Nonni in Germany: The Bike Episode #2A


When last we met, our intrepid heroine (me) had just face planted on the bike trail. If you need to find out what on earth this grandmother was doing on an e-bike, you can read that part right here.

The afternoon was passing, and we still had about 18 kilometers to ride before we got back to the hotel. The weather was perfect, sunny with a cool wind and gorgeous passing clouds. It had been a really memorable day, and I didn’t want to ruin it for everybody by being a wimp.

So we pedaled on, up and over the dunes of Sylt (look it up). Paul kept on checking back, to make sure I was OK. Katja and Jorg, our hosts, were riding ahead of us, but more slowly than I knew those two healthy, annoying Germans could go.

Lucas, sweet young man that he is, stayed more less beside me, making sure that I wasn’t about to have a heart attack or anything.

For the first ten minutes after my ignominious spill, I went really slowly. My knee ached, and my shin was all scraped up. My right hand hurt, and I was still sure I was going to get a black eye.

And I was scared. REALLY scared. My legs and hands were shaking as we rode along, and I kept fighting back tears.

I mean, come ON. I’m 60 years old! I’m overweight! I have fibromyalgia! I fell off a freakin’ BIKE!  I wanted my hotel bed. I wanted that hot shower. I wanted the spa.

I wanted a big big glass of wine.

But I was a trooper. I chatted with Lucas, and slowly everyone sort of relaxed. I pedaled mostly with my left leg, which spared my sore right knee, but which I knew would give me serious left buttock ouchies the next day.

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The beauty of Sylt.

As I looked out at the dunes all around us, and the lovely pale heather that covered it, I decided to take out my cell phone and make some little videos of the ride. This would accomplish two things.

It would let me make a record of this magical place, and it would let everyone know that I was a tough old bird who wasn’t about to fall apart after one ass-over-teakettle maneuver. So I reached into my bra and took out my phone.

OK.

See, Katja had talked me into buying skinny jeans, because my old baggy Levis were so unsightly. I was wearing said fashionable skinny jeans that day, meaning that my pockets were too small and way too tight for a phone. So….I had stashed mine in my bra, which has plenty of room, thank you.

Now I pulled it out, checked it quickly to make sure it was on video, and started to record. Please keep in mind that I was riding an e-bike, now with only one hand, along a path through the dunes, and into a strong wind. I held out the camera, narrating as I went.

“To my left you can see the majestic dunes, with the North Sea churning beyond.”

You get the idea. I guess I was aiming for something along the lines of the Discovery Channel meets Masterpiece Theater. I thought I did rather well.

We passed through a flock of sheep, went up and over the dunes, and came back into the town.

And so, at last, after riding the distance of a marathon, my sore knee, my scraped face and my bruised hand got back to the hotel. We hugged our hosts, thanked them profusely for a day we will honestly never forget, then made plans to meet for dinner in an hour.

Up to the room we went, Paul and I, for a good hot shower and a short rest.

I headed to the shower first, given my various scrapes and bruises. I undressed slowly, carefully.

And here I have to explain something to you. For reasons which my doctors can’t seem to explain, I bruise like an overripe peach. Bump the edge of a table, I’ll have a black bruise for two weeks.

So I stripped. Huh. My knee looked fine. Sore, but no bruise. A tiny scrape on the shin. My face was completely unmarked. What a relief!

Next I took off my shirt and bra and let out a howl that brought Paul running.

My right breast was sporting a baseball sized, dark purple bruise. There was a matching one under that breast, and a slightly smaller one just above my navel. I looked like I had been beaten with sticks. It was grotesque, I am not kidding!

After the shock wore off, and I realized that they didn’t really hurt that much, I relaxed and took my shower. At least I had figured out where the handlebars ended up when I crashed.

As Paul took his shower, I decided to look through my photos and videos. I mean, it had been a pretty humiliating afternoon, what with the splat on the bike trail. Now the huge ugly bruises on my flabby self made me feel even worse.

At least my videos would make me feel more competent. I thought about my talented narration. Booting up the video clip, I smiled to myself.

And I saw this:

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Ahahahaha! I have four video clips of my own jowls…..and none of the narration even recorded…

 

Nonni in Germany: The Bike Episode #2


If you’ve been reading this little travel journal, you’ll remember that I was a very brave Nonni when I rode a bicycle to the grocery store in Berlin. I mean, OK, so I crashed into a pile of stinging nettles, but I did ride the damn bike, right?

And, boy howdie. Was I proud of myself when I got home!

So when Katja and Jorg took us up to the gorgeous North Sea Island of Sylt, I was only mildly alarmed to hear that we were going to be taking a 45 km ride on e-bikes.

Yup. E-bikes. As in “electronically enhanced bikes that will make you go way faster than you would ever have gone on a regular bike.”

I was…excited!  No, really, I was. The island is so unbelievably beautiful that the idea of being able to see the dunes up close was my absolute dream come true.

I am a confirmed ocean addict, and this was like being in Heaven.

Seriously. The NORTH freaking sea! Where the Vikings sailed! Hell, yeah. I wanted to ride my (big scary) e-bike.

So off we went that cool, sunny morning. I was elated to find that I was able to balance the bike and ride along smoothly and easily. That electric boost was like magic. There I was, zooming along the dunes, the heather and sea on either side, my gray hair blowing in the wind.

It was the most fabulous morning. We stopped for cake (HUGE) and coffee at a beautiful spot on the island. We rode along the tops of the dune. We passed a lighthouse and fields of cows and sheep.  In the early afternoon we arrived at our destination, the little city of Westerland. We shopped and then sat down for a cold beer.

Eventually we headed back toward the northern part of the island, where our hotel was located. We had already ridden farther than I’ve ever biked in my life, but the battery power made the ride easy.

Easy until the moment when the people in front of me found a reason to stop suddenly.

You see, I had mastered that whole “pedal your bike and move forward” thing, and I had gotten pretty good at the “balance on two wheels” thing. But: I was NOT able to stop suddenly.

Uh, uh. No way.

So when Katja stopped in front of me, and Lucas stopped quickly behind her, I knew that I was doomed. I simultaneously pressed back on the foot brakes, squeezed both hand brakes, closed my eyes and made a squealing sound that was reminiscent of a pig being skewered by a fork.

And I face planted on the bike trail in front of me.

Actually, truth to tell, I was fairly graceful as I went over the handlebars. I’m told that I landed relatively gently on my right knee, right hand and right cheekbone. In that order.

All I know is that I saw the cement approaching my face and had just enough presence of mind to turn my head a bit. My bifocals flew off and I found myself on the ground. I have NO idea where the bike was, but it must have been pretty damn close.

I looked up at the horrified faces of my hosts, my husband and a very pretty young German woman. I had just enough comprehension to hear her ask if I was OK and to think, “Nice hair!” Then she was gone.

My biggest worry at that point was “Oh, no!!!! I’m staying at the first upscale resort of my LIFE and I’m going to get home with a black eye and all my face skin removed!”

Eventually I realized that I was in more or less one piece, and I got shakily up to my feet. My glasses were intact. My knee still bent. My expensive new athletic sandals were unscathed. I was completely and totally faked out, but nothing was broken.

I smiled and reassured everyone (especially poor Paul) and got back on the death machine. And off we went, to complete the 15 km left between our location and a good hot shower.

I did OK, overall.

Until Katja stopped to check on me, at which point I more or less screeched, “DO. NOT. STOP.”

It was a very exciting day.

I’m proud that I did it, and glad that I didn’t quit riding and demand a taxi. After another hour or so, we got back to the hotel.

And that’s where the funny part of this story begins. I’ll be back with more!