Hot days and the Rhein River bike way.

Being Negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult.

What can I say, the title seems to say it all.  Left Basel (actually Weil am Rhein) and worked our way to the euro 15 bike route.  When we booked the hotel we had no idea where in town it was, but turns out it was made to be convenient to all the highway, freeways and intersecting travelers  passing there. A 10 story modern hotel with a Mexican themed restaurant and general clientele which is only stopping for the night and passing through.  And we were some of those people.  

When I turned on the GPS we were 126 meters from the cycle path.  (My Garmin 1000 I have loaded with the cycle paths of Europe). And I learned something else about the Garmin.  It had me going back saying wrong way as I had put in bicycle touring as preferred track.  I changed it to mountain biking and it lets us ride on gravel pathways now. Not exactly what I call mountain biking., but I see the reasoning.  But I digress to the technology.  

But we immediately saw the route signs and wound our way about a few streets always on the cycle path beside the road.  With 2-3 kilometers we were on the edge of the Rhein.  Actually the dike defying the northern bank of the river.  And basically that is where we have been for two days.  

 The Rhein River in no way shape or form resembles a free flowing river.  From Chur in Switzerland it is contained with very strict dikes, often two on each side.  And it seems 95% of he time it is a pathway for walking and biking.  The are place along the way where access with a boat can be made or beach areas, and certainly a fair number of sloughs and side channels, which the paths go around.  And frequent benches for sitting and resting.  

The are dams and weirs often and the required locks to go with that.  Fun to watch barges going along.  Apparently near Basel there are connecting locks and channels which connect to the Danube which flows to Istanbul, completely connecting Europe.

And as noted earlier the river is clean and clear.  People swimming in it.  Yesterday stopped at a put in and some fellows were building two rafts for a day on the river.  Car tire inner tubes and they were building a wooden platform which held a sunshade.  They were ready for a delightful day.  

And not only people swimming but hundreds of white swans.

As noted there are numerous slough with weirs. Most with fish ladders for the Atlantic salmon which come here, and I assume is one of the fish we see people fishing for.


yes those are watering cans at each station
Yesterday we did not have reservations but agreed to leave early as breakfast was served at 6 am.  We decided to call it quits when it was 1 or 2 o’clock as the highest heat of the day is from 2-5 pm.  We arrived at Breisach about noon and went into town.  Reminded us of Juneau with boats parked along the river and parked so as the visitors can do what they do in town – eat and shop.  There was a wine festival going on (this is a wine region with lots of vineyards we have been riding through and along) and a carnival but we still had energy and carried on to the village of Sasbach, two kilometers off the Rhein River,where a room was found at the guesthouse.  Walked to the grocery store in preparations for future lunch materials, as next day is Sunday and most stores are closed.  

After the walk I laid in room and caught up on reading, as still in the 30s temperature wise (90s Fahrenheit).  Dinner and bed and no internet at hotel so we were with each other.  

Today much the same although breakfast not until 8 so we packed and we’re ready to depart immediately after breakfast skipping the last cup of coffee.  Supposed to be hotter today and it was.  On arrival here it was 34 on my Garmin (95 F). And do not forget the humidity.  Sweating is a way of life, and then you do something.  

But good riding deciding to stay on the German side of border as more along the river and hopefully a bit of breeze.  (Not much but almost a breeze, the sailboats were moving) our goal was Kehl across the river from Strassborg on the French side.  Bike path the entire way.

With only 3 k to the town center, we were riding through a park and pass a couple who commented on my Alaska jersey.  Seems Alaska is quite the place.  Anyway we talked and told them our story as they seemed interested.  They lived in Kehl but said not much of interest there but yes Strassbourg was interesting.  They came from England and Australia, hence their English was good.  

We mentioned looking for a hotel.  He looked on his app “Very last room” and we had reservations 3 kilometers away and apparently walking distance to downtown Strassbourg where this evening we will try and see the lightshow on the cathedral.  Strassborg is apparently a world heritage center although my German does not allow me to know why.  But many have told us it is interesting.  We shall see. 

And crossed the first bridge which is pedestrian bike only. Having a beer on entrance to France as once again the heat is stifling and it was 70 kilometers again.  

Die Brücke der Zwei Ufer

Historically this area along the river has for centuries gone back and forth between Germany and France.  Apparently the bridge was built after the war as a friendship gesture between the countries.

And our hotel is delightful although the current temperature is 95 F and windows and doors open.  


view from 4th floor of Hotel Esplanade
And just as I am figuring out German we go into France where my French is non existent alas.  

Alone amongst millions

“real generosity to the future lies in giving all to the present.”

Albert Camus
Ok we stayed in the hotel at Meersburg exacting every inch of luxury out of it, staying until just past checkouts time of 10:30.  Actually quite delightful staying in the fancy hotel with little old ladies and their tiny dogs, brought to breakfast under the table.  I called various folks to update them on our progress – Günter, Bridgete, and Britta in Köln.  Then it was time and this time without a friend to guide us along, explain, translate, show us the way and generally provide some excellent companionship.  It was Jeanne and me and my limited German language skills.  

