Hello again! After our epic summer of cross-country biking, I (Christine) got the bike touring bug pretty bad. So, I’ve ditched Ian who is still laboring away at work to take a week long solo bike trip from Frankfurt to Trier, Germany. My route will mostly keep to the banks of the Main, Rhein, and Mosel Rivers–supposedly some of the country’s most beautiful biking.
My journey officially began today–here’s a quick recap:
Day 1: June 10 2014 Frankfurt am Main to Floersheim am Main
I landed at the Frankfurt airport at 1:15 pm local time and marched off to the train station with an enormous red duffle bag full of biking and camping gear for a week. After a quick train ride into the center of Frankfurt, I stubbornly walked the 20 minutes lugging said enormous bag to a bike shop nearby that had assured me over email that they would have a “trekker bike” available for a week long rental. Well, I got there, sweaty, tired, hungry, and they were closed. CLOSED! Evidently today is some sort of holiday in this part of Germany–“go into the woods and celebrate” is how it has been described to me–but this fact hadn’t come up at all in our several email exchanges when I made the bike rental. After a near total break down, I managed to find another shop several miles away that promised me a bike right away. My stubborn resolve weakened, I hailed a cab.
The bike shop I ended up at was wonderful–Intra Sport on the outskirts of Frankfurt. They had a whole shed of rusty touring bikes with plenty of cob webs, and I was given the “sportiest” one they had. I loaded up, and finally I was on my way!!
I had a great time biking along shady paths from the shop to the Main River, and I was doing OK with a series of pretty convoluted directions (I am notoriously pathetic when it comes to following directions, a weakness that has proven to be problematic already in this first short day). But just as I was getting the hang of things, I found myself in the middle of a crazy intersection of on-ramps to the highway. No signs, no clue. I reached for my handy phone to check with the GPS, but at that very moment my phone decided to stop working. I couldn’t turn it on. This was major panic time. There I was in the middle of a busy intersection feeling like a completely incompetent person with no phone to mask that horrifying incompetence.
Luckily, I have no shame in looking desperate, so after about 5 minutes of experiencing something close to terror (remember–I’ve had almost no sleep today…give me a break), a man in spandex came biking by and sensing my incompetence, offered his help. I told him where I was heading, and he offered to escort me the rest of the way! I must have looked really desperate!
So, Franz, who commutes by bike between Frankfurt and Mainz several days a week, took me from beautiful path to beautiful path–a route that I would never have been able to find or stick to on my own. Sadly, I have no pictures because my phone was still oh-so-dead.
After a few miles, we stumbled upon a small local town fair. So, obviously we stopped! We sat and enjoyed apple wine and soft pretzels while the folk band warmed up. As I ate and drank, it occurred to me that my last meal had been on the airplane some 12 hours earlier. A little tipsy, and a lot less panicked, we meandered on.
Franz took his leave once I had been safely deposited in the town of Floersheim. I assured him I could surely find my way to the hostel where I had a reservation. But again, my eventual arrival at the hostel has everything to do with the 6–no, I’m not exaggerating–strangers that I stopped on the sidewalk to ask for directions. Finally, a nice young woman walked me to the doorstep.
I have a feeling that the kindness of strangers will continue to rescue me throughout this week, as I seem to be virtually incapable of following roads that stick to the banks of some of the biggest rivers in Germany.
Maybe some sleep will help sharpen my directional skills….