Looking across to the snow capped alpine mountains seen from the back seat of a motorcycle

Home Travel StoriesCochem And The Blue People 2019

Riding With Friends

Ride Date 12 September 2019

By Ren Withnell

I must be settling into this camping thing now. I've slept quite well and I'm not out of bed by 0500, it's as late as 0600 before I'm up. Sharon has no problem staying in bed however. I leave her to it and there's no sign of life from the pod.

I need milk. Not desperately but enough to cause concern, after all what is a man without tea but a shadow of all he could be? And we'll not be having any of this namby pamby foreign nonsense without any milk in thank you. I have standards and I am raising them for no-one.

A cup of hot tea with milk in it.
Would life BE life without tea? I think not.

It doesn't take long to walk into Cochem town centre. Nor does it take long to figure out that milk vending shops are not a common sight in Deutschland. Damn you Johnny Foreigner! The petrol station doesn't sell it. The bakeries don't sell it. I can't find a supermarket that is open at this time. Oh no!! 

Cochem is filled with student types catching buses and being annoyingly young and healthy and jovial and cool. While they all speak this strange harsh language they are much the same as students back home. Being a tourist town most other places are closed at this early hour, save for cafes and bakeries serving the stream of students and commuters. 

I return in failure to the campsite where I learn the on site shop opens at 0830. I wait. Stephan arises and heads off for his morning ablutions, Sharon shows signs of begrudgingly coming around and Laura puts the kettle on. The shop does have milk. At €2.50 for one litre I nearly pass out, but needs must when the devil vomits into your kettle. I need a brew to recover.

Stephan suggests we head for Trier. Hmmm. I'm not a fan of cities but then, well, erm. No, no Ren. I don't think Trier is a massive city and it'll be good for me to see something other than pretty German countryside. It will also be good to have a bona fide German with us who knows how to ride on them there city roads.

Laura wants to ride along the Moselle. We follow the river south west and then, without so much as a by-your-leave, turn westward from the river. I am slightly bemused but I am not leading this merry ride which makes a refreshing change. Because I'm not leading I'm allowed more time to peruse my surroundings rather than looking for the next junction. Stephan is keeping to the limits too so I can relax about that.

It is a pretty area. Fat and round rolling fields in various stages of crop mix with copses and woods thick with verdant trees. I never sense real remoteness as there are farmhouses and villages at regular intervals. The architecture is all very German. I know I am in Germany and yet this still comes as something of a surprise? 

Corner after bend, then hill after town, then dark wooded glade after bright sunny hilltop, we ride and ride. It's supposed to be about 60 miles to Trier, I suspect this route is more, quite a bit more. I later learn Stephan's sat-nav is set to "interesting route".

Eventually the familiar build-up of a town starts to encroach into my psyche. It is so much easier riding into the city with a guide. We're still dodging trucks and pedestrians but at least I don't need to freak out about peculiar junction layouts, I just follow Stephan's lead.

We park and head out on foot. There is once again too much blood in my teastream so we find a cosmopolitan and stylish cafe with chairs spilling out on the pedestrian street. I ought to feel suave and stylish, instead I'm scared to look at the prices. It is also trying to rain. I gird my wallet in preparation and order. Be brave Ren, be brave...

With tea in my teastream and my now shattered finances we make our way to the Cathedral. Luckily we don't have to pay to get in. Large impressive pipe organ? Check. Big shiny alter? Check. Ornate and intricate carvings? Check. Yes it's definitely a big Christian worship place. Next! 

A large church in Trier built of stone
Big religious place - yip.
Massive pipe organ as well as sculptures, carvings and ornate masonry inside the large church
Lots of fancy things while the poor starve - yip.

Porta Nigra? A bit of ancient Roman architecture that is now quite dirty. The Romans would not have called it Porta Nigra, Black Gate, because back then it would have been sand coloured as it is made of sandstone. 

I am such a heathen, come on Ren! It is fascinating to imagine actual Roman soldiers with crested helmets and gladius swords marching through the arched gateway. I get a little carried away with Hollywood visions of smart legions marching in perfect step. Then I bring to mind slaves and horrendous public executions. What did the Romans ever do for us? Except...

Large sandstone ruins of the huge gateway to the city. The sandstone is black with dirt hence the name
It's only black from the dirt you know
Ren makes like a thinker sitting on a stone plinth from Roman times
The thinking man's idiot. 

I am glad we came to a city. Not because I am impressed but because I have learned. I now know Romans built stuff here and then Christians built stuff here, much like they both did back home. Also like back home German cities are filled with shops, traffic, apartments, offices and workshops. The biggest difference? The language.

We're back out into the countryside. More hills, more trees, more fields and a lot of corners. It's fascinating watching Sharon and Laura ride. Neither of them claim to be knee down peg scraping hooligans so I'm not exactly pushing my own limits here. Sharon seems to have the edge on high speed sweeping open bends, Laura is more comfortable than Sharon in the sharper corners. 

Watching these 2 ride has me pondering the wheres and whys. Why do we fear some things and not others? I'll ride a motorcycle but a much safer fairground ride might terrify me. Some folks are scared of spiders but will go skydiving. Sharon is fine with leaning at speed but can't get her head around throwing the bike into a sharp bend. 

It is obvious why we have fear, but why do we have different fears? I return to a thread my mind has been following for years. We easily accept we all LOOK different but we struggle to accept we might all THINK differently too. We readily accept that someone is tall with brown hair, we wouldn't challenge that, that is how they are made. But we will challenge them on their politics or beliefs? Or their fears.

All this thinking is making me thirsty. Stephan finds a suitable cafe in Allenbach and we sit and chat. Much as I am thankful to our fine hosts for leading us on this trip both Sharon and I are rather "ridden out". We were heading for Idar-Oberstein but as we've already covered well over 100 miles I think we're both pretty shot. As such we  suggest it might be wise to head back towards Cochem.

By agreement though we are allowing Stephan's sat nav to lead with an "interesting route" setting. More hills, more bends, more small towns. 

So what is it like here? Here - somewhere I could never find again between Allenbach and Cochem? I'm reminded of the Yorkshire Dales, ah no, the hills are smoother. I'm reminded of the big skies and open spaces of Lincolnshire, but that's wrong as there are actual real hills. When we're in the trees it could be Scotland, well no because there's too much civilisation around. It could easily be France too but the houses are too German. It is unique and yet quite familiar.

Rolling green farmland and trees between Allenbach and Cochem
Yorkshire Dales? Yes, but then no.
Huge blue skies with gentle hills in Western Germany
Big Lincolnshire skies, but there are hills.

It's when we get back to the River Moselle I feel I am somewhere unique. The steep sides of the valley are lined with inaccessible vines clinging to slopes that seem to offer little nutrition. These are not the vines of France, spoilt and pampered in thick deep soils, these are brave and hardy, living life at a most peculiar angle. 

Steep valley sides, the road and the river. On the steep sides are vineyards along the moselle
Yes, those are vines growing up the right side of the valley and the river to the left

It's been a good ride today, but a long one as well. It's also been quite technical with some city work and a vast array of corners on various styles of roads. I'm used to this and I'm quite tired, Sharon's had fun but knowing her as I do I imagine she's absolutely shattered. She might have nigh-on 50,000 miles under her wheels but motorcycling still requires a great deal of concentration and energy from her. The evening is spent barbecuing and chatting with Laura and Stephan. With myself being British and Stephan being German I think it wise to let Stephan cook the sausages. Let's face it I would have struggled to get the barbecue charcoal to light. 

The pod, the veranda, the light all on a dark evening in Germany
A chilled evening 

Yes, we have struck lucky. We barely knew Stephan and Laura so there was that risk they might have been nutters, psychopaths or even worse... boring! The conversation has rolled easily, Sharon and I have learnt a lot from them and I'd like to think we've shared something useful too. Of course not knowing them well means we've all been on our best behaviour. Still, yes, this has been an excellent and worthy liaison.  

We will part company good friends tomorrow and head to our respective homes. 


If you'd like to advertise here contact ren@bikesandtravels.com

Prologue And Excuses It's the whys and the wherefores and the excuses for making this trip. You don't need a reason to travel, but it makes it easier to justify the expense and effort.
The Trouble With France Is It's Chunnel Time and Sharon's made a new friend. Finally in France Ren is finding the going frustratingly slow.
Kicking The Saddlebags Ren is having one of THOSE days. He's a very naughty boy and he needs to take a chill pill. It's them bloody foreigners fault.
Calmly Into Cochem After the previous day's temper tantrum and failure it would be fair to say this day is a better day.
Riding With Friends Cities aren't really Ren's things but with a little local knowledge he can cope. It's the countryside that gets him thinking.
A Long Day And Night A long day on the road then a night out in the town? That'll be two tired travellers then.
Trouble, Tired And Transport There's trouble this morning so it's not the best start. Throw in a grumpy Sharon and a scowling local and you have another day on the road.
Familiarity And Food As the end of the trip draws near the surroundings become familiar. But will the Dynamic Muppets survive without sustenance?
UK And The Epilogue After an early start the Muppets return to good old Blighty where they catch up with BAT reader Ross. Poor Ross, he doesn't know what he's gotten himself into.

Reader's Comments

Kap said :-
"We easily accept we all LOOK different but we struggle to accept we might all THINK differently too. We readily accept that someone is tall with brown hair, we wouldn't challenge that, that is how they are made. But we will challenge them on their politics or beliefs? Or their fears."

What a great observation, thanks for sharing it - and the blog too... It's wonderful to read of your grand adventures :-).
http://www.michaelkapsner.com/...
28/10/2019 12:11:02 AM UTC
Upt'North said :-
Enjoyed this Ed and Sharon,
Yorkshire Dales maybe, but I think it's a lot like some of Gods country, no not Wigan, Sunny Northumberland and even the Borders.
Upt'North.
28/10/2019 7:19:29 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Cheers Kap. This thought train started with Sharon and her daughter's medical conditions. Drugs that were supposed to help didn't, but why? Why do we easily accept my hair is brown and yours is ginger but medicine treats us as though we're all the same inside? Which then lead me to ponder why we think our minds should be wired up the same.

My son is Aspergers or higher functioning autistic. He sees the world very differently from myself, his wiring is alien to me. He has inadvertently taught me that my world view is as unique as my face or my fingerprints. I often struggle to relate to him, but I have learned to admire his perspective.

I have only partially explored the Northumbrian hills Upt'. From what I can recall I see what you mean, save for one difference. It wasn't perpetually covered in a thick layer of mist or "sea haaaa". You may remember from your own adventures a thing called "The Sun", big yellow thing in the sky? They have that in Germany, sometimes.
28/10/2019 9:48:22 PM UTC

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