Wondered through the see side of Meersburg and found the ferry crossing to Kanstance and the southern side of the lake, which is where the main route goes.  We had detoured to the north side to visit Alfred, Bridgete, see Freidrichschafen and the Zeppelin museum, and Germany is the north side, tugs avoiding the expense of Switzerland.  We found the Euro15 and Swiss route 2 route signs marking the bicycle route, and we were back in business. 

Ferry ride from. Meersburg to Konstance

Navigating the route is simple but like any navigation can be misled easily.  There are bike way signs frequently and nearly every corner.  One just has to be aware and find them.  Then I have the Garmin GPS with Europe cycling routes loaded in, and Alfred loaded the GPX tracks in.  But the problem is even though it is supposed to reroute when off course it still wants me to visit every waypoint, even backtracking to it.  I just restart from current location.  Thus navigation is a combination of things – GPS, signs, the maps and guide books (all in German) and the tried and true method of we are going downriver.  

bicycle Route signs

The interesting part is Jeanne does not have a competitive bone in her body but often ends up in front and I have to chase her down for a missed turn or course correction.  She focus’s on riding and sometimes forgets to look for the signs.

It was delightful riding mostly on bike path, just cruising along.  We agreed before the ride to go approximately 60 kilometers a day and now we agreed to start looking about 4 pm for a place to stay.  We want to just see how it feels.  If one has reservations one must either be there and it is a long day or a short day.  

We made it to Diessenhofen on the Swiss side and Gallingen on the German side with a Swiss town apparently built in midevil times 1500-1600) and the bridge  in 1814-1815.

bridge between Diessenhofen, Switzerland and Germany
We agreed to stop but did not want to cross in Switzerland.  But Gailingen was definitely at the top of hill, thus we roads down the trail along river for a bit but realized no guest houses were forthcoming so back and climbed the hill.  

Ended up at first guesthouse we came to for 60€ and took it with shared bath and shower.  Overlooked town square and delightful.  Sat out on terrace where wifi was available and drank a delightful beer.  Then on to a restaurant for dinner deciding to try somewhere else to eat.  Lovely outdoor restaurant with incredible food.  Am loving this restaurant which is leisurely.  Dinner was nearly 3 hours long. Sit, talk, drink, enjoy and oh yes savor some delightful food.  Not rushed in the least.  I remember coming back from South America and going to a German restaurant in Plano, Texas and feeling rushed through, like the restaurant was a factory.    Here it feels comfortable to just order a beer and sit and enjoy even if it takes hours.  

But onward.  Breakfast at the guesthouse (included) and down the hill back to the Rhein route, and toward Schaffhausen and the Rhine Falls, a major attraction.  People told us it is no Niagra falls but it is spectacular.  I have not seen Niagra falls and it is not high on my list but waterfalls are each one wonderful and different.  The Rhine here averages 22000 cubic feet per second so is a big river and the falls are impressive.  


above the Rhine fall a nice couple. Jeanne and J. R.
rhein Falls

One incident nearly disastrous when we came up to an intersection on the road.  We were behind a car and traffic ligh from the road we were to join, but I could not see one for our direction.  I figured I just could not see it and waited behind the car in front.  He took off and I thought I saw the oncoming cars light turn red but when I reached the middle of street a car was bearing down on me from the right with no apparent desire to stop. I was at speed now turning left and a car was coming from the right with also no apparent desire to stop.  I made it, but what the $:&!?)&.  Alas things are different here.  There was a light on main road but none from the road we came from.  The car in front had seen a clearance and took it.  Unfortunately it was not a green light and I nearly changed our trip.

Then on stopping at grocery store for lunch supplies.  More fun to just stop and picnic at trail side.  The grocery store had well used bicycle parking right at the door.  The carts were locked and you put a coin in and it unlocked the chain.  When done you return the cart reconnect the chain and your coin is returned.

grocery store parking


Lunch Stop
Then onward thinking we might get to Waldshut but probably not.  Well soon we were riding along the Rhein route alongside the river riding watching people swim and enjoy the water.  The river is incredibly clean and apparently great to swim and boat, although we have not tried as yet.  

Then we were at Waldshut and it was hot, and the town center is uphill, from the trail along the river.  Before we knew it we had passed it by, although now looking and the heat becoming oppressive in the 80s with humidity.  And no hotels, all full.  Waldshut was at about 50 kilometers for the day and after numerous stops and side trips and questions and heat and very tired, we made it to Luttingen a very tiny village before Laufenburg.  Numerous hotels and guest houses and people had told us places ahead and given directions and distances.  Almost all were wrong.  No more than 200 meters was 2 kilometers, 2 kilometers was 4 and sometimes there was nothing there.  Alas part of the adventure but we were hot tired and cranky, but I might add still getting along.  

We went a total of 76 kilometers when the Hotel Kranz turned up, and it was delightful.  Good beer, good shower, good wifi, and very pleasant staff.  Seems every place we stay (except the one in  Tamins, before Chur) the staff has been very excited and appreciative when we like it.  It is as if they are personally involved, and not just a job.  

They said part of the reason the hotels are full in this area is it is holiday time, but also the nuclear plant requires yearly maintenance and it is done in August. So hotels full of the workers.

Another incredible dinner and meal and talked with three ladies also riding the Rhein route but going up to the Bodensee where one has a sister living.  They commented how the river is very clean now which was not true 20-30 years ago.  Perhaps the world is realizing we cannot just dump our waste.

