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Inspiring Women February 2023

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Life adventures<br />

Over the decades, I lived in numerous US<br />

cities while experiencing major life adventures:<br />

a difficult marriage; buying a California ranch<br />

to provide a home for rescued animals,<br />

including wild burros from Death Valley; being<br />

a university professor, and becoming a widely<br />

recognized association executive, educator,<br />

author, speaker, and leader in healthcare<br />

documentation standards.<br />

Finding new love<br />

In 2003, four years after my husband‘s suicide,<br />

I moved back to Boston after falling in love<br />

with a German who lived there. As Peter and<br />

I approached retirement at 70, we wanted a<br />

new, active life that was rich in culture. So, we<br />

chose to retire in Berlin, where we purchased a<br />

home overlooking the Spree, and we are now<br />

dual citizens of Germany and the US. Through<br />

Peter, I also gained a family: a son in the Boston<br />

area, a daughter in Los Angeles, and a daughter<br />

in Berlin, with whom we enjoy weekly family<br />

dinners and more, along with her boyfriend<br />

and a grandniece who also lives in Berlin. I<br />

love my life.<br />

unpopulated state surrounding Berlin, with<br />

about 2400 km of bike paths through woods and<br />

villages, along canals, and around lakes. We take<br />

a train from Berlin to a Brandenburg station<br />

and bike to another station, stopping for lunch<br />

and a beer along the way, and take a train back<br />

to Berlin, usually covering 30 to 50 km, three to<br />

four times a week during biking-weather months<br />

(March to November). The app Komoot helps<br />

us plot our route, taking into account distance,<br />

path quality, and wind direction.<br />

International biking trips<br />

Besides frequent rides throughout Brandenburg,<br />

we‘ve also biked from Berlin to Copenhagen,<br />

from Luxembourg to Koblenz, from Würzburg<br />

to Nürnberg, and from Alkmaar to The Hague,<br />

along the tulip fields in The Netherlands. Several<br />

times we‘ve biked from Brandenburg into<br />

Poland. We’ve also taken part in Berlin‘s<br />

Sternfahrt, an annual biking event through<br />

Berlin streets, including the motorway, that are<br />

closed to cars. In April <strong>2023</strong>, we‘ll bike around<br />

Lake Constance, exploring its border towns<br />

while exchanging apartments with a friend who<br />

lives there.<br />

Finding a new hobby<br />

When my partner (now husband) and<br />

I moved to Germany<br />

in 2013, at age 70, he<br />

suggested we take up<br />

biking, but I resisted.<br />

Not having biked for<br />

decades, I thought I<br />

was too old to start<br />

again. Knowing that I<br />

dislike being pressured,<br />

he simply invited me to<br />

go with him to a bike<br />

convention to check<br />

out bikes for himself.<br />

An eBike vendor<br />

there offered tryouts,<br />

biking down to and<br />

back from the<br />

underground garage.<br />

I took the bait and was<br />

so impressed by the<br />

ease and versatility<br />

that, dismounting, I<br />

said, “OK, if we get eBikes, I’m in.“<br />

Biking through Germany<br />

Since then, we‘ve biked about 25,000 km, about<br />

two-thirds of it through Brandenburg, the largely<br />

Claudia receiving an award. (top)<br />

Claudia cuddling a rescue burro. (below)<br />

Claudia the author, showing off her book. (top)<br />

Claudia on one of her biking trips. (below)<br />

Dealing with obstacles<br />

Overcoming my initial, strong resistance was the<br />

biggest challenge, but once<br />

that obstacle was removed,<br />

I embraced biking. The next<br />

challenge was getting our<br />

eBikes (each about 25 kg) up<br />

and down the stairs in train<br />

stations without elevators.<br />

Often, a younger person<br />

offers to help; if not, we<br />

manage one bike at a time.<br />

The joy of traveling by bike<br />

In addition to its obvious<br />

physical benefits (eBikes<br />

assist but do not replace<br />

pedaling and physical effort),<br />

biking enables us to see so<br />

much of Germany and<br />

beyond in ways that<br />

traditional touring doesn‘t.<br />

We don‘t bike to exercise; we<br />

bike to explore. It’s fun, and<br />

the exercise is a bonus. Also, we have enjoyed<br />

wonderful examples of spontaneous German<br />

hospitality. On one particularly hot summer<br />

day, we longed to find a Biergarten, but with no<br />

success. Then, as we biked through a village,<br />

60 INSPIRING WOMEN INSPIRING WOMEN 61

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