Saturday, July 15, 2017

440 miles of riding in Germany, and lots of biergartens

The hilly area north of Freising at its finest summer-best
When I tallied up my mileage for the past 2 1/2 weeks, which I have spent mostly with Sabine in and around Freising, I was thrilled to see the total: 440 miles. That's a lot, especially considering that I also spent the better part of three days in Berlin with my brother and that the weather did have its occasional hick-ups that stymied going for a ride. Still, for the most part it was dry, quite sunny, and a few times even hot, so this was a real summer vacation.
On top of the Breitenstein in the Alps
For my short stay here we had not planned anything special. Sabine's son, Jonathan, had just graduated from high school (diplomas were handed out two days after my arrival), and she had to work a mostly full schedule in her capacity as landscape architect for the City of Munich, so running off to Tuscany or Provence was not in the books this time. The best we could muster was a one-day excursion into the fore-Alps where we hiked up to the Breitenstein (1,622 meters) and managed to destroy our cycling legs in one fell swoop. If I really go though with my plans to walk up Kilimanjaro one of these days, I better keep this in mind.
Riding through the hop fields of the Holledau, just a few miles north of Freising
The two of us went on some very nice rides, though, on the weekends as well as on two Tuesday nights when we joined her club, the group of Italian-inspired  (and alike-attired) locals whom Fritz, the owner of a local shop, has somehow managed to corral. It was fun to ride with these guys and gals (even though they have a rather unorthodox system of riding in a dual paceline and changing the lead rider). Ol' man Fritz, whose shop is located less than 100 meters from Sabine's place, runs a tight ship when it comes to his club: If you want to ride with the group you must show up in his jersey (red/white/green) and you better join the correct peloton (groups 1 through 4) when things get rolling. Our two evening rides (in group 3) were were led by Sigi, a guy who really knows all the local roads, and they were spectacularly scenic! One was pretty flat, the other rather hilly. Great stuff!
Post Fritz-ride festivities include many beers and ice cream at the local Italian gelateria
It never fails to amaze me how I can ride for seemingly half an eternity, seeing a gazillion new things, and then realize that I have just turned over 30 miles on the odometer--the same as my usual rather boring route in Lubbock that doesn't even take me beyond the city limits. Seriously, riding in Europe, with villages two kilometers apart and roads that turn and twist like spaghetti in a bowl, is completely different from what we experience in West Texas. And when the weather is nice, you can't beat it. But there's always that "when" ...
Amidst my inanimate friends, the hops
My rides took me through the hop fields of the Holledau, past golden-hued wheat fields, through green pastures with happy cows, and to hidden swimming holes. You can't beat these small ponds where the locals stop by after work (or during lunch), simply drop all of their clothes, and go for a quick skinny dip. I wonder what would happen if I did the same in Dupre Park's "tank" after a hot ride. Here it's de riguer.
Local pond with sunning, ahem, beauty
It's also de riguer for 16-year-olds (cute boys and even cuter girls alike) to carry around one-liter beer steins (yes, full of beer) and take healthy swigs from same during a city-wide fiesta, as I witnessed tonight at the Freising Altstadtfest. The city center was blocked off to everyone but pedestrians (even bikes had to stay out--large trucks were used to seal off any terrorist route that might be used to cause mayhem in this medieval city). Thousands of citizens strolled around, drinking many, many more thousands of liters of beer, listening to music, eating Wursts, Kebaps, and Bretzen, squatting on the ubiquitous brewery-supplied beer benches, and having a good time with their neighbors. I tell you: Those Bavarians know how to throw and enjoy a party!
Sabine bonding with the local wildlife
It was a nice farewell to another enjoyable stay here with Sabine and her home. In a month and a half she'll come to Texas, and I hope that her stay will be as pleasant as mine was here. Tomorrow morning we'll have a Weisswurst und Bier breakfast (maybe I get a chance to add a pic), and then I'll head out to the airport to catch my flight to CRW--Charleston, WV. For the next week I'll be busy as Chief Referee of the US National Mountain Bike Championships in Snowshoe, West Virginia. Lubbock will have to wait a few more days for my return.

Jürgen