And she mentioned she had been to the United States and found it disconcerting all the lakes were private access.  Here it is public all along the beach and accessible.  (Think Lake Tahoe, California, Flathead Lake in Montana, Kenai river in Alaska, or even Kenai Fjords National Park. All private beach access) Folks have come to realize the importance of nature and access here, not just who has the money and the rest of you stay away.  (I had the same complaint when riding the great divide 3 years ago).  Alas!


along the Rhine
Then today and not wanting to get burned again with no hotel picked one from hoping it to be about 60 K away.  Some said it was 40 to Basel the maps said 55 so whatever.  We opted for Weil am Rhein because it was in Germany and avoided Switzerland and we could shortcut bypassing the city.  Could have stayed in St.Louis France but that meant going through Basel.  


side route along the Rhein way
resting along Rheinfelden
Rhein route near Basel below railroad tracks
Under the train tracks Basel
crossing the hydroelctric dam between Switzerland and Germany
And a delightful day even though the temperature did hit 37 degrees on my Garmin. (High 90s Fahrenheit for those still using that old system) we could never tell where we would be riding sometimes along a great forest road along the river sometimes small villages and near Basel forests and below train overpasses.  Criss crossed the river numerous times sometimes in Switzerland (did not have to buy anything) and Germany finally crossing into Germany for final time just before the hotel. We did 57 kilometers and arrived at the delightful time of 2:30. Sweating and tired but the room is huge and we have been downing Radlers (half lemon aid and half beer) and straight beer.

The beer here in Germany is great, but almost always local.  Not a microbrew with numerous choices of tastes, but a Hefeweizen or sometimes and ale.  It is made and sold only regionally.  But always good.  I remember living in Germany for a few months in 1967 and coming home.  My dad offered me a beer when home either an Olympia or a Coors and I remember saying “What is this?”.  Made me glad I was underage and did not have to drink that stuff.  Have disliked “those beers” ever since.  So many choices in the world why drink bad beer.

And we now have gone 483 kilometers of the supposed 1300 for the entire route.  Our map says this past part was 435 kilometers although we we on the north side of Bodensee and did go to Alfred’s and Bridgete.  One article said it was 250 kilometers.  Whatever we had fun and a third of the way.  

 3 days 

wow friends.  What an amazing thing.  

Alfred had asked us to visit his home and perhaps a rest day. We gladly accepted the invitation, and rode the 70 kilometers from Mäder, Austria to Vogt, by way of Bregenz at the east end of Bodensee (Lake Constance).  The city was crowded but still a bike path along the lake although lots of activity which does not allow rapid transit.  A flea market, and the opera set of Turandot by Puccini.  What an amazing set and backdrop by and in the water of the lake.  

 Then on and we are continueing to be amazed at the delightful countryside.  Being Sunday people are out enjoying life, biking, going to the beach and enjoying the sun.  Vogt is at an altitude of 725 meters whereas the Bodensee is at 400 so a bit of a climb but it is all hill country of up and down.  Did a total of 525 meters and again we managed to get tired.  Must have something to do with no riding or exercise all summer. 

 Bridget, Alfred’s wife was waiting fo us and immediately began taking care of us having some Radlers ready and cakes.  She took our laundry and washed it cleaning my jersey like it has never been done, returning all neatly folded. Wow!

That evening we watched each of our movies we had made of our time in South America.  Fascinating to see the differences of slide shows.   Different viewpoints of the same thing, although Alfred did get to start from Quito, thus had photos of the time in Ecuador and northern Peru.

Monday, Alfred, Jeanne and I head to the train station about 15 minutes drive.  2 hours later we are in Munich, to see the city.  As with any city lots to do and not enough time, so we convince Alfred we enjoy just walking about. But first we head to the HofBrau House where Oktoberfest started. Now it is a huge festival the end of September and first of October which people throughout the world celebrate beer.  The restaurant is now a tourist area but delightful. 


Then off to the German museum which appeared from the outside to be a very good museum and it would have enough nice to see but alas time to return to the train. 


OK we had a beer or two
streets of Munich

Deutsche Museum
relaxing along the way
city hall München
The trains continue to amaze me.  3-6 minutes to change and not to worry, even having to go under or over the tracks.  
Munich main train station
On our return again Bridgit had a wondrous delicious meal of soup, bred and cakes.  Somehow we figured out I like sweets.  Hmmm.  But we ended up staying up late into the night, conversing, mostly about the adventure we had in South America.  Every day was not so incredibly difficult, but when done day after day after day, not only did the physical aspects add up but the mental wearing down.   Some survived it easier than others and some thrived.  For Alfred and I we concluded we thoroughly enjoyed the trip and given all the time in the world would gladly repeat it.  But there are so many other things.  And one cannot repeat the same trip as time,  weather, and people would be different.  And Bridgit and Jeanne state they have a closer understanding of what happened along the way.  They have heard the stories but not in combination with another rider who experienced the same thing.  Jeanne had unfortunately had to go to bed a bit earlier than we, but still states she has a much better understanding, after being with the two of us.  A delightful evening, bringing the memories back alive.  

