Total fucking beatdown. Left Jan’s with a full belly, a quart of coffee coursing through my veins, and big chunks of dogshit stuck between the treads of my MTB tires. I hate MTB tires and especially on this trip over manicured German roads they were totally pointless.
We went through central Bonn where I showed Woodrow the University of Bonn, where I was never expelled from, and even more importantly the bus stop at the Hauptbahnhof where, on my second day in Germany, I staggered off the bus, late for my orientation session, and vomited into the trash can. Memories!
We dropped down onto the Rhein for what started out as an easy 50-mile pedal. We were going upriver so the gradient was slightly uphill and we had a steady headwind. We were wearing knapsacks; mine was a solid 20 pounds due to the Kryptonite lock and 6-foot cable, and our mountain bikes with the fat tires weighed a good 35 pounds or so.
After a while we got tired and hungry. Woodrow, who had prepared for the physical rigor of the trip by reading books, hanging out with friends, and sleeping til noon, had planned our lunch stop in Sinzig. We left the Rhein and ride 3k into town because although the riverfront was lined with restaurants they were all tourist priced instead of Davidson priced.
We got underway at one and only had 25 miles to go. But we were tired from the heavy bikes and especially the backpacks. My shoulders were killing me and the pressure from the pack had rammed my jeans where jeans aren’t meant to go, creating great chafing and rawness. The path then took us off the Rhein and for a couple of miles we followed the signs. Finally I got tired of riding in what was plainly the wrong direction.
“Turn here. We gotta get back to the river.”
“But the signs say this way, and we’ve been seeing so many riders in the opposite direction,” Woodrow protested.
“They’re idiots. Come on.”
We dropped down towards the river where the road dead-ended in a soccer field. “Let’s go back,” Woodrow said.
“I can see the path over there and plus we have these idiotic mountain bikes so let’s use them.” We plowed across the field and dropped onto the path. It was paved but cracked and filled with chugholes and overgrown with weeds and there was a huge sign that said “Danger. No entry. Ride at your own risk!”
“Fuck that,” I said.
After a couple of miles the paving ended and there was a singletrack with the giant, 10-foot wall of a motorway immediately on our right and a sheer drop off into the river on our left.
“Let’s go back,” I conceded.
“Let’s see where it goes,” said Woodrow.
“It goes to hell, obviously. But Manslaughter would approve.” So we charged ahead.
For a few miles it was rough but doable and then it became hideously strewn with huge jagged stones. If you went slow you’d fall but if you went fast and picked a bad line you’d plunge into the river below.
This was where Woodrow learned the important father-son bonding lesson of “Good luck, kid,” as my hands were full trying not to die.
This lasted for several miles. The rocks then went away and it was grassy singletrack.
A few miles later including several stops and we reached Koblenz, where we avoided MB Jens and collapsed senselessly into our beds. The second half of the ride had taken four hours. I could barely stand, my back was killing me, Woodrow was in shell shock, and we hadn’t eaten dinner.
We walked to the Lidl to buy dinner but couldn’t unhook a basket because they were all chained together and we couldn’t figure out how to unchain them. Finally we tried to take a basket from a guy who had finished shopping but he got very angry. I explained our problem but he was very suspicious as anyone would be when talking to filthy idiots and he showed us that you had to put in a coin that you got back when you rechained the cart.
We purchased dinner and staggered back, eating dinner in our tiny sweltering room with a broken air conditioner and farts.
Tomorrow would be our first hard day, a hilly ride to Braunfels and away from MB Jens. This is the town that immigrants in Texas named New Braunfels after. Woodrow was already checking train schedules.