We've been busy since we biked into Germany a few weeks ago- visiting some good friends in Dortmund, biking to 7 shows, meeting some amazing folks from all around the world, and learning some great German words like 'genau', which means 'exactly' and is used liberally in conversation, and 'bitte', which is possibly the most versitile word. 'Bitte' can mean 'please', 'pardon?', 'you're welcome', 'here you go', or even 'may I help you?' depending on the context... so when in doubt, just say 'bitte'.
Today, we're taking a rest day in Ludwigsburg and catching up on some things like blogging while we have access to a computer. Which leads me to a sad piece of news: we found out at an apple store in Cologne that our laptop is toast. Soggy, Amsterdam-canal-water-corroded toast. So for now we're relying heavily on Paul's phone and the kindness of hosts to let us use their computer for things like GPS routing and blog posting.
Okay, I know you only really care about the pictures... so here they are!
Having wide tires and suspension makes the dirt and gravel roads a nice option over roads with heavy traffic. Lots of farm land here with secondary roads running between fields.
There is a spectacular amount of grape production here, and a lot of what we've seen is on incredibly steep slopes. We biked along the Rhine River most of the way from Cologne to Mannheim, and there were rows and rows of grapes everywhere.
This particular vineyard had rock terraces contructed on the hillslope, along with rock staircases so the workers could climb all the way to the top. I can't quite believe someone hauled that many rocks up such a steep slope!
Rhine River valley. Note the rows of grapes perched on the steep slope.
We had an awesome visit to SoLaWi Stopperich. We shared a delicious potluck feast, Paul shared his music and stories of bike touring with the help of a very kind translator, took a tour of the farm, and let people test ride our bikes! SoLaWi is the German equivalent to a CSA in the US, hoewver, in Germany a lot of SoLaWis are started by a group of people in a community that look for or hire a farmer, as opposed to in the US where most CSAs are started by farmers who look for CSA members. We loved meeting the kind and generous people who support community agriculture!
Paul played at another farm a few days later at SoLaWi Rhein-Neckar. Again, a great group of people and a lovely setting for a Freedom From Fuel Tour show.
I spy with my little eye... Paul Doffing in Mannheim, Germany.
Visiting HP Velotechnik, the company that makes our amazing Street Machine recumbents, was a definite highlight of the trip. Heiko, the happy German in the above picture, handles their online media. He showed us all around their building, orchestrated the show Paul played at their lunchtime BBQ, set us up with some 'Liegradfuzzi' (recumbent bike freak) t-shirts, fixed a few parts on our bikes and so much more. Huge thanks to all the folks at HP Velotechnik for their time and support!
Construction for the Cologne Cathedral began in 1248 and finished in 1880
A newly constructed bike trail in Wuppertal was the perfect way to enter the city with no stress and lots of great views.
Wuppertal was an awesome place- we took the Schwebabahn, a suspended train in Wuppertal that Paul was giddy about, to a show that our hosts set up just two days in advance at a really cool Cafe that upcycles furniture.
Kulturcafe Lictung in Cologne
Woopah! Our first mechanical issue of the tour- my chain snapped. Luckily I always tour with plenty of tools, and a bike mechanic :)