My Inappropriate Bike (and Inappropriate Decision-Making)

| July 6, 2015

Today I rode my city bike through a farm. This would not be a big deal if 1) it was not a freaking city bike, and 2) I hadn’t just yesterday vowed to not ride on inappropriate terrain.

Yesterday was so hot that I lost all ability to even. I just couldn’t even. In fact, the only thing I could even, was sit around saying “I can’t even” all day. Up through yesterday, we had a string of 100-degree days. Germans don’t do air conditioning. To condition the air, you get up in the morning, open all the windows, and then seek the perfect moment to close them before the air temperature outside exceeds the temperature inside and suffocates you.

Paul got up at 0400 yesterday to accomplish this task. In other words, while I was attempting to get my first full night’s sleep in days, he was attempting unsuccessfully to quietly open giant windows and raise the rolladens. If you don’t know what rolladens are, they’re metal shades that cover your windows from the outside. On cold days, it helps keep the warmth inside; on hot days, it protects you from the sun beating into your house and causing you to melt.

When we first rolled into Dieburg to view this house during our first month in Germany, we thought the town was boarded up. All of these perfect little houses had metal on the windows–metal which happened to be down in the sunny midday. It felt like I was in Anacostia, not Germany. But it turns out they were just ensuring the house remained at a comfortable temperature.

Boarded up?  Nope.  Just staying cool.

Boarded up? Nope. Just staying cool.

Rolladens are also helpful in summer in general, since we have to try to to sleep while it’s still bright as hell outside. The fact is, it was light out when I woke up at 0408. This is not natural.

Now. I recently began to bike for exercise. This is pretty miraculous, given some of my early biking experiences (okay, and a few recent ones). But I’ve managed to stay upright on the bike enough days recently that I’m ready to make biking a regular thing. I was unable to bike Friday, so I had planned on biking yesterday when I got up. And that’s how I came to be on my bike at 0600 on a Saturday morning.

I don’t want to go into a full description of my 15km bike ride.  Fifteen kilometers might not seem like a lot to an actual biker, but for me, it is a miracle that I made it that far without crashing.  I am not a fast biker, so 15km takes more than a minute.  What I will do, is give you some of what went through my head during the ride. I will also remind you, again, that I have a city bike, which is completely inappropriate for trails.  The tires are about as wide as my pinkie.

The bike provides a constant reminder that it is a city bike, right within my field of vision as I ride.  And I'm going to guess that's a leaf of patch of grass stuck in the frame in this photo.  Because I don't know what "city bike" means.

The bike provides a constant reminder that it is a city bike, right within my field of vision as I ride. And I’m going to guess that’s a leaf stuck in the frame in this photo. Because I don’t know what “city bike” means.

 

Thoughts I had

“This looks like a rough trail. Should I be here?”

“I hope I don’t blow a tire.”

“Why am I now on a main road with no bike path? There are people driving 70km on this road. I am not ready for this.”

“Shit, I’m already back in Dieburg. Now what.”

“Huh, I wonder where this goes.”

“Why are there no more bike path signs?”

“I can probably go this way.”

“I hope I don’t blow a tire.”

“I should not be going this way.”

“I hope all these damn pinecones don’t take me down.”

“I’ll just go this way a little longer. Surely it’ll hit an actual bike path.”

“WHY IS THERE NO BIKE PATH?”

“I hope I don’t blow a tire.”

“What is biting me? How is that going through my leotard?”

“Where am I?”

“Surely I’ll hit an actual bike path soon.”

“I hope I don’t blow a tire.”

“WHAT IS BITING ME?”

“If another branch smacks me in the face, so help me God.”

“I probably should have turned there.”

“THANK GOD I AM HOME ALIVE.”

“Is my leg bleeding? Fucking bugs.”

“From now on, I’m sticking to paved bike paths.”

Today, then, you’d think I would have stuck to paved bike paths. And I did, for a while. Then, somehow the bike path disappeared and I was riding through a town. I was on its main road for a bit, being passed by impatient people who reaaallllly wanted to pass me, until I was able to turn off onto a neighborhood road that looked like it might take me back to the bridge I needed to take over the highway. It did not. Instead, I came out at the bridge that I did not want to take over the highway. I was on a 70-km road that crosses exit ramps leading to and from a 130km road. Even on a marked bike path, I don’t want to cross exit ramps. In fact, I don’t want to do anything on a bike, and I don’t know why I climb on them in the first place.

I saw what appeared to be a bike path paralleling the road. Hoping it would lead to an underpass, I walked the bike through knee-high weeds, down a small ravine.  It was not a bike path. The way was paved for a few feet, then turned into a grassy path for farm vehicles. But, due to obvious brain damage, I took it.

The next thing I knew, I was bumping through farmland.

The next thing I knew, I was bumping through farmland.

I was now paralleling the highway, which I knew that I could not cross anytime soon in the direction I was headed.  At one point, I became very excited to notice an underpass.  When I got closer, though, I realized that it was a creek.  I briefly contemplated swimming back under the highway, especially since by now I was dying of thirst, since I forgot to pack water because I have no brain. Eventually, I circled the farms and ended up right back where I’d taken the path.  This time, I stayed on the main road with the exit ramps to the highway, and crossed into town.  Nothing eventful happened in town, except perhaps the triumph of not crashing my bike when squeezing between a municipal truck and a tree.

german farm, geese

At least I found the goose farm from whence our festival-purchased down comforters came?

 

Tomorrow, I am staying on paved bike paths.

 

 

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Category: In Germany A Broad blog, Shits & Giggles, Uncategorized

About the Author ()

Kari Martindale is a writer and ESL instructor. She’s visited all 50 states and 37 countries, including many of the big cities of Europe and a ton of Christmas Markets. She spends her days straddling the fence between a sense of adventure and a sense of dread. She is married to what is clearly a patient man and has a daughter who, frustratingly, is just like her. Her academic and professional backgrounds are in linguistics and foreign languages. When she's not teaching ESL, she's writing. When she's not writing, she's thinking about her next trip.

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