Okay, so now that I'm here in Bonn, following the advice of BFers:
I looked around at 4 different bike shops & actually bought myself a new bike:
It is a Cube brand built in Munich (or thereabouts), aluminum frame cross-bike with 3-rings upfront, 9 on RD, 26x125 tires, straight bars, Shimano Deore gears. Weighs less than 25 lbs (maybe?)
Had to do some adjustments to the 62 cm available on sale for 399 euros. This is the MOST I've ever paid for a bike and my most expensive purchase for something personal since I turned 50. But it is a handsome steed. Added barends, plastic MTB fenders, salvaged a rusty rack off the pile of old bikes rusting outside my bldg & owned by our program sponsors. Worry about getting flats and now having my wife to call on the cellphone for pickup (yes, that's a weenie attitude from the safety of home, I know). The bike at first rode funny with the front tire feeling out of round. Upon examination, the tire had not been seated properly in the rim with too much caught down inside the rim edge. Deflating it, massaging the tire, re-inflating got most of it then I rode it gingerly back to the bike shop where they finally fixed it.
Have been relying on a bike trail map published by the Northrhein-Westphalia 'Landesvermessungsamt' or state survey commission for the Rhein-Sieg-Kreis. Metric scale 1:50,000 'Blaue Reihe'. Taken a number of rides and also use an on-line route & distance calculator from the state's bike website:
which shows anywhere in NRW, particularly in the Freistadte Bonn, a windowing program, a way to calculate the distance of any ride (with up to 9 waypoints) and gives the climbing profile of any proposed ride. Very cool website once you get used to it. Not available in English, sorry, but if anyone needs translations, will be pleased to provide them in this thread or via PM.
Last weekend rode around 30 miles through the local Kottenforst which has miles & miles of 8' wide asphalt paths as well as gravel paths through a beautiful managed forest. This weekend I'm going to venture onto the train with my bike to visit Aachen and maybe ride across Limburg into Belgium to visit a garden at Alden Biesen (http://www.alden-biesen.be/enpaginas/index.php)
Buying a German bike has made me 'invisible' as a tourist and there are a surprising number of cyclists who are now wearing helmets (contrary to previous intimations that this would mark one as a foreignere). At least most of those dressed for speed and exercise are wearing them. 90% of course are cruising along on their commuter cycles in working clothes.
When I figure out how to post some photos (mine all seem to be too large for BF to accept) then will share with this group. My new bike is fine, fine, fine & I don't know why I waited so long to treat myself to a new bike. The ol' Giant steel-framed MTB back in Tx seems clunky by comparison. Riding 30 miles on the aluminum frame was so much easier!
Have tried getting my students interested in riding. Severeal have borrowed bikes from their host families & ride them to their respective trainstops to commute in for class. They've not done any longer rides yet but perhaps this weeekend. Ride for Pie has, so far, appeared to be a 'foreign concept'. 1st they thought someone would give them a pie if they rode 15 miles (I had to offer to buy them pie). Then they wanted to know just WHO made up this Ride for Pie day & I had to confess that a bunch of ol' f*rts scattered across the globe who mostly only knew each other on line (they at least understood it like some kind of weird cycling 'World of Warcraft' group). Then they wanted to know how long this tradition had been going & I once again explained that this was the inaugural year. Relatively unimpressed, they were...the attractions of Paris, Friburg, Cologne, Amsterdam on weekends seem to draw them more strongly but then one can never understand the motivations of youth these days .