Sep 02

It was time to go to Germany, and discover the world of bicycle riding in Europe. Dr. Peter Tate was to meet me in Berlin with his bicycle, and I was bringing my Novara Element with the intention of leaving the bicycle with Onkel Herbert. Daughter Diane was able to get away from work and go with us, and she seemed content to take care of herself when Peter and I were out riding. Our plan was for a Blitzreise, spending three days in Berlin, three days in Leipzig with Herr Doktor Kretschmar, and three days in Krefeld with der berühmte Herr Doktor Feucht. Diane left us after Berlin to go see a friend in Frankfurt, and we met again in Krefeld. The trip included much learning about how to survive with a bicycle. It was especially the case with learning how to travel on public transportation with a bicycle, like riding the Bahn. Once arriving in Berlin, the first order of attention was to assembling the bicycle, and then to going out to get some Döner. We were able to take Peter on a walk around Berlin in order to show him the main sites, like the Bandenburger Tor.

21 AUG 20 km ride around Berlin– riding a bicycle around Berlin was easier than expected. Bicycles need to observe the same rules as cars, though they usually have special bicycle paths for bicycles. The rest of the day was spent taking a long walk with all three of us together and Diane as Stadtführerin.

22 AUG 108 km ride to Potsdam from Berlin, with bypass to see Sans Soucci and to loop around several lakes in the Potsdam area. This was a long ride, and the weather was perfect. On this trip, we learned how confusing it could be to try to find your way around, and we often went in circles. Streets are not often clearly marked, and they frequently change name for no good reason. To make matters worse, I was depending on a gps card for my Garmin Edge that would give me streets in Europe. The gps unit refused to accept the card, and so was left without a reasonable means of orientation and poor maps. I couldn’t have been more upset. Needless to say, the ride was awesome, and the palaces around Sans Soucci were overwhelming in their size and grandeur.

24 AUG Dresden. 4:30, 81 km3500 cal, 120 m– Peter and I arrived in Leipzig on 23AUG, and was picked up at the Hauptbahnhof by Dr. Kretschmar, whom I met last year while in Cameroon. He arranged for us to stay at a Ferienwohnhausrun by one of his friends. We were able to meet his parents and to have supper with them. The home-made sauerkraut was awesome. They also took us on a quick tour of Leipzig. On 24 AUG, Karsten, Peter and I were able to take off on our bicycles to the Elberadweg. We drove about 1 hour to our planned start, and off we went. The route was unbelieveably well cared for, and many people were on the road. It was fascinating to see a very large number of quite elderly people out riding their bicycles. We passed through the towns of Meißen, where the famous porcelain comes from, Dresden, and on. As we rode up stream, the canyon walls got steeper, and more impressive. There were multiple castles and elegant palaces along the way…. Nothing like one would ever see in the US. We then stayed in a very large Herberge, which looked like an old castle with a Turm, and nestled on the side of the canyon wall.

Peter and Carsten

Meißen

Peter in Dresden

Frauenkirche

Semper Oper

Our hostel was the upper right white “castle”

25 AUG. Konigstein to Neuhirschstein 90.6 km 5:17  3593 cal, 215 m ascent– the next day, we first rode 10 km up the Elbe to Konigstein, making a fairly steep climb up to the largest fortress (Festungen) in all of Europe. It was overwhelming. The trip back along the Elbe attempted further variations in order to see different things. At the end of the trip, it was very sad for me to have to say goodbye to Carsten, as I really appreciated seeing him and family again. I’ll definitely want to see him again in Cameroon, as well as spend time with him again in Deutschland.

Königstein

Königstein

Summer palace in Dresden

End of the ride in Hirschstein

26-27 AUG — we took the Bahn from Leipzig to Krefeld, and then rode our bicycles from the Krefeld Hauptbahnhof to Herbert’s Haus. The next day, Diane, Peter and I rode the regional transport to Düsseldof. We also spent much time looking for a bicycle box in order to sent Peter’s bibcyle back to the US on the airplane with him. We finally found a box for him at the Rückenwind bicycle shop.

28 AUG Krefeld to Ossenberg and back.   5:42,  100.7 km     3673 cal, 127 m ascent. Today, Peter and I took off on our bicycles to ride up the Rhein. The bicycle path was reasonably well marked, but the road was not in nearly as good of shape as the route along the Elbe. Also, since we were in the  Ruhrgebiet, we saw a huge number of very large factories. At the end, the weather got us, and we were caught in a squall. Peter wanted to stop for a beer, but I just wanted a warm shower and dry clothes.

It’s been hard saying goodbye again to so many friends. Carsten, Herbert, Katja and Hannes and Peter. Having left a bicycle with panniers at Herberts Haus, I now have no excuse not to return to Deutschland for another ride. I’ll either do the upper Rhein, the Schwarzwald, or perhaps something over in the Franken/Spessart area, heading to Prague. Hopefully, the next trip might be a little longer, and focused on just one region, to prevent spending a lot of time just getting from one place to another.

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