Monday, March 09, 2009

Newsletter 2007/2008 (somewhat late)

Bergstrasse Bike Books Newsletter 2009
Looking up our records I’m horrified to see the last time I reported on our activities seems to be 2006. Tempus has definitely been in fugit mode.
Don’t panic, there is no blow by blow description of life at Forsyth Towers but we did think it useful to confirm that we have not yet called in the bailiffs or hung up our cycling undies for good. It maybe that each of us is trying to fire the other one or send them on a government training scheme, but the messages are not getting through.
2009 has been chilly (coldest night so far -17 C) and rather snowy, limiting our biking to quick trips into town, so thoughts turn to adventures past and possibilities when spring steals over the horizon. We are still producing and selling all our cycling books and sales of our ‘Cycling in Switzerland’ guide published by Cicerone in April 2008 are going strong. Our costs have continued to rise. The value of the pound against the Euro and the Dollar has slumped to such an extent that we’ve finally been forced to increase the prices of our books. See our web site: for an update on prices and postage charges. Our books are available in the USA from:
Russell Guy
Omni Resources
International Map Specialists Tel.: 800-742-2677 (USA only)
P.O. Box 2096 Tel.: 336-227-8300 (International)
1004 South Mebane St. Fax: 336-227-3748
Burlington, NC 27216-2096 USA

Despite our status as pensioners and occasionally needing the attentions of doctors for this and that we remain active, mostly walking in the winters and cycling in the warmer months. Neil’s Lymphoma continues to be monitored and seems to be regarded as stable by his medics. Both of us enjoyed a strenuous snowshoeing week in the Alpes Maritime over New Year, see if interested.
After two seasons cycling in Switzerland, sometimes in horrible conditions of rain and snow (see picture J in Gotthard mist), combined with writing and extensive checking of the Swiss guide we did not make any new long tours in 2008. Instead we revised and also revisited parts of our Riesling Route so we could reprint with more colour, price and route updates. We were especially delighted that the canal route between Sarrebourg and Lutzelbourg has been given a tremendous new look. The abandoned Marne au Rhine canal has been dewatered and is now a nature reserve with a fantastic smooth cycleway alongside. We also tried and tested some more French B&Bs and found those chambre d’hote offering table d'hote - i.e., evening meals with the hosts to be excellent value for money, if you are prepared to brush up some French (see picture of breakfast spread). For more information look up our blog (2008 archive - French B&Bs) which contains not only comments about our cycling activities but also includes information about new routes, accommodation costs and bike hire.
We try to help potential visitors to Germany or neighbouring countries find information on maps, cycleways or accommodation whenever these come our way, by chance or redirection from CTC or other cycling organisations. Mostly these questions are easy but sometimes we are amazed at the unusual routes or challenges people give themselves - Europe to Israel via Turkey springs to mind - and no we couldn’t suggest anything very much.
A new venture for us was cycling along the Romantic Road in September with a group of US/Canadian cyclists. Despite some cultural differences in interpreting touring by bike and rather indifferent weather we think they enjoyed the experience and we still keep in touch with many. Their preferred road bikes were not suitable for parts of the route so there were several modifications including taking to the Via Claudia Route south of Augsburg and into Füssen. This runs through pretty, dreamy villages on quiet roads approaching the Alpine foothills. We had already cycled some testing parts of the Via Claudia in Switzerland and Italy the previous year. Discussions are underway with the Romantic Road Tourism Organisation about leading a group using touring bikes and following the route directly, so contact us if you are interested.
Winter is also a time when we print supplies of books ready for the springtime flood of enquiries and orders (we hope). We try to avoid those nasty moments when we are out of copies of this and that, with both printers claiming to feel tired or completely out of toner. Please do continue to buy our books, but do be patient if they take a few days to arrive.
It is hard to remember that we’ve now lived here more than four years, and yes, the attic guest room is up and running, the exterior of the house is now an eye-catching primrose and the garden doing quite well when not buried in snow and ice (see veggie patch picture). Somehow we find time to socialise, go to French classes, help keep our town tidy and managed to visit the UK, Spain, Italy and France last year. We’ve not finalised any longer cycling tours yet for the warmer months but may return to Belgium and the Flanders route or possibly Berlin to Copenhagen which appears to interest many people.
We hope you have a good year, despite gloomy economic prospects and enjoy some excellent cycling, whether for work or pleasure.
Best wishes,
Judith and Neil

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