Travel Day - Altmühl and Taubertal Radwegs - CycleBlaze

August 26, 2019

Travel Day

With a plot twist

I have arrived in Frankfurt, tired and hungry. Sleeping on an airplane has always been a problem for me. The seats are like awkward rocks. The food was ok, but the servings are incredibly small. I’m on a tight schedule and I’m glad I brought a protein bar along because I haven’t had time to stop anywhere to buy food upon landing. 

The plane landed early and it took a bit before they got the steps out to the plane. As always, we landed in the middle of the airfield in Frankfurt and had to be bussed into the airport. I’m not sure who gets to use the gates, but it’s never been an airline I was on. Once at the actual gate I was able to get through passport check very quickly and headed for the bulky luggage claim. 

And waited, and waited, and waited. An hour had passed and I started asking around. Normally my bike is very quickly delivered. The guy hanging around bulky baggage sent me to his colleague. The desk in the area he sent me to listed an Irish airline so I assumed that was the wrong desk. I asked at Lufthansa who were zero help. They sent me back to the same desk so this time I asked the woman. She phoned the baggage handlers who said some bulky baggage was still coming and to go wait 10-15 more minutes. The guy that had helped me originally finally said go back and tell her you’re tired of waiting. It’s been nearly 2 hours. It’s likely not coming. 

So back to the lady at the desk. She phoned some more. Than we headed to a different desk where she typed in my tracking number. It did not show up as having arrived in Frankfurt. 

Now this is a problem. An enormous problem. A gargantuan problem. First, because they have no idea where my bike is. Their best guess is Minneapolis where my flight originated. That is not helpful. Remember how I’ve reserved all my hotels?  Well, some of them are far enough off the beaten path that there is no train service. So how would I get there??  Not to mention that the only reason I’m going there is because IT’S A BIKE TOUR!!  I asked around at some more condor counters (the airline I regrettably used this time) and no one was even remotely helpful. Call the airline and ask them, they said. Yeah, I don’t have a SIM card right now, folks. I have no phone service. 

Yesterday I spent the day cleaning my house and yard. Everything looked so amazing and I thought, I’d rather stay home. Hang out with my crazy cats. Have a lazy week, but I’ve already booked my hotels. The first 2 can’t be cancelled without losing the money. All of the money I paid for them. Might as well go. Once I got to the airport I started feeling excited. Now I’m here, no bike, no idea what I should do and I really wish I’d stayed home now. This is the 5th trip and the second time my bike didn’t arrive with me. Last time was delta and it was when I arrived home. That’s not a problem. It showed up the next day anyway, delivered to my front door. This time?  Condor says there isn’t another flight until Wednesday and the people at the desk have no idea if condor would ship it with a different airline or not. 

So again, I have absolutely no idea what to do at this point. Until I can figure out when they would even get the bike here, I’m not sure where I should even go. I was going to bike in the Dolomites next year, but now I’m not so sure I ever want my bike to leave my sight again. 

Continuing on with my story, since I first started writing this, much has occurred. I first went to the hotel where I had planned to keep my box. They were kind enough to let me phone the service that would presumably handle my missing box. They were no help but at least sounded sympathetic. Given that, i decided my next course of action would be to buy a SIM card so I have phone service and then proceed from there to Nürnberg so I could at least experience part of my vacation. 

Once I had data I was able to text with my parents through the beauty of iMessage and also email with my German friends Kurt and Monika back in the US. Kurt did some hunting to see if Nürnberg had any places I could rent a touring bike. The best place is closed all week. There may be one other option. Meanwhile my mom, in true angry mother bear fashion, got busy calling Condor. My mom had the same experience with Condor that I had. They were zero help. Not even sorry. Not their fault. They don’t handle the baggage. Ok then. She then got the name of the baggage handler but they don’t answer their phone. So she headed for Facebook. She has managed to actually get someone to respond. As of this moment, that has not produced any results. She thinks it’s possible someone is looking right now for the bike. I have given an extremely precise description of the bike box which has my name and address written all over it in sharpie. 

My mom is now in direct contact with the baggage handlers who are attempting to trace the path of my bicycle in Minneapolis. So far they have confirmed that it was checked in and taken to TSA. I could have told them that part. 

Continuing with our ever emerging story picked up a few hours later after a very nice supper in a restaurant with tons of vegan options and an amazing salad, we continue with the sordid tale of where is Benny the bike. 

