersection.
Once the bus pulled away, I could see that the other rider had gained what was likely insurmountable advantage in that he would likely pull over in the next little village. Yet, I could not resist the urge to catch him. Considering that I had not yet been able to find a comfortable, yet timely cadence and that I still had several miles to go, I decided to just continue at a mildly timely pace. If I caught him before he got to the next village, I could gloat. If not, he would likely turn off there and I could console myself that if the chase had continued, I would have worn him down.
He went up a rise and started down the other side. I followed suit; the gradient started up again. He got off as if to check his bike; I notice that he glances back to see where I am. "Just stay off a few more seconds and I'll have you", I thought, as he mounted again. The up gradient was starting to tell on my tailbone, and my hip; my knees started to burn. I was just not able to close the gap without pouring on more coal. I was not willing to exert myself this far away from my goal. We approached the village sidewalk; pumping became easier. I saw that he was about to turn into a village side street. I swung into the main street. He looked back; he and I both knew that while he was able to tuck his tail and outdistance me to his destination, had his destination been a little further, I would have passed him. Or had my destination not been still so far out, I would have turned on the coal and left him behind. Oh well, there is nothing like a little challenge. Now, is there?
At about 1500, the lunch break was a distant memory and a more recent one was telling me that the leftover bread, meat, and cheese was about to become memory. On I pedaled until I reached Volkoch. Here, once again, the trail was taking me a different way than I remembered from last summer. I stopped and once again pulled out my trusted computer printout. The towns on the bike trail signs were not on my printout. I remembered that I had came into town near the bahnhof last summer when I rode from Wuerzburg to Volkoch.
My confusion was soon cleared when an older fellow who appeared to be returning from shopping indicated I should follow him. Once again, it was off pavement and into the mud. "Boy, this fellow is going to get me into an area where there are no signs and he will go home leaving me to fend for myself", I thought, as I reluctantly followed. The trail got worse and worse; he crossed over to a parallel trail. A little further down after he disappeared behind a row of trees, I did the same. His two wheels soon outdistanced my three and I inquired direction from an older lady. When the trail widened and I had taken all the turns she had indicated, I once again saw him up front.
Soon he was no were to be seen and I was alone along a channel. Up ahead I saw an older couple walking toward me. On a bench to the left were a couple of young Turkish men. They all wanted to direct me back the way I had come to Wuerzburg. I indicated that I did not want to get on the highway, and they indicated the trail would take me to the cities to which I wanted to pass. So, off it was along one of the most inhospitable trails of the trip. At about 1600, I spoke to Dolores and Indicated that I would not be riding all the way into Wuerzburg. We agreed that I would call from where ever I found myself at dark and she would come get me.
Well, this was as good a place as any to eat the last of the meat, cheese, and bread. Then it was back to trying to get up a decent cadence. Oooh! Something about the cheese or meat did not go so well with all of this pumping. I was not feeling well at all. The light was quickly fading; my feet for the first time, in I don't remember when, were getting cold. I was tired. The mileage was approaching 40, and I was ready to turn it in. Having just passed through a familiar part of Schwarzach, I was now in an old field; one direction was going into unchartered territory; and it didn't look good. To the left, I could see the outline of a Catholic Monastery of which was vaguely familiar. Seeing a directional sign upon the highway, I turned 90 degrees to my left trying to read it. When I was finally able to read it, I realized that a turn up ahead would put me back into Schwarzach. So, I turned around, pedaled to the bike trail, turned left, went across a bridge and turned left again.
I inquired of a man walking his dog if the edifice ahead was indeed the Catholic Monastery. When he indicated that I was correct, I called Dolores and told her where to pick me up. She she asked where in town I'd be, I had to tell her that I'd have to get oriented and tell her later. It was getting dark and seemed to have gotten even colder. I picked my way around until I was in front of a store and well lighted guesthouse. I spoke to a young fellow and established that I was at the city center.
After calling Dolores and telling her where to meet me, I detached my locking cable and bent over to lock the trike. I had just taken a drink of carbonated water and you would not believe the relief I felt when up came a major belch. "Now, that is what I should have done miles back", I thought, as I looked to see if anyone had overheard my major blunder. Going inside, I bought an orange and a fruit drink.
I soon returned to my trike and parked it in a very noticeable spot. Well, there was nothing to do now but sit and wait for my extraction. It was about this time that I was not so pleased with Dolores. She had convinced me to take the extra fleece shirt from my day box for washing. She had not said that I couldn't replace it with another. But, since she was not present, I took more comfort in blaming her than myself. Back I laid. OOH! It was getting cold. I pulled up my hood and snapped it below my chin. I laid my head back on the day box and closed my eyes. I wiped my upper lip. "Oh no! My nose must be running", I thought. A few moments later and I had to wipe again. I opened my eyes. My nose was not running. It was snowing and the flakes were melting on my upper lip.
At about 1800 I opened my eyes again and there sat the Dakota just across the street; Dolores was just looking at me. Well, it was time to go home and be warm. I think that some of the reason that I enjoy these bike trips so much is that they keep me from taking my family and the warmth of our house, that God has so graciously provided, for granted. I am constantly thanking Him for the warm dry place to sleep each night.
May God bless each of you. I've inserted pictures of the trip below. Please enjoy them.
Archie L. Tucker
"Just A Little Dishonest"?
I have heard that you can compare honesty with pregnancy; you either are or you are not. There is no little bit pregnant no more than there is a little bit dishonest. You either are or are not. There is no in between.
How about your bike mechanic? Should he be wearing maternity clothes?
In the past issue of "Biking Magazine", I read where some of these unscrupulous individuals accept bikes in for repair and charge for new parts and replace the faulty parts with either used parts or inferior parts. If you have to have parts replaced, check to insure they are the same brand you had and they are new. Have your old parts returned to you so they can not be resold.
If you get hit by a car and the damage was very minimum, this unscrupulous mechanic will outfit your bike with bent up parts until the adjuster comes and then charge the insurance company an exuberant price for the repairs. This fellow does not do this just for the customers' benefit. He shares in the ill-gotten gain. I don't say this for the benefit of the insurance company; I consider them one step up from whale dung at the bottom of the ocean. We all have had our share of run-ins with them.
If this guy will be dishonest with others, do you think his character will cry out, "Oh! Please don't bilk the customer." Likely not. If you know of a mechanic like this, don't use him; report him. We are all better off without the dishonesty.