Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bike riding

We are constantly amazed by how much bike riding is going on in our little part of Germany. In addition to lots of sport cyclists, there are also a large number of other bike riders out on any given day. People ride bikes to school and work. They ride their bikes to do their shopping. All grocery stores, drug stores and bakeries have bike racks set up to accommodate bike riders. We often ride to our local gelato shop, offsetting the exercise with a scoop of mango.
Once our kids outgrew the bikes we took to Hong Kong, we did not replace them. There just was not an easy place to ride. Instead, we had bikes at Grandma’s house for summer break and rented bikes on all vacations. Now with bike venues all around us, we just needed the actual bikes. Shopping for us is difficult here as most stores close mid-day on Saturday and stayed closed until Monday morning. Stores also take a sizeable lunch break in the middle of the day. Once we finally got to a bike store that was open, we walked out quickly. Bikes are crazy expensive here! Phil and I now say things like “there goes $5,000 worth of bikes” when we see a family of three ride by. We eventually tapped into the used bike market, buying bikes at prices that we would pay in the states for a new bike. A little paint, a little cleaning and everyone was happy.
Recently we extended our usual bike tour. We rode past the gelato store and kept going for ten kilometers until we reached Starnberg, the nearest town and where we lived when we first arrived in Germany. Our route was all off the main road, on paved and dirt paths through a forest. We rode alongside a stream for awhile. We ended up at the Starnberg Lake, a clear lake rimmed on the far side with the Alps. Revived by all that clean air, we all turned around and rode back home. We thought the kdis might need to put the bikes on the S-bhan and train it back to Gauting but that was not the case. We did, however, need to stop for gelato once back home. And it was definitely a two scoop stop.
A huge boost to biking here are the bike paths themselves. In addition to separate bike paths, bike lanes are marked on all sidewalks. When we first moved here, the sidewalks were covered in snow. And yes, folks were out biking in the snow!We were often scolded by passing riders for walking in the bike section of the sidewalk that to us was invisible. After a few months, the kids all now know where the bike section is and are not above ringing the bell on their bikes if someone strays in front of them. With both bike manners and the ability to order gelato in German, they are well on their way to settling into their new country.


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