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There has been a lot of talk in the media lately about Ontario’s new law that requires motorists to leave one metre between themselves and cyclists. Ottawa Police on bikes are testing a new sonar device to educate drivers about just how far that distance is. Delivery trucks are parking in bus lanes and buses are parking in bike lanes. Several newspaper columnists have written columns about their experiences either as a cyclist, driver or both. In all the comments, the one that spoke to me the most was the one that said something like: there are dickheads on bikes and dickheads behind the wheel. Please everyone stop being dickheads. Read the rest of this entry »

I wasn’t sure what to expect this year after the stress of registration. Bike New York had hired a different company and their servers crashed for the first four hours.

So I was pleasantly surprised when the staggered start was on  time. Central Park also had no bottlenecks.  But all that was waiting at Astoria Park. With only one exit and all riders being forced through it, we waited more than 20 minutes trying to get out.

After that it was smooth sailing under sunny skies. Even the wind wasn’t too bad. We made it to the festival and waited in line for our free TD souvenir photo. Another few miles and we hit the growing line for the ferry. But the TD crew was walking through the crowd handing out free Popsicles to help keep us cool. We chatted to a few people along the way, some from Detroit, Philadelphia,  Australia and even a few locals.

Despite the hiccups,  the overall experience was great. And this time on the ferry I looked not just at the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline,  but also at the Verrazano Bridge behind us.

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Today’s plan was to find some shirts for NosyNeighbour,  a hat for me, and various accessories for our Dahon folding bikes. 

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We arrived at Century 21 shortly after it opened and found some good deals. After dropping off our puchases,  we walked through the Financial District to City Hall and then along Broadway to East 13th Street, to bfold, a bike shop recommended by a guy at the Bike Expo.

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You would never find it walking down the street. It’s jam packed with folders and the most helpful guys. In addition to the big apple tires,  we picked uo the xooter rack and a Thule bag. We also learned a bit about the guy who referred us. We knew he had worked at the store. But we didn’t know he’d sold his violin to buy his first Brompton. We may check out his foldiefoodie tour next time.

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We walked over to Union Square for a quick bite and munched on our pies while we people watched. There was a lot to take in. A tour group were listening to the guide talking about the history of the neighbourhood,  while a hundred people were getting pumped for the New York Marijuana Parade. Methi ks they were gojng to be leaving a bit late and maybe inthe wrong direction.

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After a bit of a hiccup getting on the N whe we needed the R, we eventually made our way back.  NosyNeighbour replaced his tires while I surfed and wrote drafts for the blog, but only after I’d found tge tablet,  which was hidden in the safe.

So,  to kill some time,  we took the free  ferry to the Brooklyn Ikea for an ice cream and a pass by tge Statue of Liberty. The Ikea bistro was ceazy busy. And at leasf now with Ottawa’s bigger Ikea,  I dobt need to shop for stuff here.

Time killed, we returned back to the hotel having walked more than 17,000 steps.  We visited Ulysses’ for supper, sharing some spring rolls. NosyNeighbour gad fish and chips,  and I had the Stone Street salad with chicken. Here’s hooing we’re well fueled for tomorrow.

We spent longer than expected at Woodbury Commons.  Ironically all of our puchases were made at the first store, Northface, which had opened a bit earlier.

Then we set off for Manhattan,  but undecided about which bridge to cross. While we were driving, I used the Garmin to fing a Petco. We’d been looking for a replacement cat harness for our cat, and Petco was the only place I knew of that carried the figure 8 style that works withnour highly active urban cat.

But finding our way back to the Tapanzee bridge was a challenge.  And then we had conflicts between the Garmin and car GPS. What should have been a cheaper route became expensive when we crossed the Triboro
Bridge.

But eventually things work themselves out and we arrived.  After unloading the car, we headed off to Basketball City to pick up our tour packets. We meandered through all the exhibitors and then ate shawarma before returning to the hotel.

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After a quick change,  we set off to Terra Blues to Greenwich Village via the R line. The first band, Saron Crenshaw Trio, played an acoustic set.

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The second group  Michael Powers Frequency,  was plugged in but not too loud. We stayed for a few songs but didn’t feel the connection that we’d had with the first band.

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Interesting ride back in the subway. Ended up on the car with sketchy scruffy guys sleeping on the seats.

