About a week ago I had the great fortune of making contact with Franz (umlaut over the 'a') Schneider, who runs the way-cool, all-things-Luxembourg mountain bike website biker.lu. Along with being a great rider and knowing every square inch of where to ride in the Grand Duchy, he's a super guy with a terrific sense of humor. And, he speaks like four languages--Luxembourgish, French, German and English.
This past weekend we got in a couple really fun rides--a nighttime Tour de Luxembourg City that looped around this 1,050-year-old city, and a Sunday morning ride across the forests and fields of the central Luxembourg countryside. During the night ride, Franz tried to teach me how to count to 10 in Luxembourgish. I didn't do very well but I can say hello ("Moien") and good-bye: ("Atty")
As I hope these photos show, the riding here is very different from Bellingham and the Northwest in general. I grew up in rural New Jersey (not an oxymoron) and it reminds me of the rolling terrain there with its leafy forests, short steep hills, narrow creeks and streams. Many's the time I've thought to myself that the Luxembourg countryside is very similar to where my sister Kath used to live in Warren County, NJ.
Franz has led me on several great rides and one of the things I find interesting is that we just seem to go from field to field, forest to forest, without any demarcation of parkland or recreational forest or whatever. We ride seemingly wherever we want. And we see lots of others out hiking, running, etc. so everyone's doing it. (Quick note on the above pic of the band; on Sunday I rode to Franz's house and came across this combo marching up and down the street garnering donations door-to-door ... at 9 o'clock in the morning!)
In truth, much of what we've ridden so far is dirt road, intermingled with stretches of fun singletrack. The more technical trails are apparently in the Mullerthal, an area about 25 miles north of Luxembourg City and that's known as Little Switzerland. I'm hoping to ride there in a couple weeks in the Randonnee Mullerthal.
There seem to be lots of mountain bike randonnee events--mountain bike tours, as it were, as opposed to races. You pay 5 or 10 euros and follow various marked routes (called "tracks" over here) of 20-, 40- or 60-K, whatever. Seems like a lot of fun.
I don't think I've mentioned my new bike frame yet. Before I left Bellingham, I took my bike into Fanatik, to have a once-over and they found a crack in the chainstay. So I just had to buy a new frame and all they had lying around was this sleek, sexy Niner Air 9 (below) which I was pretty much forced to buy. Really, I was. Honest. I'm still getting used to it on these totally unfamiliar trails, but so far, I'm digging it. Funny, it's only been ridden in Luxembourg.