2/25/15

Gravel Grinding German style....!

Years ago when I lived in Vienna, Austria, I used to love taking my bike up into the Wienerwald to ride for hours and hours on the gravel roads that meandered through the woods. These are not the kind of gravel roads we are used to in the US, but are called fire roads, or rather - Fortstraße. They are not open to vehicles outside of Park Rangers. But they are open for hikers, joggers, and cyclists.

I happen to be staying at the entrance to Kilometers, and Kilometers of these gravel roads. The weather has finally turned in the right direction to allow me to get out and enjoy the beauty as the snow and ice are mostly gone. So today as temperatures hit the mid to upper 40's, it was time to take advantage of the climbs, the descents and the fresh air without having to worry about cars.

Today's ride on the way up...

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I climbed for a total of 9.42 miles which tested my quads and lungs, but it was refreshing to be out in the woods enjoying the beauty and grinding some gravel - German style! 9.42 miles!!!! Tell me where in Iowa you can climb a gravel road that goes up for 9.42 miles? It's right out my front door!!!

Delicious is all I can say. It brings back all the fun memories of spending most of 2002 and 2003 in the Wienerwald on the bike rehabbing my knee after tearing my meniscus.

Not to worry - I'll be back for much more as it is time to jumpstart the legs and the training after the past 6 weeks have seen my pedal time dwindle due to weather, travel and work. Obviously, work takes full precedence, but with the expanded daylight hours and the heavy lifting of the first 5 or 6 weeks due to administrative duties over with for the most part - I can now begin to enjoy why I brought my Roubaix along.  The gravel roads, climbs and descents are perfect for the Roubaix (as well as my 30mm Challenge Strada Bianca Tires).

Here's a video from a segment near the end of today's ride as I was coming out of the forest and back into the edge of town where the pavement started...



Tomorrow will be sunny again and 50 - so I'll be out as well trying to milk 2+ hours out of the gravel between class and the evening Pizza gathering we do every Thursday as a group.

German style Gravel Grinding has begun!

2/23/15

Nürnberg visit...

We arrived in Nürnberg on Friday for a 3 day stint to study and see the city. We kept busy seeing museums, walking through the city, and were exhausted by the end of our 3 days. Many things we did not get to see as this is at least a 5 day minimum visit type of town. At least if one wants to see more of the highlights from the museums and attractions. I guess I'll just have to go back...

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There is a rich culture and history in this most German of German cities. The head of the Holy Roman Empire which marked the 1st Reich includes the Kaiserburg...

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...and Die Goldene Bulle...

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The centuries of the Holy Roman Empire certainly allowed time for building churches in Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque, and even some neo- versions.

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There is no shortage of artifacts to view in museums that represent the city's rich historical and cultural contributions.

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Albrecht Dürer being the most famous of the local artists. The city is right to take a proud claim of Dürer and his works. A bronze public sculpture near his home and his workshop just below the Kaiserburg overlooking the city filled one of our afternoons as we toured the museum...

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Walking around for many hours, standing and viewing things in museums can lead to a nice Jause in the late afternoon...

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We stayed near the opera house...

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I enjoyed the city at night. The Hauptmarktplatz which is full during the day with the open air market , was peaceful in the evening...

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The restaurant Heilig-Geist-Spital zu Nürnberg lured me there for 2 meals...

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Medieval caverns (that were also used as bomb shelters during WWII) were developed up to 60 meters below the surface for the making of beer...

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The double triangle was used to mark the profession of brewers...

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Of course, we were there in part to study The Third Reich. We spent many hours doing that. Here's the view from the Reichsparteitags Rally Fields where the Führer stood to address those that had gathered...

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We visited the museum and court house where the Nürnberg Trials took place following the end of WWII. This is where those accused of war crimes were seated during the trials...

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And for me, a poignant ending to our 3 day visit on Sunday when I captured this picture..