We’ve participated in the Five  Boro Bike Tour a number of times.  It’s a great reason to plan a trip to New York and get out o  the bike early.

The last time we left a day earlier and spent the night about an hour outside the city, close to the Woodbury Commons Outlet Mall. it worked outvreally well because you shop for a couple of hours in the morning and don’t arrive as tired as you would after eight hours of driving.

We dropped off our high-maintenance cat at the Pussycat Hotel, which is conveniently located on our way. Then we drove through the Adirondacks on our way to New Windsor. It’s close to Westpoint and has an I ternational airport. We stayed again at the Days Inn,  a bargain at US $67.

Since I’d packed a small cooler, we didn’t need to go out for supper. But we did head out to the local Walmart for a few supplies (beer, chips, fruit, pantyhose). It’s a 24-hour super center,  but later in the evening, the number if open checkouts dwindles.

I found a cashier with no line up but her light was off. So I asked if she was open. She said if it were a small order, sure. I put all our items on the conveyor belt. She asked who was paying. I said he was. And she replied that she wouldn’t have to ask him for ID.  Hahaha! Good one!

The next morning, I ate the blandest breakfast I could. Then I waited to see what would happen with my stomach. We waited until 11:00, and then I made the decision to cycle. I  brought a ziploc bag full of toilet paper, just in case, but managed to make it the whole way without needing it.

Altstadt in Regensburg

Altstadt in Regensburg

The path followed the Danube (or Donau as its known in Germany). Along the way, I was almost taken out by a fishing rod and I caused an accident with NosyNeighbour when I was looking up at a passing fighter jet and slammed on my brakes. It caused him to run into me and fall over. Thankfully there were no injuries and only one of his bags fell of the bike.

The next day in Regensburg, we visited the Apotheke and I finally got a remedy for what was ailing me. I managed to walk around the Altstadt a bit more. It’s actually much bigger than I had first thought, which explains why it’s a UNESCO world heritage site.

And so ended our Bayern Hopfen Radtour. We then headed off to the Black Forest for a night in Gengenbach and then to Freiburg, where I’m currently learning more German. A post about Freiburg will follow at some point.

Freising to Abensberg was the most challenging but most interesting day, full of fields of barley and rows upon rows of hops. It was 66km, but hilly. Not really long and not really steep, but there were lots. And it was another scorcher.

On the way to Abensberg

On the way to Abensberg

Because of all the hills, we didn’t really see much of the towns we cycled through. You were either tucked on the downhill or had your head down and focused on your breathing on the uphills. Until we got to an interesting accommodation in the middle of nowhere

I also had my first near accident on the road. On one of the downhill curvy sections I decided to leave extra space between me and NosyNeighbour. I’m glad I did. And I’m glad I had my mirror on my sunglasses. I could see the van coming up behind me so I slowed down and got right on the edge of the road. Just as he was about to pass me another van came around the corner heading towards us. They both slammed on their brakes right at the point they would have passed me. I went off onto the “shoulder” created by concrete blocks installed beside the road. It was a bumpy ride but at least I wasn’t crushed.

Kuchlbauer Turm in Abensberg

Kuchlbauer Turm in Abensberg

After several back-and-forth emails with the Kuchlbauer Brauerei  the day before we arrived, we managed to book a tour of  of the Hunterwasser Turm. It was in German, but they loaned you the English text. It’s one of the better brewery tours we’ve done, a bit like Willy Wonka for beer lovers. But it would have probably been shorter and more enjoyable in English.

And then something every traveler dreads happened. I got sick. Not a cold, but the type of infliction that has you running (pun intended) to the bathroom all night. As I lay in bed waiting for the next bout, I started surfing the Internet trying to figure out if we could do the last day by train instead. As luck would have it, there is a direct train to Regensburg from Abensburg.

 

From Landshut we cycled to Freising, on what should have been an easy 40k. We’ve stayed in Freising several times as it’s near the Munich airport. So when we got to Moosburg, we thought we’d stop for a snack and check out the town. We each had a Radler and shared some Obazda, then got back on our bikes for what should have been an easy flat 20k finish.

