December 31, 2015

2015 in Retrospective

In January we rediscovered hiking (once again...), and got to celebrate a mum's big birthday. February and March came and went without major events. April had one recovering from surgery, and May had a niece's wedding and a short two-wheeled vacation at the Cote d'Azur in store for us.


In June the man visited friends in Sweden. In July birthday plans of traveling to Amsterdam got cut short due to illness, and we went to London in August instead.


A dreadful job was quit, we traveled home to Canada, and a person's life got reanimated in September by a major solo motorcycle road trip through the maritime provinces.


Alas, in October that someone got pulled back into the treadmill. November and December were all work and not much play, however included some hiking and biking (on new bicycles no less).


Year's end is leaving us with mixed feelings after a year with lots of work and not enough time to play. No new year's resolutions have been made except to stay healthy, to continue exercising, and maybe the opportunity to spend more time together. And there is a trip to Iceland in the works!

Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year 2016.

December 30, 2015

Two-wheeled Memories of 2015


Countries, people, adventures... the spice of two-wheeled travels.
Länder, Menschen, Abenteuer... die Würze des Reisens auf zwei Rädern.

2015 blogger encounters/Begegnungen:
Guido (London, England)
Nikos (London, England)
El Diente (London, England)
Funny (Leverkusen, Germany)
V-Star Lady (Kingston, Canada)
Traveling with Gary (from Black Forest, Germany to Grimaud, France)
Redleg (Heidelberg, Germany)
Canajun (Ottawa, Canada)
David (Montreal, Canada)


Epic trips in 2015:

Life is good!

December 24, 2015

A Merry Christmas Ride


Germany will be closed for the Holidays, three days in a row. Imagine three days without any option to buy groceries, to return your gifts or to just go out and browse. Grocery stores? Closed! Bakeries? Closed! Shops? ALL CLOSED! Finally, now that I have a couple of days off, I can't even spend the money I've earned...


Anyway, temps were hitting 16°C (60°F), and I took Alonzo, my Vespa scooter to run some final errands. Of course I had to go the long way round.


This is not how the Black Forest should look like in December. The weather should be more frightful, then a fire would certainly be delightful, and since we wouldn't have some place to go... may it snow, may it snow, may it snow. At least on the hills and mountains... please?


Happy Holidays to all of you out there!


***

Ein weihnachtlicher Ausritt
Wir Deutschen kennen das ja, die Geschäfte werden nun drei ganze Tage geschlossen sein, und da wir sonst den frühen Hungertod erleiden würden, sind die letzten Einkaufstage vor Weihnachten immer stressig. Nicht aber, wenn man früh genug damit anfängt, die Kühlschränke (ja, wir haben zwei) zu füllen, und ansonsten das Essen anfahren lässt (Mama kocht!). Ein paar Kleinigkeiten werden kurz vor Toresschluss schnell noch auf dem Roller erledigt, den so gibt's dann auch keine Parkplatzprobleme. Danach fahre ich noch einen kleinen Umweg über die Dörfer, solange es das Wetter und die Temperaturen um 16°C hergeben. Zwei entgegenkommende Motorradfahrer auf BMW grüßen mich, ich winke enthusiastisch zurück. Draußen sitzen die Leute bei Kännchen-Kaffee und Schwarzwälder-Kirsch, während ich mir wünsche, es läge wenigstens ein bisschen Schnee auf den Hügeln und Bergen. Aber jetzt genießen wir erst einmal ein paar gemütliche, gesellige, gefräßige Familientage und wünschen Euch allen da draußen friedliche Festtage und einen guten Rutsch.

December 19, 2015

Yes, we can... higher, faster, further!


After a while of hemming and hawing over the purchase I finally bought the kind of bike that is supposed to carry the so inclined rider up the hills and mountains: A medium priced entry level hard tail mountain bike.

Meet 'Spike' the bike, my Merida Big Seven 40

When I took this model on its first test ride uphill right behind our local bicycle shop I was pleasantly surprised how easy hill climbing on a pedal powered two-wheeler can be. The incline was up to 12% but the bike's gear shift mastered the task effortlessly. I almost felt like an athlete  ;-) After the dealer threw in a lady saddle for enhanced comfort, some street legal lights and a bottle holder as - quote: an early Christmas present - we had a deal, and the bicycle became mine.


After a second breakfast and a coffee back home I went on a first official test ride: The first stretch uphill... no issue. Over rocks, rubble and roots... great grip and balance. On tarmac... boy, does that thing go fast. I am far from being a real sportswoman, however this bicycle almost makes me feel like I could be one... in due time.



***

Wir können auch schneller, höher, weiter!
Nachdem ich eine Weile hin und her überlegt hatte, habe ich mir nun doch die Art Fahrrad zugelegt, die es ermöglichen soll, auch Hügel und Berge zu erklimmen: Ein nicht zu teures Anfänger Hard Tail Mountain Bike. Direkt auf der ersten Testfahrt bestieg ich den mit 12% nicht gerade flachen Hügel hinter unserem lokalen Fahrradhändler und war verwundert (und begeistert), wie einfach es doch sein kann, mit einem Pedal betriebenen Zweirad Steigungen zu überwinden. Ich kam mir fast schon sportlich vor. Als der Händler dann noch einen Damensattel für besseren Komfort, legale Straßenbeleuchtung und einen Flaschenhalter - Zitat: als verfrühtes Weihnachtsgeschenk - gratis hinzu gab, war der Deal geritzt und ich radelte das Fahrrad nach Hause.

