Molly on the Main


This was such a good trip that it has taken me weeks to add this final installment. I enjoyed savoring the memories of the trip – and I still do. I didn’t write our epilogue right away because I simply did not want the trip to end. Taking time to reflect on it and look at our pictures again was a way of making it last longer.

But now, five months since the trip’s end, it’s time to record our overall reflections before we start planning our next trip and our memories of Molly on the Main are overwritten.

I asked Steve to list his highlights from the trip, and here’s his list:

Steve's list:
The good things:
Lohr am Main, vineyards, coffee and Kuchen, bike repair in Volkach, being in Würzburg on the bike, seeing Bamberg from the bike, enjoying Martina and her family, riding in and out of Frankfurt airport, making it all the way to the Rhein, and relaxing and reflecting with Volker and Beate at the end of our ride.

The unfriendly welcome at Hotel Ross Am Alten Postplatz in Schweinfurt. (This stuck in my mind, too. We were both irritated at the rudeness of the hotel clerk, but we are trying to let it go. It was the only place on the whole trip where we encountered unpleasantness.)

Molly’s list:
The good things:
Meeting friendly people on the trail, experiencing the changing terrain from farmland to forests to river valleys, trying new foods like Gruene Sosse and tasting elderberry nectar and Sekt, riding in the rain on a hot day, seeing the big field of volunteer poppies alongside the trail, being at the confluence at each end of our journey, and starting every day when we were ready and not a moment sooner.

Wonderful things:
Visiting places in Bayreuth that brought back memories of the time we lived there, visiting with Martina and her family and being included in their family, seeing Sigrid and Hermann again and sharing our world views with them, getting help from strangers, receiving a warm and friendly greeting at Hotel Bundschuh in Lohr am Main.

General observations:
We often received cheerful encouragement from strangers, and this was a joyful thing. We have noticed this when we are traveling with loaded touring bicycles in the U.S. and France, too. I think there is something about the bicycles that brings this out. Perhaps it is because people see the packs that we are carrying, know that we are riding father than just one day down the trail, and imagine that we are on an adventure. Or (especially if it’s a rainy day) perhaps they imagine we’re miserable and want to encourage us. Either way, it is usually a spontaneous interchange, and there is warm human fellowship behind it. It’s reassuring. Sometimes the stranger asks where we are going or how far we’ve come. And sometimes she offers an endorsement of the places we will see tomorrow. I found this true several times on this year’s trip – people in Germany are proud of their communities, and they seemed pleased that we had come to see these places. It made us happy to be there and reminded us why we like to travel in this way.

The Main Radweg was a pleasure to ride because it is so well marked and generally well maintained. We rarely diverted off course, and when we did, it was quickly apparent and easily corrected. Because much of our route was in the countryside, we did not often need to worry about motorists or riding in congested areas.

I usually re-evaluate my packing list after a bike tour and try to determine what items I might have done without. I don’t think I ever used the printed maps and guidebook of the Main Radweg and probably could have left them at home. When we needed more detail on our route, we usually relied on Google Maps or the electronic bike route maps we had downloaded from Ride with GPS.

Likewise, I don’t believe I used my long-fingered gloves or neck gaiter, but all the other cool-weather clothing I packed was used on the first day or two of the trip. I was glad that I had brought long pants and additional layers.

I packed an extra rearview mirror for my helmet, simply because I have grown so accustomed to having the luxury of being able to look behind me that if my helmet mirror had broken mid-trip, I wanted to be able to replace it. Given all the interest that the mirror generated, perhaps I should have put a price tag on the thing and sold it to one of those curious persons!

Steve and I have found that having a trip planned gives us more incentive to get on the bicycle in the off-season (though I have sadly squandered some very good weather this fall). We are already starting to think about next year’s adventure and have started making plans for a trip we are calling Steven on the Seine – a tour to see several sights related to one of Steve’s favorite artists: Claude Monet.

Auf wiedersehen

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