The Pyrénées: crossing rivers and ridges

Having reconnoitered the airport and purchased the bus tickets to get Cheryl and her bike to Bordeaux, on Tuesday, 15 August, I met her flight from Paris. After an initial warm reunion, we stood by the carousel in Baggage Claim until it was clear that neither her bags nor her bicycle were on the aircraft. The Baggage Claim office confirmed that they had been left in Paris, and assured us that they would be delivered the next day. We took the tram back to town, walked to the Garonne River and enjoyed an organ recital at the Cathedral. Continue reading

Brest to Bordeaux: the last solo ride

On Thursday, the last day of July, I struck out across the industrial port of Brest, heading for the Atlantic Coast. After the rain of the last two weeks, the warmth of the sun on my skin and the brilliance of the blue sky felt strange. I was so happy to be riding again. Fortified with breakfast (and a packed lunch) from an artisan boulangerie just before leaving the warehouse district, I followed the Eurovelo 1 bike route down the coast. Continue reading

Breaking Out 2021: the Erie Canal Trail and New York City

Saturday, the 14th of August greeted us with a sunny sky and pleasant temperatures. After the rain of the past two weeks, it felt like paradise. The engineering that went into the locks of the Erie Canal amazed me. In Lockport, for example, the Flight of Five Locks carried the water over the Niagara Escarpment, a drop of sixty feet in about two city blocks. Originally built in 1824, the locks have been restored and now carry traffic up and down the cliffs that, not far away, run under Niagara Falls. Continue reading

Breaking Out 2021: Chicago, Cincinnati and the OTET

LA Times (John Brenner)

On Sunday, the 1st of August, we rode the Southwest Chief out of Flagstaff, Arizona. We made good time through Albuquerque, but then slowed to a bicycle pace in northeastern New Mexico. The heavy rains over the weekend required that the tracks be inspected ahead of our passage. I slept reasonably on the big seats. Continue reading

Breaking Out 2021: Leaving US-89

On Friday, the 23rd of July, we rose early. I drove back to Torrey for ice. We noticed that the gas station at the intersection of US-12 and US-24 had block ice, which lasts much longer in the cooler we bought in Salt Lake City. Continue reading

Breaking Out 2021: US-89 and other great roads

As we broke camp on Saturday, the 3rd of July, the air around Mammoth Camp in Yellowstone National Park was cool, though the cloudless sky promised severe sunburn to those who forgot their sunscreen. We rode to the commercial center around the Visitor Center. There, we saw the homeless guy we met last night hitchhiking home to Santa Barbara. Continue reading

The Somme and Seine: Rouen and Chartres

dscn4246.jpgSaturday the 22nd of July, I saddled up and rode to the main train station in Boulogne-sur-Mer. I had not planned to run alongside the Somme, but the tracks followed the swollen river all the way to Amiens. I needed to get off at Saint Roch to change for Rouen, but, mesmerized by the scenery, I almost missed my stop. Continue reading

The Rhine: Koblenz to Köln

DSCN3985Thursday morning the 29th, my host Nasr went to his German class. I did my laundry, then walked east along the Mosel River to the Deutsches Eck (“German Corner”), the point of land formed by the confluence of the Mosel and the Rhine. There, I caught a cable car to the imposing Festung Ehrenbreitstein that overlooks the east bank of the Rhine River. Continue reading

The Saar and the Mosel: Kaiserslautern to Koblenz

DSCN3906On Saturday, the 24th of June, I left Kaiserslautern. The Regional Express went all the way to Koblenz, but I got off in Trier, the medieval fortress town at the confluence of the Saar and the Mosel.

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From my studies of Modern European History in high school and college, I had expected the Saar valley to be industrialized for its entire length. Wrong: in this fertile, winegrowing region, the Saar weaves through a floodplain covered in crops, vineyards and woods. Continue reading

A week in the Palatinate

DSCN3896On Friday, 16 June, Caitlin brought me back from the Landstuhl Army Regional Medical Center (ARMC) to recover and to wait for my follow-up visit on Wednesday. The week off the bicycle gave me a chance to appreciate this part of Germany in more depth. Continue reading