Wide Wide Wildblood World

Saturday, October 04, 2008

1400 and Counting

Since I last gave an account of myself, upon retirement, I hooked up my first odometer to my trusty cycle at home in Berlin, with help from my more technical half, and logged 1,280 kilometers. Then in Yorkshire it was going haywire and we decided it needed a new battery. BikeLine in Berlin had accomplished a replacement without losing the data, but the shop in Malton was a bit slower and the track record was lost. I did not have the manufacturer’s instructions so Humpty and all the Queen’s Yorkshiremen were unable to put it back together again. Finally, a week later, at highly recommended Babes & Bikes in Wadebridge, North Cornwall, a new cyclocompter was installed. By October 4 I had pedaled another 120 K. The photo shows my rigger Marysia and me securing our bikes on a very rainy evening so we could leave our stud-starred cottage home of one week to drive to a Cornwall retreat. The photographer is our friend and traveling companion, Ewa Madon, shown below with me enjoying a summer walk through the North Yorkshire heather that very same, fine day.

The march of time has been accelerated by travel. After our Danube bike tour, we helped install our daughter in Munich just in time for Oktoberfest. My wife and I attended shows on Rügen and in Nürnberg, a concert in Munich and a play in Berlin, all to see friends and relations perform. We were in Poland for Christmas, at Easter in Brussels for an extremely jocular civil wedding. March saw commuted to Krakow because of the medical emergency and death of my mother-in-law, Janina Stempak. We squeezed in long bike rides in Brandenburg, Vorpommern and Bavaria, logged some two-wheeled K’s in Graz and Amsterdam.
In my accumulating tenure as card-carrying pensioner I have managed only three times to obtain a modest senior-citizen discount. Such perks have gone out of style in Germany and I caused a scene trying to convince a Berlin bus driver to grant me an old-timer’s discount. However, one advantage of retirement was not denied me: being able to stay up late to witness the U.S. primaries and candidates’ debates, the Euro Cup soccer and Olympic basketball tournament. I just managed to find the time to learn enough Croatian to get by during a week with my spouse on the island of Vis. Some of those cycling kilometers were achieved by braving Airedale halfpipes,

hazarding a harrowing, mapless Slavonian ride in the descending gloom to the Hungarian border, during a drenching conquest of a Croatian mountain, and on a flat tire with my fiery Juliet in blistering Verona. In the autumn of my 2008 life I am attempting to acquire a modicum of Hungarian to enable me to pass as a Magyar descendant if I can coax my wife into a bike tour to Budapest in 2009.

That is a priority destination after our visits with Wildbloods in Buckinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, Staffordshire, Shropshire, South Wales and Bristol (see my Wildblood surname website) in fall 2007 and late summer 2008. My next report will probably include New Year’s in Cape Province.