Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Sunday Fun Day

My day went something like this... bike, train, wine, bike, wine, bike, photos (repair pause), bike, wine, lunch, bike, ice cream and sekt, bike, wine, bike, strasenbahn, bike. This sequence could never happen in the US for so many reasons but it was such as great day, the US should really rethink that public consumption lay and encourage cycling and riding public transportation, it would all make people happier and is great for the environment. I digress, back to the story...
Last Sunday, along with 330,000 people, we went on a cycling tour in the Pfaltz, along the Germany wine street. One day per year, the street is closed to all motorized traffic until 6pm, in this time cyclists, in line skaters and a few walkers descend on the Pfaltz to sample the regional wine and culinary delights. We arrived at the station to learn our train was delayed, after a 20 minute wait, we barely made it into the train in Mannheim. The bike car below is intended to carry 12 bicycles and was one of two on this train, looks like DB was not ready to meet the demand. We anticipated riding the train to Neustadt but decided to get off one stop earlier and bike to the trail to avoid being overwhelmed by people and bikes at the station. You can see a map of the wine street for the event here. We started toward the middle and rode north.

Once on the trail, we were instantly convinced by the apres-ski style music. There were so many cyclists, I was overwhelmed. About 10 minutes into our ride, we stopped for our first wine schorle (Riesling with sparkling water in case you forgot). Prost!

Our stop was at a roadside tent manned by a dive club. They were very prepared but it was still 11am and most people were just starting out. I think we were the first group to stop here. The schorle was refreshing and the dive team was more than happy to entertain us. They even let us sample their flammkuchen. Excited for the day ahead of us, we rejoined the trail and continued our trek in the direction of Deidesheim, set to meet more friends for lunch at 1. We soon realized we had an hour to ride 4km and decided to stop again.

This time we had a sweet schorle which was very nice. It tasted a bit like a berry ginger ale in case you were wondering. Soon we were biking through the vineyards.

The weather was just perfect but our trek was about to hit a real roadblock. Patrick spent the better part of Saturday getting his bicycle in line on account of the fact that it has not been used since before he went to the US in 2005. He replaced the chain and checked both tires for leaks. It was at this point in our day that the new chain broke. It literally snapped off his bike. Luckily we were pretty close to a bike help station set up by the TKW.

While the bike was on the operating table (they literally put it on a table to fix the chain), the girls wandered into the wine fields for a brief photo shoot.

About one hour and 20 EUR later we were back on the trail and late for lunch. Luckily the friends we were set to meet were also running late and we were able to flag them down as they rode past. I managed to take a picture of the schorle but we were hungry and the camera was away by the time the food came. I had a delicious home made bratwurst and I am generally not a fan of the brats so this was either really good or I was hungry, I would tend to argue in favor of the former.

After lunch we were on the move again, heading towards Wachenheim, home of Schloss Wachenheim which is actually a winery famous for their Sekt. We were not without proper castles. We found this one along the way, we first saw it from a distance when we stopped looking for meat skewers and found an American flag (only waffles so we moved on). When we got closer, it was really picture perfect.

So perfect, in fact, that we asked another cyclist to take our group photo with the castle in the background.

All in all it was a great day and we all instantly agreed to do it again next year. I think this may be my favorite photo from the day, we all look so naturally happy and the sun is shining and the castle is peaking out. This was also where the pony rides were offered by the same family who was selling grilled horse meat but that's a different story.

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