Friday, August 18, 2017

Free cargo bike loans in Mannheim, Germany

Following the example of other German cities Mannheim now has a number of cargo bikes that one can borrow. Details in German on www.lastenvelomannheim.de“. It's a chance to use one occasionally or try one out before buying one.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Changing trains in Hamburg, Germany

If you are travelling south from Hamburg by train rather than using the main railway station, Hamburg Hauptbahnhof consider using the Dammtor station just to the north. The Hauptbahnhof is very busy, whereas Dammtor is much quieter. Just check that your train does stop there before heading south using www.bahn.de. Especially if you are going to put a bicycle on the train Dammtor is much easier to use.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Bicycle of the week?

We subscribe to a digital version of the "Observer", a British Sunday newspaper. The newspaper features a Bicycle of the Week. More often than not these are expensive thin tyred road bikes without such luxuries as mudguards or baggage racks meaning they are useless as commuter bikes although they are often described as such. The "Observer" is not alone in this. Most newspapers review motor cars that are outside the financial comfort zones of their readers. I think I should stop reading these bicycle reviews. It will be better for my blood pressure.  For some reason unknown last weeks bicycle of the week is a motor bike, OK without a petrol engine, but fitted with an elecric motor: a Neematic FR/1. This ticks all the newspaper boxes: it's expensive, Price: £7,075. It probably needs a motor bike licence to ride it, at least in Germany with its top speed of 50mph (80kph). It's basic purpose in life is to be popped on the back of a car and ridden offroad skidding round forest tracks as though one is in the Utah backwoods. It's heavy though, 50kg. There are no points where one can fasten a bag, so you need to carry your gear on your back. 
What worries me is that at the moment about all these electric mountain bikes is that we spend a modest amount of time hill walking in the Odenwald and in the Pfalzerwald, where the Germans who consider that one is roughing it, if there is no chance to munch a sandwich, drink a Weizenbier, a cider or a glass of wine once one has ascended the summits, have built inns and mountain huts on the tops. In the past one saw the odd mountainbiker up the top, as  it was hard work climbing three or four hundred metres from the plains, but with electric oomph there are more and more bikers in the restaurants. Even if they lay off the Dornfelder Rosé and most off them do, they can still let the pig out on the way down as though they were taking part in the Trans Provence race. This is what mountain bikers do and it bothers me. Normally the rules are that the mountian bikers should follow the wider more gradual forest roads, but for some of them it's more fun to transfer to the paths that we walkers use. OK if I am walking uphill, I can keep my winkers open to spot any would be downhiller barrelling down the narrow paths, so I can shout "BIKE!" and jump into the bushes, hoping that she who must be obeyed has heard me and followed suite. Walking downhill is more difficult. One needs to look round like a WWII fighter pilot in a dog fight. Matters aren't helped by the advertising for the Neematic which shows a mountain biker skidding around corners burning off adrenaline. It does not encourage responsible cycling in woods packed full of families and pensioners rambling uphill and down dale.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Mudguards/Fenders

Recently I have come across three examples of bikes that in my opinion are not fit for purpose as touring and commuter bikes: two hire bikes used by a pair of US Americans in Scotland; a bike offered as a prize in competition to celebrate 200 years of the bicycle and "The bicycle of the week" in a British Sunday newspaper. I checked the bicycles of the week feature and realised that over 90% of the bicycles shown were without mudguards although they were intended to be used for commuting and/or touring. I am sorry to tell you this but in Britain it rains a lot, not as much as is popularly thought, but one can normally reckon with wet roads from time to time even in summer. Your tyres will then spray mucky water at you and your bike. If you are a fair weather commuter or tourist, or even just use your bike as a fitness machine then a bike without mudguards does give you a sportier image, but if you are going to use your bike as a means of transport then think seriously about mudguards.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Booking a touring holiday in Franconia, for example or in the far east of Germany

