At the hotel in Koblenz I opened my backpack to get a minimally smelly t-shirt and was overwhelmed with the smell of dogshit.”Eccch!” said Woodrow. “What’s that?”
I emptied the pack but found nothing except more stench. Then I pulled out the lock and cable. When we had locked the bikes for lunch the cable had drooped onto the rear tire whose deep grooves still had their reservoir of German Shepherd shit. The next hour was spent supervising Woodrow on shit detail.
The next morning we felt like crap, although fresh crap thanks to the sleep and food. I’d been telling Woodrow to stuff himself but his appetite hadn’t really kicked in. “I’m not that hungry.”
The ride to Koblenz had been short but had taken all day. We left our hotel after a hearty breakfast that looked a lot like dinner: bread, butter, salami, cheese, hard boiled egg, and lots of coffee. Afraid that MB Jens might have tracked us down, we left quickly.
Our hotel was at the bottom of a gondola that went straight up the cliff to Ehrenbreitstein. I don’t know how long or steep the climb was but I had it in my great-great-great granny gear and was crawling. Halfway up Woodrow started walking. It took an hour to get to the “top” which was a mere break in the ascent. I was already tired, and Woodrow was cracked.
“How much more?” he asked.
“No idea. Let’s just say hours.” This didn’t encourage him much but we were all in. This is where you realize that it’s just you and the hill. I had pushed where I could but the road was too narrow now.
By the second hour we had gone about ten miles, with forty left to go. Atop the next rise we found ourselves on a terrifyingly narrow highway with no shoulder and 80mph traffic. Woodrow got five years’ bike handling experience in the next fifteen minutes and the knobby tires saved our lives as we could go onto the grass when passed by massive speeding trucks.
Finally, still climbing, we came to a bike path and nearly wept. Okay, we wept.
We turned off only to find that after a mile it was singletrack in the forest. “At least on these muddy forest roads there won’t be steep grades,” I assured him, him being whatever state is beyond hopeless.
“What’s this then?” he asked as the dirt road kicked viciously up. We struggled for half an hour and came to a fork. More dirt or we could get back on the B49 and face certain death. We chose death.
At the 1/4 mark we flung our bikes down and ate some nuts, shared an apple, and finished off our water. There was still 20km to get to Limburg. We rode on.
Eventually we arrived at the halfway point. Limburg is a beautiful little town on the Lahn River but its beauty derived not from the scenery but from the lovely, gorgeous, beautiful Burger King at the Bahnhof.
We staggered in and ate Whoppers, fries, cokes, slurped down hot coffee, dumped, and charged our phones. We’d gone thirty miles in three hours, total time closer to four.
“Keep riding or take the train? We’re only halfway.”
“Keep riding,” he said miserably out of duty.
“Okay,” I said miserably out of foolish pride.
Ten kilometers later along the Lahn we went through the village of Runkel. “Dad,” he said without hope, “can we take the train?”
“Thank dog,” I said. “I thought you’d never ask.”
We parked at the station and got tickets but more importantly we got ice cream. Nothing ever tasted so good.
“This is the best miserable time I’ve ever had, Dad,” he said. I knew exactly what he meant. We grinned and had more ice cream.
Now here is a fact: the slowest local train is faster and more comfy than the fastest good bike ride. We got off at the station before Braunfels and pedaled the final 5km which became 10km because we were tricked into another bike path that took us over a huge and nasty climb.
Woodrow could barely stay upright and I was panting to get over the hill.
We descended into Braunfels and found our hotel at the foot of the ancient castle. For dinner I found a Turkish restaurant where we gorged on spicy food. Woodrow ate enough for three large people.
We were sound asleep by eight and didn’t get up until eleven hours later.