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School Biking Trip:
Figure 1: Our afternoon ride
Student pictures by parental permission
During the course of the school year, the staff and faculty of Wuerzburg High School, here in good old Wuerzburg, Germany, kicked around the idea of an activity day for the kids. This was the timeframe when many parents were deployed to combat zones. There, of course, were all kinds of rumors abounding about school/post closures and actual daily Stars and Strips reports of the death toll in Iraq.
So, after much planning on the part of our school nurse and our career practicum teacher, we ended up with one day of student/teacher activities and ˝ day for career day. Being the nut for biking that I am, I volunteered to do two rides with students. The first ride was slated for the morning and the second after lunch.
Of course with all the kids that would be signing up for this physically demanding activity, I was going to need an assistant. One of the fellows who had ridden with me on one of my very first, more than just around the block, biking trips volunteered to assist me. We got together for a few minutes on a couple of occasions and discussed the ride. However, it was not till he hurt his back, that we got serious and did an actual vehicle recon of the route to the bike trail. That was the day before the ride. Plenty of time!
Up to this point we had just kind of assumed we would ride down to the river, some how, and then ride along the river. The first part of that great planning tirade was brilliant. It was one long coasting ride all the way to the river. However, being the intelligent science teacher that I am, I figured out, during the recon, we’d never—at least I’d never—make that long climb back to post in the time allotted. . The more I thought about the hill that we would have to traverse and my old knees and the young knees that would likely run off and leave me on the way back, the more concerned I became over command and control.
So, the two of us smart guys put our heads together, and I got a headache; but, my partner decided he’d just put his bike rack on the back of his van. That way we could carry four bikes with his van and my trike and a bike in my truck. Now that was some real technological planning on the part of our CAD teacher; you know; the technology guy.
Come the morning of the event, I had three students signed up for the morning ride and six for the afternoon ride. Of course when it came to actually getting to school with bike and permission slips, I wound up with one student in the morning along with four adult volunteers. The afternoon ride had the four above students and three adult volunteers. Oooo! Was this going to be great, or what?
Since the CAD teacher couldn’t ride because of his back, he was assigned (assumed actually) the dubious task of sag wagon driver. Since we had only one student and two volunteers with bike racks on their car—a couple more thinking kind of folks—we decided to leave the van and use my truck as the sag wagon. Come on; let me hear it; someone say, “good thinking.”
So, we get ready to load the bikes. We decided the one student we had would put his bike on the bike rack of one of the volunteers and we’d convoy to the parking lot near the river. I looked around, visited with my partner, looked around, visited some more, then I asked, “Where did they go?” Hmm.. Lost the convoy before we ever left the parking lot? Hmm.. This just can’t be too good; can it?
Oh well, I still had my trike; and I was going to ride. Pulling around to the other side of the school, there set the rest of the convoy waiting for the leader. I looked around for him. Oh, that must be me; I sort of know the route. We arrived at the river parking lot and dismounted. Then first things first; knowing where the local fast food place was, I generally don’t have too much problems remembering them, we immediately deserted all of the bikes and headed for food and coffee. Drats! Wouldn’t you know it? The fellow wasn’t open yet. Oh well, back to the bikes. Off they came. A quick safety check and three adults and one student were on their way down river.
Having ridden this route many times before, I knew exactly where the very next stop for food was. After all, bikers do bike to eat; don’t we? I had to pull in the reins on old “Tweety Bird” so as not to leave the others. She smelled food and coffee on the breeze. The trail was a bit rough in places but paved all the way. When we got to the guesthouse that I was afraid would be closed, my fears were realized.
Figure 2: Where we had coffee and cake
Oh well! Not to loose heart. We swung left, down a cobblestone ramp, under a viaduct, the wrong way on a one-way street. Food, coffee, get out of my way; I’m foraging. If you don’t want to get bit, move over.
Pedaling through the town, we were on a mission; find coffee and food. Then our one student called to us to stop. We had just passed a coffee/pastry shop. I chastised “Tweety” for missing it, jerked the reins to the right and whirled to a stop at the hitching post.
Entering the establishment, I was faint; hunger was the driving force that was propelling me pell-mell to the counter. We wait. A man and woman can be heard talking in the back room. We wait. Hunger grabs me, spins me around and hurls me toward the back door. I call out. I hear voices; I call out and the lady comes.
We try to order. She looks at us and indicates that she can’t serve us yet. Ooh! I’m getting tight jawed. “These folks would never make it in the States treating customers like this”, I thought. Apparently the man was the owner and told her to go ahead and serve us. But, he kept talking to her. She, of course, could not serve us and just listen to him at the same time. She had to talk; and of course, she couldn’t server us and talk to him at the same time.
Figure 3: Where we ate lunch
Finally, he left and I ordered coffee and cake. A good snack and a coffee fix took care of my cravings for a while and gave me the strength and stamina to repeat that grueling 30 or so minutes ride back to the parking lot. Of course, by the time we returned, I was just famished. This, of course, necessitated, a visit to the Donor Kabob/Pizza Shack Shack.
Now, if you are ever in the parking lot near the river in Randersaker, Germany, you will do yourself a great disservice if you fail to visit this little Turkish snack bar. Whatever you order, will be good; guaranteed; take it to the bank. I’m getting hungry just sitting here writing about it.
After our lunch, we returned to the post and waited till our time to load up the next bunch. This group, I took the opposite direction. When we arrived to the cobblestone path near the floating Chinese restaurant, I had to slow down or suffer serious shaking syndrome to the brain. Of course, this was of no consequence to the younger riders being on two wheels and standing on pedals.
When I finally caught up to them, I let all know they were not to cross streets without me. Hidden agenda? Of course, how else to you think I would be able to keep up with them? Seeing the “All Saints Bridge” in the distance, I got the coffee craving once again. Making a quick command decision, I decided we would go to the coffee, and when Nolan is with me, ice cream shop at the opposite end of the footbridge. Of course the youngsters are, as Nolan would say, speedy fast trying to loose me down one street and up another. Nothing doing folks, this is just the kind of course old Tweety Bird excels at.
Arriving in the vicinity of the bridge, it is curb jumping, the curb with the two-wheelers, and an immediate stop for Tweety and me. Dropping my feet to the ground, I push backwards until I can pull around to the right to the lip leading off the lot onto the cobblestone street. I down shift and hard pedal up the incline and rattle my way down the other side all the while trying to reach my high gear. The kids have all taken up parking near the shop opposite to my favorite one. That’s ok. They could eat/drink across the street if they wanted. For me, I was going to the one my daughter and introduced me to some years ago.
After coffee and ice cream, it was a race back along the, by now, well-known trail and to the bike racks. All ended well and we were back to school well within the time constraints. Of course I had forgotten my camera and at one point had to turn back to the truck to get the knee brace that I was so painfully reminded to ware.
Returning from morning ride Friend who went with us
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An on-line map source at InfoHub.com - Maps of worldwide destinations.