'Bent Miles, An Online Bike Touring Magazine
After considering many possibilities for my Christmas bike ride, I decided to continue with a third leg of my journey from Zell to Frankfurt area along the Main River. Dolores and I decided on the day following Christmas for this ride to take place. So, between our last day at school and December 26, 2004, we had to get the low gear fixed, and do a recon of the trip.
I called Peter and made arrangements to have my gear repaired while Nolan and Granny shopped at the Mall in Ansbach. Peter established that the cable that operated my front derailleur had gotten water in it and was corroded and also tended to freeze on colder days; thus rendering my low gear inoperative. In a few moments, Peter had the cable changed and my gears working like new.
Dolores called; when I told her we were just finishing up, she indicated that she wanted to go to the post at Kotterbach, just up the road from Ansbach. I told her to go ahead, and I'd meet them on my trike. When I got out into the wind and dampness, it was not long before I realized that the thin dress slacks I was wearing just were not sufficient. I also was just getting over a sore throat and the old arch enemy, bronchitis, had returned in full bloom.
I called Dolores on her cell with the intentions of waiting for her in the warmth of McDonalds. After calling two or three times, I figured she had left her phone in the truck. So, with no other alternative, I turned my attention to that monstrosity of a hill that separates the two towns. Cars whizzing past on my left and intersecting me at an on ramp on my right, the phone rings. It is Dolores; her phone had fallen out when her purse had fallen to the floor.
I told her where I was; and she agreed to pick me up. Cautiously, I turned the trike around to park just off the on ramp so she could see me and have a place to load "Tweety". Coasting down hill, I touched my left brake to turn off the highway. My brake would not release. Oh!!!! It was so cold even my brake had frozen in place. There was no riding the trike now. So, off I got and pulled it into position, with the frozen left wheel skidding on the pavement, to be loaded onto the Dakota. This was Saturday, so it was now too late to take it back to Peter.
That night I took the trike into the house to let the brake thaw. The next morning, another attempt at a ride was met with similar fate. As I started coasting down our drive, I decided to try the brakes again. Now, neither brake would even open let alone release. Quickly, I put both feet to the pavement and finally came to a stop.
Peter is closed on Tuesday at this time of year; so I called and made an appointment for 0900 on Wednesday,. After setting in the back of the Dakota during all these freezing days and nights, my brakes were not the only thing that did not work. The battery in my computer had went dead as well.
I had Peter to change all cables to include the one to my cassette. He added water proof nipples and covers where they would fit to prevent this from happening in the future. He also recommended that I place plastic bags over them while in the truck and rain. He then changed the battery in my computer and set the mileage back to the original 2600 miles.
I did a couple of short trips around the Christmas Market here in Wuerzburg and the one in Rothenburg. I was once again amazed at how well things work once Peter has had hold of my trike.
Christmas came and we had our usual "Dolores Great Christmas Dinner" with some friends and our Daughter. Then came the morning of the ride. Dolores woke me at about 0730. After a bath and the great breakfast of sausage and eggs, coffee, and orange juice, it was off to the ride. I almost forgot my camera. When I went to get it from my basement office, I realized I had forgotten to charge it for the past two days. It was back up the stairs to my bedroom to get the ac adapter that plugs into the truck lighter. A little charge is better than no charge.
We left the house at 0836 and arrived at the bike trail before 1000. Unloading "Tweety", I made sure I had the flag that Dolores had sowed for me, my camera, and the lunch she had packed for me. Did I ever tell you what a great lady the Lord has blessed me with? By 1000 hours I had kissed Dolores and Nolan good bye and was on the bike trail.
I had originally thought that the jacket plus the fleece shirt might be a bit too much. But I was not out too long before I appreciated both of them The long legged biking pants are surprisingly warm as well. It had been raining when we left Wuerzburg; but Reverend Dolores prayed and the rain went away.
Again, I was taken aback with the ease at which things seemed to turn after a visit to Peter's bike shop. But, I was a bit concerned about the accuracy of my speed odometer. It just seemed that I was not putting the kind of effort into the pedals that I was used to to get up to 10 to 15 miles per hour. Those speeds also seemed a bit slower than that to which I have grown accustomed.
Mile after mile sped by with such little effort on my part. Now I have to tell you that all of this was not quite by accident or caused by my imagination. While doing my map recon and discussing the route with Dolores, we had decided that she would take me near Frankfurt and let me out: I would then ride back this way. That would allow her to drive the greater distance early in the day with the shorter distance to pick me up left over for later in the day.
