Photo memories

Today I found an easy way to have my computer combine a bunch of photos and videos into a single video. As I watch this I find myself forgetting the hard parts and wanting to return and do the whole thing again.

The flight home – July 7 and 8

It has been more than a week since we flew home. In hindsight, everything worked out perfectly, but in the moment it seemed like there were going to be a lot of opportunities for things to go wrong.  

We woke up on July 7th with two things to accomplish: figure out how to get our bike to our gate the next morning and go sightseeing in Frankfurt. After an amazing buffet breakfast in our hotel we set off on the first task. We wanted to both figure out where our gate was as well as ensure there were not any obstacles (stairs, tight doors, etc.) that would make it so we couldn’t get our two bike boxes there.

Several months ago I made one of two reservations for our trip — a hotel room in a hotel attached to the airport terminal (the other was our Strasbourg Airbnb). My logic was that I wanted to simplify our exit and having a hotel at the closest possible location seemed like a good step. I made the reservation for two nights, just in case we needed to spend Friday looking for bike boxes if the airport was out. However, I made a bad assumption. I didn’t realize that Frankfurt had two terminals which are disconnected from each other, and our reservation, we came to find, wasn’t at the terminal from which we’d leave. Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 are about a mile apart and are not connected internally. One has to either ride a train (Skyline which didn’t appear to be running when we were there – maybe due to construction) or a shuttle bus. As we’ve had mixed success getting our bike on buses and trains, we decided to ride the bus to terminal 2 (so we knew where it was) and then walk back to terminal 1. When we asked for directions at the information desk the lady seemed to think it was a weird request to walk back, but said something that made us think it was possible. Google maps gave us a route so we started following it. However, after about 20 minutes we realized it would end on the wrong side of a busy freeway. We backtracked and used Komoot to give us a walking route. I could see a bike path that seemed to go right past our hotel, so we decided to follow that instead of the walking path Komoot recommended. Again, once we got near our hotel we found there were walls and roads making it impossible to get to our hotel – even without bike boxes. We backtracked again and followed the route Komoot gave us, over cobblestone sidewalks and through a parking lot, eventually arriving at terminal 1. We were hot, tired, and hopeful we were not going to have to walk our bike boxes from terminal 1 to terminal 2 in the morning. 

Our flight was early, 7 AM, and the information desk recommended we arrive prior to 5 to check in, so our next task was figuring out if the shuttle bus ran that early. It does. Not as frequent, but it runs. Even though the Skyline didn’t appear to be running while we were there, the website says it starts at 5 AM, so we weren’t going to be able to ride it anyway. We had to be trying to get on the shuttle prior to 4:30 — that way if they wouldn’t let us on we’d still have adequate time to walk the mile (gratefully we were told we could take the luggage carts from terminal 1 to terminal 2, even though we’d be on city sidewalks outside of the terminal).

Next we had to fully check in and declare our luggage, per the gate agent. (She told us we needed to do that in advance to ensure our bike boxes could get on the plane, even though I had done it 4 weeks ago with a Delta agent who told me she was able to update KLM’s system of our intent to bring bike boxes.) It wasn’t as straightforward as we would have hoped but we got it done. By this time it was about 2 PM and we didn’t feel like going into Frankfurt. Instead we rested in our hotel and ate.

For various reasons Natalie decided 2:30 AM would be her wakeup time and we arranged to check out of the hotel between 3:30 and 4. We wanted to ensure we had enough time to deal with whatever challenges we might face. We were both a bit wired, and as we lay in bed trying unsuccessfully to fall asleep, we ended up just talking about the ride and thinking about our favorite memories. Around 11 Natalie asked me to set a backup alarm on my phone. I picked it up and noticed a text message from the airline which to my 11 PM sleep-deprived brain read: “Your flight has been canceled. We couldn’t find an alternate flight. Good luck.” It said a bit more than that, but that was essentially the message. I started texting with Delta to see what options we had when I noted an email from Delta indicating they had booked us on a flight with the same departure time from Frankfurt and same arrival time in Salt Lake, but going through Paris instead of Amsterdam. We were so grateful. 

While checking into our new flight online at midnight I noted a relatively inexpensive upgrade to business class for the first leg of the flight, Frankfurt to Paris. We jumped on it realizing this would simplify our check-in in the morning by giving us priority access and potentially more generosity from the airline when being asked to take our bike boxes. (We’d be flying Air France, not KLM, and Air France would have no early notice that we were bringing our bike boxes.) At this point Natalie was able to fall asleep but I was wired. I chose to lay in bed and think of things about the trip for which I was grateful. Sometimes I’m frustrated when I can’t sleep — but that night was different. I knew I was going to need to shift my sleep schedule anyway, so being super tired the next day was going to be fine.

