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Tuesday, September 25, 2007


So, safely back home, bicycle and pride intact, what did I learn?

When I bought the Bike Friday I had visions of taking it with me whenever I traveled. That was the first casualty of the trip. While I really, really like my New World Tourist and can highly recommend it to anybody looking for a transportable bike, the fact remains that the bike in its suitcase weights 50 lbs. In addition, the suitcase is huge. After we were done biking, my father and I took the train to Brussels for a beer festival and then took the train to Düsseldorf, where we flew home. That was a lot of schlepping around -- getting the heavy suitcase on and off the train, and finding taxi's that were big enough for two large suitcases (plus another suitcase each for clothes).

So when would I travel with the bike. Well, if it's a cycling trip of course the bike comes along. If I am flying somewhere where I am staying in one location for at least a week or so, then I would consider bringing the bike. If I am traveling by car, then I would bring the bike if there was any chance of getting a ride it -- folding it to put in the car is a trivial task compared to packing the bike in the suitcase for air travel.

Oh, and that clicking noise? It turns out I did not install the right pedal properly  and it eventually damaged the threads on the right crank arm and ended up replacing the who crankset :(

So I purchased a pair of MKS MT-E EZY quick release pedals from Calhoun Cycle so I won't have to worry about that again!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Riding Day 5 (Monday)

After a rest on Sunday, were were raring to go for a ride on Monday, but the weather wasn't co-operating. It was most un-summerlike, temps about 50 deg F, dark clouds, wind and on and off rain. But we came to ride so ride we did.

We decided to head west along the Main River Bike Trail. In short order we were in Bischberg but Sonne is closed on Monday and it was a little early for a stop. We continued on to the village of Viereth and Brauerei Mainlust. We were a little chilled so first up was a cup of coffee. A big cup of coffee. After warming up, it was time to try the beer. It had been many years since I'd had a Mainlust beer. After this one I remembered why -- if there were any hops in that beer it would take a microscope to find them. It really tasted like fermented wort. It wasn't bad, just not very interesting to me.

Friday's Mainlust

Next we turned inland (and uphill) for a couple kilometers to Weiher and Brauerei Kundmüller. Total climb was about 250 ft -- not too bad but enough to work up a thirst. Kündmuller brews a variety of beers and in the fall their bock is quite nice. Today we had their Rauchbier (Smoked beer). This one was very lightly smoked compared to the ones in Bamberg. Just enough smoke to let you know it was there. We complemented it with a nice bowl of Leberknodelsuppe (Liver dumpling soup -- its better than it sounds!)

Friday asks "Weiher we here?"

Refreshed, we had a decision: continuing away from the river would would come to Trabelsdorf and Brauerei Beck -- where a good friend is the brewer. But in between was a very steep hill -- the bartender at Kundmuller said about 300 meters (1000ft). We were both willing to give it a try (no witness to see us walk the bikes) until a local told us that Monday was the rest day at Beck. I tried to get my friend Andy (short for Andreas) on the phone, but no luck. Not willing to do such a hill, in the rain with out a beer as a reward, we decided to continue west along the river. Of course we got a nice downhill run to get warmed up.

We did have a small problem -- we were on the south bank of the Main (where the bike train runs) but the next breweries were on the north Bank. Since the bikes don't float to well a bridge was in order. The first bridge was railroad bridge, so we skipped that one. The next was a highway crossing, but luckily there was a bike lane on the sidewalk.

Across the bridge was the village of Unterhaid. A bit east in the neighboring village of Oberhaid was Brauerei Wagner, but I haven't had good luck with their beers in recent times so I didn't think the backtracking was worthwhile. (There are many Wagner breweries in this area, the ones in Kemmern and Merkendorf brew quite nice beers). Turning a corner I saw a sign "Bräu-Gästette Gambrinus" -- I had heard of this place! They claim to be a brewery, but their beers are really brewed in Bamberg by Brauerei Maisel. But it was cold and wet and time for a beer. The beer was quite nice and a bit different than the standard Maisel. I learned later that they have their own recipe. Well worth a stop if you are in the area. Plus a cool logo.

Friday pays respect to the Patron Saint of Brewing

The obligatory beer picture

Back on the road we soon came to Staffelberg and Brauerei Hertlein. Monday is their rest day (which I knew) so we stopped just long enough for a picture and it was on to Stettfeld.

Friday's He(a)rt is broken at a closed brewery

After a particularly rainy and windy section of road, we came to Stettfeld and the home of Schwartzer Adler Bräu. This is one of the most delightful small breweries around. The beer is very good and the main room is just plain cozy. They have "signature" snack "Ham with Egg" that is sort of an omelette with onions and ham. Very tasty, but they only have one pan, so if there is a group of you, you will get them one at a time.

The Eagle soars over Friday

Since the rain was picking up, we rode on to the next town (Ebelsbach) which used to have two breweries (but both have their beers brewed by other breweries) and took the train back to Bamberg. Total Distance: 23 miles.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Riding Day 4

Sunday was a partial off day. My Dad decided to take it easy. I rode with some friends to nearby Bischberg, home of Brauerei zur Sonne (Brewery of the Sun). It is well know for having a good kitchen and is very popular for Sunday dinner with Grandma -- as a result the place was packed so we sat out side and drank our beers. Total distance: 7 miles

Friday basking in the glow of Sonne

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Riding Day 3

We made plans to go riding Saturday morning with a friend from Bamberg and a couple of friends just visiting who happened to bring their bikes with them. But the weather did not co-operate -- there was a steady rain. So we walked up the hill to the Cathedral where there was an exhibition celebrating the 1000th anniversary of the Archdiocese of Bamberg (founded 1007 by Emperor Heinrich II). Nothing wrong with a little culture :)

By afternoon, though the weather cleared a bit and we decided to ride to Rossdorf am Forst, home of Brauerei Sauer. This time we rode down the east bank of the Regnitz and turned eastward at the village of Strullendorf. Rossdorf is at the start of the hills known as the Frankische Schweiz (Franconian Switzerland) so it was a bit of an uphill slog on a gravel path.

After our bad luck of closed breweries we were a little worried when it looked deserted as we rode up. But it was open, just empty. After a nice couple of kellerbiers sitting the nice garden, it was time to ride back. Going downhill we took the road instead of the path -- much easier.

Friday at Brauerei Sauer

Total distance: 17 miles.