After thinking it over and noticing a chart on one of my maps, it became clear that riding toward Frankfurt would give me the benefit of dropping elevation. So, I know that traveling in the direction of lowering elevation assisted me greatly in my pedaling power. But, I still think the speed odometer is off.
The more I pedaled, the more I wanted to pedal. The morning was crisp and my energy seemed boundless. Again, the man made materials did a superb job at keeping me warm and dry. Mile after mile I encountered runner after runner, walker after walker, and biker after biker. For such a dreary and cold day, there were a lot of folks out enjoying the riverside.
For those of you who have lived in Germany, you may have various opinions of the German people; but one thing that is clear; they are hard workers and they think toward the future. This is never so obvious as when you walk in their carefully cultivated forests and ride along their well developed biking systems. If any city councilmen or State Governors or Congressmen read 'Ben Miles, you would do well to come and see the amount of tourist business these well planned bike trails bring into the coffers of the German States.
I couldn't believe the great time I was making. Within a couple of hours, I was seeing the sign to Frankfurt. Up ahead I could see a man with three small children riding. They were taking a left onto an up ramp. Approaching the up ramp, I started shifting down and applying more pedal power. When I arrived at the top, a sign pointed left for Frankfurt. That meant I would have to dismount and take my trike up steps and across a lock and dam. With a bike trail on each side of the river, this was not a chore to which I looked forward. So, I asked the man if the trail I had been on would take me to Frankfurt. He assured me that it would. I thanked him and was off.
I soon came to a dilapidated sign that said Hanau, which was in the direction I wanted to go. But it was so bent that I could not tell in which direction it pointed. Looking ahead, I saw that the trail turned into mud. To the right was pavement. So, pavement it was. Then came the standing water in the mud holes. Then came the mud, mud, mud,....Then came the end of any kind of road at all. It was about this time that I had some choice thoughts about the fellow who had misdirected me. I think they included something about his first borne and pocks.
Then it was slipping and sliding back through what appeared to be even worse mud than on my way in. That is because it was worse; I had mistakenly turned into a holding area for trash dumpsters. Well, it was back through the same mud to find my way back out of this mess. Arriving back at the bike path, I turned right and was soon shifting gears to accommodate the slipping of my rear tire in mud once again. When I realized that the road had played completely out, my lawless side began to rebel; I was ready to do some bodily harm to one big fat fellow with grandkids.
Arriving back at the lock and dam, I got off my trike and pulled it up the three flight of stairs. When I got onto the bridge portion, I saw fat boy's bikes. I looked up into the tower window, and guess who I saw staring down at me. You got it; FAT BOY himself, along with his grandchildren. Of course my first thought was to ascend the stairs and touch touch the boy. Then my next thought was to shoot him the bird. Then I thought what kind of witness would that be? It was best to leave him be and pray that the Lord would reward the man according to his works.
Of course, what goes up must come down. So, arriving at the end of the bridge, I dismounted and half carried and rolled the trike back down three flights of stairs. Of course, thanks to Fat Boy, everywhere I touched the trike and it touched me off came mud onto me and my clothes.
At about 1300 I decided to eat the lunch that Dolores had prepared for me and take a look at my map. Ohhhh!!! Was that ham and cheese on multigrain bread good. Finishing lunch, I asked a couple walking by how far it was to my destination. I was told it was about eight or ten km. So, I called Dolores. She was still shopping in Heidelberg and agreed to meet me in an hour or so. Upon reflection, I think my speed odometer was on 24 miles at this time. By the time Dolores picked me up in my destination, it was on almost 38 miles.
About another one and half hour pedaling time found me arriving in Mulheim. This is where Dolores and I had agreed to meet. I called her and she was just a few moments behind me. I rode into town on the main street till Dolores called to let me know she was just entering town. We married up at about 1500; and to my surprise, she had a box of Pop Eyes chicken.
We were on the road by 1530 and by 1600, after stopping for a restroom break, it was once again raining. We drove in rain all the way back home. This time, I took "Tweety" out of the truck and put her in her bedroom, the garage. Hopefully, it will be another 2600 miles before I have frozen brakes and gears. By the end of the trip I had put another 38 miles on "Tweety". Below you will find some pictures I took on the trip. I hope you enjoy them.
Archie L. Tucker
Publisher 'Bent Miles