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Trekking On A Trike
Saturday April 28, 2001
During the week a colleague asked me if I/d help him run a track meet for our school today. Working at a track meet was not really my idea of the most fun way to spend my first Saturday after receiving Tweety Bird. However, I know from experience that the track coach can/t run the meet he organizes without numerous helpers. It has been a pet peeve of mine for years that teachers are the only professionals-who spend thousands of dollars, hours, and profuse efforts preparing themselves for their professions and are expected to work for poor pay and donate their free time to the community.
I never see a doctor doing this; and when we had to take our summer to get custody of our grandson, I didn/t notice any free lawyers coming to our rescue. He charged $200.00 per hour and took the full $2000.00 retainer fee. At any rate, I agreed to work from 1000 to 1300 and, if the weather cooperated, I had plans to take Tweety Bird out for her maiden tour. And wouldn/t you know it; one of the parents had a complaint about the free work that was going on next to her, in which she was not at all participating. Oh well, so be it.
AT 1245 there were no more jumpers at my long jump; so I promptly excused myself and ran some errands then headed my van in the direction of Zell a. Main. That is a little German village along the Main River about eight miles from Wuerzburg, Germany where I teach the children of American service members.
I arrived home and fixed myself two beerworst sandwiches, added ample amounts of black pepper, mayonnaise, mustard, and onion and ate to my heart/s content. It had been raining off and on all morning. However, it had stopped and I figured I/d get a ride in. When I opened my front door it was misting. I thought about canceling out; but, then the age-old adage came to me; *If you wait until it is good weather to do something in Germany, you/ll never do anything.*
I put on one of my old cotton-unmatched-sweat- suits and covered that with my blue rain suit that I had just used on the track field. I told my wife, Dolores, I/d be back in an hour-just about the time Nolan would be getting up from his afternoon nap-and we/d go for a ride. Opening my one-car connex type garage, I wrangled my yellow and black Greenspeed GTO trike from behind my car where I had it parked crossways between the rear of my car and the garage door.
Looking at my watch, I noted it was 1410 as I started coasting down the hill trying to get my left foot on the pedal. I/m 53 years old and out of shape. And all 5* 9/ &208 pounds of me hurt more all over than anywhere else. I pulled out of my street, turned left and whizzed down the hill, taking the left curve and then the right applying the brakes judiciously as I leaned into each curve.
Reaching the intersection at bottom of the hill, I looked into the traffic mirror, noted there were no cars to my left and made a right onto *Haupt Strasse*, Main Street. Soon I gave a left turn signal and was on a secondary street headed toward the river. Two or three minutes later found me leaning into a hard right turn intersecting a bike path where a family was standing with a baby carriage under a huge umbrella watching this strange yellow and black carriage screaming madly through the curve and down the lane. Skirting past manicured back lawns on my right and the highway on my left, I soon skidded left and zipped through an under pass leading to the river bikeway. By this time the rain had increased its tempo, and I stopped to secure my rain hood. I heard voices to my rear; looking into my side-view mirror, I noticed several riders approaching on touring bikes. I pressed my left pedal-in high gear-and was soon watching them drop back in my side-view mirror.
Soon the rain was stinging my face and blurring my vision. Trying to miss the water puddles soon became a futile effort. Because the company that should have provided my fenders had run out and they were on back order, I was sandwiched between wet nasty spray from both front tires and the mud and gunk from the rear. However, I noticed that the cool rain being splashed upon my hands and wrists had a soothing effect, if you didn/t mind the mud that came along with it.
I passed the sports platz-sports field-of Margretshockheim. (Pronounced Margrets-serk-hime) Increasing my speed, I leaned hard into a right-hand turn, only to see a car backing out of a parking spot and a profusion of adults, children and dogs clustered at my next left-hand turn. I braked hard and threaded my way through the confusion.Taking the left in front of the sports hall and before running into the river, I was soon sailing between houses on my left and the river on my right.
Just before entering town, I was forced to slow down to navigate between two upright poles that served as barriers for cars. These are numerous all along this path and I found that there was a little room to spare for my GTO.
Having walked and ran this route many times, before my knees got so bad I had to stop running, I knew the bike path detoured in town to prevent bikers from taking the walk path through a kiddy park.
