Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Biking in Germany

I tried to upload a great video by Jacob of biking through a field near Weierhof from his perspective. But at the moment I can't get it to work.
But in any case I wanted to say a few things about biking in Germany. We rented two tandems from die Radgeber in Mainz, Germany. It's a play on words. Ratgeber is an advice giver, but with the change of one letter it is a wheel giver, or bike giver. They are great folks.
I also had my folding bike. You can get a view of this strange bike where Noah is popping a wheelie, something I would have condemned if I had seen it happening. But it gives you a good view of this bike where the handlebars and seat come down and then the body folds in half, making a much smaller thing to carry around.
The second photo is of the lovely scenery near Weierhof. It actually does look a lot like a hilly Kansas. There were many wheat fields in the area. My sense is that the vineyards predominate closer to the river. We biked for about four days along the river and one day, Sunday, from Weierhof to Worms, in the countryside. Along a river you don't have great variations in altitude, but in the countryside we had some big climbs before it mostly started going downhill.
Rheinhessen, this smaller area within the Palatinate, has excellent guides for biking and well-marked trails. They take you on public roads, dedicated bike paths, and farm roads, or roads where only local farm traffic is allowed. At each intersection there are well-marked signs telling you which direction to go to reach your destination.
This system works fairly well, but we still got lost a couple of times a day. It only takes one poorly-marked intersection to get lost. You look around for awhile, ask a passerby if you see someone, and then try a direction hoping to see the bike signs again.
The third photo is of my tandem bicycle that we rented. I sit in the back with a regular seat and can steer the whole thing from there. The second person sits in the front in a recumbent position. Unlike most tandems, they can choose whether or not to pedal. Jacob and Isaiah loved to sit in the front where you had a clear view of the scenery. Since I was sitting higher I also could see clearly. It was also easy to talk to each other, with our heads close together. My only complaint was that the adjustable handlebar was too adjustable, and would switch from one position to another when I didn't want it to. People would look at us and smile. It was a bike they hadn't seen before, but it is made by Hase Bikes in Germany.
On our shortest day we biked about 25-30 km and the longest was about 45 km. That is a range of about 15 to 25 miles. We had fun times and of course challenging times. I am glad we had tandems for the younger two. But it did get long at times for all of us. But the nicest thing was at the end when Jacob told me that the next time we go on a bike ride, he would like his own bike. The next time...

No comments: