German bicyclists hit German Coast

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 13, 2012



RESERVE – In early June, sisters Julia and Gina Raddatz of Munich, Germany, arrived in Philadelphia to embark on a cross-country bicycling excursion that would eventually wrap up in California. Roughly three months later, their travels led them all the way to Reserve, where they were treated to some much needed rest and hospitality from locals.

“We haven’t had any sort of schedule for our trip,” said 24-year-old Julia Raddatz. “We try to spend a little bit of time in every place we go, but it doesn’t always work out. We stopped here just to get some water from one of the churches, but we came in contact with people who wanted to give us some help.”

One of those willing to help was Marsha Stein of Reserve, who offered the sisters a place to stay while Julia sought treatment for an injury she received along the way.

“Somewhere around Ft. Walton in Florida, I was struck by a car,” Julia Raddatz said. “My bike was totaled and the car rolled over my right leg. The man agreed to replace my bike, so we kept going on, but the pain was becoming too much.”

After 10 days of riding, and sleeping in sleeping bags outdoors, the pair stopped again for an extended stay in Reserve after getting food and water at Lifehouse Church. The break gave the girls the chance to not only rest and get medical treatment, but also to take in some of the sights in the region.

“We would have liked to spend more time in New Orleans, but we got the chance to visit some of the plantations along the river,” said 22-year-old Gina Raddatz. “We also took in the Alligator Festival, which was rather interesting.”

Throughout their trip, which has taken them through Washington D.C., Charleston, S.C., Savannah, Ga., and other locations, the sisters have had to rely on the kindness and hospitality of strangers, something that, the sisters say, isn’t as common in Europe.

“People have been extraordinarily friendly and supportive,” Gina Raddatz said. “There are some nights where we have to sleep outside, but we have found that people are not as hesitant to help. We have also had situations where when we stay in one place those people notify friends on Facebook in other places so they can look out for us. There is lots of connectivity.”

Julia said the idea for the trip was born when the sisters were working in California as translators. They always had the urge to see the east coast and the rest of the country.

“There is so much history and so many unique landmarks,” she said. “Our next big stopping point is in New Mexico, where we will work with a group to excavate an Indian site. There is so much to see and so many different routes to take.”

Gina said the entire trip is being documented through thousands of photos being sent home to their parents in Munich.

“They have never been to the U.S., so they have been fascinated by what we have seen,” Gina Raddatz said. “They were a little scared and reluctant at first about our trip, but they are OK now.”

The sisters hope to wrap up their journey in other three months, mainly because that is when their visa runs out.

“We think we will have enough time,” Julia Raddatz said. “We have made it this far in three months, we should be able to finish the rest by then.”