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Christians, Jews, Muslims: In God's Name shall not kill other!

Considering the history of the city having been home base for the Holy Roman Empire for centuries, as well as the home base for the The Third Reich party rallies, the plea that the banner makes certainly has not been upheld in the past, or the current history. The 90 year old man walking below the sign in his hometown gives a high probability that he was alive during the The Third Reich and for me, added poignancy to the banner's plea.

2/17/15

100 & 100 = ???

No worries, it's not a trick arithmetic question. Or is it?

Translation: 100 minutes of walking + 100 minutes of cycling = what kind of training stress.

I am in the heat of week 2 of my structured training plan and am having to adapt things due to the reality of my main mode of transportation until the end of April are my two feet. A typical day of walking directly to work and back, plus going to the gym for a workout later in the day totals 90 minutes of walking minimum. Toss in the walk to lunch, and well it's very easy to log 100 minutes of walking each day. It's been great for keeping weight down, and working on long forgotten parts of my body. But it does take its toll in terms of energy, fuel, and what I do on the bike or in the weight room.

Yesterday called for a session on the bike with force reps, and originally I had planned on doing it outside based on the forecast. However, the sun never peaked out and what was supposed to be a upper 40's sunny day, ended up being a cold, damp, dark day. So I did the work on the exercise bike in the gym. I felt compelled to overdo things due to having missed my weekend training, so I got 100 minutes on the bike even though only 60 were called for and I was drained by the end as I had outwalked and outridden my glycogen stores. And I still had a 30 minute walk home before I could eat.

No worries, I made it and dug into the Albenbrot, cheese, chicken, lettuce, and ended with a nice Krapfen that my hostess had left for me on the table. Two glasses of wine later - which is what my Fat Tuesday celebration was in my loft apartment - and it was time for bed.

Today and tomorrow are also forecast for upper 40's and sunshine, so we will see what gets delivered so I can arrange my training schedule to get in what I need to this week before heading off to Nürnberg on Friday for the weekend.

Time for coffee and breakfast...

In the meantime, we are becoming quite familiar with the Pyramid of Hate in our studies (we have several versions we use in class), having lively daily discussions and are witnessing current events here in Europe - both in the form of antisemitism as well as anti-Islamicism. Students are engaging in conversation with their host families, and everyone is progressing with their knowledge in detail of the events of the past, as well as looking at the events of the current time.

One of our Pyramids we study...

Pyramid-of-Hate

A short video with regard to the day in the life of being a Jew in France...

2/16/15

France & Austria - and me not being able to keep up with posts...

Okay, I admit I have been thoroughly engrossed in being busy, taking advantage of my environs and not keeping up on the postings of Europe 2015.

I took the group to Strasbourg, France (or Straßburg) for a weekend. The Rhineland region, Alsace, the point where the German culture begins so to speak. The ICE (Inter Country Express) train flies out of Stuttgart to Strasbourg averaging about 250 kph (Kilometers per hour) which is 155 mph and certainly beats driving. 75 minutes later and presto, you are in France.

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We took a boat tour around the city which gives you an idea of what you want to go see by foot. I forced them to walk 20 minutes (with much complaining) from the Notre Dame Cathedral to a section of town called Little France - or rather - Petite-France for dinner. I am bound and determined to toughen this group up and get them walking 60 - 90 minutes a day without flinching. Look at the rewards of the view for walking what really was only about 15 minutes...



This was the old section of town that housed the slaughterhouses, but is very pretty and has some lesser expensive Alsace cuisine. The restaurants by our hotel were way out of our price category.

The restaurant we found was mid-tier, and had fine food for the price. Mine speaks for itself in terms of the kitchen staff having an actual sense of humor....

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Too funny!

The sauerkraut is soaked in salt water for a long time making it taste like no other sauerkraut on this earth. Throw in all the pig and potatoes with it - and it was quite a tasty meal. Another speciality is the Baeckeoeff which is Alsacian Stew.