I was leery of where I had hooked my cell phone to my tummy pack. So, I stopped and as I was placing it into my raincoat pocket and trying to readjust things, the touring party I had left behind, passed-ridding on the walking path. While I knew the walk path to be shorter, I took the high road-trying to be law abiding. The bike route took me up a city street and soon turned right intersecting the river path just past the Kiddy Park. Reaching the intersection at the same time, I had to yield to the touring party to my right.
After hollering, on the links seite (passing on the left please) bitte, the party of about eight bikers pulled to the right to allow me to pass. By this time I was breathing hard-would you believe me if I told you-because my tummy pack was too tight? However, I was not about to pull over and have them pass me and then have to have them allow me to pass again. I huffed and puffed-but interlocked my hands behind my head so they, from the rear, could see how easy all this was for a bent triker.
I knew there was a roadside park somewhere up ahead. I just didn/t remember it being sooo far. By the time I reached the park, with a covered pick nick table and trashcans, I had not seen the touring bunch in my mirror for some time. After loosening my tummy pack, it was back to huffing and puffing to make sure the eight-pack didn/t catch me. By this time the rain had just about stopped and I was meeting some bikers, but none were passing me. Being overweight and out of shape, I was getting quite proud of myself. I had been on the trail for about an hour and needed to pee. I was also getting thirsty. I had thought about taking a bottle of mineral water with me when I left the house, but decided I could buy one on the way. I stopped and asked an old man talking to a younger woman if there was anywhere I could buy a bottle of mineral water. He indicated I should drink from the running fountain next to where I was parked. I asked him if it was good. He indicated it was. By the time I got up from Tweety Bird, old knees, I noticed that a line had formed in front of me. Notably his nasty dog. Oh well, it had only put its front paws in and drank out of the trough. I could still drink out of the pipe. Not so, there was a well-written sign stating plainly, Kein Trinken. *Don/t drink.* And, the woman had made no attempt to correct the old fellow.
Back on Tweety Bird, I entered town and was about to pass out of the city limits when I noticed two workers. I stopped and asked where I might buy a bottle of mineral water. *Can/t, have to go to Karl Stadt. (The next big town) On the road again, by now pressure is building in my bladder, and I still need a drink. I soon see a family with two, evil looking dogs. Inquiring of them, I/m told there is a beer garden in the next town about four kilometers down the road. When asking another couple, with an even meaner looking dog, where the beer garden is, I was informed it was only 200 more meters further up the road. I could see it just up ahead.
The approach to the beer garden was on a down hill grade. I started to crank; I shifted into high, and cranked some more. By the time I reached the beer stand, I was doing at least 20 miles an hour. I waited till the last minute, leaned into a hard right, while slightly applying the right brake. The trike responds like a Popping Johnny. It pivots to the right. I let off the right break. Holding the handlebars straight I skidded the left tire to a stop on the gravel. Of course all this cow-boying around resulted in me appearing to motor much faster than I had been previous to my stop. One of the men asked me in German if the trike was electric. By this time I had made it, ever so humbly, to my feet on stiff and hurting knees. I raised my right leg, patted my thigh and said, *Ya Das Been Electric.* Everyone had a great laugh.
I paid DM 2.50 for a one-lt. bottle of water. This is about a dollar. I was then directed to a restroom across the bike path. All the time my bladder was draining, I was concerned about my trike not being secured and out of my sight. Theft is not a big problem in among the Germans, especially in small towns. But, outlanders are a different story. And besides, when your talking about a three thousand-dollar item, you just don/t rest easy with it out of sight.
Approaching a group of teens, I noticed they were not paying attention and they were blocking the bike path. A boy and girl were scuffling; another bike was approaching from the other side of them. Noting that the oncoming bike was stopping, I continued only to have the girl to just saunter right out in front of me. I braked, and when she made a stern comment, I replied, *well, stay out of the road!* I was not likely even a memory in her dimwitted skull as I left them behind.
All this time I have been thinking that I told my wife I would be gone only an hour. But, it had stopped raining. Things change. Besides, if I call her on my cell phone, that uses up units. If she calls from the house phone, that is just money. Approaching the town of Karl Stadt, I hear my cell phone. Yea, you/re right. It was Dolores and she was not, like God said of His Son, well pleased with me. She just didn/t seem to understand I was having fun. I just had not been able to turn around. I figured I/d do that when she called. Well she called. Guess what? Yea, I did.