Natalie woke up at 2:30 and we were checking out of our hotel by 3:30. We pushed our bike boxes and luggage to the shuttle stop waiting location using the predetermined route, including a new set of elevators we found the day before which saved us one elevator ride. (Originally we were going to have to take 3 different elevators as we made our way from the hotel to the shuttle waiting location, but with the newly found elevator it was only 2.) At the shuttle stop an airport worker walked up to us. Natalie immediately assumed he was going to tell us we couldn’t take our bike boxes on the shuttle and I assumed he was going to offer to help. Luckily, I was right. When the bus arrived we loaded our boxes and bags. There were a surprisingly large number of others riding the bus at 4 AM. We were at terminal 2 within minutes. We knew right where to go and were able to be at the front of the priority line as we waited for the airline agents to begin processing passengers. It ended up being quite a wait — maybe until 4:30. Our hotel had packed us a sack breakfast, so we munched on that as we waited.

Checking in as business class went really smoothly. They marked our boxes and bags for priority treatment which would help us on both legs of our trip, even though we were business class only for the first leg. We were sent to a different area of the terminal to hand off our bike boxes (and we had found this the day before, so it wasn’t a big deal to find it). The person there didn’t speak any English, but he took our bikes and gave us the hand signal to “get out of here” so we left hoping all was in order.

The security lines were light this early in the morning so we quickly made it to our gate. After a short wait we were able to go into the airline lounge (due to our business class tickets) where we ate a second breakfast. At 6:30 we boarded our plane and by a little after 7 AM we were in the air and were served our third breakfast of the morning (another perk of the business class upgrade). So there we were, having worried the day before if things would work out, sitting in our most comfortable seat of all of our flights on this trip, eating our third breakfast. Seriously, as much as we tried to plan things out, this was better than anything we had come up with on our own. While it makes sense to try hard to plan and organize, sometimes factors outside our control either make things work or make things go wrong. We were so grateful to be on the “make things work” side of that continuum. So while we felt a bit like our several hours of reconnaissance from the day before had paid off, we mostly felt like all of our bike angels had converged on the airport at the same time and sent us off in style. 

The connection in Paris was uneventful although it involved a decent amount of walking and shuttle-riding. It was super clear to us by this point just how lucky we were to be booked on this flight, as it was completely full, perhaps partly due to the other cancellation shunting passengers to SLC to this flight. We were in the very back of the plane, but we had seats and we were together. (When we got on the flight and went to our seats someone was sitting in one of them — someone the flight attendant had assigned to sit there because it was an unaccompanied minor — and for a moment it seemed that the flight attendant wasn’t going to allow us to be seated — but after a bit they found another seat for the minor. There seemed to be a rule that an unaccompanied minor can’t sit next to someone else, which kind of makes sense.)

The flight to SLC was uneventful, but long. It was crazy to think of how fast we were moving on the plane compared to how fast we had been moving on our bike. It wasn’t quite 100x as fast, but close to it. An hour in the air equated to about 10 days of riding.

At SLC the priority status of our luggage allowed us to quickly retrieve our luggage and our Global Entry cards allowed us to bypass all of the customs lines. Our final obstacle was figuring out how to get our bike boxes to the arrival pickup curb (required two elevator rides). Bryan and Olivia were waiting for us in our truck and we rode home in luxury, but dead tired. Natalie had been able to doze a bit on the plane. I hadn’t. I was wired.

It was so good to be home. As we looked back on the return trip we were so grateful for how smoothly it had gone in the end. There had been so many opportunities for it to go wrong, but at every fork in the road the path we followed made the return trip better, not worse. We felt blessed.

As we tried to sort out the Frankfurt airport on Friday I decided I would never fly out of that airport again with bike boxes. But now that I’ve had some time to think about it, and have a better understanding of the airport, I think I would do it again. I might not plan 2 days for packing the bike; rather, I’d have a German speaking friend verify a few days before that they have bike boxes. I’d probably stay at a hotel near terminal 1, as there didn’t seem to be any attached to terminal 2, and use the shuttle buses to move between the two (or Skyline train if my flight were a little later). Finally, I’d try really hard to get the first leg of the trip to be in business class. The rate difference for the long leg is excessive, but ideally we’d have a short hop to Paris or Amsterdam and the upgrade cost would be reasonable. 

