Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Maiden Bicycle Voyage

With Summer coming to an end, we really wanted to make the most of the long days and good weather out in the fresh air.  We always said we would buy bikes when we got to Germany, so now was a good time.
After shopping  around a little we made our purchases.  I decided to opt for the sweet girly road bike, while Arne chose the hardier mountain bike. 

It must be said however, that I haven’t owned a bike since I was about 11 years old.  I did two bike rides when we were on holiday recently and very nervously made it the whole way without falling off.  I really enjoyed it. It was a nice controlled ride following the tour guide in a group, not having to watch the traffic too much.  In Amsterdam I had to pass a garbage truck so I steered onto the pavement knocking over a few flower pots as I went, with Arne shouting from behind, “Just keep going, don’t stop!”.   So needless to say I was a little nervous.  

Thank goodness Arne has the giant car that he does, because we don’t have a bike rack, and both bikes were able to fit very easily into the car.  
We headed off to a little town called Oestrich-Winkel on the way to Rudesheim, and parked the car.  I was told that one could cycle along the Rhine River from there without going on the road. Perfect, as I would be able to avoid traffic and pavements.  The scenery was beautiful.   

 There was one part of the ride where I wished I’d bought a mountain bike too. It was very muddy and I skidded a few times, scraping past the stinging nettle bushes I’ve been warned about.  It was a really easy-going ride, and the weather was cool and breezy, so we didn’t swelter in the heat. When it started to rain we checked our Google map on the phone to see how much further to go to Rudesheim…10km! 

We decided to turn back and head for the car.  All in all we cycled about  1hour, so it was good going for a starter ride.
Then we decided to go for a coffee.  Cycling past the car, we thought we’d simply head on, and come back to the car later. Dam, if only we’d walked to the coffee shop. On our way back, with about 100m to go to the car, I crashed!! There was car coming my way, and I thought I’d try avoiding it by mounting the pave, and honestly, it was a tiny mount, not a big jump. But somehow my front wheel didn’t play that part, and I fell face-first into a 1m high wall, crushing my cheek bone, scraping my glasses, and grazing my knee.  My nice new ‘woolies’ track pants had a huge hole in them, when I lifted up the material…yip, there was blood.  I checked to see if all my teeth were intact, check! Arne came racing to my rescue.  And there was a man leaving his house at the time who witnessed the fall, so he came to make sure I was alive. Then he disappeared and came back a minute later with ice; very kind of him. I might have had a black and blue face if not for that ice. Luckily I was wearing my helmet which took some of the fall.  Some very concerned old people walked past as I was sitting on the pavement, blood gushing off my knee, and holding ice to my face, tears streaming down my cheeks – a sorry sight to say the least!  They wanted to know if I needed an ambulance. When we said I was ok, they were so concerned and made sure we had a cell phone and told us to go to the hospital to get checked out.  I was quite dazed and confused, not concussed though, but probably in shock.  Off we went to Rudehseim hospital to get me examined.  It was a very calm and peaceful experience, I must say, for an emergency set up.  The nurse who received us said I wasn’t the first bike crash of the afternoon – great, I felt better already, not.  Before Arne knew that the man was a nurse, he asked him “Do you think my wife will need an x-ray of her head”. The man jokingly said “I don’t do the thinking, I’m not the doctor”. So he cleaned me up, and the doctor checked me out. I was good to go. They gave me pain killers which is probably what I needed most.
Definitely not my most flattering look. I now have a bruise too, and feel the need to tell new people I meet what happended so they don't think someone punched me!
So, my maiden bike voyage was a bitter sweet one.  I loved the bike ride, but got a huge fright when I crashed. Now I need to get back on the saddle and ride again.  I think I may need a few lessons on how to maneuver the bike first. Arne will have to take me to a quiet park and teach me.

More "on the road stuff"…Driving lessons
I’ve booked a driving lesson for next week. The good news is I don’t need to re-do the test, I only need to convert my SA license to a German one. But because the rules are a bit different here, and we drive on the right hand side, as opposed to SA where we drove on the left, I figured I should have a few lessons before I get a car.  The roads here are also a lot narrower, with lots of cars parked in the road, so I need to practice a bit, and decided not to practice in Arne’s giant German car as it’s so big.  But after I made the booking, I went onto the website and discovered the car I will be learning in…OMG!  
The station wagon, very popluar among German drivers...and driving schools :-)
This guy must be a really good instructor.  I thought most driving schools had small cars to make it easier to pass the test.   Oh well, watch this space...


  1. I hope the bruising goes away soon. You can always ask Arne about some of the spectacular wipe-outs he has had.... I remember coming back from riding some of the tracks around Rhodes University one afternoon, and Arne tried to hop over a speed-bump in the road. Well, let's just say he didn't make it.....

  2. Thanks Geoff. I think Arne 'forgot' to tell me about that :-)