But we must continue.  As delightful and wonderful as the visit was we are on a mission, thus yesterday we return to the bikes. Alfred loaded the GPX tracks from his computer of the Rhein trail onto my GPS and copied his movie for me, the we three rode to Freidrichshafen where we visited the zeppelin museum.  Back along the Bodensee.  A great place describing and showing the history of those incredible airships, including the disaster of the Hindenburg in 1937 at Lakehurst New Jersey.  There is a full size mockup of the Hindenburg passenger area.  Certainly not like air travel of today.  Spacious.

Bridgit had made us a superb lunch and we sat along the waterfront, dreading the departure.  We did not want to leave.  But alas it was time.

And Jeanne and I were just he two of us. Other than Andermattthis was first time on the trail without someone to guide us and explain the marvels along the way.  We planned to get out of town hoping to find cheaper lodging away from town.  Alas it was not to be.  Every place was booked up with no availability.  At first we passed by the obviously more fancy places but then began to check them too.  It is a delightful lake and beach area, and the Eurobike conference is curing in Freidrichshafen this week. It is the largest bike conference in Europe and we are told every room is booked for 20-30 kilometers. We were beginning to think we might end up wrapping up in what clothes we have along the beach.  But a hotel across  the bike trail had one rom left, but 125 euro per person.  Not the most expensive place I or we have stayed but when we opened the door – wow.  And dinner and breakfast included.  Thus we sat on balcony overlooking the Bodensee and sunset.  A wondrous 5 course meal of salads, fish lamb, desert and finished with another sit on the balcony watching the moon over the lake. 


It is so cool I can hardly stand it. 

“A man’s growth is seen in the successive choirs of his friends.


A most amazing incredible 3 days. Andermatt, Oberallppass, Disentis, where Alfred met us, and has cycled with us the past two days guiding us, telling stories, listening to stories. 

Alfred who lives in Germany about 30 kilometers from Lake Constance (Bodensee) was on the Andes trail beginning in Quito. He placed second in the race and is obviously a superb athlete, but to me, more important is a good person.  

But back to the beginning in Andermatt.  Awoke and again rear tire flat.  Front tire was ok and I had changed it the evening before so was a bit worried.  Had the same kind of rim tape as rear tire but not worn.  I changed it preemptively.  Difficulty putting the tire on, and twice punctured the tube while attempting to get tire on.  Finally on and seemed good but the pump was getting tiring as small and basically only for emergency and it was not up to the task of fully inflating tire.  Thus to the bike store for a new pump and more spare tubes.  

At the bike shop the gal (Carmen) offered to look at rear tire just to double check my work.  Two hours later a new tire, tubes, patch kits (2), and a pump.  And tire installed with great difficulty, she punctured two tubes installing on tire which old one she found a hole although was not the cause of the flats.  Took two of us to get the new tire on and neither of us understood why.  Both old and new tires were 700c and sized 622  but old tire was 29″ and new one 28″. But 700c and 622 on both old and new, which should be the more accurate numbers of size and fitting.. What is what neither of us new.  Finally done and bill paid, time to get on road.  Carmen came out to bid us farewell and we both realized tire on backwards.  Ok I will live with it.   

Andermatt, Switzerland
 Jeanne was very nervousness about the climb.  I as usual do not really understand as what I see is Avery good cyclist although timid.  As usual I think physical activity is mostly mental.  Both Carmen and I reassured her just go slow and stop as necessary, but when one feels nervousness someone telling you that you are better than you feel does not always help.  But we started up the numerous switchbacks basically 5 kilometers of 8% slope then 3-4% for 6 kilometers. A total of 600 meters elevation gain.  And the Swiss countryside was awesome. Steep slopes seemingly mowed neatly, a cog railway with tourists aboard taking our pictures sweatin away.  The road near the top had a tunnel built to protect it from avalanches.  Again saw the couple from Budapest, Hungary and we all celebrated at the top with a little lunch.  They are on 4th year of honeymoon, riding recumbents.  They have have cycled all over the world now.  Discussed how much and what to carry.  She said you have to take what makes you comfortable and that varies between people.  


Swiss nountain road near Oberalppas. note the car passing safely
the descent
headwaters of the rhine
  Then the descent : the first 5 kilometer was a 12% grade with numerous switchbacks, then 20 k of just downhill.  We were tired as did not leave until after noon.  Picked the first place which was a wonderful hostel and I called Alfred who was riding up from Illanti after taking train from his home just north of  Lake Constance. He arrived 10 minutes later and we three talked after a hearty hug on greeting.  We sat and talked out front drinking beer, the out back for dinner and more beer. A delightful evening.
Up the next day making our own breakfast in the hostel. Then off  riding.  Took a while to find trail but when we did great.  Had debated riding the road but then discovered Rhein bike path was on other side of valley.  It was a great trail, but it went up and down.  

    In the end we climbed 674 meters, whereas yesterday only 607.  But overall dropped 300 meters in elevation.  Even some single track, although mostly gravel.  End of day more pavement by the “Grand Canyon of the Rhein” gorgeous! Totally pooped out at end of day not making it to intended destination of Chur.  This we gave up but the only guest house in town was up a steep hill.  60 kilometers and we were tired.  Guess we are paying the price of not riding much this summer.  And guest house was not overly impressive so got the bus for 10 k ride into Chur and music festival going on.

