Molly on the Main

Day 13 - Wednesday, June 5

We rode 39.08 miles today. I am writing this from our hotel room in the tiny village of Dorfprozelten, where we are staying at Gasthof Stern, located directly on the bike trail. It has a lovely beer garden under big shade trees, where we sat and enjoyed cold pilseners. We were only a few feet from the banks of the Main River and could see occasional boat traffic on the river. It is quiet here - we saw only two boats go by as we sat in the beer garden and enjoyed dinner - one was a speed boat,and the other was a Viking cruise barge.

Dorfprozelten is nestled between two big forested ridges, and even though sunset is not actually until 9:30 pm in this region, by 8:30 pm, the sun had already sunk below the small mountain just north of the village. The name of the place is curious, with various explanations for its meaning. "Dorf" means "village," and the town is just downstream from Stadtprozelten ("Stadt" means "city.") One account I read on the internet suggests that the origin of "prozelten" is a corruption of "Brot" (bread) "selten" (seldom), but this seems to be a disputed version of how these places got their names.

Last night, when we were dining at an Italian restaurant in Lohr am Main, we offered to share our table with three other persons. It was hot last evening, and the tables outside the restaurant were much cooler than the ones inside. The two of us were occupying a table with empty places, so when Steve saw three people looking for a place to sit, he invited them to have places at our table.

At the end of our meal, we struck up a conversation with our table mates and learned that they all hailed from Lohr. We explained that we were on a bicycle trip along the Main and shared our delight with the things we had seen during our short stay in Lohr. One of the gentlemen indicated that he had also done some bike touring - in northern Germany (nice but you deal with the wind) and also along the Main bike trail (including passing through Bayreuth.) They asked us how we thought people were doing in the U.S. compared to Germany. We remarked about the relative greater popularity of electric-assist bicycles here in Europe. Our table mate said that this type of bike has been widely available in Europe for about six years already. We mentioned that we had been passed on the trail (repeatedly) by cyclists riding electric-assist bikes, and he explained that their speed is generally governed by an mechanical inhibitor, but if you know how to modify them, some models are capable of reaching speeds of 50 km per hour (30 mph.)

We left Lohr am Main around 10 this morning, nicely refreshed from our rest day. It was already very warm when we put our panniers on the bikes and headed down the street toward the bike trail. Before the day was over, the temperatures reached the upper 80's, though the thermometers on our bikes registered over 100 degrees at times. This is very likely - the temperature on an asphalt trail in the middle of a sun-drenched valley can certainly be much hotter than the ambient temperature reported by the weather stations. I was dreading what the sun would do to my arms, legs and lips today, so I was faithful about applying the sunscreen throughout the day whenever we stopped for any length of time. The stuff I bought earlier this week for face and lip sun protection seemed to work very well. The only disadvantages were that it makes my lips very white (so perhaps it has a little zinc oxide in it, though the pharmacist said it didn't) and its creamy moisture is a perfect trap for gnats and cottonwood fuzz, of which there are plenty. Perhaps that's how it kept the sun from burning my lips - with gnats blocking the sun.

Marktheidenfeld was the first town of any size along today's route, and just as we reached the edge of town we saw four camels grazing on the river banks. This was the second time we've seen camels on this trip, and we wondered if perhaps they might even be the same animals because the ones we saw at Marktheidenfeld are part of a traveling circus which was just setting up.

As we rode on out of Marktheidenfeld, we encountered another steep ridge covered with vineyards. However, unlike the vineyards we saw around Wuerzburg, these fields were planted in rows parallel to the slope. The trail led us south through the Main valley, past forested ridges on either side. Our route curved around a big bend and turned west toward our endpoint for the day.

We passed a big patch of poppies in full bloom on the left side of the trail, and since I love poppies and this was the biggest patch we had seen yet, I stopped to take a photo while Steve rode on a little further. As I was parking my bike on my click-stand (a collapsible stick I can use as a sort of kick stand for the bike and then fold it up to stash it in the handlebar bag when not in use), a group of four riders came past, and a woman in the group asked, "are you okay?" with an accent that sounded distinctly Australian. I assured her I was and added my thanks as they rode on past.