Where do you start planning a cycling  holiday in Germany? You can, of course, fly to say Friedrichshafen and then follow the Rhine to the Dutch border finding your finding your overnight accommodation as you drift downstream. This is not a problem if you are in a small group and you start to look for your acommodation at around 4pm.
If you would like to get off the beaten track or you are worried about your lack of German, then check out the offers such as:
Those shown on www.mainradweg.de on the River Main between Bamberg and Aschaffenburg. This self-guided pre-booked trip costs 519€ pp for 8 nights with breakfast. Contrary to what "The Guardian" writes restaurant meals in Germany are less than in the UK.
The Fürst-Pückler Weg - 500km through Eastern Germany. This self-guided pre-booked trip costs 659€ pp for 10 nights with breakfast. http://www.radreisepartner-spreewald-lausitz.de/ 
The Spreewaldradweg - 420km through Eastern Germany. This self-guided pre-booked trip costs 399€ for 6 nights with breakfast.You end up on the edge of Berlin and could then spend a day or two there and follow the route round the wall, the former border with the DDR. The website is www.spreewald.de and it is in English.

Friday, July 14, 2017

MTB Trans-Odenwald Tour

Follow in the footsteps of Wagner's heroes like "Siegfried - The Killer of Dragons" on a mountain bike rather than a horse. How do carry your sword? We are not mountain bikers, preferring to use map reading and thinking to avoid hills. This trip is on offer by one of the bike shops in Lorsch, south of Frankfurt am Main. It should be possible to fly out on an early morning flight to Frankfurt International and followed by a train to Lorsch to reach there in time to join the group. You will experience the Odenwald, one of the German middle sized mountainous or hilly areas. From Lorsch in the Rhine Valley, you cross the Odenwald almost to the Bavarian border and back across the Neckar to Lorsch. The bike shop organises the hotels, baggage transport, the sag waggon and offers technical support. The ice cream shops in Lorsch are something else. After your ice you can catch an evening flight back to Britain to go into work on Monday morning.
The requirements:The trip is only really suitable for fit, technically competent mountain bikers, but you can cheat by using a MTB e-bike. The trip is four consecutive days with a total of about 230 km and 4,000 m. Bike hire is also a possibility.If you are interested drop the organisers an email under info(at)odenwaldbike(dot)de.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Radweg Deutsche Einheit - German Reunification Cycle Trail

The Radweg Deutsche Einheit - German Reunification Cycle Trail was initiated in 2015 by the German Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, Alexander Dobrindt. It runs from the previous capital, Bonn, the "Bundeshauptdorf" - "Federal Village" as it was known, to the present capital Berlin. It is designed to show how reunification was achieved and what has happened in the 25 years since. Unlike most German cycle routes which are planned by a province, sometime acting together with another province, this was the work of the federal government. It is about 1100km long and offering some climbing as it does not follow a river like many of the major German cycle routes. Perhaps because of this plans are in place to install e-bike charging points at the stopping points near the 100 or so highlights en route. These stopping points "Radstätte" offer information, free WLAN, charging points not only for for  e-bikes and mobiles, digital information vis touch pads, bike racks and, in some cases, baggage lockers. Much more information can be found under https://www.radweg-deutsche-einheit.de/, in German only unfortunately.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Cycling Holidays in Alsace

A number of outdoor centres, holiday villages and youth hostels in Alsace cooperate to offer holidays across Alsace. You can if you wish help rebuild a mediaeval castle using authentic methods, go canoeing, learn or brush up your French and German, or hike. However the cycling trips would be of more interest to the readers of this blog: cycle touring in the North of Alsace or mountain biking along the Vosges Mountains. Much more information can be found under http://www.aja-tourisme.fr/en. If you looking for a holiday with children or young adults this could well be a solution.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Cycling in Alsace