What an adventure.


I slept great, even though our window faced railroad tracks (with frequent trains) and a moderately busy road on the other side of the tracks. The house we were in was built prior to 1900 and had super thick walls and great windows, both of which muffled the sound. We’ve also found that these bike rides exhaust us such that we sleep well. (Natalie didn’t sleep particularly well, but she was grateful to be comfortable.)

We had a nice breakfast provided by our host. We both agree that the bread was better in France (maybe because we’d get it fresh in the morning). We said goodbye to our host and were on the road by 8:30am, even though we didn’t have far to go (55 miles).

It was a bittersweet ride. It was mostly beautiful river trails, with some city navigation. The weather was sunny and beautiful but not crazy hot. We had a short ferry ride to get us across the Rhine. We wondered if our experience at this airport (Frankfurt) would be similar to Paris. Gratefully we were on dedicated bike paths until we were within 2 miles of the main terminal, at which point we switched to small roads. We rolled up to the terminal unflustered by traffic. 

I have a colleague who works in Frankfurt. He was at the airport for other business and found where we could buy bike boxes and confirmed that they had plenty. Once we heard that, we were able to stop worrying about shipping our bike.

We took apart our bike in the airport and boxed it up. It took us about 1.5 hours. We are staying at a hotel at the airport for the next two nights (we had built one day into our schedule in case we were going to need to find bike boxes at bike shops in Frankfurt), so now we have a day to see Frankfurt on foot.

We are so grateful for how everything worked out. Bike angels helped us along the way, the weather was almost perfect, and we stayed safe. The vast majority of our time this trip we were on dedicated bike paths or lanes separate from traffic. And it was wonderful to be able to spend time with Matt and Jessica and family! We don’t know what trips the future holds for us, but this one is in the books as one of our best.

Ride to Hirzenach

We both slept so well! We went to bed around 8:30 pm and slept a solid 10 hours. Sleeping that long is very rare for us. I woke up briefly in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and could hear it raining outside. I was grateful not to be camping. The house we were in had blackout shades, so were it not for our digestive systems turning on we might have slept another hour or two. It was good to only have 66 miles to ride today, as we didn’t feel rushed to get on the road.

We left around 9am in overcast weather – almost cold were it not for the body heat we generate riding. Also, as a special gift from Germany, we had a decent tailwind for the entire morning.

Within 30 minutes of leaving Neef we were passing through a small village and we decided to check Google maps to see if it had a bakery. It had one right about where we had stopped. (We couldn’t see the village well from the trail but we knew it was there.) We rode to it and experienced a delight every human should experience: fresh German apple strudel. Absolutely amazing. I would guess the primary ingredient is sugar, but there were also apples, grapes, and pineapple. It was amazing.

We rode along the trail with the Mosel River to our right and steep mountains covered in vineyards to our left. Access to these vineyards is in the form of a single rail with teeth on the bottom. A small cart with an engine in front followed by a chair followed by a small trailer chugs along the rail. It is hard to express how steep these trails are: in some places they are almost vertical. It is like the most sketchy amusement park ride ever. I can only imagine the terror of descending in reverse. I wish one was operating as we rode by. Bribing someone for a ride might be the best spent euros of any trip. Seriously – these things are crazy.

We made it to Koplenz a little after noon and Komoot routed us nicely through the outskirts of the city, taking us across the Mosel (goodbye Mosel) and over to the Rhein/Rhine. The section along the Mosel might be the most outstanding of any of our trips. Beautiful peaceful bike paths and dedicated bike lanes. Beautiful views. The only downside is there were so many other riders and cars. We’ve grown to love the seclusion of some of our routes, going hours without seeing anyone.

The lack of seclusion created a new challenge: fewer opportunities to “get rid of water.” I don’t know why there are so few public restrooms in Germany, but today we didn’t find a single one we could use, and with the significant presence of other bikers, cars, and boats, we had to become more creative and more daring. Gratefully we managed to maintain appropriate privacy, but not without some close calls.

We stopped at a grocery store a few miles before our airbnb in Hirzenach. (We had figured out yesterday that there were no food options near where we were staying.) For the next few miles we rode with Natalie carrying a backpack full of dinner groceries backwards on her front. It was amazing to look at that load of food, which completely filled our backpack, and realize it would be inside us by nightfall. I think we take for granted the abundance of food we enjoy as well as the lack of food anxiety. We never worry if we’ll go hungry. For so much of the world’s population this isn’t the case.

