On Sunday evening, after a hectic two weeks of packing, moving from North Carolina to Massachusetts and unpacking, Jim and I boarded an airplane in Boston to begin the last part of our 2019 spring/summer bicycle adventure.
In March of this year we traveled to Texas to race V20s (here's my blog post on that trip), next we did a two week RV vacation with T50s (posts on that are here). We then spent a wonderful week in May riding the Blue Ridge Parkway on S40s to raise money for brain cancer research for 3000 Miles to a Cure.
Our swan song is a nearly 3-week adventure with Q45 adventure touring bikes in Germany and Kyiv, Ukraine. We hastily packed our Q45s in two Tern AirPorter Mini Suitcases with our clothing, tools, and toiletries packed in the spaces around the bikes. We did it all very quickly, but we forgot a few important things (mirrors and sunscreen). I should have looked at my list!
We were delighted when Icelandair did not charge any extra fee for the bags even though they were overweight. The flight went smoothly and our bags popped out on the regular luggage carousel in Amsterdam. We rolled them down to the car rental counter, picked up our car and drove to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a gorgeous Medieval village in Bavaria. We checked into our sweet AirBnB and took a much needed long sleep.
The last three days have been filled with the most incredibly beautiful bicycle rides and hikes. We spent most of our first day here touring the old city of Rothenburg. It is surrounded by high walls and was once a country unto itself.
From our Airbnb, it is a steep hike up through a forest. The hike and touring through the ancient city were just what we needed to begin overcoming our jet lag. We spent some time in a museum filled with artifacts of the history of the town, some dating back to the stone age. We had some beer at a garden overlooking the grand cathedral. Afterward, we assembled our Q45s and rode them around a bit.
The second day was a bike tour of the countryside to the East and South of Rothenburg. It looked just as you might imagine the Bavarian countryside would look: vast fields of grain interspersed with villages with ancient houses and barns. In the centers of these villages were usually tall clock towers or church spires. The roofs are uniformly covered in red clay tiles. The real surprise for Jim and me was the number of solar panels over the red clay tiles. It was an interesting juxtaposition - the old buildings with shiny new solar panels. The villages were only about 2-5 km apart, so the ride was made interesting by frequent changes of landscape.
The weather became cold and rainy about 3 hours into our ride, so we popped into a restaurant. As soon as we came through the door, the delicious aroma and warmth wrapped itself around us and we decided to stay until the rain stopped. We don’t read or speak German, so ordering from the menu was a series of lucky guesses. The proprietor was a delightful and hospitable woman who snorted a loud “oink” to indicate that the dish Jim was interested in was made of pork. We all laughed and soon she brought plates filled with delicious and filling food.
The rain didn’t stop so we headed back out. We were cold and wet, but somehow the beauty of the ride overcame it.
The next day's ride was among the most beautiful rides of our lives. Bavaria is crisscrossed with quiet roads and miles and miles of bike paths.
When riding here, one rarely feels the stress associated with worrying about car traffic. The tiny roads we rode on had very few cars and the few we saw were very courteous. We once again rode through beautiful forests, fields, and villages. The bike routes are well marked and I used the Komoot app to download some suggested routes.
We stopped and bought sandwiches at a grocery store and had a picnic lunch at one of the many picnic areas off the bike path. We took pictures in some of the quaint villages and I was mesmerized by the many kinds of flowers both wild and cultivated.
The roadsides are incredibly neat. We saw not one single piece of trash anywhere. About halfway through the ride, we rode into a tiny village called Schӧn. We were out of water, so I approached a woman who was tending her colorful garden and held out the empty water bottles hoping she would understand and fill them from her hose. She said “ah wasser” and took the bottles and went into her house. She came out with 3 brand new bottles of water, one quite large. As Jim and I guzzled them down she went back into her house and returned with two plates with freshly made strawberry shortcake. I could have kissed and hugged her but settled for many “dankas” and even blowing her kisses. The cake was delicious.
As we rode out of the little village, the quiet road turned into a dirt track and then ended in woods. The Komoot app had allowed me to download local maps so we pushed on through the path in the woods knowing it would soon come out to a road. Eventually, it did and we enjoyed the new terrain. The Q45s took in the rutted dirt roads beautifully. While in the woods we saw some ancient stone walls and wondered who built them.
The rest of the ride took us on bike paths that crisscrossed the Tauber river. Every vista was more beautiful than the previous. About 5 km from our AirBnB we stopped for a delicious dinner and some beer and local wine in Detwang. Just a few blocks from our lodging we stopped to photograph the city of Rothenburg from a stone bridge.
We’ll sleep well tonight and are looking forward to more cycling and hiking tomorrow.