Today absolutely incredible.  We started up high on oberalpass where the Rhein starts as a small spring, but today it became a small river.  After Chur it is well contained inside dams and bike paths run down both sides.


bike bridge between lichstenstein and swirzerland
  We crossed over into Lichstenstein and road its 20 kilometer length.  Lichstenstein is one of the smallest countries in the world.  Then into Austria Stopping for a coffee but order these incredible pasta meals with radler beers.  We then decideded enough for one day, but had to ride on 5o find a place to stay.  First town with two places full, and roads on to Mäden and a delightful place.  Showered and sat out on porch drinking beer and having desert and wiener schnitzel of some sort.  Also excellently, then some great conversation reliving the Andes trail. 85 kilometers today and at midnight still up.  

Also to note we got to Austria and prices back to somewhat normal. Meals in Switzerland were 30-35 each whereas in Austria we pay 8-12 for similar.  Beer in Switzerland was 8-10 and Austria 3.5.  Everyone has told us Switzerland is almost three times as expensive. (Those prices are for Swiss francs and euros, which are basically 1:1 in value.). No wonder people do not go to Switzerland.  

Traveling to the beginning

Left the Köln area, with Britta driving us to the Bonn railway station, a 20 minute drive.  We had put our gear (mostly clothes into the panniers but have never really rode with them on the bikes.  This will be a first for Jeanne.  I have had several trips with panniers and do not like the way the extra weight can throw you around.  But unless you pay someone to carry your stuff this is the only way I know of, although The Great Divide trip was nice as lightweight and centered.  

But an hour or two after I had fitted the bikes, put on Jeanne’s peddles, attached computers etc., we were sitting inside and a sudden whoosh as “my” bikes rear tire developed a hole in the tube.  Aargghhhh.  Ok change it, and notice Jeanne’s front tire is low after just pumping it up an hour before.  Arrgghhhh!  Ok Jeanne’s was the valve, and easily fixed by just tightening the valve which came loose when pumping the tire.  But repaired mine with a patch, pumped it up and good to go.  Could find nothing in the tire to make a cause of the hole.  

A delightful barbecue dinner with Britta and the boys, final packing and begin to load the two bikes, and panniers into the car.  My rear tire is flat, and I do a quick repair again. Off to the train station arriving a bit over an early so as not to keep Britta up all night.  

At the airport we begin working about getting onto the right train, and as we only have minutes to find the right car for our bikes, load them and then find our car.  I start talking with a gal from Köln who spoke excellent English and she explained how you could find where each car would stop.  

Every once in a while a train would come roaring through, usually a cargo train.  They do not seem to slow down or if they do, only to maybe 60-70 mph.. No wonder you do not even consider jumping over the tracks.  Standing  on the platform 3 feet from the tracks and a train comes flying by, wow. Jeanne’s hair in this humidity is wild and the wind for the train made it fly.

But we decided on a proper spot where our car (#176) would be and waited, but alas it will be 15 minutes late, then 20 then 25 minutes late. We have 6 hours to Basel, Switzerland where we have 11 minutes to change trains.  Oh boy a new worry, but not much can be done now.  

The train finally arrives and we have missed our car by only a car length. Climb on pulling the bikes up the steps, panniers throwing weight the wrong way. And we see why reservations for the bikes are needed.  It is a special car and maybe 50 bikes hanging from hangers on the walls.  A conductor happens by and gets us squared away on the last two  hangers, numbers 24 and 25, and checks bike tickets to reassure us, and I notice we are moving and have left the station so now to wander up 3 cars to our seats.  Trains are so smooth one barely can tell you are moving.  Seems there are not seats as I am used to but compartments.  We are lost on the dark train but again a conductor is sitting in his office and helps us out.  Turns out our seats are in a compartment of 6 bunks.  Someone else had been lost and was in one of our bottom bunks, but after the conductor got us put away he took care of him.  Wow a bed, how civilized.  Fell asleep almost immediately until my alarm went off at 6 am. 5 delightful hours of sleep.

Then back to the bikes where several others are gathered for their bikes.  My rear tire is flat.  But we arrived at the station at scheduled time of 6:47 and off we go to find the correct track and train, taking the elevator one at a time from tack 10 to track 3.  We make it for the 7:04 departure, this time it is an interegional train not requiring reservations. There are specific cars though for bikes, but we find it, Jeanne and I argueing  over if it is the right train as nothing says it is going to Göschenen, but the track number is correct.  Jeanne wants to get off rather than find ourselves somewhere wrong, but I prevail and we stay on trusting the paperwork. We hang the bikes and I remove the wheel again, determined to  find the cause, as this one was a brand new tube.  Repair the tube and find a hole in the rim tape wrapping the wheel to protect the tube from sharp edges of the spokes and rim.  I take the plastic  from a bag of nuts we have and cover the area repairing the tube, and pumping with our small pump, totally breaking sweat.  It is not a good morning as grumpy and pissy.

I realize jet lag is still affecting me.  I just feel off.  Letting the worries get to me, little sleep at the wrong time, etc. etc.  


jeanne awaiting arrival at Görshenen. the bike symbell shows it is a train car which can carry bikes.

