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I use an app on my smartphone called LocaToWeb which uploads our actual GPS ride in real time. If you send me an email I can even add your t...

Friday, August 31, 2007

Friday Goes International -- Riding Day 2

The first order of business on day two was to find another bicycle shop. A phone consultation with Bike Friday gave me some things to have checked. We went to one recommend by a local friend and the mechanic tightened the crank arms and took it for a test ride. He was confused as well, as it didn't make the noise every turn of the crank. Sometimes it would go three for four turns without clicking and then start up again. Sometimes it would do a double click and sometimes a single. He thought it didn't sound like a bottom bracket problem, so I've decided to ride on it this week and have it looked at more thoroughly when I get home. Possibly famous last words!

Leaving the bike shop, we headed north. The normal German thoroughness broke down though -- they are rebuilding a bridge across one of the rivers and the bike path was closed. There was no detours posted (which the usually are, even for bike paths). So we had to backtrack again. But as we have to schedule to keep to, it was just a further nice ride along the river.

We headed for the village of Kemmern, home to the Wagner brewery, one of my favorites. We got there about 11am (most of the breweries open at 9 or 10am, some earlier!) and the first thing we saw was the dreaded "Closed for Vacation" sign. This is getting boring rapidly. My dad was getting hungry (and I was getting thirsty) so we detoured to the next nearest town, that of Breitengüssbach, home to Brauerei Hümmer. They were open! The soup of the day was again Potato Soup, but a totally different texture and flavor. The soup, and a couple bratwurst, washed down with a couple beers fortified us to go on.

Friday at Brauerei Hümmer. No SUV's to be found

Next stop was the village of Höfen home of Brauerei zum goldenen Adler -- a very small brewery that was highly recommended but that I had never been to. After a nice ride thru corn fields and some woods we arrived -- and found it closed. I had forgotten that it didn't open until 3pm (and it was about 1pm).
Friday at zum Goldenen Alder, Höfen

Not to worry, up the road about 4 km in Freudeneck was another fine brewery, Brauerei Fischer. You can guess what happend -- we got there and saw the dreaded "Closed for Vacation"
sign. Curses, foiled again.

Friday at Brauerei Fischer, Fruedeneck

So we could wait an hour or so for zum Goldenen Alder to open, or head to the next stop in Ebing. We didn't come all this way just to sit, so we headed off (downhill for a change) and rode toward Ebing and Brauerei Schwanen. About 20 minutes later we arrived at the town square and sure enough -- another closed brewery. That was the last straw. We rode to the next train station and took the train back to Bamberg where we knew there were open breweries! Total distance 23 miles.

Friday Goes International -- Riding Day 1

The bikes survived the airline trip and we put them together Wednesday afternoon, but were so tired we didn't test ride them.

Thursday we decided to ride down the Regnitz bike path. First off, here are the bikes in front of our apartment house (mine is the one with the handlebar bag)

Fridays' Home away from Home

We had few false starts finding the bike path out of town, but were soon on our way, riding along the Regnitz river.

We came to the village of Pettstadt, where there are no current breweries, but a nice beer garden ("bier keller" in the local lingo -- see here for why) but it didn't open until 3pm so it had to wait for another time. We where on the west bank of the river and our first stop was on the east so we needed to cross. There were frequent (if small) signs showing which bike trail went were (this is Germany -- they all have names or numbers like highways :) ). I saw a sign that said "Hirschaid" (where we we going) so we followed it.

We took a turn the right and down a small hill and the bike path literally ran into the river! We must have looked confused because a man up on the bank above us shouted "The ferry will be here soon." We looked across the river and sure enough there was a barge connected to a cable that ran across the river (and pulled the barge back and forth). It slowly crossed the river and then he anchored one end and let the current swing it around so it docked right where the bike path ended ! We paid our € 1 (each) fare and were soon on our way...

Ferry cross the Regnitz

We leaned later that on weekends (when it is busier) he sells snacks and sodas and water as well. No riverboat gambling, though.

We soon were back on dry land and working our way southward. We soon came to Hischaid and Brauerei Kraus where a stop for beer and lunch was in order...