The French are gradually installing touristic cycle routes across France. For many years if you saw a tourist cyclist in France he or she would be a foreigner. The French either used a rusty ladies bicycle from the 1920s to cycle beret-wearing to the boulangerie pick up a baguette or two, or they wore a helmet, sausage skin shorts and Lycra® tops on a road bike in an attempt to get fit enough to recreate the glory days of Le Tour, when the French won, i.e. sometime ago.  French cycle route planning was to issue maps put out by central government showing where it was intended to have cycle routes with no timetable for completion. Alsace was always somewhat of an exception to this as the Germans came over the border to cycle and enjoy a French way of life - very strong coffee, eclairs and vin rouge in an area where many people understand German, Alsace has also benefited from this discovery that cycle tourists are a good source of tourist euros and new routes have had signposting, etc. installed. For many years the only route that was signposted was the Rhine Route on the left bank of the Rhine between the French border in Lauterburg/Lauterbourg and the Swiss border in Basel/Basle/Bâle. Nowadays the Marne Rhine Canal towpath from Strasbourg towards Sarrebourg, the Saar Coal Mines Canal from Gondrexange north towards Saarbrücken, the Alsatian Wine Road Cycle Trail and the Rhone Rhine Canal from Mulhouse to Belfort are well signposted. There is more information on www.cyclinginalsace.com in English. The Alsatian Tourist authorities produce an excellent printed map of Alsace which includes lists of firms offering bicycling holidays and bike hire. Drop a postcard to Comité Régional du Tourisme d'Alsace, 20 A rue Berthe Molly, 68005 Colmar, France or an email to crt(at)tourisme-alsace.com.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Beer soft drink mixtures for cyclists

Many continental beers at 5% alcohol content are stronger than British draught beers at 2% alcohol. As in Britain it is usual for cyclists especially to dilute their beer with lemonade. However what do you ask for? Asking for a shandy in a Munich beer hall will get you some funny looks and no shandy.

Here is a list of the names that various dilute beer mixtures are called:

The easy one  for our American cousins in Britain is Shandy, a mixture of about 50% beer and 50% lemonade. It would appear that our US friends drink Shandygaff which is the same thing. One of the most refreshing drinks of this type is a Ginger Beer Shandy, which could well become an export hit in post-BREXIT Britain. This too is a 50:50 mixture, but note it is a Ginger Beer not Ginger Ale. Since most beer lemonade shandies come pre-bottled these days Ginger Beer Shandy is not easy to find.

In southern Germany you ask for a Radler - a cyclist and in the north you ask for an Alsterwasser if you want a beer lemonade mixture - the Alster is the lake in the centre of Hamburg. However in some parts of Bavaria, but do not ask me where, a Radler is known as a Russ. On the River Elbe the familiar beer lemonade mixture is called  Ententeich or Entenpuhl - duckpond. On the River Weser in the northwest of Germany the beer lemonade mixture is called Fliegerbier - Pilot's Beer. In and around Münster in Westphalia the locals drink a beer orangeade mixture called Wurstwasser - sausage water. Why, I don't know. I drank it once on a very hot day in the winegrowing area of the lower Mosel Valley. It was all the pub had. I suppose it was really twice - for the first and last time.  If you are in Berlin in summer ask for a Berliner Weisse (German: Berliner Weiße) mit Schuß which is a cloudy, sour, white beer of around 3% alcohol which is coloured with a shot of Himbeer raspberry or Waldmeister green artificial woodruff cordial. In north-eastern part of the former German Democratic Republic a beer raspberry flavoured soft drink mixture is known as a Potsdamer.

In Austria you ask for an Almradler a mixture of beer and Almdudler. The original Almdudler is a sweetened carbonated soft drink made of herbal extracts. Almdudler is the "national drink of Austria". In the western Austrian province of Vorarlberg you need to specify whether you want your beer diluted with lemonade Süsses Radler or with mineral water Saures Radler.


Dutch cyclists drink Sneeuwwitje - Snow White, a beer lemonade mixture but don't ask me how you pronounce it.

The Belgians around Antwerp call for a Tango - a beer with cola when they wish to dilute their excellent beers.

In Switzerland and in Luxembourg one asks for a Panaché (from the French panacher meaning to mix). If you wish to dilute your beer with cola then add the word "coca"- Panaché coca. In the Saarland, the German province, where French is the first foreign language taught in schools, one asks for a Panasch to obtain a lemonade beer mixture.

One can, of course, use non-alcoholic or low alcohol beers instead of a full strength beer. If you are not taken with the flavour of alcohol-free beers, this is an excellent way of disguising their too hoppy flavour.

These days a lot of German breweries like those in the UK pre-mix Radler. You'll get a bottle of Radler rather than a mixture of lemonade and draught beer.

If when you are touring in hot weather you hit a wall of tiredness we find a quick lift is offered by a cola-orangeade mixture known in most of Germany as a Spezi, but in Mannheim and district as a Kalter Kaffee - cold coffee.