That brief pause for the photo was not more than two minutes, but in that short time without a breeze from riding, I was covered in sweat. It's hard to believe that just a few days ago we were riding in long pants and wearing light jackets. The weather today and the past three days has been more summer-like, and we are grateful for those brief interludes when the trail takes us through a forested tunnel at the base of the mountain and for a moment we are almost cool again. But then we quickly emerge into a meadow of wheat fields baking in the hot sun.

The smells are wonderful, too - today's aromas included that fresh scent from a forest (similar to the clean smell of the Minnesota woods that I recall from childhood vacations), the smell of ripening wheat, and an occasional waft of some unidentifiable flower. When we ride on the edge of a village, we frequently pass by small private gardens, many of which have rose bowers loaded with blossoms in full bloom. We have to get our noses pretty close to those to catch their perfume, but occasionally I can get a whiff of the flowers (when the cottonwood fuzz isn't already clogging up the nasal passages.)

About halfway through today's ride, we diverted into the little village of Homburg am Main to find a WC (bathroom.) We decided we may as well look for a cafe and have lunch while we are stopped. We found a place called Gasthof zum Ritter with four or five tables under a grape arbor between two stone buildings - it was nicely shaded and quite cool. After studying the menu and seeing lots of choices for appetites larger than what we had at the moment, we settled on a couple of appetizers which were the perfect portion size. I ordered a plate of Fjord lachs with salad and a baguette, and Steve had a small salad with some melted goat cheese and honey on baguette slices. We each got a bottle of cool mineral water and shared a glass of elderberry nectar and sparkling wine. It was a delicious lunch, if a little pricier than some of our lunch stops, but sitting at a cool table in a quiet place was worth the premium. Before we left, we asked the innkeeper if he could refill our water bottles. Steve coaxed a few ice cubes from him, too, though the innkeeper judiciously added only three small cubes to each bottle so the water would not be "too cold" on such a hot day. I think my cubes melted before I reached my bike.

When we reached Wertheim, we made an unplanned detour because we misread the sign directing us toward Miltenberg. We were actually supposed to make a veritable U-turn and head over the bridge across the Main. Instead, we rode past the turn and followed a sign which took us through the city gates and into the middle of the old town. We quickly realized our mistake, but were rather glad we had detoured because the old town was very charming and we were ready for a cup of coffee anyway. We spied shady cafe with empty places and parked ourselves at one of the tables. I ordered coffee and a scoop of chocolate ice cream (not in the same dish), and Steve was still deciding what to order when he spied a sign that the cafe was offering apfel strudel with vanilla sauce, ice cream and whipped cream. He asked for the strudel, and the waitress asked if he wanted the "complet" version. Oh, yes, he did. It was an epic treat and assured that he'd have sufficient fuel for the rest of today's ride.

Back on the trail, we came upon a little oasis at a slight bend in the trail at the edge of the woods. A small sign declared this place as Shangri-la and asked visitors to enter with respect and stillness. It was a little meditation garden with Feng Shui elements, Hindu and Chinese sculptures and a small wind chime suspended high from a branch of a large oak tree. The tree was old but had suffered storm damage and was trimmed back. A small plaque in a little garden at the base of the tree noted that its wounds had been a result of the storm Fabien, which struck this part of Germany in 2018.

We reached Dorfprozelten a little before 5 pm and checked in at Gasthof Stern. We spent a few minutes doing our laundry, which we hung up on a clothesline that we strung across the balcony outside the room. The afternoon sun is waning, but it's still strong enough that we have the window shutters lowered to keep the heat out of our room. It should not take long for the laundry to dry in that little oven.

The wi-fi and cellular signals here are nearly non-existent, so this account probably won't get loaded on the web until tomorrow when we find a stronger signal. However, we do have cable TV in our room, and we turned it on for a few minutes this evening to see coverage of the ceremonies at Portsmouth (England) and Caen (France) in recognition of the "Debarquement" - the launch of the Allied invasion on the Normandy Beaches 75 years ago.

Rothenfels

A vineyard near Marktheidenfeld

Apfel strudel at Cafe Hahn in Wertheim

Wertheim

Wertheim

Shangri-La

Shangri-La

Shangri-La

Beer truck we saw at Wertheim

"Why is my wine glass almost empty?"


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