Friday at Brauerei Kraus, Hischaid

After a nice bowl of Kartoffelsuppe (Potato soup) and Leberkäse (literally "liver chease" but its sort of a meat loaf made that is sliced and served on a roll) we were on our way south.

Our next stop was to be the village of Buttenheim, whose claim to fame in the non beer world is it was the birthplace of Levi Strauss. For the beer world it is known as the home to two breweries that are right next to each other and owned by brothers who reportedly don't speak to each other. My favorite of the two is Löwenbräu (not related to the large Munich brewery of the same name). But when we got there, on the front door was a sign "Closed for Vacation until Sept 28." Damn! So we went next door to the larger Sankt Georgenbräu for some liquid refreshments.

Friday meets St George (but no dragons seen)

Along the way my bike had started to make an annoying click with no obvious source, so we decided to take the train back to Bamberg and have it looked at at a bike shop I knew.

Well, it turns out that breweries aren't the only business that takes time off in August. The first to bike shops where closed. I found a third that was really more of a rental place. The young man there thought the crank arm had stripped pedal threads. He tightened the pedals down and that helped a bit but the click was still there. We road back home and then proceeded to visit the local breweries on foot. Total distance: 21 miles.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Friday goes International -- At LAX

The suitcase with bike came in at 49 pounds, but I think the scales at LAX Terminal 2 (Northwest) are a little heavy. But I'm not complaining. The other good thing (for now) about T2 is the baggage scanners are out front so you can watch your bag go thru (and help put the bike back in the suitcase, if needed :) )

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Real Test -- Friday goes International

Well, this week I am off with the bike to Bamberg, Germany. While most of you probably haven't heard of it, it really is the Beer Capital of the World. With all due respect to my readers in Oregon (who am I kidding -- my reader in Oregon) there isn't a higher concentration of good beer to be found anywhere. Munich, bah, that is for tourists. And all but one of the breweries are owned by multinationals (Heineken or ImBev) and are not really breweries but rather beer factories.

Bamberg has roughly 70,000 people and 10 breweries! In the surrounding Landkreis (an administrative district in the case about 20 miles in diameter) there are over 80 breweries. And in the "county" of Oberfranken (really a Regierugungsbezirck but who's counting) there are nearly 200.

So watch this space for updates and pictures...

I'll leave you with a picture of beer being served at the Mahr's Bräu brewery in Bamberg -- as it should, gravity fed from a wooden keg.

Mahr's Bräu

Friday, August 03, 2007

Accessories I

Of course when you buy a big new toy, there are a lot of little toys that you end up needing or wanting. I won't bore you with every little purchase ("Check out these cool tire levers...") but I will highlight some things I found very useful.

First up are Oyster Buckets from Cobbworks of Olympia, Washington. Oyster Buckets are one of those things where your first reaction is "Why didn't I think of that..." At their heart is Ropak square 4 gallon food grade buckets. If you need 4 gallons of mayo, macaroni salad, Thousand Island dressing or some such, it probably comes in buckets like these (When I was in the homebrewing business we sold 5 gallon round buckets from Ropak for use as fermenters. ) I use the Oyster Buckets mainly for grocery shopping, but the would work for bike touring as well.

Of course the trick is, and the value Cobbworks adds, is they are perfectly set up to be attached to a standard rear rack. Plus they have added nice cushy covers to the wire handles (made from recycled air hose from Boeing) , brightly colored stickers to improve visibility and handy handle loops on the lids for easy removal.

Cobbworks Oyster Buckets on FridayCobbworks Oyster Buckets on Friday

They hold a fair amount of stuff and even heaver items such as 2 litre bottles of soda don't seem to be a problem. The extra width took me a little getting used to, but then again I'm not used to riding with panniers.

Oyster Buckets with groceries

On nice design element is the tops of the buckets are level with your rear rack, so you can strap bulkier items across the buckets. If you were doing a self supported tour I can see how that would be useful. But even just running errands it is a nice feature. I had to ship a box and while I could have strapped it to just the rear rack, having the Oyster Buckets gave me an extra bit of support.

Oyster Buckets with a box

All in all I am very happy and can recommend them to anybody who needs to carry stuff.