My legs are sore today. It’s a good kind of sore. For the last two weeks, my new friend Pegasus has been taking me to different parts of Freiburg. He’s a sturdy thing – with suspension, enough gears and he thinks it’s ridiculous if you get up too much speed.
It’s been a long time since I’ve cycled every-day. Living in Sydney it was a hopeless endeavour, and on return to Melbourne – I would have been getting up far too early to attend meetings in South Morang, Sunbury and beyond.
Life on two wheels is the perfect compromise. While some of the detail of walking is missed – you’re still living and breathing the city and surrounds. On two wheels, you can see how terrain gently changes, how neighbourhoods morph or crash into one another. And then there are all the overheard traffic light conversations.
On Saturday, Pegasus found Hercules. Not a bike but a lovely old van set-up in the town square of Breisach playing old jazz numbers. Just before the rain came pelting down, it set the tune for a cheery afternoon right on the French border for lovers of beer, wine, music, good food and the company of others.
(An afternoon in Breisach 9.09.17)
It was also my first taste of a Neuer Süßer. Essentially, fermented grape juice. It didn’t taste too different from a cider – but more of a syrup consistency. I don’t think I would have been able to cross the border without it. Just as I took off, clouds emerged and it bucketed down as the whole flavour of the day was transformed.
After the wonderful novelty factor of crossing the Rhine and claiming the badge of ‘international cyclist’, I cycled through Vogelheim to reach ‘Neuf-Brisach’. A city built immediately after the end of one Europe’s many continental battles – ‘the Nine Year’s War’.
In my head, I had built up an image of an edgy little border village – with an opportunity to order a croissant (cliché, I know) and practice a bit of French. Sadly, it wasn’t to be. At 3PM, there wasn’t a café open or person in sight. Yes, it was very pretty and planned (a result of a feared invasion) but it was also the definition of a ghost town. Buildings were starting to badly weather and I think I counted about three or four people.
Sitting on the train back to Freiburg with Pegasus, I looked back on a pretty stunning day, that involved cycling through vineyards, along gravelly farm roads and winding through the small towns of Merdingen and Ihringen.
It’s now 11AM on a Friday morning. I’ve polished off a laugenbrezel and I’m sitting happy with an espresso in hand.
My first two weeks in Freiburg have been super. A chance to practice German every day, dance, slowly meet different people and time to think about the challenge of study which lies ahead on Monday.
I’m still feeling the impact of getting on and off Pegasus’ solid frame. But – I’m happy to have him by my side as this city starts to unfold.
(Adventures with Pegagus 09.09.17)