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Luke Stover, left, and Nick Schulte ride along the reservoir near Schönenberg-Kübelberg on the return leg of an overnight bike-camping trip in the spring that retraced part of a two-day round trip to France in the summer.

Luke Stover, left, and Nick Schulte ride along the reservoir near Schönenberg-Kübelberg on the return leg of an overnight bike-camping trip in the spring that retraced part of a two-day round trip to France in the summer. (Ben Bloker/Stars and Stripes)

Luke Stover, left, and Nick Schulte ride along the reservoir near Schönenberg-Kübelberg on the return leg of an overnight bike-camping trip in the spring that retraced part of a two-day round trip to France in the summer.

Luke Stover, left, and Nick Schulte ride along the reservoir near Schönenberg-Kübelberg on the return leg of an overnight bike-camping trip in the spring that retraced part of a two-day round trip to France in the summer. (Ben Bloker/Stars and Stripes)

Fatty foods can make for some good energy on a bike tour.  French fries and a döner kebab are the tasty lunch during the cyclists' stop in Sarreguemines, France.

Fatty foods can make for some good energy on a bike tour. French fries and a döner kebab are the tasty lunch during the cyclists' stop in Sarreguemines, France. (Nick Schulte/Special to Stars and Stripes)

Cyclists take a break in a tunnel on the Glan-Blies-Weg, a cycling and hiking path in western Germany that was used during a repeat cycling trip from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, to  Sarreguemines, France.

Cyclists take a break in a tunnel on the Glan-Blies-Weg, a cycling and hiking path in western Germany that was used during a repeat cycling trip from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, to Sarreguemines, France. (Ben Bloker/Stars and Stripes)

Detailed graffiti murals along the Saar River in Saarbrücken, Germany, make for interesting viewing on the way to France.

Detailed graffiti murals along the Saar River in Saarbrücken, Germany, make for interesting viewing on the way to France. (Nick Schulte/Special to Stars and Stripes )

Luke Stover attaches a waterproof pannier to his bike rack after a night of camping at a site near Schönenberg-Kübelberg in Germany.  A rear bike rack and panniers are the nuts and bolts of carrying gear on a bike tour.

Luke Stover attaches a waterproof pannier to his bike rack after a night of camping at a site near Schönenberg-Kübelberg in Germany. A rear bike rack and panniers are the nuts and bolts of carrying gear on a bike tour. (Ben Bloker/Stars and Stripes)

It started out like most seemingly brilliant ideas — hanging out with my bicycling buddy and dreaming up fun things to do on our bikes. “Hey, why don’t we ride our bikes to France?” one of us said.

Most folks in the area around Kaiserslautern, Germany, know that France is pretty near by car, but how about by bike?

I consider myself a bicycle hobbyist. It’s not my life, but I love bikes, especially cruising on dirt trails on a mountain bike. Touring, however, always seemed to be something that was slow and boring, something for those with a lot of time on their hands.

I was wrong.

Our round trip to France last August was a great experience, taking us past some wonderful scenery and showing me another aspect of what could be accomplished on a bike. And it took us less than two days.

Pre-ride preparation was minimal. We rented a lightweight tent from Ramstein Air Base’s Outdoor Recreation office and split it up for the ride. My buddy, Nick, had a commuting bike that was already tour-ready. My mountain bike required some skinny tires and the installation of a rear rack. We packed our panniers with sleeping bags, camping pad, water and extra clothing.

The early-morning rendezvous in my driveway was held in a light rain. Nick had a couple of trail maps that we shuffled through before deciding on a route through Homburg. Then we hit the road.

The sun crept in and out most of the morning as we marveled at Saarland’s beautiful countryside. Some of our pathways paralleled busy local roads, but we were able to escape the traffic and find some solace when we hit Homburg. There, we discovered the Glan-Blies-Weg, a touring path that runs from Glan-Münchweiler in Germany to Sarreguemines, just across the border in France. It is a great trail that we enjoyed so much, it inspired a repeat trip.

At about the four-hour mark we reached France. “Now what?” we both thought, shocked to have reached our only goal so soon. Break out the maps!

Our southern destination was the town of Sarreguemines. We made it by lunch and planned the afternoon’s ride. The Saar River, which flows through the town and feeds into the Moselle, would be our guide for the rest of the day.

Cruising on a paved path, we toured through Saarbrücken, admiring some inspired graffiti along the river, and eventually reached the town of Saarlouis,


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