So, the plot continued to thicken during the course of my supper (watermelon and leafy green salad with corn, beans, and feta cheese - absolutely worth eating twice), we were learning more and more about the plight of poor Benny. Thanks to Kim, the lady from

Baggage handling at the airport that was communicating via email with my mom, it was finally discovered that the box was delayed by TSA. Yes, Benny the bike apparently was determined to be dangerous and needed a thorough strip search. A strip search that apparently lasted 45 minutes. By the time the strip search was done, it was too late to put the bag on the flight. We have been told that the law says all bags must be on the fight an hour before takeoff. Benny wasn’t released until 45 minutes prior to takeoff. By then it was too late. Baggage handling says that normally the airline contacts them when a bag is missing, but condor has yet to do so!  Apparently being at the airport with a bike 2 hrs before your flight is not sufficient anymore. 

At present we are at the following status: Benny is being sent out stat on the next flight to Frankfurt which is Iceland air first thing in the morning.  He has been marked as urgent and is presumably being carefully overseen by the aforementioned Kim, who probably deserves at minimum a pay raise after this. The next step unfortunately depends on Condor who has thoroughly mucked this one up with their atrocious customer service. I’m in Nürnberg and have no desire to pay 60 euro to take the ICE 2+ hrs back to Frankfurt to get my bike. I want it sent to Nürnberg. To my hotel. And I want it here by 10am Wednesday. That would mean I only lose a small portion of my ride from Neumarkt in der Oberpfalz down to Beilngries and Kinding. If this actually happens as my mom and I are demanding, I would be able to pick my route up either in Kinding or in Eichstätt depending on timing and condition of the bike after the potentially invasive search by TSA. 

I rather suspect tomorrow will bring further developments. In fact, there will likely be yet more tonight as it is around 4pm back in Minneapolis. I have stayed remarkably awake all day despite the short night of sleep last night. I have extended my stay at the hotel in Nürnberg an extra night, and tomorrow while Benny travels, I will check out Nürnberg. And probably buy a hat. My hat is in the box. With my rain gear and my laundry soap. 

And before we conclude this story, special thanks go to Kurt and Monika who brought me to the airport and did a bunch of searching to see if I could find a rental bike in Nürnberg, Kim from baggage handling who spent a good chunk of her day finding my bike, and in particular my mom who did all the phoning and negotiating to make sure Benny was located and is, as we speak, working to negotiate his safe delivery (and hopefully some compensation for the way Condor and TSA messed up my plans! (My other pannier is in the bike box and is pretty much empty which means I have quite a bit of room to bring stuff back....)


(Probably too long of a hashtag to ever catch on....)

Oh, and I’d avoid flying condor unless you’re doing all carry-on. And TSA needs some tweaking. They’ve messed up something with my bike 3 times out of the 9 times I’ve flown with a bike. Bad ratio there. 

Also, those 5 miles were all done on foot. Because I don’t have a bike. Did I mention that part before?  I feel like it’s critical to this story. 

Remember how I said there would probably be further developments?  My mom is trying to negotiate with condor who is continuing to be of no help. While she was doing that, it occurred to me that if And when my bike is delivered here, I will have a bike box very much in the wrong location. Namely bike box in Nürnberg, flight leaves from Frankfurt. Kind of a problem. So, stay tuned to see what we come up with as a solution to that one.  To come back here from Wertheim the last day would require over 3 hrs of trains. Then another 3 hrs or so with a boxed bike to reach my hotel in kelsterbach (a station which does not have an elevator!)

And one more update for tonight: Benny the bike will be boarding and Iceland air flight in a couple hours thanks to Kim with baggage handling in Minneapolis. He’s got the normal quick layover in Iceland and then heads to Frankfurt. How Benny and I reunite is yet to be determined. Condor customer service has sent all the people with power home for the night. Also they say contact lost baggage. It’s  not our problem. Lost baggage closed 5 hours ago (I called them earlier today and they really couldn’t help me out so not holding out big Hope here. )

Handwerkers area
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No idea what this is, but it looks old. And cool.
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Spires of the cathedral
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One of the city towers
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Gate to the Handwerkers Area
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Back to the Handwerkers area
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City wall
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And the gate. Except at night!
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Today's ride: 5 miles (8 km)
Total: 5 miles (8 km)

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