 We ride up into the hills and all looks like a Swiss postcard, people are off and on the train at each stop, finally after leaving Lucerne, Göshenen shows up on one of the stops.  This time we have 6 minutes to change but our next ride is less than 15 minutes. I figure we could bike it if train is missed.  This time it is a regional train and only three cars. We lift the bikes onto the freight car.  Then as the train begins I wonder “what was I thinking we could ride this”.  It is a cog railway taking us up a narrow canyon through tunnels and looking out on the highway cut into the mountain.  Jeanne described it as a developed Yosemite valley.  Incredibly beautiful, and raining, but we reach our final destination of Andermatt at our scheduled time of 10:04.  Another wasted worry. 

our hotel to left
downtown Andermatt City center and main street
area around Andermatt
Andermatt is obviously a ski town with the ski runs coming apparently right into town.  It has narrow cobblestone streets
and is quite charming.
  We walk to our hotel with the bike GPS directions, a distance of 435 meters, pushing the bikes as in street clothes and my rear tire although still inflated because of my morning pumping was lacking, is low, and not because of flat.  

This is the only reservation we have made which is non refundable and we felt first night should have something. Numerous sources had said would be difficult, thus we reserved a cheaper hotel online at 155€.  I think we are the only ones here.  Oh well as soon as we could get into room we both fell asleep barely talking as still grumpy.  This is proving to be my worst day of jet lag yet.  

But Jeanne woke me about 1:30 and we walked to bike store to check for rim tape, another spare tube and a cycle computer for Jeanne as hers lost somewhere during the night.  Nice to walk about and now only misting, with clouds above us.  Temperature of 6 C (40s f) and rather pleasant although very humid and chilly.  Back for more clothes.  Lunch and bike repair also changing the front rim tape as same thin tape on it, so preemptive.  

Texted Günter our arrival and our trials.  He responded “all part of the adventure”

We have been assured only the first few switchbacks of tomorrow’s climb is steep then it gradually climbs the 800 meters over 11 kilometers then we reach the headwaters of the Rhein river.  

Köln. (Cologne)

Another great two days of visiting and learning.  Tod and Britta met us at Siegburg stop to get us to their house about 10 kilometers away.  Stopped at ticket station as had to get train tickets to Andermatt a minimum of 24 hours ahead of time and with bicycles cannot do online. There was a great schedule leaving at 8am getting into Andermatt at 5 pm but alas no room for bicycles, which require a reservation also, as bicycle space is limited.  Have to take the regional as the high speed (ICE) does not take bikes.  Thus we are leaving at 6 minutes after midnight arriving Basel, Switzerland at 6:47, changing trains to Göschenen and depart at 7:03 arriving 10:47, changing again to depart at 10:53, arriving at Andermatt at 11:06.  So we are earlier and can explore Andermatt, or if we miss the last train, just ride our bikes there. And the ticket was 50€ cheaper than the day train, although it is at night.   

 As noted earlier, I think, we met Tod and Britta in Anchorage many years ago.  He works as a FedEx pilot and is based out of Anchorage, they and their two boys Hatcher and Everet took a four year assignment here in Germany.  They return to Anchorage next summer, so if we wanted someone to visit this was the year.  We met via biking and they are loaning us their very sweet bikes for this trip, hence our travels north to here then return south to begin the ride.  

But our visit here has been brief Todd showing us the bikes and general greetings then he departed via train for Basel and work for some days before returning home.  

There home is great and I am enjoying the energy efficiency of German homes.  The windows seem good 3-4 panes thick and open easily and efficiently.  Both houses we have seen have ceiling windows and open for ventilation without leaking rain.  And it has rained past two days. The toilets are water saving sometimes so much one must always flush as there is not enough water to dilute the urine and it quickly begins to smell.  Some toilets you push to start the push to stop the flow the task is complete.  None of this 4-6 liters to flush 200 mil liters.  And like Alaska no air conditioning.  Although I guess it was hot earlier this summer.  But good ventilation if needed.  

Then yesterday the boys left about 7 riding bikes to school and Jeanne, Britta, and I took train into Köln, a trip of 1o minutes for the 15 kilometers.  The train station is next to the cathedral which is just as impressive as when we were here 10 years ago.  The cathedral is huge being approximately 80 meters in height and covers a large space.  As I have said before I am amazed people spend so much time and money building these artifacts of religion, but then Günter says that is or was the culture.  This cathedral took nearly two hundred years to build.  


And walking about Köln I learned there are little Star of David’s on the sidewalks to mark where someone was removed during WWII.  We found three marking their removal in August of 1943 and deaths on August 7 of 1943.  Sobering.

But the point of our trip was to visit Jeanne’s cousins daughter Rachel.  She Took German in high school near St. Louis and came to Germany for one year to complete her German education.  During that year she fell in love with Germany and fell in love with her futures husband.  She now has two children here in Köln.  Her mother MaryAnn is visiting her from the states so it was a treat to visit.  We met for brunch at a great little restaurant spending nearly three hours there.  

Hopefully we will see them again on our way north as we pass Köln enroute to Rotterdam and the ocean, and again at the end of the trip.  

