We let our blog slip a bit while we focused on Matt, Jessica, and their family. It was so much fun to be with them in their home in Bitburg,Germany. We arrived at their house on Friday afternoon and had a tour of their fun house, watched the boys’ creative pulley adventures in the backyard, got to know little Jaine, cleaned up and stuff laundry, and just enjoyed hanging out.

Saturday was spent at soccer practices, eating great food (including something called spaghetti ice cream), and mostly just spending time with people we love. (Note from Natalie: Pete also spent time doing a few bike repairs for them and helping them get ready for our bike adventure together Monday and Tuesday – see below.) Their children are so impressive in how kind they treat each other, and how much they enjoy being with one another. It seems atypical for teenagers to like each other so much. And Jaine is absolutely adorable! Saturday evening we had a fun Thai dinner date. We enjoy talking to Matt and Jessica.

We were able to attend their ward with them on Sunday. There is something magical about small wards in remote locations. They are so dependent on everyone. Nobody is extraneous. Everyone is needed. Oliver was the organist and did an awesome job. We heard him practice hard for the few days we were there prior to church. On Sunday evening, we sat around, eating popcorn, laughing, and playing charades. It was a fun relaxing time.

On Monday, Matt, Oliver, James, and William joined us on a segment of our ride. Together, we rode about 45 miles to a campground in a town called Schweich. The weather was really good and it was fun to have a bunch of people with us. They were faster uphill, and we might’ve been a little bit faster downhill due to our weight advantage. We all managed to arrive together at the campground. While the campground was in a good place from the perspective of distance, the location was not ideal. We were too close to the road and could hear cars all night long. Also, amazing to us because of how hot we’ve been for a few days, it was quite cold through the night. I think many of the campers didn’t sleep great.

We ate dinner at a small restaurant near the campsite. We also went to a supermarket and bought a lot of food to snack on around camp and for breakfast in the morning. We stayed up late talking and eating chocolate but eventually went to sleep. I think both Natalie and I slept moderately, but today as we’ve been riding, we have been so sleepy. Maybe we didn’t sleep that well after all.

Our tents were near a few other bikers, some of whom were interested in our unique bike, but the best comment in the morning came from a gentleman who approached us to say how impressed he was with our teamwork – and I think he was talking specifically about Oliver, James, and William who did a great job working together to take down camp. They are really amazing.

We said goodbye to Matt and boys as they headed back home to Bitburg and we began our 3-day ride to Frankfurt. As Natalie and I left the campground and right away hit a hill (which we had to slow down for because walkers were taking up the entire trail) an elderly gentleman, maybe in his eighties, saw how hard we were pedaling and ran up behind us and pushed on our bike until we reached the top! Trail angels come in many forms!

The beauty of the ride today (Tuesday, Happy Fourth of July, America!) was amazing. I think we saw more bikers today than we’ve seen in all of the other days of our travel here this time combined. The trail we are on is super popular, which made it super crowded. But it is popular for a reason. We were riding near the Mosel River most of the time and can see it for much of the time. We generally were on dedicated bike paths, with occasional short opportunities to share the road with cars, but often still in a dedicated bike lane.

We stopped in early afternoon and took a quick nap, as I was spending so much time yawning while trying to steer the bike. We found a comfortable seat, looking toward the river, and relaxed for 15 or 20 minutes.

For some reason, it seemed like we were riding extra slow today, even though we weren’t climbing a hill. Maybe it’s because our bodies wanted to still be at Matt and Jessica’s.

Today was sunny but not very hot, so it was a lovely day to bike. We have had great weather lately overall. It’s supposed to rain tonight, so we are glad to be under a roof (and have the bike sheltered too).

We stopped at a grocery store just short of our Airbnb and purchased salad, some cold water and cold soda, and some supplies for breakfast. Then we sat at the store and ate our salad. Neither of us felt like trying to go out to dinner tonight, and the little village we are in has limited options for restaurants and no grocery store. Natalie carried our supplies in a backpack on her stomach for the last 5 miles.

We arrived at an Airbnb in Neef, Germany, slightly before 5 PM. We rode 66 miles. The Airbnb is outstanding. The kind host met us out front and let us park our bike next to her 60- or 70-year-old tractor in a garage next to her house. Her house was built in the mid 1800s. It has been updated inside so that it feels comfortable and nice. We were both excited to take showers and wash the sunscreen and sweat off. Our tent is on a table out front drying. We are sitting on the couch resting.

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