Linda in Suzfeld! (Updated)

Well a lot has happened in the last few days. After my post and Naeva’s follow-up you might be thinking we are not having fun and our trip is disaster filled. But not true. There were no more falls off the bike and Amos (knock on wood) had one of his most cooperative and well-behaved mornings ever. In terms of what has happened… 

Most importantly we made it to Suzfeld, Linda Fehringher’s village. Linda was the German student who lived with us for 8 months last year and became part of our family. Once we planned our bike trip and it was going to be close to Linda’s home town, we had to visit. We decided after some debate not to deviate from our planned route (Kristina still thinks it was a good choice, I would have enjoyed the adventure and change of scenery from the rivers). Instead we left our bikes in Erlagen with Michael and Beate Romheld (Scott family friends) and trained to Suzfeld. Sulzfeld is located near Meinigen in the Thuringia Mountains. Part of the former East Germany, Thuringia is a similar but less well-known than the Black Forest where Kristina was born and lived, and her family has visited many times. Needless to say she is smitten with Suzlfeld and the area. It is full of history – both recent and hundreds and Thousands years old and lovely German towns and villages with neat houses with slate walls and roofs, shutters, perfect window boxes and nice gardens. Scattered in ar a few old cob buildings and newer, modern buildings. 

It has been great to see Linda again, meet her lovely grandparents and explore her little village. We have slept in (yaah! – the “rest” day in Oschenfurt a few days ago was less restful than desired due to a few factors including rain pounding on the tent and cooing pigeons in the tree next door and then some long bike rides in rain and cool weather we were very ready for Sulzfeld), gone on lovely walks through town and up the hill above the village and to the “Echo” tree (it was an impressive echo location and of cours Amos’s favourite), walked to a classic Gastoff (restaurant) overlooking the nearby villages and hills and saw semi-wild pigs along the way, Kristina, Naeva and Linda explored nearby Meinigen while Amos and I watched a super exciting Giro stage (which included the Dutch pink jersey wearer crashing into a snow bank and losing the race – stage 19 for you Giro keeners!), two games of Ticket to Ride, a lovely dinner in the ski town of Oberhof, and many delicious coffees and meals. And we still haven’t celebrated Linda’s 20th birthday with her. That happens tomorrow morning before we bid adieu and return to our bikes. 

 

Linda’s house. The oldest in the village. 400 years!


Naeva last updated you on bike ride to Oschenfurt … We had a nice rest day exploring Oschenfurt, doing laundry, watching Amazing Race, shopping, some homework and dinner out at the Campground restaurant. A Campground restaurant is like nothing you would find in Canada – Kristina and I ate local Wild Boar, yummy salads and Spargel soup. The kids Schnitzels. The next day the weather had turned and we biked close to 80 km in the rain and then tried to dry out at the youth hostel in Schweinfurt. We followed that up with another longish day of biking to Bamberg where I finally had my front right shifter fixed and we ended up at a wonderful campground along the Main-Danube Canal. Which brings me to the second important thing that happened – we finished the main and our now biking roughly along the Main-Danube Canal towards Passau and the Danube (and our rendezvous with Adrienne and Maika). The last two days of biking along the Main were a bit dissapointing – the weather sucked but also we spent a lot of time alongside the highway or with pretty bland scenery. Not along did the Danube Canal bring improved weather but also we left highway biking for much more pleasant riding through the country side. Our only complaint … The signage left a bit to be desired. E.g. We biked for 50 km without ever really get lost (a few wrong turns that we quickly noticed and a few more stops to consult the map and gps than we have to date). Translation – a million times better than biking in Canada! We are getting picky. 


   
   

Just your average day…

  

Yesterday morning my mom, my dad and I woke up around 7 30. Stuffed our sleeping bags, rolled up our thermarests, got dressed and started taking down the tent. What’s that you say? Oh, we’ve forgotten somebody! Your right we have. Amos doesn’t like getting out of bed especially when he knows that he’ll have to help. So my mom tells him that he’ll get 4 haribo gummy bears if he gets out of bed. He responds with ” I don’t like haribo”! Sooo not true! Then she says ” you won’t get your hanuta wafer if you don’t get out of bed”. He’s response is “I don’t care”! After a few more tries she successfully gets him out of bed. Although he is supposed to get 1 gummy bear per 3 jobs he still finds a way to evade them ( and still get the candy)! His jobs are left up to Naevarella while she waits for her fairy godmother to appear! That’s a very normal morning of deal, threat and bribe! After a delightful breakfast of musli and yogurt we’re finally ready to go. 

The morning is pretty normal with a few stops here and there. We’re constantly telling Amos to get his on the pedals, to hold on and to stop complaining! After a stop in Karlstadt for kaffee und kuchen we’re ready to keep going. Our maps say that there is supposedly a camp site in Wurzburg. It turns out that that is a couple of campers beside a soccer field! My parents describe it as sketch, I describe it as extra land that people tried to put to good use but failed! We kept going and then got to another camp site (which actually looked not bad) but it was in the middle of nowhere so we kept going. We were all tired and grumpy. Amos still kept his feet on the crossbar and often took his hands off the handlebars. We were talking and the next thing you know you hear a scream and you see Amos on the ground! He wasn’t holding on and he fell off and somehow got ran over?! Just a heads up there is absolutely no need to feel sorry for him and he is now back to his normal annoying self. Once we got to the campsite everybody was tired and we had a dinner of pasta. What a surprise! We all went to bed early dreaming of the rest day the next day. 

Naeva

Almost halfway

Based on the odometer readings I think we hav covered 882 km, with a thousand or so to go to Budapest. The Main is a very pretty little river with numerous locks, vineyards everywhere and of course castles and ruins. We even stayed last night in the town from where the person who inspired Snow White was from. As a Sunday with warm weather there were bikers everywhere today and people picnicking along the river, suntanning, boating, playing, etc.  Naeva has promised a blog post on today so the details will come later, but the teaser is that we had to bike 80 km instead of 60 km, it was 29 deg and Amos decided to take another tumble! We are all ok, but ready for our rest day in Oschenfurt tomorrow. 

Rest days and onto the Main

Just a quick post to say that we have enjoyed two divine rest days in Mainz with family friends Dieter and Andi. Dieter’s family looked after Christine when she was 18/19 and living in Germany. Since then Dieter and Christine have kept in touch and Dieter and Andi have become family friends of Scott’s. They now regularly host intprepid Scott travelers and Andrew lived with them for 2 months at one point. On our last trip to Europe Dieter and Andi and their lovely Mainz home book-ended our trip. So both Amos and Naeva have met Dieter and Andi before – but as a baby and a three and half year old. 

We were going to stay for just for a day and they gently encouraged us to stay for another. We’ve been topped up with delicious spargel suppe, homemade spƤtzle, lots of Rieling, cakes, champagne, fresh buns, stinky cheese…oh and clean laundry, bike repairs, Skype dates with home, travel plans and a full clean out and resupply of the panniers (out: festering socks, granola bar wrappers. In: more batteries, shampoo, new pants to replace the ones that died during Amos’ passionate soccer game with Andi and Dieter’s grandson.) Amos and Ian benefitted from the monthly visit of the home hairdresser, who cut their hair in the kitchen. I even escaped for a delightful afternoon by train to Stuttgart to visit my good friend from high school, Alison, and enjoy a great afternoon of wine (Riesling)on the terrace and a dinner before training it back to Mainz to catch the end of Andi’s birthday dinner.  More Riesling! I love this country! 

Thanks for your wonderful hospitality and for offering room for our circus to stop in for a while! On to Frankfort tomorrow. No more Rhine. We are onto the Main for the next 7 days….

  Amos getting a haircut…

Mainz …


83 km – Mainz to Mainflingen

We left Mainz this morning under cloudy skies and the threat of rain. Dieter and Andi escorted us to bridge over the Rhine (where it meets the Main) and we bid adieu. 


The weather held and we had a wonderful day of biking with little wind (and when it was there it was a tailwind!) and a sun that came and went with the movement of the clouds. We made great time due to fantastic riverside paths and the energy we had stored up in Mainz. By lunch we were 40km in and eating with a view of the Main and the cathedral. We quickly abandoned our plan to stay across the river from Hasau and pressed on another 20 km instead to Mainflingen. After a delicious cafe and kuchen stop in Silegenstadt beside the basilica from 850 and then an Aldi, the beer + wine store and fresh strawberries stop later we pulled into a nice campsite beside a small lake. I imagine in the summer it is well used, but still a little early in the season for swimmers (it did a nice light icing job on my knee though). 

The tent was put up and the kids engaged in their favourite post bike activities. Reading for Naeva:


And Lego Star Wars game for Amos. 


Kristina and I are now enjoying the Biergarten.   

For the beer fans out there … This has to be the name of an IPA in Victoria at some point. Describes the feeling quite nicely don’t you think? (Even if you don’t speak German).


And few scenery pics from the day.

 

To Koblenz

We have had another two nice days of biking. However the rain finally caught up with us today.


This was the view about twenty minutes before.


 More nuclear power plants intruding on the historic skyline, and look at those dark clouds. It was quite a deluge, thunder, lightning, hail and lots of heavy rain. We were all soaked through so booked into a Pod cabin for the night.

  
With a stupendous view from the campsite.


Before the rain the riding was glorious, warm and sunny with a wind at our backs. Amos and I cracked 40 km on one straight relatively flat stretch!

Last night we stayed at another seasonal beside the Rhine campground. Bar, toilets, shower shack, wash station are all in trailers that are moved off site for the winter as the riverside usually floods. But it means campsites in prime locations. This was our first time in the hills of the Rhine, our campsite of the “view of the seven hills” with castles , both in ruins and still used, visible.


The other highlight was breakfast in Cologne. Where amongst other things our tandems (and Amos) became things of intrigue.

  

Beside the Rhine

We made it 50km today from Kaiserwerth to just past the wee hamlet of Rhinekassel. Happy to report that today there was less wind (at least blowing in the wrong direction), no rain – can you believe a week in Northern Europe in the spring and only a few drops at night, hope our luck holds out a bit longer, no children falling of bikes (yeah toe clips), no panniers falling off and my (Ian’s) knee pain did not return!! Much of body feels a bit delicate, but the hip is improving (was pretty grumpy at the start) and I don’t think I am developing Achilles tendinitis like a previous bike trip.

Tonight Kristina and I enjoyed a beer in the restaurant beside the campground on our OWN. The kids read and played video games. Not much alone time in a four person tent and two tandems. It was perfect.

Kristina has captured much of the trip in previous posts.There are lots of bikers (but Holland definitely has many more than Germany) including other bike tourers. We however – two tandems loaded down with two kids are a novelty that gets lots of stares, smiles and comments. It is great to be a place where cyclists are welcome, everywhere. Kristina and I were chatting tonight about how cyclists are even allowed in pedestrian areas, just simply signed as a pedestrian priority area. So no protected bike lanes through villages …no where we have been has had consistent bicycle network but the cyclists has bee accommodated everywhere and their has been maybe 1 or 2 km where there wasn’t at least a bike lane (although bike lanes are common on narrow streets where cars have to drive in and out of bike lanes and if a bike or car is approaching from the other direction the car has to wait to pass – civilized!)

Looking forward to breakfast in Cologne tomorrow. Here is an assortment of pictures from the past few days.

Can you see the roller coaster by the abandoned nuke plant?
Ferries Rhine style. Yes a swing!


Bumps

Bumps (written on May 9)

So we’ve discovered there aren’t a lot of campsites in Germany along this bike route. We passed a clump first thing this morning, but the next one was 80 km to the south. Undaunted, we planned a super long day today. 84 km…no problem. RIght?
First, we had to say goodbye to Joop. He had stayed on a bit longer with us to cross into Germany. We’ve loved having his calm presence along with our circus, and drawn many times on his excellent translation, navigation and mechanic skills. We’ll miss our several chilled beers at the end of a long day of cycling, and hearing his stories from living and traveling all over the world. Nonetheless, even he has to return to the real world and he turned around to head back to Delft and work. See you again in August!

  
After a breakfast outside the local backerei (remember, we had no food as of last night!), we parted ways. Our crew made great time, covered 30 km in 2 hours before the prerequisite kuchen stop at a little village south of Xanthen’s Roman ruins. We didn’t see much of the Rhine, but enjoyed some beautiful trails through the woods on crushed gravel (like the Lochside), in and out of villages. After our break we started to go past more industrial areas, with big nuclear reactors, wind turbines and chemical plants. Eventually we were right outside Duisburg, biking under loading cranes for the barges on the Rhine. For a few km we were going right though the shipping containers and warehouses of town, on brand new bike lanes. Overall, a beautiful day of biking.
THere were a few bumps. After one pannier had fallen off for the 10th time this morning, sometimes in traffic, Ian figured out that he could adjust the tension to keep it on the rack. Phew. 
 The next fall was Amos’. From yesterday’s post, you will remember that he is in constant motion on the bike. What we was doing, we aren’t sure, but he fell right off the bike onto his head and shoulder. Thankfully it was on a wooded path and not in traffic, but he has a bruised elbow and shoulder, and skinned knee. No head injury (don’t worry dad, I checked). Not sure he’s learned anything from the experience, but here’s hoping. We are going to look for toe clips or proper clip pedals/ shoes tomorrow to see if we can lock him in. The biking is really hard for whoever he is riding with because of his constant shifting and lack of interest in pedalling, meaning there is dead weight 90% of the time. The other 10% of the time is great (except when he is standing up and pedalling like a bat out of hell, and you have to yell at him to slow down…). SO maybe it is good 5% of the time. We’re probably breaking every parenting rule in the book, but have resorted to shameless bribery and rewards to make it through the bike ride. Naeva calls it our “bet and threat” approach. Hoping he’ll get broken in for week two…
We made it to km 75 today before Ian started to slow down – the second Coke of the afternoon should have been the clue. His knee started to have shooting pain. We got AMos off his bike and got Naeva to do most of the pedalling for the last bit to our campsite to give him a rest. Ian just got back from standing waist deep in the Rhine to “ice” it. THe ibuprofen is out, and tomorrow is a rest day. Guess that maybe 84 km was a bit too much, in hindsight. Hope the next few campsites are closer together…