A delightful walk back to train station passin by the corner where the first perfumes were made in the 1700’s.  I learned when one is walking in a crowd with an umbrella one must not only watch oneself but match the height of the umbrella to others as they cannot all fit at the same level.  Little things one learns through life.  

  Today a walk back from town after Britta dropped us off at grocery story where we perused the various German foods, and got some snacks for the night train.  Back at the house and got the bikes ready having one of the tires spring a leak an hour after pumping it up, and another with a slow leak at the valve.  Both easily fixed.  

A nap as still finding ourselves jet lagged.  Every day we think that is it, but we seem to be exhausted more easily than usual.  Has been 5 days now.  

But tomorrow we begin although theoretically no riding except practice.  Jeanne worried about the pass, a climb of 800 meters.  You can read her blog for comparison at Riding the Rhine with Jeanne.  Perhaps an interesting contrast to my writing.  
Off we go 


As he said he would Günter met us at the Frankfurt airport, as we left immigration control.  What a treat.  I had met Günter when he joined the Andes trail trip last year, in Bariloche Argentina riding to the finish at Ushuaia.  He had been a pleasure to ride with there and has been a most amazing host here for the past two days.  

It was Günter who I paired with for the final time trial of “the race” on the Andes trail.  It was a couples race with the last person of the couple crossing the finish line receiving the time for both people.  We took last place going only 36kph for 50 kilometer, except for two couples who were very distinctly not racing even more than us.  Günter and I yammered the entire hour with a strong tailwind.

He lives just outside the city of Aschaffenburg about 50 kilometers from the Frankfurt airport.  We drove to his place with a stop at the castle built sometime around 1650 for the Bishop at the time with a walk about town talking and exploring.  Back to his house his wife Marion was waiting.  

Jeanne and I were tired having been up for approximately 19 hours with minimal sleep on the packed flight.  Our body clocks said it was 3 am, with the local time at 1 pm.  A bit of a disconnect.  But we decided the best was try and immediately adapt to local time which meant a great bike ride, although all agreed we should make no solid decisions.

Off we went for a 26 kilometer ride about the area along seemingly endless bike trails, cars stopping to give us the right of way.  Approximately 1/2 way we stopped at a Biergarten for a couple of Radlers. Radlers are bikers beer which are 1/2 beer (Hefeweizen) and half lemonade.  Not so much alcohol and a bit of energy for the riding.  And each came with a hot pretzel.  Normally I do not like pretzels as they are hard cracker tasting things, but these were basically a fresh bread and delicious.  

Then back to dinner with Günter and Marion.  He barbecued some delicious Argentina beef with some bratwurst and shishkebab of corn, zucchini and tomato.  Awesome meal.  But alas the time was catching up with Jeanne and myself; Jeanne dropped first and excused herself while Günter and I drank a bit of after dinner brandy.  Then I dropped out.  

Yesterday (Saturday, the 15August) the four of us took off for Seligenstadt across the river Main(pronounced mine) where we indulged in some champagne from a street vendor in the town square.  It was busy there was a holiday in the state of Bavaria where Günter lives but across the river is the state of Hesse and it was a normal busy Saturday.  A delightful 50 kilometer ride mostly along the Main river with barges going by and people out enjoying the sunshine, with on boats or biking or walking.  

  Then arrangements for the train.  We downloaded the German train app and plugged in where we want to go which for now was to visit Todd and Britta near Köln.  Amazing to read we have to change trains three times with only 3-9 minutes to change trains.  Back in the good old USA it would be 3-9 hours.  Günter says if a 10 minute delay, it is a major problem.  Wow. But could not get tickets for Siegburg to Andermatt Switzerland as the bikes take a special ticket and unable to obtain on the Internet.  

A delightful dinner out and another great sleep.  Now currently writing this while on the train cruising along at 248kph.  Amazing and all the connections are working without a problem.  

  It has been a most enjoyable two days.  Günter and Marion were awesome hosts not only feeding and housing us, but showing us the sights around Aschaffenburg and teaching how to get trains and negotiate the German culture.  


Be careful out there. They do things differently. Not necessarily better or worse, just different.
      Bob Patee


 We have begun our voyage and I am pondering traveling.  New and different “things” to see and do.  Excitement, yet scary becausethings are different.  Seems as humans we get used to the same.  I once read predicatibility is good as it diminishes stress and to a certain extent that stress reduction can lengthen ones life.  But it seems humans are designed to adapt.  We have spread all over the world adapting to various situations, climates, and environments.  

One thing I have learned in life is we are not designed for easy.  Sitting around always taking the easy way leads to a sedentary life.  Like the joke about the fellow inquiring of his cardiologist, if it is ok to start an exercise regime.  The cardiologist responds with a question of why no one asks if it is ok to sit on the sofa and watch TV for hours, which would be unhealthy in itself.

We are designed to explore, we are designed to work.  Our bodies crave movement and the same with our minds.  Variety is the spice of life. Exercise has been proven over and over to help ones health.  The same is true of the mind.  Intellectual stimulation, allows one to ponder new wonders.  To question and find answers, or just wonder in amazement.  These are human endeavors.  

