Friday, September 05, 2003

We now all have bikes. The kids brought theirs from Texas, and Fred bought one for himself soon after arriving in Germany. That made me the lone wheel-less one, so last weekend we went to our local Wal-Mart Super Center and bought me my first bike in at least 20 years.

We are surrounded here by miles and miles (kilometers and kilometers?) of well-marked, level bike paths. On Wednesday, the kids and I rode for a couple of hours, exploring the fields and woods behind our neighborhood as well as the town on the other side. Yesterday, we rode to the Burger King on post, where we locked the bikes up and continued on by streetcar for the rest of our explorations for the day. And today I went out on my own, riding first to the library and then to the commissary for milk and bread.

I felt strange in the beginning to be wearing a bike helmet. They are mandatory head gear on post though, so going without really isn't an option. Mike was amazed to discover that the Germans don't require helmets off post, though they do demand bells on bicycles. "They don't wear HELMETS, but they think BELLS are a safety device?!" He felt dorky to be putting something as prissy as a bell on his BMX bike, but I'm sure I felt equally dorky sporting my brain bucket. I got used to it though, and today I would have walked into the commissary wearing mine if I hadn't seen my ridiculous reflection in the glass doors.

Apparently it's true what they say--you never do forget how to ride a bike. Some things are different though. For one, I have no particular urge to give this bike a name and have yet to pretend it's a horse. I clutch the handlebars in a deathgrip at all times and have not tried riding no-hands even once. Most importantly, I don't remember my butt hurting this bad 20 years ago, which makes no sense as my seat has much more padding today (and I don't mean the bike seat!). One of life's mysteries, I suppose.

And on the DSL front: TKS (Deutsche Telekom) is supposed to be sending me a new modem. I'm giving them a few days to follow through on this, though I've been warned by the neighbors not to hold my breath. Yesterday I found out that there is an upstart company out of Heidelberg that can get its customers online in about 12 hours. If TKS doesn't come through PDQ, they're gonna be SOL, 'cause I'm gonna take my DSL and go AWOL. It's exciting to have choice in what's traditionally a monopoly here. In the words of Edward Albee: "Mutate or perish. Change your spots or maybe just your point of view." Mutate or perish, Deutsche Telekom!

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