Monday, January 2, 2012

I found details of long-ago bike trip up the Mosel and Rhine

(Click to enlarge)

    When I was 14 I took a bicycle trip of Europe with a group out of Florida. It was a three-week trip loosely affiliated with a Baptist church out of Sarasota, Fla., under the direction of the Rev. Tom Watson and his two sons. I suppose I saw their advertisement on the bulletin board at the Holly Springs First Baptist Church Activities Center. I stumbled across my tour materials recently.
    It was a fun trip. There was a devotion time every night, and personally there was a little too much religious emphasis for me. But if you sign up to go it's something you put up with. Patricia Kennedy from Holly Springs also went and had a good time. Her sister, Sylvia, who was 19 or 20, went and was unaware of just how much of a church trip it was. She stayed for a week and then had enough of nightly devotions and went home.
    Our trip started in Luxembourg, and fresh off the plane we visited the American World War II cemetery. We then took a bus to our campsite, in Remich, on the Mosel River, which divides Luxembourg from Germany. From there we rode up the Mosel and then the Rhine, and made good time, as we made it to Cologne in four days. By comparison, some of the Mosel bike tours suggest Trier to Koblenz in six days; on that schedule it would have taken us at least eight days to reach Cologne.
    It looking at our itinerary, shown above, it looks like the trip organizers tended to bunk us down in out-of-the-way towns. I'm sure it was cheaper! We stayed exclusively in campsites, in four-person tents. Some of the campsites were actually pretty nice.
    The first part of the trip was easy biking. We rode up the Mosel and then the Rhine, so it was almost all flat land. It was only after Brussels, when we visited the site of the Battle of the Bulge, that things got tough. I think they call it the "bulge" because there is a "bulge" that you have to go over. No fun! On our first day we peddled 22 miles. On our last day we went more than 60. So we did increase in stamina as we traveled.
    Sites I remember: Trier, Burg Eltz Castle, Cologne, Holland countryside, Amsterdam, Brussels, Waterloo, Bulge, lots of neat, little villages.
    I'm not sure what happened to the Spinning Spokes program. It survived for a number of years. They were doing three tours a year, owned bicycles and had a couple of vans that would take the tents and kitchen gear. I guess nothing lasts forever.
    I'd love to take another bike trip up the Mosel and along the Rhine. There are companies that will sell you a bike trip for top dollar, but for the price they're charging I'd want a limo. I'd like to just take off and stay at youth hostels -- after all, they do have family rooms. Jinny informs me they aren't for our family!
    It was fun once. My guess is that it would be fun to do part of it again.

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