Nachdem wir noch ein zweites Frühstück zuhause eingelegt hatten, wollte ich das neue Teil natürlich auf einer offiziellen Testfahrt ausprobieren. Der erste Teil des Weges ging direkt bergauf... kein Problem. Dann ging es über Stock, Stein und Geröll... klasse Grip und gute Balance. Und dann auf dem Asphalt... ging das Bike ab wie ein Zäpfchen. Mann, ist das schnell. Ich bin zwar keine Sportskanone, aber dieses Fahrrad gibt mir das Gefühl, dass ich mit ein wenig Geduld (und noch mehr Kondition) eine werden könnte...

December 13, 2015

Yes, we can!


Today, we cycled 32km on our vintage bikes, in spring like temperatures no less. Imagine negotiating hills with only eight gears at your disposal...

***

Bei frühlingshaften Temperaturen machten wir heute eine kleine Radtour von 32km auf unseren Retro-Fahrrädern. Man stelle sich vor, Hügel zu erklimmen, während man nur acht Gänge zur Verfügung hat...

Springlike Temperatures in December


The man had the brilliant idea to take the bicycles in order to visit the Marktscheune, a farmer's market close to the touristy village of Gengenbach. The temperatures reminded more of early spring, while we meandered along the Kinzig river, the wind was calm for a change, and the sun was shining. A perfect day for a ride...


... however, not the perfect weather for a visit of the Christmas market. It was just too warm to really enjoy Glühwein (mulled wine) or cocoa punch, but what could you do... so Roland had a bratwurst, while we strolled along the little booths. Then we continued our trek.


The farmer's market was packed with people, so we grabbed some regional veggies, and left the venue after having warmed up a bit at a fire pit.


After returning home the wife went to prepare a cabbage soup, while hubby tended to baking a gluten free bread. Needless to say that both turned out delicious.

crusty and gluten free

The soup warmed us up from the inside, and the bread had the crunchiest crust... yum! A nice treat after a ride, that turned out to be quite the exercise when on vintage cycles.

December 06, 2015

Another hike, another tower!


It was a busy week for both of us without any kind of workout, so after 'enjoying' a 5km run on Saturday we decided to do another hike in the nearby area that has a vast selection of steep hills to offer.


Sonja had brought home a flyer regarding a relatively new look-out tower on a hill called 'Urenkopf' which sounds like 'clock head', but indeed originally was derived from an old German word for swamp. The area must have been pretty much tree-less in older times, and very muddy.  


The start of the hike was extremely steep, but after a few hundred meters the slope started to get smoother. 


We passed a couple of historic buildings, like the 'Chapel at the Holy Spring' or a hut that was built by a recluse painter two hundred years ago.


After a very strenuous hike we finally made it to the top of the hill. We had another 80 meters to the top of the tower ahead of us, but now it was time for a 'Vesper' (a snack). We had brought tea, cake (gluten-free, of course), some eggs (for Roland) and water. It was a feast! 


Strengthened by our meal we climbed the 180 steps (33 meters) and were rewarded with a breathtaking view over the Kinzig river valley.

November 29, 2015

Premature New Year's Resolutions

This year we are starting off early with our good resolutions for the New Year because matter-of-factly 2015 has been a year of underachievement with regards to fitness.

Ok, our activity curriculum contained of some hiking, walking and bicycling, but not as much as we had planned to do, because we were partly thrown off the track by health issues, work schedules and, we dare name it: pure and simple laziness.


This is going to change. We did our first 10k run today... and survived. Ok, it is not a marathon, but given our current fitness level we call this an achievement. Let's see where this path will lead us.

November 22, 2015

White Wonders


It's that time of the year again. One can either stay in bed and sleep in or... yes, we did the latter, and went out for a lovely hike through this temporary (?) winter wonderland. 


We didn't have to worry about getting stuck. As a matter of fact winter driving can be a lot of fun, when your car is equipped with 4WD and winter tires.



Every so often we were bombarded by hail and sleet. The hike was steep but the view was well worth the effort.


We found this cross in the fields, braving the elements since its installation in 1908. 


There was no one to be seen in the forest except for us, and a deer. Surprised by the unexpected wildlife encounter we looked at each other. We didn't hear it coming, because the white stuff had cancelled all noise. It was so silent that you could actually hear the snow hit the ground. Back home we thought how nice it would be to have a fireplace... alas that's something you don't get much in modern housing.

November 15, 2015

Strange Encounters in the Forest


Another sunny, albeit somewhat colder day in an unbelievable pleasant November. We decide to do a hike right in front of our doorstep. As usual the first two kilometers are the hardest as we climb approximately 200m before we slowly start a long descent back to our place.


The sun does not have the power to warm up the cool forest, so although we need regular short stops to catch our breath we do not break into sweat. But we have a couple of strange encounters in the forest...

Someone carved a figure into a tree. Must have been there for a few years, but we never noticed it before:

Nature decided to change a tree stump into a dog sculpture:

A very rugged looking free-running hen looking for some food in the leaves. She looked pretty hungry, so we did not try to approach her:

There is always something going on in the black forest!