We are resting in our airbnb overlooking the Rhine. It is such a beautiful view. We have a train track between us and the river and are getting a lot of noise from frequently passing trains. I was experiencing FOMO thinking we should have been on the other side of the river where it would be quiet, and then Natalie pointed out that there were trains on that side also.

Tomorrow is our last day of riding as we make our way to the Frankfurt airport. We are sad that this adventure is coming to an end.

Leaving Bitburg

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.

Ride to Bitburg

Today we had a slightly less than 40 mile ride to Matt and Jessica’s house in Bitburg. Much of it was in beautiful forest trails. It was slightly uphill with about 10 climbs of significance. We got off the bike and pushed a few times. The weather again was cooler and cloudy until later in the day.

We had one route planning error where we ended up at a large bridge which had been washed away. In hindsight we could have just asked Matt about it and he would have told us of the problem and the best way around it. Instead we rode to it, and instead of backtracking we rode to Erdorf and then up and over a hill, which was painful on our tired legs. We ended up pushing up much of the uphill. Gratefully it was near the end and we had a lot of people to look forward to being with, which made it worth the effort.

We now get to spend the next three days here enjoying Matt and Jessica’s family.

Climbs of consequence

We loved our last Airbnb in Oberheimbach. We were so comfortable and our host was outstanding. Having the fully stocked kitchen saved us, or we would have been eating one of our two emergency backpacking meals.

Today was our big climb day. We had been looking at it for months, wondering if we could make it work. The hill profile just looked so steep, especially for the first huge long one. We left our Airbnb around 8 AM. I had told myself it would be OK if we had to push the bike for the next couple of hours to get to the top. We did push for the first few hundred feet to leave our Airbnb and get around a big truck but then we were able to start and remain riding most of the rest of the ride. The first super-hard, long climb took us a little over an hour in our lowest gear, but we were able to pedal to the top. There was still a lot of climbing that was going to happen the rest of the day, but the rest of the climbs were all shorter and interspersed with descent. This first one was just uphill the whole time (roughly 4 miles), and it felt so good to be at the top of that segment. (There was one insanely steep 15 % grade thing we did have to push up later, but thankfully it wasn’t too long.)

Our bike computer has an algorithm that identifies hard climbs based on the grade and the duration of the grade, and when we get to them it gives us a heads up display showing the instantaneous grade and remaining distance. We’ve named them C.O.Cs, climbs of consequence. Some days we have zero. Some days we have a few. Today we had 18. 

This turned out to be an exceptionally beautiful day. We were mostly in remote areas and on small farm roads and occasional bike paths. Because we are at a higher elevation the temperature was a little bit lower, and it was nicely overcast the entire day. We even got a little bit of light rain, which was refreshing. In all, we climbed a little bit over 4000 feet today. 

Around noon we stopped at an Asian restaurant in a larger town and had vegetable fried rice and vegetable chop suey. It was really good and it was what our bodies needed. We also had two large Cokes, which probably isn’t what our bodies needed, but it was what we were feeling in the moment. We drink so much on the bike, but after a while, your body just gets tired of the taste of water and you need something else. It’s especially refreshing when we can get something cold. Most of the time within an hour all the water on our bike is warm.

Komoot generally does a great job of routing us. And today was no exception, except at the end. That was a big exception. For some reason it thought we might enjoy a downhill mountain biking course as we needed to shed a few thousand vertical feet over a short distance. We did our best to reroute and pick our way through a beautiful vineyard. Luckily, we were able to stay on mostly paved roads and make the descent. It was quite steep, at times well in excess of 15% for sustained periods. I think we pretty much burned out our rear brakes. We tried to go as slow as possible, given the weight of our bike with us and our gear on it. If we got going fast, there was gonna be no stopping us. Gratefully we made it safely to the bottom. We were able to finish our ride with a calm, meandering path along the beautiful River Moselle to our Airbnb, which is on a medium-busy road between the towns of Lieser and Bernkastel-Kues (Germany).

As far as Airbnbs go, this is kind of the opposite of the one we had last night. There is no kitchen, so there are no opportunities to cook for ourselves here. We unloaded our bike and rode a mile or two down to a grocery store and purchased things we could eat without cooking. We ate them in the backyard as we looked at the beautiful vineyards on the other side of the river from us. While this Airbnb isn’t perfect, we are grateful. We sent our tent and sleeping bags with Matt yesterday, so it was Airbnb or nothing.