Yum! I had this on the second day of our visit...

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We climbed the bell towers of the Notre Dame and took some shots...

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Sunset...

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Inside the cathedral, an interesting astronomical clock...

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Of course, another somber reminder of those who gave their lives was on display in the cathedral...

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Gutenbergplatz at night in Strasbourg...

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I went to two museums on Saturday including the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art...

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The building is not too exciting on the outside from the back or the front, but Wow! - what fabulous collections were on display - both permanent and shorter duration. Well worth the 2 hours I spent viewing the fine art.

There is plenty to see and do in Strasbourg, but everyone was tuckered out by the time we boarded our 5:37 train to go back to Schorndorf.

A fun week at school, and then I was off to Vienna on Friday afternoon to see Alexa and spend the weekend with her.

We took the bus up to the Kahlenberg on Saturday to overlook Vienna, drink some Apfelsaftschorle when I caught these 2 mountain bikers who were taking a break before descending through the woods back to Vienna...

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In preparation for our visit in April, I went to the two Jewish Museums and lined up a guest speaker/guide for us to cover all matters related to one of our classes. Even though I've been there many times and seen the memorial, it still is always poignant to see the Judenplatz memorial...

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Alexa am Graben after our typical Sunday Viennese breakfast at the Cafe Museum...

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I have more pictures, but have not yet downloaded them from my phone.

Suffice it to say - France one weekend, Austria the next has kept me busy. Train travel, great food, great museums and of course spending a weekend with my daughter was well worth the train ride.

Nürnberg is on tap for this weekend with the group.


2/3/15

Pedal...!

A full moon arrives tonight. Here is a shot from the center of town on my way to rehearsal last night...

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Clear skies, cold temperatures - well, not that cold at 30-32 degrees - made for a crystal clear pair of evenings. It's nice to have some sunshine and clear skies since there have been a lot of mostly cloudy, rainy, and snowy days here in Deutschland.

I logged a really good base training month in Iowa during December, as well as hit it pretty hard in early January before coming over on this side of the pond. I had several weeks of 12 - 14 hours which is not bad at all for me in the early stages of base training, but at the time I thought maybe it was too early to be logging like that. However, I knew that once in Germany the work schedule would not allow for a good January due to a lot of things being front end loaded for administrative duties.

Temperatures were warm the first two weeks I was here in Germany allowing me to get out on the bike to keep things tuned up, but the past week was pretty poor for pedal time due to my work schedule, having caught a chest cold, and the weather keeping me indoors. OK - it was abysmal training wise! I didn't worry about it as work was more important. I did manage to get some good weight training in to at least keep the metabolism fired up.

I am trying to rectify the pedal time this week with a jumpstart right back into the base building mode with careful time management. I'm not sure how I am going to get the hours back that I really need, but at least I've got 2:10 logged to start this week on a roll which allowed me to leave a big puddle on the gym floor. I am missing the home basement gym to say the least as I don't have to walk 30 minutes to get there, and 30 minutes back home when finished.

At least I am getting 60-90 minutes a day of walking (7 days a week!). That doesn't count for pedal time though. Time to pose a coaching question about how to integrate the walking.

Update: LW says with regard to all the walking I am having to do...

This is a common dilemma for athletes working physical jobs. It is appropriate to reduce the volume of your riding to account for your walking time.
– Drop all the optional recovery rides and use your walking time for that.
– In recovery weeks 3, 6, 9, 12 drop days 2 and 4 in favor of passive rest.
– Shorten the warm up and cool down time on interval rides to compensate for your walking volume.
– If you are tired in any week on day 2, drop all sessions that day in favor of passive rest.

2/1/15

Tübingen Day Trip...

This was our third consecutive Saturday day trip. The first Saturday we went to Stuttgart, the second Saturday was last weekend with a trip to Heidelberg, and this Saturday trip had us heading south to the historic University city of Tübingen.

