While the World is Still Asleep

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This book by Petra Durst-Benning, a German novel in translation, is a wonderful book for anyone enthusiastic about cycling. Set in the late 19th century in Berlin, it is a history of the beginning of cycling as well as the story of three young women: Josephine, Clara, and Isbelle. This book, the first of a trilogy, focuses on Josephine and the importance of cycling in her life and in her era.

To her good fortune, Josephine is shipped off to the Black Forest to recover from a cough caused when she tries to rescue her brother from a fire. There she is cured when she discovers the joys of riding a bicycle in the fresh air of the forest. Returning from her sojourn in the Black  Forest, her love of cycling causes her problems as well as pleasures as she interacts with her friends and neighbors in her Berlin neighborhood.

The book also deals with feminist issues as the families of the three girls actually see them as so much coinage to benefit the families, but these are three strong women who rebel against the constraints imposed on them by their families, thus getting themselves into some risky situations but ultimately achieving their own goals.

The book is a fascinating read, but the first parts can be rather confusing because the story is not told in a linear fashion, but eventually it settles into chronological order, making the flow of the narrative much smoother. As a cyclist, I loved this book, but I am not sure how I would have felt if I were not passionate about cycling. The second book in the trilogy seems to be about growing champagne grapes, not one of my enthusiasms, but since I enjoyed this book so much I will give it a try.

 

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A Valentine’s Day Bicycle Outing

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For Californians, we have had a hard winter, so now in the middle of February, it is a pleasure to observe the resiliency of Mother Nature, the emerging blossoms and even the oft troublesome (for those of us with allergies) mustard weed. In the Napa Valley, where the Napa River has historically been prone to cause problems, we were not surprised to see the river at a high level as well as all the creeks running with water like rivers, and full ditches and rivulets everywhere. But all of this rain has turned the landscape green and lovely.  We were a little bit worried about mudslides or washouts on the roads, but we did not have any trouble.

We did our usual Yount Mill Road, Hwy. 29,  Oakville Crossroad,  Silverado Trail and back to Yountville Crossroad with one deviation, recommended by a pleasant woman in the Yountville tourist advice center. We took Finnell Road off of Yountville Cross to come back into town. It was a gorgeous short detour with vineyards growing right up to the road and attractive houses along the way. This kind of pretty, quiet country road is a cyclist’s dream.

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Having finished our ride, we headed for downtown Napa where we had reservations for lunch at the CIA at Copia, a new restaurant that has opened at the Copia facility next to the Oxbow Market. The interior is contemporary and spacious, and the service and food were both good. I had the lamb sirloin tartine for my main course, and it was outstanding. With the pots de crème dessert, I felt that my lunch was the perfect complement to a lovely day.

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