Friday, June 09, 2017

NSU Bicycle Museum Neckarsulm Germany

Somehow we've missed the Deutsches Zweirad und NSU-Museum near Heilbronn in the past. I supect we were put off by the NSU connection. NSU built bicycles, motor cycles and cars including those with Wankel motors. The museum features however 400 exhibits in 2000 square metres. The bicycles exhibited range from the 19th Century to the present day, from the hobby horse to the e-bike.
The address: Deutsches Zweirad und NSU-Museum, Urbanstraße 11, 74172 Neckarsulm. The museum is signposted from the entre of the town. It is a short walk from Neckarsulm railway station through the park to the former Deutschordensschloß. The website in German offers an impression of the museum: http://www.zweirad-museum.de/.
Entrance costs 6 € for adults, 5 € for seniors and 3 € for students. Children under 6 get in free. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 until 17:00. It is also open on public holidays if they fall on a Monday.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Bikes for high schools

We written before about the Albertus-Magnus-Schule in Viernheim here. The school took part in a competition organised by the Integrierte Verkehrs- und Mobilitätsmanagement Region Frankfurt and the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Nahmobilität Hessen (two local government organisations in the field of mobility) last year. Both staff and schoolchildren were encouraged to cycle as far as possible. The school was second in the competition for the most kilometres and first in the competition for the most participants. It won 1250 Euro and invested this in five new bikes for the school bike pool. The bikes can be borrowed in case a class is going to baths in the centre of town or one of the club sports facilities. Already the bikes are well used. Congratulations are due to the school.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Cleaning your bike

I worked for many years for an engineering society that organised the world's largest chemical engineering exhibition. I worked on the society's stand at the triennial exhibitions and I noticed, in addition to the guests who wandered from stand to stand collecting information, there were always guests carrying a briefcase packed with brochures who wished us to be interested in their ideas. During the bicycle parade after the recent 5. Nationaler Radverkehrskongress (5th National Cycling Conference) in Mannheim, I cycled next to another delegate who had a bag full of brochures and we discussed automatic bike washing. It turns out he has connections to a small company that has developed a bike wash.
The bike is put in a box 2.3m x 0.8m x 1.3m which is equipped with rollers to take the bicycle. The bike wash needs a source of mains electrical power and water. During the wash cycle dirt is loosened by ultrasound. A wash takes about 0.1L of water. The wash cycle takes three minutes. This would suggest it would take about five minutes to wash a bicycle. The bike wash comes on four wheels and can be easily moved. I have no idea how much the device costs either to buy or to rent. One needs to contact the manufacturer to find this out, but assuming it is reasonably priced it strikes me it would a capital wheeze if say

  • an event organiser for MTB, cycle cross, bike parade or even road race events, 
  • a political party such as the Greens, 
  • a bigger bike shop
  • a national bike club such as Cycling UK
  • or a city council 

could lease or buy a bike wash they could trot out on various occasions. In the case of a bike shop it could be an added plus that each and every bike would be washed before inspection or repair.
The manufacturer's website is clean-your-bike.com. It is a German company, but the website is in English and German.
At work during the 200th anniversary celebrations of the first trip by a two-wheeled vehicle

Friday, May 19, 2017

Winter Cycling

We visited the 5. Nationaler Radverkehrskongress (5th National Cycling Conference) in Mannheim recently and both of us went to the forum on Cycle Tourism. Three of the four lectures were discussing fairly conventional aspects of e-bike touring and MTB activities by representatives of tourist information offices. One lecture was interesting though we could not work out beforehand what it was about: "Saisonverlängerung durch Winterfahrradtourismus" ("Lengthening the season through winter cycling.") It turned out there is a winter biking scene which is based in places where one gets snowy, frosty winters rather than the wet, dark, soggy seasons we in the Rhineland experience between December and February. Typical places are Minneapolis (MN), Montreal (PQ), St. Petersburg and Oulu (Finland). Our speaker, Pekka Tahkola came from the latter city. The activity is divided into two main areas:
  • Utility Cycling: Check www.wintercycling.org for more information. This group is more interested in keeping roads cleared and getting to work than exciting days out on the fells. 
 