The parking elevator in Freising

The parking elevator in Freising

But soon after we got back on the path, the dreaded Umleitung, or detour, sign appeared.  it meant aditional 6k, including some hills, but the worst part was no longer being able to use the GPS maps we’d created.  We now had to focus on finding the small Umleitung signs for cyclists. But it did mean we got to see farmland and some villages that we wouldn’t have otherwise.

We stayed at our usual hotel in Freising, the Bayerischer Hof. We’ve stayed there a few times because it’s close to the airport without having planes taking off overhead and not too far from Munich. The S-Bahn and express trains take you there in about 20 minutes. The hotel has been renovating the past few times we’ve visited. This time their new parking garage was open. And we got to check out the car elevator to get our bikes into the garage.

Best local restaurant in Freising

Best local restaurant in Freising

In Freising, we made the pilgrimage to the Weihenstephaner biergarten for a beer. It’s up on the hill so you get a great view.

Then for supper we went to the Huber / Hofbrauhaus for another lovely outdoor meal. I loved the way the old men lined up with their backs against the outside wall of the restaurant, staring at everyone in the biergarten. The biergarten is typical Bavarian. Long tables with benches mean you’re likely to share with others. It meant an opportunity for me to practise my German.

I have to admit that we were a bit disappointed that we hadn’t seen a lot of hops to this point.

 

On the way to Landshut

On the way to Landshut

Day three took us to Landshut,  a much prettier and bigger town than Landau. It was 50 km, with most of it paved paths and roads, but the last 10k were brutal. A rough path with big rough stones, cycling beside a dyke with no view and lots of bugs. It was another scorcher, but at least the last part was mostly in the shade.

We stayed at the Himmel Landshut Pension, which is also a cafe. It was a bit awkward finding the pension because it’s mainly a cafe, with access to the rooms through an old crooked door beside the cafe. The rooms have been recently renovated, but for same strange reason they put dark brown shag carpeting on the floors.  But you couldn’t beat the location along the river and just a bridge away from the Altstadt.  Unfortunately,  the Internet wouldn’t work with our North American phones, but we managed to find free hotspots in the Altstadt.

Landshut

Landshut

Because it was Sunday, none of the shops were open. We walked to the end of the pedestrian zone then discovered a castle on the hill as we looked up an alley. We climbed up to the top and saw some great views of the town, the river and a park below. There was even an oompah band playing in the park. Spectators were huddled together in the shady spots under the large trees.

There is also an excellent biergarten 50m down the road. It’s hidden in the back, making it cloistered, which just adds to the ambiance. We had a beer there and tried a new-to-us Bavarian specialty Obazda. It’s a soft Bavarian  cheese mixed with spices and served with bread.

Later, we had supper at the Hofreiter, where I had a huge and tasty chicken and mushroom salad.  NosyNeighbour had the schnitzel.

 

On the way to Landau after applying sunscreen,  hence the blurry cell photo

On the way to Landau after applying sunscreen, hence the blurry cell photo

From Straubing, we cycled 75 km to Landau a. d. Isar. Most of the organized tours had you stay in Deggendorf or Plattling, but we decided to skip them. Let’s just say they seemed quite industrial as we cycled by them.  It was another scorcher of a day, but mostly flat. The best part was the last 10k along the river in the shade.

During our ride we met an oldee4r Belgian man on a fully loaded e-bike. After I had a short German conversation with him, NosyNeighbour finally got to use his French. (That was when we learned he was Belgian.)

Landau isn’t a pretty town, and doesn’t have many hotels. We stayed at the Gasthof zur Post, which is also the town’s German and Croatian restaurant. It didn’t have Internet either, but there was an Internet cafe/casino just down the street, and we were able to pick up some groceries a few blocks away.

First hops siting in Landau

First hops siting in Landau

We had a nice supper in the biergarten until the rain came, and everyone had to run inside with their plates.  NosyNeighbour had the Balkan pork dish with a sausage starter. I had a cheese starter with a pork and Spatzle main course.

After dinner, we went back to the Casino/Internet cafe and surfed a bit. We even played a game of pool.

My legs were a bit burnt or maybe got heat rash with all the heat and sun. But rain is in the forecast starting tomorrow night. And it’s not like I haven’t cycled in the rain before.

The hotel room was good, with  a quasi-balcony, where we dried our clothes. But the shower had some mould issues.

 

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