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September 3rd, 2000 · No Comments

September 3, 2000 Luxembourg to Luxembourg

Day 247

This morning the skies were overcast, promising another day of rain, but I was anxious to get back on the road again, so I left the cozy sanctuary of the winery and headed southwest, towards Luxembourg.  My plan was to ride along the Mosel River for 20 or 30 kilometers, then catch a train to the Luxembourg border, cycling the rest of the way in.  It was a terrific plan, I didn’t have a map or a DRG but I knew the general direction of the city.  It was another day and another adventure, on my own.

I am riding with a heavier load than normal, my bright red panniers are almost full.  I am hauling more than the average cyclist, a computer, pocketmail device, digital camera, cd player, two sets of bike clothes, 2 jackets (1 light, 1 Gortex), rain pants, 2 spare tubes, tools, a water bottle, cosmetics and some snacks. If it weren’t for the tech equipment, my load would be much lighter, but I couldn’t waste the time off, the website needed to get caught up and the only way to do it is to park some place for a day or two and work.

Riding with full panniers and being autonomous, is a great feeling.  I could change my plans at a moments notice and go anywhere I want, I had all I need.  It is a great feeling of empowerment, one that I prefer over being told where to go each day and having to keep up.

Once I arrived in the country of Luxembourg, I stopped at a gas station to find some food.  All I had on me was  a 100 mark bill, I got a carton of milk and the attendant gave me back change in francs, 2100 of them.  It was a new country and now a new money mindset.  The exchange rate for Luxembourg is 41.658 francs to the dollar.  Now when I see prices I must divide by 40 to get an idea of the cost.  Germany was much easier, I only had to divide by 2.

But Germany is behind me now, at least until we fly out of Koln next week.  For now I will be traveling in the Benelux countries, everything changes again, the language, the road signs and the money.

September 4, 2000 Luxembourg Layover

Day 248

The problem with traveling at the pace we are traveling is speed at which we are receiving information and input.  I’m in a new and wonderful country, but I’m tired.  Not so much physically tired, but mentally tired of the grind of sightseeing.  Every once in awhile I feel my brain just can’t hold anymore information.  I’m afraid the “hard drive” is going to crash and I won’t remember all that I’ve seen so far.  Today is one of those days.

It’s Labor Day back home.  A day I would normally get up very early and drive to Colorado Springs to watch the balloon festival.  I have been going there for 2 decades, mostly I love to watch and if I’m lucky, get to help with the RE/MAX balloon.  It’s a tradition that has become part of what I associate with Labor Day.  After the balloons finish, we go for a nice brunch somewhere, then go home and take a nap before having a bar-be-que.

But one problem, right now I’m in Luxembourg, a small and very old principality located between Germany and Belgium. I don’t think they do Labor Day, but they were doing some sort of celebration went I reached the downtown area.  All  the stores were having a “sidewalk” sale.  I think it was a back to school sale, because there were kid-type things everywhere.  It was the next best thing to a festival for me, so I walked the streets enjoying shopping for a bargain.  Or course I  need nothing, but still it’s fun to look.

The popular food items were waffles and sausage.  The waffles were the fat type we think of as Belgium waffles, they were serving them cold, topped with either whipped cream or powered sugar.  The wonderful aroma of the waffle was hard to resist, so indulged myself enjoying one as I walked the streets.  It was good, but I would have preferred to have a hot one with butter and syrup.  I wondered if they ever thought of that?

Luxembourg has many tourist attractions, including a mini tram that tours the area.  I didn’t take any tours, I was just not excited about making the brain work.  Please don’t take this as a bad reflection on Luxembourg, it was just me and my mood, not the location.

September 5, 2000 Luxembourg to Barvaux, Belgium

Day 249

Team Bahnhof was getting ready to leave just in time for me to join them.  Jane had a bike trail map of Luxembourg, so we had a plan, sort of.  Luxembourg only lasted 50k or so before we hit Belgium, then we would need to plan, plan “b”.

The temperature is getting chillier each day.  Today was overcast with a stiff breeze for the north, yes it was the direction we were headed.

The traffic in Luxembourg on Tuesday was much more significant than it was on Monday. We were sure it was a “Labor Day” holiday the day before.  We carefully navigated out of the city, riding half of the time on the sidewalks to avoid close encounters with cars and trucks.

As we rode we kept watching for the bike trail, but it was not showing up.  After exiting the city we decided the trail must be a myth since we could not find it anywhere.  By this time we were far “off route.”  We decided to just continue north, eventually we would find the trail.  It took 25 k before we found a continuous trail, as we guessed, it turned out t be an awesome trail, worth waiting for.

The trail was wide slab of concrete.  I traveled through the forest where the trees were so tall and the air was cold and crispy.  Then we passed farmer’s field after field.  It was sp peaceful, just traveling to the sound of the birds over head.

After a while we were dumped back on a country road again.  The traffic was so sparse it was still a pleasure riding.  We caught up to the TK&A route having gone 18k out of our way.  All the riders were long gone, but he locals were still curios about the “yellow heads” and would wave to us.

We were all hungry and kept looking for a cafe to grab some lunch.  Nothing was open in village after village.  These people take their afternoon time seriously, stores close from noon until 2 or 3.  Time off is more important than making money.

We lucked out when we stumbled upon a camp store that was still open.  They had a small stock of goodies. so we all had a “junk food” lunch, while sitting on the steps of the camp store.

Jane C, Rich, Valerie, Me and Jane M.

Yesterday I had Merlyn the mechanic fix my brakes.  He tightened them much more than I’m used too.  All day I’ve been trying to remember to squeeze gently so I don’t go head over tea kettle on them.

Well today I almost had a major crash.  Going down a hill there was a curve at the bottom, I went to break and my rear brake locked up.  I went into a skid, the back tire was going sideways. I let up  quickly, came out of the skid and made the turn all in one piece!  Jane Carter watched this whole incident and was more frightened by it then me.  The rest of the day she kept reminding me about the brakes.

I felt like a race car going up Pikes Peak, I love when they slam on their brakes before the turn so the rear wells slide in a line with the road. Of course I was going downhill and fast.  I came very close to laying the bike down.

I got a taste of adrenalin today!  I didn’t like it.

As soon as possible I am going to replace the rear wheel.  Merlyn told me it’s time to consider a new one.  the flat spot in it makes the brakes grab.  It’s getting worse.  TK&A is charging $275 for a new rear wheel.  I hate to pay the inflated price when a good bike shop could build a new one from my old hub for about $100 or so.  But today after nearly leaving some skin on the pavement, $275 doesn’t seem so bad!

Everything is relative.

Tags: Luxembourg · Northern Europe