Winter Urban Cycling © Pekka Tahkola

  • Nature and Open Spaces: Most of the trails are made by grooming the trails by snow mobiles pulling a groomer. Thus most of these groomed trails are rideable for people of all ages. They are enjoyable to ride at slower speeds while enjoying nature, and are easy to ride for people with absolutely no experience of mountain biking. Of course it depends to a certain extent on weather conditions. Snow biking is often easier and safer than walking and is a great way to see the national park. Pekka has guided many people over 70 years old on the trails and there's definitely no danger of face plants. Then again, if one wishes to have more exciting and snow-diving experiences, there are trails for the young at heart too.

     
    Getting close to wildlife ©Pekka Tahkola


    Feeding a Siberian Jay © Pekka Tahkola

    By March the days are long and sunny © Pekka Tahkola


    Check out http://instagram.com/ptahkola/ , and for a bicycle hotel in Syöte National Park, http://www.bhc.fi/en/ or https://www.facebook.com/BikeHotelConcept/

    Pekka as a cycling coordinator  is a good man to contact if you fancy trying this activity: pekka(dot)tahkola(at)navico(dot)fi. Unfortunately the parent Navico website appears to be written only in Finnish, which is not an easy language to read, but an email to him will get you sufficient information.

Friday, May 12, 2017

E-Bike and Special Needs Bicycle Hire in the Danube Valley

The range of bicycles and tricycles available to rent in Germany is growing year by year. We were interested to come across the e-bike-verleih-bogen at a recent bicycle touring fair in Frankfurt recently. Bogen is a small settlement near Straubing on the Danube, north east of Munich. The company offers not only good quality e-bikes, but also a range of vehicles for people who have difficulty with bicycles due to physical impairments. This range includes    

  • Electrically assisted Hand Bike with wheelchair seating (ProActiv NJ1)
  • The VeloPlus wheelchair transport bike designed to transport people, who remain seated in their own wheelchair, by cycle.
  • E-Trike therapy cycle for adults
  • Tandem
  • E-transport bike for children or of course for large dogs.

The company offers both bicycle/tricycle hire and touring holidays based in a hotel in Straubing with wheelchair access. The websites are in German: e-bike-verleih-bogen.de (Hire) and e-bike-radtouren.de (Holiday) but offer photographs of the various bikes/trikes on offer. There is always Google Translator, of course. If you are interested in hiring a bike or two and don't speak or write German just send the company an email in English. In our experience German companies always have somebody on their staff who understands English. 

 

Friday, May 05, 2017

SPEZI Gemersheim 2017

This year we went to SPEZI much later than in previous years. I formerly argued that  the time to go was early on Saturday morning as most other people would be out shopping. It turns out that the busiest times at the ticket offices were early on Saturday, when visitors could wait up to an hour to get in. Visitors then hit the halls to see what was new or chat to the companies who had sold them the trike, the trailer or the folding bike to find out how to save an ounce or two, to buy mechanical or electrical or electronic components to build the dream e-power sociable or maybe to sell their idea to someone with some money. It's that kind of show. Enthusiasts and freaks talk to the enthusiasts manning the stands. The halls were full and getting to the most popular stands was like trying to weave one's way through the crowd to get a beer in a stadium at half time when Bayern München plays Real Madrid.

This year we could only get to the exhibition by Sunday afternoon at 14:00 (2pm). There were plenty of visitors as we made our way through the street around the halls. This area is blocked off to motorised traffic and so is used as an informal test track and exhibition area by the stands on the external exhibition area. It was a sunny day and the ice cream and dutch frites stand were doing great business judging by the queues.

A sunny day


Hall 3 was full of visitors but it is a small hall with some big stands and so there was not much space for the humankind in the aisles. We chatted to the editor of "Fahrradzukunft - Bicycle Future" a German language e-magazine which can also be obtained in print form. We are looking for an author or publisher competent in English to take over some or all of Bergstrasse Bike Books, our cyclist touring guides.

We returned to the informal test track outside and dodged the test pilots some of whom had more enthusiasm than caution to go to Halls 1 and 2 which is where most of the major players in the recumbent trike and e-bike business hang out. These halls had fair number of visitors but did not resemble a rugby scrum. To sum up our impressions fat tyred trikes are definitely in coming, cargo bikes, especially with e-power are now viewed as a serious possibility for deliveries in city centres to reduce air pollution and e-powered bikes and trikes are now mainstream. Carla Cargo build braked trailers with or without electrical power that convert to hand trailers for "last mile" deliveries through a pedestrian zone.  AZUB the Czech trike manufacturer, HP and ICE now offer fat tyre trikes.