And there is no exact answer to what is the best way to do these endeavors.  We are all different.  We did not inhabit the arctic, or the tropical jungles, or the prairies by doing the same things.  Everyone is different,  we have different personalities, different egos, different political ideals, and different goals and ideals.  It makes us “us” and makes us interesting.  Hence we all seek different avenues of exploration.  Some prefer to stay in the same place, I think of it as exploring the details of ones environment.  And that is good.  I find it exciting when someone tells me the joy of their home and what is happening there whereas myself I find new places exciting.  Seeing how else something is done and why.   

South America was awesome in that aspect.  People have adapted to the altitude of the Andes, and figured out making a living on the windy regions of Patagonia.  It was exciting to see the incredible cultural development of the Incas and learn of their demise from a so called more advanced civilization with the integration cultures over the years.

And now we are traveling to Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.  The cultures are heavy with European history. (European history was made in Europe, and only later translated into textbooks) I am excited to see the castles and learn how they lived in those “Middle Ages”.  Why did they spend massive amounts of time, energy, and lives to build these monuments to human endeavors.  (Apparently it took two centuries to build the Köln cathedral)

Perhaps I am rambling on, but as I sit here looking out the window above the straights separating Canada and northern Greenland and watching the stewards and stewardess’s selling cartons of duty free cigarettes, my mind is rambling.      This to me is exciting.  

Now for a few practicalities.  Before South America I tried learning Spanish.  I had taken numerous classes without much success, even spending a bit of time in Mexico,  finding my mind just can’t quite grasp it.   Then I signed up with Rosetta Stone language classes before heading south last fall (spring in the Southern Hemisphere”, I could get by but sign language worked out better.  

Now I am heading to Germany and am trying to remember and learn German.  I used to know a little having spent a summer there in 1967, but again my mind can’t seem to grasp it.  Again I signed up for Rosetta Stone language class and was progressing I thought well, returning the information by rote.  But then I had an Internet half hour one on one class.  Alas everything I said was in Spanish.  As I sit here listening to German being spoken with airplane announcements and general conversation, I find myself thinking in Spanish.?????  The joys of travel, embarrassing oneself, hopefully being able to laugh at it.  

It I find with the little I know of the language it lets one see the nuances of a culture.  People tend to open up more.  Everyone has told us most everyone in Germany , at least along our route speaks English, but seems limiting for us.  Alas I hope so, although it is sort of fun to figure it out.

But looking out the window at the cliffs, fjords, and ice of northern Greenland makes me want to explore more.  What is the feeling of being down there like.  Are there many people there as I look down?  What is their culture which lets them survive.  It is a exciting to see in person what I’ve only seen in pictures.  Even though still in this pressurized compartment miles above, it still is fascinating.  

And how to cope with the time changes.  Our wheels left the ground at anchorage at 1:35 pm and will be in this aluminum time travel machine for approximately 11 hours arriving Frankfurt shortly after 10 in the morning.  Where does the night and my sleep time go?

But excited to see Günter and have him show us about.  Last fall I remember riding with him, listening to his stories of grandeur about his home.  Now I get to see them and reconnect with his adventures.

Frankfurt or more precisely Aschaffenburg and great more to come .

A New Bike Ride

Well it has been a while since writing and I have missed it, although I confess I have been lazy.  I did write a bit in April for the life stories class and put those ramblings on the site J. R. at home, but nothing since although my mind and ideas are barely under control with ideas.  Initiating those ideas is a totally different thing.

But a new trip is in the works.  This one to Germany with Jeanne.  Apparently “they” have finished the Eurovelo15 bike route from the headwaters of the Rhine river in Switzerland to the ocean near Rotterdam Holland.  Reportedly bike paths the entire way, which seems what they do in Europe.   We have arranged 5 weeks to do the 1230 kilometers leaving the 13 August, next week.

And one of the better parts is the bikes are there.  We have friends Todd and Britta who live here in Anchorage, but he, being a FedEx pilot, has taken a 4 year trip to Germany where they currently reside out of Köln.  Every year they have returned to Anchorage in the summer for a visit and stayed with us.  Now we visit them and they have bikes for us to use.  Sweet.  Good bikes and do not have to transport ours.  It was a good excuse to visit them.

Thus the preparations go on here.  We are doing the trip ourselves, no one to carry our stuff, no one to make arrangements, no one to guide us wherever.  And no particular schedule, although as usual I am finding already things are tight.  We know a fair number of people and trying to visit them is difficult at times due to our schedules and theirs.  Eric, the foreign exchange student we hosted in 2003 from Sweden is now a doctor, and we would love to see, Jeanne has a cousin and her daughter in Köln, friends I met in South America who reside in Germany and nearby places.  I guess if it works it will work but if not well it is no worse than not having visited or tried at all.

Currently we are going through ideas of things to take and preparations.  Travel insurance obtained this morning including emergency services and emergency returns back to where we have health insurance,  airfare already obtained via Condor air which is sweet with a direct flight from Anchorage to Frankfurt Germany.  None of that flying down south to go around to Europe.  10 hours direct.  GPS and potential routes mapped,  Cameras and charging devices, iPhone, iPad, and the implements of modern travel.  Talking with folks from the areas to be visited to see what is available and options.  We are hoteling it thus our loads will not include camping gear although it  sounds like camping is very good way to travel there.

And so if any of you are still on the mailing list here is another blog by J. R.  hopefully interesting, but then I find I write for me to remember.