Other random notes from Natalie:

Slow hard climbing is much better than riding in a road with fast traffic. Much! One small segment today we had to get on a pretty fast, busy road, with no shoulder on the pavement, but luckily the area next to the road had been mowed, so we were able to push the bike there.

We did stop mid-morning in a small town for some pastries and an ATM. More places in Germany want you to pay with cash. 

We are grateful for bike path signs, even though we have great routing software and two bike computers. It’s reassuring. One of our favorite ones is just a small green bike with an arrow. It makes us smile every time we see it, our little friend, green bike.

Today’s route have very few bike travelers. Maybe we are not the only ones who shy away from big climbs…. 

We encountered some absolutely beautiful hilly vistas, small mountains, small towns nestled between them, dark forests – different from our other days.  

We rode 50 miles today, but our average was much slower than other days. We are now only about a 40-minute car drive from Matt and Jessica and family! (Of course it takes much, longer on our bike, haha, but that’s part of what we’re here for.) We are excited to see them at the end of our ride tomorrow!

Ride to Oberheimbach

Our Airbnb in Ludwigshafen am Rhein was great. It was spacious and comfortable. We slept well and it was hard to get motivated to leave, but today was the day we’d meet Matt and his family near Frankfurt, so that was the motivation needed.

We left a little after 8 a.m. and started to make our way out of the bigger city. Right away a gentleman rode up behind us, figured out where we were going, and offered to guide us through town to the trail we needed to be on. He spoke great English. He is also a biker who goes on long tours like this, and right away he recognized our routing software. He stuck with us until we were safely out of town. He also looked closely at our route on the map for the next few days and gave it a seal of approval and a few pointers. On each of our trips we encounter wonderful people like him, Manfred, whom we refer to as our bike angels – people who go out of their way to help us. It is always a reminder that we can make a difference by simply noticing someone in need and helping. We wish we had taken a picture with him.

Manfred had warned us of some construction and sure enough it was right where he said it would be. We kind of mismanaged the situation with traffic and ended up losing a good water bottle in the process as Natalie jumped off the bike to push and then had to hurriedly jump back on as traffic started coming toward us. All the traffic had been stopped for a light, so it wasn’t a dangerous situation, we just annoyed a lot of drivers. I’m always amazed at how much harder it is to think under pressure.

The highlight of the day, week, and trip was linking up with Matt and Jessica and family as they were driving from Frankfurt to Bitburg after a week of vacationing with Jessica’s parents. It was so good to see them, and Natalie was especially happy to hug her little brother. Their children are growing so fast. We look forward to making it to their house on Friday to spend the weekend with them and then do a two-day tour with William, Matt, and Jessica next week.

They gave us smoothies and trail mix which seemed to power the next 6 hours of our ride (really it was just the happiness of being with them).

Our ride today was along the Rhein, but for the most part our trail was positioned such that we couldn’t see it. However, the countryside was beautiful and we mostly could ride in bike trails.

We stopped and talked to someone who had ridden thousands of miles with a recumbent trike and a tow-behind camper, hauling his dog. It is a crazy setup. Here is his YouTube video showing it: 

The weather was favorable again (cloud cover much of the day and not as hot as it had been in Strasbourg), but our progress was slow. Much of the day we were in bigger towns and cities, and although we almost always had separate bike lanes, that kind of riding had a different feel. It is definitely interesting to see all the various places, however! As we got closer to the day’s destination, we could see more of the Rhein. It’s amazing to see the huge barges and even some small cruise ships. We also rode through many vineyards again. And we are beginning to see more and more old castles and forts. In early evening, we ate a simple meal of fries and a salad right where our trail left the Rhein. It wasn’t great, but our Airbnb is in a town with no grocery stores and only one restaurant.

We biked up the first mile of the few big uphill miles (which await us tomorrow) and found our Airbnb in a small, quaint, old village named Oberheimbach. The rest of the climb must wait until tomorrow. We are in a beautiful house built in the 1500s. Yes, 1500s. The woman who owns it invited us to park our bike inside in the hallway. She stocked her kitchen with enough food that we could have skipped our disappointing dinner and eaten here.