The route out was well marked, and I had already traveled some of it. But, the marking on the way back was almost nonexistent. While I had traveled all this area by car, the bike route near the turnaround point was new to me. I missed my turn but caught it right away. However, knowing you have made a wrong turn does not in itself dictate that you know the correct one. While I was cruising about, looking for a sign, a fellow who had been resting nearby passed me on his mountain bike. I had met him earlier before I turned around and knew he was one of those who was consumed by the desire for punishment-err- I mean speed. Somewhere along this route I passed a couple of parked mountain bikes, that were loaded down with full panniers and camping gear. I remembered passing them on the way into to town. They still had not moved.
I followed him out to the main bike route and hung on his tail. My legs were pumping so fast that I was getting out of sink and it seemed like the trike could not keep up with my pumping. *There has to be something wrong; I/m in high and don/t to have the pull to keep up,* I thought. Little by little I could see the mountain bike pull away, and since I was not winning-on a level stretch-I was not having any fun.
*Well, I bought a bent trike because I don/t like hurting, and was never my intention to compete with it-unless you call seeing who can relax the best competition,* I thought. I settled back and continued to watch that florescent greenish-yellow windbreaker stretch further and further out in front of me. *Oh, well he was at least twenty years my junior,* I consoled myself.
I laid back in the saddle and decided to try the third shifter that I had purposely avoided because I had never used internal gears before. I had not been able to shit into one of them right after my friend Ralph installed it. For this reason, I was waiting to use them until I could get him or a bike shop to do a gear adjustment for me.
Again, I seemed to be pedaling faster than I was going which indicated to me I was in too low of a gear for the slight down grad I found my self on. With my left hand, I followed the handlebar down past the upper shifter until I felt the shifter for internal hub. I stopped pedaling and lowered it one click. Engaging my pedals again, I was rewarded with much resistance and an increase in speed. Again, I shifted down one click and was met with an even greater resistance, so much so that my speed was not affected.
I shifted up one click and pedaled for a while but my legs just were not used to the strain. I shifted back to an easier gear. *If I had known about those two gears, that mountain bike would not have pulled away quite so easily,* I thought.
Glancing in my side-view mirror, I saw the two heavily loaded mountain bikes coming up on my back tire. The woman stayed there for a few minutes then she passed me. However, she just set there, I suppose waiting for male riding companion. I finally got tired of her dawdling and went around. This must have presented a challenge to the man. In a burst of speed he passed. But, I knew something he didn/t. I had found a higher calling-err-gear. I shifted my cassette down one click and pushed in the power. Wee, around I went telling him how nice his bike was-to lessen the insult-and adding the standard recumbent wave.
When I cold no longer see them in my mirror, I shifted to easy gear and relaxed all the way to Zell.
About one and a half hours after I turned around, I called Dolores as I was grunting, painting, and flagellating up that monster of a hill to our house. *Hey, hone. Could you nuke those hamburgers for me?* When I got in sight of the front door, I heard Dolores telling Nolan, *There he is. See him? Then there came my favorite person on earth-next to Granny that is, you know she cooks. Wouldn/t you know it, I/m from Arkansas and Dolores is from Hawaii, he was barefooted and in his underpants. Must be in the genes not the jeans.
While I/m bedding down Tweety Bird, Nolan is talking, more jabbering, my ear off. Going inside, I partake of a huge polish-like sausage with plenty of onions, and mustard on a hotdog bun. Then a barbecued hamburger piled with onions, lettuce, mustard, mayonnaise and tomatoes.
After a bath, with Nolan, I took them on the ride I had promised before I went on my hour-uh- ride. Since I am not sure, I think I know, how to hook up my bike computer (I don/t want to break it) we drove to Karlstadt on our ride. I went about thirty miles in one-uh-three hours. I never thought I would ever be able to ride so far without wreathing in pain. Even though he is not four till next month, Nolan knows if we drive within any distance of a McDonalds. He knows the route to all of them, no matter from what direction you approach. We don/t dare eat the hamburgers due to the Mad Cow/s disease in Europe. But, that is not his reason for visiting Mickey Dee/s. Over here they are not suit happy, and still have the playgrounds for him to play on.
Lloyd Trekking On A Trike.
For updated rides and pictures, visit my free online magazine at http://www.bentmiles.com
article published 5/25/2001