Tuesday, November 18, 2008


We went out on 11th November for a short run into Mannheim to show an American friend how to reach the railway station and the pleasantest route across the town. On the way home the Dahon suffered a puncture in the rear tyre. As the regular reader of this blog knows I am a great devotee of folding bikes. We both own two small wheeled folding bicycles: a Brompton and a Dahon. Both get used more than our full sized "cumbersomes" and so suffer from punctures more often and invariably in the rear tyre. (A good example of Murphy's Law.) Removing the rear tyre is always more difficult and more oily because of the Dahon's derailleur and the Brompton's chain tensioner.
For some reason unknown other people's punctures are a source of great amusement (schadenfreude?) to others. When we lived in a block of flats I used to retreat to our cellar rather than repair the bike in front of the building to reduce the number of times I had to answer the question, "Got a puncture, then?" said with a knowing smirk. I don't have this problem any more now that we moved to a small house, but it is still a fiddly job replacing an inner tube. Schwalbe does offer a special puncture proof tyre, but not unfortunately for small wheels. When we were in Britain a year or so ago I picked up a packet of anti-puncture tapes. This fits between the tyre and the inner tube. Now I have had a puncture at home I have fitted one of these. I will report on how I go on.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The recession?

Europe is officially in recession. I just wish someone would tell my fellow shoppers in the Rhein Neckar Centre in Viernheim, so that on the occasions when we go by car we could find a convenient parking space. Today my wife observed a couple with two overflowing shopping trolleys coming out of "Toys R Us" in the RNZ. We needed to buy a new bathroom lamp in Bauhaus, our local DIY store today, but it was too full to shop in comfort. We will wait until Monday or Tuesday.
We saw our first Father Christmas dummy swinging from a balcony today!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Bierathlon

Although Viernheim does not normally feature in lists of great sporting ventures like the Olympic Games, marathons in cities like Berlin, London or New York, or even the Iron Man triathlon in Hawaii, the town has developed a new sport over the last four years: The Bierathlon. It is a 6km jog for two runners who carry a crate of beer (12 330ml bottles of Welde Pils - an excellent local beer) between them and have to drink this in the start and finish zone. They need to empty the bottles in the crate before crossing the finish line. Whether they both drink 2 litres is not laid down but there are penalty points for full bottles. There are prizes for male, female, mixed teams and for the best fancy dress. This year's winners achieved times of about half an hour. The event is a mixture of Karneval, Halloween and sport. There is a party afterwards which goes on to the early hours. It is obviously not a serious event though the mixed prize this year was taken by a pair of experienced triathlon competitors from Ladenburg. One could of course handicap trained athletes by replacing the Pils by a higher strength Bock or even Doppelbock.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Another advantage of cycling

We wanted to do our bit today to help Germany out of the impending Wirtsschaftsrezession (economic recession) and reduce our electricity bills. We've been thinking about buying a new freezer, because our chest freezer was already about 10 years old when we got married just over 20 years ago. It is time to invest in an A+ freezer. It was fine and sunny this morning, so we cycled into the industrial estate where the local electrical dealer has his shop. We had no trouble parking. Not needing to search for a parking place saves an amazing amount of time and frustration. We bought a deep freeze and arranged to have it delivered. It would have been a bit big to fit over the Brompton's front wheel.
Afterwards we decided to go to a nearby large electronics supermarket to look at cheap and cheerful DVD players. Our old one has been on the blink for six months or so. Again we could park outside without raising the heartbeat rate. Admittedly we did not buy anything large: The box containing the player we bought fitted in the front bag of the Brompton, no trouble at all and was held in by an elasticated net with hooks we picked up in a motor bike shop some years ago. We were not however moving a ton or so of steel around to carry us two and a small box.

Friday, November 07, 2008

The advantages of the moral high ground

One of the problems of being a cyclist is that one really does occupy the moral high ground. This. of course, means that the various members of the cycling community feel that they can cycle through red lights, down one way streets the wrong way and on pavements. Unfortunately this is plain daft, because it gives us as cyclists a poor image and could get some poor cyclist flattened or some pedestrian injured. It is better that one enjoys the moral high ground and endeavours to obey the traffic laws, even though they are at times stupid. One should not expect any reward. Virtue is its own reward, surely?
However sometimes being a cyclist pays off in unexpected ways. Today for example I took the bike towing a trailer full of old paint tins and more aggressive cleaning agents to Viernheim's rubbish/garbage collection depot. Once a month in addition to having three bins: Bio, paper and the remainder with bottle banks all over town, we can take "dangerous" chemicals to the depot. I arrived and joined a queue of three or four cars and stood waiting to get rid of my trailer full. The dustbin man (garbage collector) directing traffic pointed to me and beckoned me forward. I assume because the others in the queue could sit in the warmth and listen to their radio whereas I needed to stand, I was allowed to jump the queue. Five minutes later I was away with an empty trailer. Wonderful.

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