By Judy Steffes Special to Published Jun 23, 2008 at 3:41 PM

STUTTGART, Germany -- Word is, there's a great bicycle trail out of Lauffen that goes straight through Stuttgart. Problem is, if you don't know where it is, it's difficult to get there.

About 10 miles out of Lauffen I stop at a grocery store to fill my water bottles and get my bearings. I'm standing in the parking lot when a man in a green, plaid sweater comes over and starts a conversation.

After too much German, I say "English" and he laughs and says I should follow him to his house for coffee.

Blessing and a curse: I can never do without too much coffee however my red flag sense of adventure is starting to wave strong.

I'd turn him down but he's already in his van and waving me on. I did try to lose him but he backed up an entire block to catch me.

Klaus Konrad Dillmann took me home and surprised his wife. "Hun-nee, Americannnn," he sang in a manner like look-what-I-picked-up-at-the-store.

Neither of them had very good English, Klaus the better of the two but he never shut up. He talked about history and books and I downed coffee and looked to make my escape.

An hour crawled by and as I was leaving Klaus autographed one of his books and gave it to me. It has my name and a salutation which I can't read. I feel obligated to take it and reluctantly add it to my load.

Just outside Oberstenfeld I jump on what I hope is the Stuttgart trail. I run into another Klaus. This one is riding a recumbent bike and we manage to cobble together the fact both of us are going to Stuttgart, only Klaus knows the way.

Klaus is my kind of biker. He likes to ride and ride and ride and not take a break. He's aware I'm looking for an Internet hookup and we stop in Marbach to check out their library.

It's at the center of town, on top of a hill ... where it seems everything in Germany is located. We grind up the hill only to find the library closed, but we break for coffee.

"Where are you from?" I heard while locking my bike. I was so taken aback I didn't even recognize the English.

The question didn't come from Klaus, but from a woman who was the Anna Nicole of Germany; only this woman sagged and was doing little justice to 60.

Bridget, or "Flower Power," as she liked to refer to herself, had long bleached blonde hair, dark eyebrows and it looked like two cats wrestling under her shirt ... and you felt they were on the terrible verge of escape.

Bridget and her husband Michael were American transplants. "I couldn't stand president Bush so I left the country four years ago," she said, strongly advising I do the same.

"We're hippies from Big Bear, Calif.," she said again referencing her dedication to flower power.

I said I was from the States and touring. "And if you'd be smart you'll never go back," said Bridget just busting, literally, for a good lecture on politics.

"We're actually on the run from the government," said Bridget whose husband, a bit more demure, had been groomed over the years and didn't even try to shut her up.

I started thinking he was deaf, but figured he'd already made the adjustment years ago tuning her out.

When I said I was from Wisconsin, Michael immediately popped up with Oshkosh. "He's a pilot," said Bridget in a 'don't ya know, really, uh huh' kinda speak.

"But you should really get your head on straight and vote for Obama. Come on HUNNY, how can you STAND it???"

I looked over at Klaus. He was a quick study and had already managed to develop the tune-out technique ... plus he didn't understand English AND he wasn't saddled with a president named Bush so he conveniently eliminated himself from Bridget.

Riveted by the one-sided conversation I managed to say my goodbyes, promise I'd vote for Obama and left Michael to enjoy his life on the run with Bridget.

Judy Steffes Special to

Judy is a Milwaukee native who is ever exploring the country. Her favorite mode of travel is her 21-speed, blue Centurion bicycle, which she bought after high school. Judy has worked in the local media for the past 20 years. "I need to do something to support my biking habit."

Judy has an extensive history in radio news, having worked at WISN, WUWM, WTMJ, WKTY in La Crosse and WBKV in West Bend. A strong interest in sports also had Judy reporting for ESPN Radio covering the Packers, Buck, Brewers and Badgers. "One of my first Brewer games at County Stadium the security guy yelled as I walked into the locker room ‘LADY IN THE LOCKER ROOM.’ Now it’s so commonplace. But that story makes me sound really old."

Judy is currently working at WISN-TV in Milwaukee. She is a freelance writer and her pieces have been seen in The Small Business Times and The Business Journal. Her travel journal has appeared in Minnesota Trails Magazine, The Statesman and the West Bend Daily News, to name a few.

Aside from biking, running and being active in her community, Judy is known as someone who is "very, very thrifty." "I get candles for Christmas. My friends call them my space heaters because I normally keep the heat in my house at 40 degrees during the winter. It’s not that I can’t afford to turn up the thermostat, I just hate paying for heat."

Judy said her "conservative attitude" plays a part in her bike tours ... not needing to pay for gas and frequently spending nights camping inside churches. "First of all, it makes me feel safe since I’m traveling alone and second all you’re doing is sleeping, so why pay for that. It’s no wonder I can’t ever get someone to travel with me."

Judy grew up in Whitefish Bay and graduated from Dominican High School and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Judy is the second oldest among seven siblings and spends a lot of her time working as a "park tester" along with her eight nieces and nephews.