A Carla Cargo powered trailer for inner city use.


ICE


AZUB
Unfortunately common sense says we cannot buy a recumbent trike or bike as our bike garage is small and will just take two touring bikes and lawn mower. However when I am in day dreaming mode I think a Flevo GreenMachine would a great addition to our bike collective and in slightly more sensible mood a Anthrotech semi-recumbent trike would be easy to get on and off. I think it would be fun to ride as well. Anthrotech appear to no longer have a British agent, so if you want to buy one you will need to arrange transport.

We were interested to find a hat to fit over a cycle helmet on the EVARIA on top stand. They are stylish and manufactured in disabled workshops. You can look cool and help others. A great idea!



We found Monkey Mirrors on the HPV parts stand. These clip on the helmet, are stylish and can be swopped over when one crosses the English Channel. It's an interesting idea, but I already have a mirror and will stick by my present mirror which attaches to the arm of my glasses. A head mirror is a capital wheeze. It could save your life, especially in heavy traffic. They are light. You know what's happening on the road behind you.

In Hall 2 we were pleased to meet Juliane Neuß who runs Junik, a human powered bicycle manufacturer. She is an expert in the ergonomics of cycling, a book and magazine author and runs an interesting bike shop. Years ago she developed a kit to convert a Brompton folding bike to a recumbent. Junik HPV can modify a steel framed Brompton to take a Shimano 8 speed Nexus hub gear, offers proper touring and commuter bicycles for people of small stature and has developed the Sauseschritt and Sausi-Kid, a scooter with a seat for adults and children.



All of the occupants of the various stands (booths) listed above and our fellow Lancastrians on the  Advanced Vehicle Design stand that we visited seemed to have a good show and intended to come back next year.

If you can organise it it is worthwhile planning to get to SPEZI a little later, but even if you have to queue at 10:00 a visit to SPEZI is still worthwhile.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Genglish as she is writ

Both of us are amused and at times irritated by the German use of the English language, especially when English is dropped into German sentences. Why for example should the Germans use "Story" instead of "Geschichte" which means the same thing, I shall never know.  When we visit our local shopping centre/mall we look at the the English terms in the shop windows and giggle. (I know we should get a life,  but…) This has been going on for years, but we came across a new term today in the window of a shoe and handbag shop: "College lookbook". What does it mean? *

*It turns out that "lookbook" is term from the world of fashion and means a catalogue with photographs. It is new to us both.

Then our local brewery is offering courses in home beer brewing. According to the German description the course offers breakfast to start, snacks during the day, instruction, six beer samples and you can take your volume of fermenting beer home with you. In addition there is a "Handout". I thought it was a goody bag similat to the kind of thing one gets as an attendee at the Oscar ceremony, but no, according to the my wife this is a term used at teachers' conferences to describe printed literature that is handed out.

Friday, April 28, 2017

E-Bike and Bicycle Hire in Wertheim, Germany

Wertheim lies on three major German cycle routes: River Main, River Tauber and the Romantic Road, and the extensive Spessart Forest lies to the north. It is no surprise to find that two organisations in the town offer bicycles to hire.

Tourismus Wertheim GmbH
Gerbergasse 16, 97877 Wertheim
T: +49 (0) 93509, www.tourismus-wertheim.de, eMail: info@tourismus-wertheim.de
Opening times April to October:
Mo - Fr: 9:00 - 18:00, Sa: 10:00 -16:00, Sun: 13:00 - 16:00
The tourist information office offers e-bikes from Falter (Range 60km) and from Staiger Range 120km) to hire. Both companies build good quality bicycles. You should remember though that the range is shortened when one uses more power assistance to climb hills. The river routes are relatively flat so one can reach the maximum range, before one needs to pedal without assistance. The good news is that there are now a number of free charging stations in the hillier Spessart Forest: at the moment there only appears to be a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=walderfahren, but a website is in preparation: www.walderfahren.de.
The Falter e-bikes cost:
Half Day: 10€
First Day: 18€
After 3 days: 17€ per day
After a week 15€ per day

The Staiger e-bikes cost:
Half Day: 14€
First Day: 23€
After 3 days: 20€ per day
After a week 17€ per day



Zweirad-Fachgeschäft Baumann
Neben-Neugasse 3-5
97877 Wertheim
Tel: 09342/1214
info@fahrrad-baumann.de
www.fahrrad-baumann.de


Opening times:
Mo - Fr: 9.00 - 12.00 and 14.00 - 18.00
Sa: 9.00 - 13.00 
At present we have no information about bikes, prices, etc.

