Preparing for Germany
Special to The Gazette
It was a beautiful summer day in 2003, and I was going for my daily walk. I couldn't believe that in two years I would be retired. Not everyone gets the chance to retire at 50, and I wanted to make the most of it. I wanted to do something fun and adventurous with my husband, but what?
We both love the outdors and enjoy skiing and bicycling. I wanted to do something physical and challenging but not unrealistic. How about taking two months and bicycling through Germany on a tandem? If we only biked 20 miles per day, we could cover well over a thousand miles.
It sounded great to me, and I figured that I had a hear and a half to convince my husband, Harald. That evening, I casually mentioned my idea to him. To my amazement, he loved it and was tandem shopping the very next week.
We went to Century Cycles in Medina and were impressed by the friendly, helpful and knowledgeable staff. Since we had zero knowledge about tandems, the manager, Mike, took his time and helped us with every detail. We ended up buying a Santana Noventa tandem. Of course, we both knew how to ride a bicycle, but a tandem requires a little more skill. Teamwork and communication are of the utmost importance.
On a tandem, you have a captain -- the front person who does everything, like steer, shift gears, brake, watch the road, make decisions and issue orders -- and a stoker -- the back person who just pedals. In other words, you need brains AND brawn.
Since Harald and I think each of us is the brains, we decided to split the driving 50-50. It actually work out quite well. Half the time, you're the boss and do all the work, and half the time you can relax and thoroughly enjoy the scenery.
We quickly learned that I neede to improve my driving skills and Harald needed to work on his communication. One thing we both needed to learn was how to mechanically maintain our bike as well as disassemble and reassemble the whole thing for transport. Our teacher was Don, the chief mechanic at Century Cycles. I don't know how many times we went back to him asking for help.
Packing for the trip would take some planning. We would spend 10 weeks in Germany, and all our supplies and luggage needed to fit in the trailer we would tow behind our tandem. The real challenge was taking the minimal amount possible yet being prepared for all weather conditions.
It's finally time for our adventure to begin. Travel is our passion, and we have seen much of hte U.S., Europe and even Asia. Through our business, Cobblestone Tours, we take people on private, custom tours of Europe. But this adventure would be just for the two of us. Spontaneity is the keyword for this trip, and we can hardly wait to see what adventures lie ahead.
Evi and Harald's 10-week German bicycling journey will be chronicled each Saturday in Accent.