Molly on the Main

Day 8 - Friday, May 31

Warm Apfel Strudel

Apfel Strudel

Today we traveled through so much beautiful country! We enjoyed views of vast fields of wheat and rye, a few fields of corn and soybeans, and many small private gardens along the back streets, full of beautiful flowers (roses and ires are blooming right now, as are lots of poppies.) We rode along trails lined with linden trees or chestnut trees and gradually made our way into the Main valley, where the steep hillsides are covered in vineyards, and fruit trees and vegetable gardens are spread across the the valley floor.

We left Schweinfurt around 10:00 am, and the route to get out of town was very easy. Soon we were cycling along the Main and away from the city.

We crossed the Main river on a small ferry at a place called Wipfeld. The ferry carries up to four or five cars at a time, as well as pedestrians and bicyclists. The fee for a bicyclist is 1 Euro each, and it was great entertainment to watch the operation. We did not have to wait long -- in fact, not at all, since the ferry was just ready to depart as we rode up, and they raised the gate to allow us to board and then took off. The Main is not very wide at this crossing - perhaps not more than 50 yards - so the trip took only a minute or two. There were already people waiting on the other side for a return trip.

We paused a bit on the other side just to watch the ferry and to apply sunscreen. Today it was mostly sunny and warm (near 80 degrees F) but there were a few hours in the afternoon with some cloud cover. As we stood there, we heard the village church bell, ringing the noon Angelus. We still had a long way to go - we planned a route of 44 miles today, and we were not even 15 miles along the way at mid-day.

We followed another group of bicyclists away from the ferry crossing and toward the bike trail leading southward toward Volkach. We were not a half-mile down the road when we came across the glass on the roadway, and though we each managed to avoid most of it, we stopped at the first convenient safe spot to inspect our tires. My tires were fine, but Steve's rear tire had two long gashes. They were much too large to have come from the glass we just encountered and were probably something that happened earlier, maybe even yesterday. The cuts were deep into the first layer of his tire but fortunately not all the way through the underlying material. But each one was in a "J" shape, making a loose flap of rubber where small rocks and other material could accumulate and work its way through to the inner tube. It was only a matter of time before the tube would be punctured.

Fortunately, in creating maps for our daily routes, we had marked potentially useful stopping points (bakeries, grocery stores, gas stations, and bike shops), so we knew that we could find a bike shop in Volkach, about 8 km down the trail. We decided we would head there and pause for our lunch (sandwiches we had made from the breakfast buffet at the hotel in Schweinfurt.)

Before we set out again, we paused for just a few minutes at a military museum at Stammheim. Neither of us wanted to tour the museum, but we snapped a few photos of what we could see from the parking lot.

When we reached Volkach, we went directly to the bike shop (the business name is 2-Rad), and we saw that it was closed and would not open again until 2 pm. It was about 1:15, so we decided to sit outside on a wooden bench in the shade, eat our sandwiches and wait. Sometime around 1:45 pm, a manager from the shop came through the door with a bicycle he was riding for a test ride after repair, and when he circled back to the shop, he told us he would open it up (early!) There were already six or seven other persons waiting.

The shop did a great job in repairing the tire, fitting the bike with a special puncture-resistant tire made for touring bikes (made by Schwalbe, one of the best brands of tires.) They also adjusted the shifting and the brakes and replaced a little rubber ring needed to secure Steve's headlight to the handlebar (when he went to affix the light on his bike this morning, he couldn't find the rubber ring anywhere.) And they gave us three energy bars for free. Besides that, they let us use the restroom and fill our water bottles. This was a seriously GREAT bike shop! Not only did they give us great service, but they were also doing a booming business. Three or four mechanics were busy the whole time we were there, and two or three salespersons were actively showing bicycles to customers who came to buy a new bicycle. We estimated that in the 90 minutes we were there, they probably sold five bicycles.

When we moved on from Volkach, we didn't get back to the correct route, but we followed the signs to take us toward Sommerach and only later realized that we had not ridden the route we wanted to, which would have taken us around the Katzenkopf (big ridge covered with vineyards) and to Nordheim. We were only about 3 km off the route when we figured it out, so we backtracked and rode the Katezenkopf loop in the reverse direction from our original plan. This location along the Main was one of our main reasons for wanting to make the trip, so neither one of us was too bothered by taking the time to go back and ride it. The route took us through one of the more picturesque parts of today's ride and also through the villages of Sommerach and Nordheim, quaint wine villages of which we have good memories from 25 years ago.

We stopped for cup of coffee and some cake in Sommerach, planting ourselves in the al fresco tables at the Weisses Lamm. We ordered two large cups of coffee with a piece of warm apple strudel (Steve) and egg liquor torte (me.) When the waitress brought our order, my plate had two pieces of egg liquor torte. She explained that the smaller piece was the last piece, and because it was smaller, she would never be able to sell it, so I must eat both pieces. I didn't protest too much, and Steve helped me dispose of it anyway. (We burned those calories up long before our ride was ended today after cycling 51.89 miles.)

We still had about 20 miles to go to reach our friends' house, and the last 3 miles were up the mountainside. We rode through Kitzingen, a picturesque village which appeared to be setting up for a street festival, and then crossed the Main a few miles later and rode through Marktbreit (birthplace of Alois Alzheimer.) From there, it was a few more kilometers to Obernbreit, where our friends Martina and Christoph and their family of three children live.

We arrived much later than planned - due to the tire repair and the slight diversions in our route - but Christoph and Martina gave us a warm welcome. We felt immediately at home. I took a quick shower while Steve and Martina shared a cold beer in the garden, and Christoph went off to do some chores at another garden not far away.

Martina fed us a delicious meal of a pork steak casserole and rice with a fresh salad. The food, long miles, warm shower, and the beer all conspired to get me very relaxed and comfortable, and I finally gave up trying to fight sleep and left to go to bed a little after ten.

Tomorrow we plan to take a break from the bikes, perhaps do a little laundry, and learn more about all the cool things that Christoph and Martina's kids are doing. They have lots of nifty and creative projects - mostly having to do with raising plants or animals, and I'm looking forward to seeing what they've been up to.

A field of poppies outside of Schweinfurt

Outside of Schweinfurt

Small ferry to cross the Main at Wipfeld

Ferry at Wipfeld

Steve on board the ferry

Steve on board the ferry

Small, private military museum at Stammheim

Military museum near Stammheim

Historic aircraft in the military museum at Stammheim

German military aircraft

Steve - a fisherman on the Main

A Main fisherman

Damaged tire from the rear wheel of Steve's bike

Big tear in the tire

At the 2-Rad bike shop in Volkach

Awesome bike shop in Volkach

The mechanic returns from a test ride on Steve's bike and gives us the thumbs up signal

Mechanic gives the thumbs up

Molly in the Maintal (Main valley) near Nordheim

Near Nordheim

Molly at Kitzingen

At Kitzingen

A villa (built 1912) near Kitzingen

Villa near Kitzingen

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