We showered and cleaned up, snacked a bit, and drank a lot of water, juice, and chocolate soy milk. (We bought a few drinks at a store about 10 miles before our Airbnb which Natalie carried in a backpack on her stomach for an hour.)

We are grateful, happy, and recovering. Tomorrow is our big climb day. We are excited to get it behind us.

Leaving Strasbourg

It was great to rest and recover for two days in Strasbourg, France. Our two-day liquid intake total exceeded 15 liters, mostly water, followed by chocolate soy milk, followed by apple juice. We clearly sweat a lot on our ride days and even though we are constantly drinking from our water bottles, we must run a deficit.

We said goodbye to our super kind airbnb hosts (they were exceptional) and hit the city roads by 7:30 a.m. We hoped that by leaving early we could beat the commuter traffic. It seems we were not fully successful, as the roads were busy, but we made it out safely. We got off route once in the city, not because the map was wrong, but because we were looking around so much we lost track of where we were going. This happens often. The sights, sounds (birds), and smells (strawberry patch) are amazing.

Our ride today was a mix of roads and bike paths. We’ve been spoiled by last week which feels like it was 90% dedicated bike path. Today was mostly flat, which is always nice. We’ll see what the rest of the week brings. It was beautiful and exciting in a different way today, but we will miss France.

As you’d guess, we did have a bake shop stop early on to get two pains au chocolat. We also stopped at a McDonald’s (mostly for the bathrooms – they have so few in Europe!) we tried their Beyond Burger sandwich and decided we won’t stop there again….

We arrived at our Airbnb a little after 5:30 p.m. It is super comfortable – so much better than a hotel room. We did our standard over-purchasing for dinner and breakfast at a nearby grocery store. For dinner we had a salad, mixed vegetables, gnocchi, marinara, vegan gyros “meat,” fresh amazing strawberries, and lots of water, chocolate soy milk, and juice.

The weather today was perfect: cloudy enough to keep it cooler, yet dry. We ended up riding 94 miles, and although we definitely feel tired, we don’t feel destroyed. That is typical as we get farther into the ride, as we get in better shape. Of course it also helps that we just had two rest days after our killer first week.

We are in Ludwigshafen, Germany. Now neither of us understands the language! Some of the ride was near the Rhein River.

Birthday in Strasbourg

Natalie writing again. Note about yesterday: Pete took two naps, and then he was still able to go to bed at 9pm and sleep fine. That’s what these rest days are for!

Slept quite well, although warmer (no breeze). (So far Pete has only taken one nap today.) 

My 56th birthday! Fun to get so many birthday wishes 🙂 

Early morning, a bit of planning and discussing for the coming week’s ride. We have booked Airbnbs until we reach Matt’s house on Friday. There were few options for Wednesday and Thursday night so we decided to commit to our mileage for each day. We’ll have a 90+ mile day tomorrow, less on Wednesday, and then Thursday is our big climb through the mountains. Low mileage but high effort.

Morning bakery birthday run: 2 chocolate croissants, one raisin roll pastry, and the big splurge = a raspberry tarte. Delicious of course!

Strasbourg bus ride. Went inside the beautiful cathedral this time and spent a while. Very, very beautiful and amazing. Totally lucked out with our timing: we essentially walked right in, but when we left there was a very very long line. Then we walked to the Parc de l’Orangerie and strolled for a while, taking photos of pretty stuff and also just people watching. We enjoy beautiful city parks. It was a rather hot, sunny day, so we also enjoyed the shade.

New paragraph for the big birthday lunch: found an all-vegan café called Vélicious. Turned out to be excellent! First Pete had a super yummy gazpacho (cold veggie soup) and I had a yummy tomato mozzarella salad. (Remember everything is vegan and also we shared everything.) For the entrée, Pete had boeuf bourguignon (“beef,” mushrooms, carrots, potatoes all in yummy sauce) and rice. I had a tartare made of eggplant, beet, seitan, and I forget what else, plus roasted potatoes. Everything was artistically beautiful and seriously delicious. Then for dessert we shared a very yummy thick chocolate brownie with nuts and an amazing piece of black forest cake (non-alcoholic version). All so good! And classic French sidewalk café ambiance on a summer afternoon. 

Found a grocery store as we strolled to the bus stop, grabbed a few more items. Bus “home,” showers, and now we’re relaxing and kinda beginning to pack up for tomorrow. 

Fun birthday! Cool to be with Pete in a beautiful, interesting place, on a rest day of a big adventure. Also cool to have the technology to connect easily with so many people we love.