We all gathered at the Schorndorf train station to begin our journey at 7:48 in the morning.

Our first stop heading from the Bahnhof (train station) north to the old section of town with the city center was crossing the beautiful Neckar River...

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We passed by the Rathaus (Court House) on the way up the hill to see the castle...

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The castle houses many of the University facilities these days (a museum, a sculpture studio, etc...) and there is no tour of the facility to speak of that I could find. So one explores and sees things on their own. There were plenty of pictures to take, plenty of stairs to climb, and plenty of the castle grounds to explore to occupy more than an hour of our time.

We posed for a group shot...

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On the way down the hill back to the city center, we passed by the house that Goethe lived in...

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And one can view the famous window that says "Here puked Goethe" out the window...

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Maybe he would puke again today were he alive to see the graffiti painted on the lower portion of his house from modern day hooligans? Or who knows, maybe he would contribute something to the expression....?

I turned a corner down a side street and found this house to be quite interesting for a photo...

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We all gathered together at 12:30 for lunch at the famous Neckarmüller Brauerei and Restaurant for a typical Swabian meal and beer...

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There are nice little aquaducts running through town that were actually the early day water delivery system...

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I managed to wander into three or four churches to take a look as I always enjoy seeing the period architecture.

One cathedral had a local organist rehearsing for an upcoming service. He drew a crowd of about 50 of us that sat down to listen for 30 minutes. When he was finished, we all applauded. Not only because we enjoyed the beautiful music, but because he was really good. And who doesn't like the power of a great pipe organ played loudly inside a space such as this...

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The Saturday market was quite busy with vendors selling their produce, breads, cheeses, flowers, snacks, honey, candles, brooms, etc....

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Miles of cobblestone streets kept me busy walking around for at least 2 hours in my free time until I had to sit down for a coffee and a slice of cake to renew my energy. The streets were very narrow and quite charming...

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Later in the day, some of the market square vendors packed up their goods, and left. It was after they left that I discovered two memorials mounted on a wall next to the main church that were hidden by the trucks when we first walked through that area in the morning.

Two bronze bas relief memorials in the city center on the wall by the Stadtkirche that I just had to take a picture of and post up here...

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Let me translate that first one for you as the Tübingen were very sober about their involvement - at least with this memorial...

Sinti and Roma were murdered in the time of National Socialism. Many were forcibly sterilized and persecuted. Tübingen were among the persecuted and murdered.

Members of the University were among the masterminds of the racial madness. Our city residents were among the perpetrators.

And there was a 2nd memorial in bas relief right next to it...



Let me translate that for you...

University town of Tübingen.

To commemorate our expelled and murdered Jewish citizens during the Nazi reign.

To be a daily reminder for us, and as the commitment to fight racial hatred and intolerance.

There was a bookstore near the Rathaus (Court House) that featured books, photographs, and a display in their basement about the silence having been broken with regard to talking about WWII and what happened. Amazing photographs of Tübingen with the SS/SA, Nazi flags flying from every window and house, and being that the streets in the old center of town are really narrow and close together, the photographs will all of the flags and soldiers were quite stunning to view. I nearly bought a book or two, but knowing that I have my luggage stuffed to the gills I held back. Needless to say, the exhibit was quite interesting and I might look for one of those books here in Schorndorf to read.

The University of Tübingen then (under the Nazi regime)...

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Vorbeimarsch von SA-Studenten an der Neuen Aula“. Über TUEpedia.

I walked by that same portion of the University and took a shot from a different angle to show it today...

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The city museum was featuring a photo exhibit of photographs from WWI which I found fascinating. These were all things I found in my free time, but wish the students could have seen as well.

We left Tübingen at 5 and arrived back in Schorndorf at 6:40 making for a full 11 hours - or nearly 12 hours if you count door to door from leaving in the morning until returning. Needless to say, I slept until 8 am on Sunday to recover.