Although this would be a good place to hire a bike to ride the Romantic Road, remember that you will need to return the bike to Wertheim at the end of the holiday. One possibility would be to take the Romantic Road Coach (bus) from Füssen to Wertheim Village, but this would mean stopping another night in Wertheim at the end of the holiday. If you decide to do this then take a side trip by bus or train to visit Würzburg which should not be missed.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Hotel accommodation in Buhl-Lorraine near the Rhine Marne Canal

A hotel recommendation, if you are cycling along the Rhine Marne Canal between Nancy and Strasbourg, which is in itself much to be recommended. It is now part of the Pan-Europe Cycle Route Paris - Prague. Much of the canal towpath is now a cyclepath:

The former Cactus Hotel on a small industrial estate in Buhl-Lorraine which is near to the Rhine Marne Canal is now an Ibis Budget hotel. It has a bike garage which is available as long as you arrive early enough before the reception closes, otherwise there is an adequate fence to lock bikes to. The rooms are more than adequate if a bit on the tight side. You can book it via the Internet which saves fighting with the joys of the French language. There is a decent restaurant nearby called Le Cabane de Marie, just by the roundabout on the D45 road where you turn off left for the hotel, coming from the canal. As far as I remember the restaurant is closed on Mondays.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Knooppunt Navigation Nodes in Sauerland and Siegerland-Wittgenstein

Yet another tourist authority in Germany has set up a knooppunt sytem whereby cyclists cycle to and from numbered nodes rather than following lines of signposts across the country. South Westphalia has taken this courageous step. This is the area east of Dortmund stretching south. There is a downloadable app available for Android and iOS. More information can be found on radeln-nach-zahlen.de, in German.

We have just been to the National German Cycling Conference in Mannheim and I chatted to executives from the Sauerland Tourist Authority. I asked how well the system has been received. It would appear that the Germans arrive and think what does this bring me? After one or two visits they are very enthusiastic about the system. The other main group of cyclists in the Sauerland are the Dutch. They come from the Netherlands and understand immediately how the system works. It is what they have at home. They too are very pleased.

Friday, April 07, 2017

You can now book long-distance trains in Germany six months ahead.

Deutsche Bahn (German Rail) has doubled the period you can book tickets in advance from three to six months. Bike spaces are always booked up at weekends in summer and without a bike reservation your bike cannot travel. You are then offered the slower option of taking a series of local and regional trains which do not demand reservations. Of course, if the bike compartment on the local train is full when the train comes into the station then you will have to wait an hour for the next train. Better try and book early.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Bach by Bike

We both feel quite strongly that cycling is not just about getting fitter, cycling faster or even impressing the folks in the tea room or the pub with the quality or cost of our gear, but is the ideal, environmentally friendly way to visit historical cities and sites, look at landscapes, take in some culture and enjoy some fairly painless exercise. We were thus pleased to run across the BACH by Bike tours at a recent ADFC (German Cycling Club) Cycle Touring Fair in Frankfurt/Main. This company offers three tours a year to places connected with J. S. Bach in the eastern part of Germany, in Thuringia, Saxony and Saxony Anhalt, such as Eisenach where he was born or Dornheim where he married. Looking at the Bachfest tour (9-19 June 2017) the cost is reasonable. Sharing a double room with breakfast every day and a packed lunch most days, one evening meal and luggage transfer costs 1180€. Single room supplement is 230€. Bike or e-bike hire costs 100 or 205€. Three concerts during the Bachfest cost 215€. The distances covered are not strenuous at a maximum of 60km (40 or so miles). The small parties are led by two experienced musicians who enjoy cycling and who speak English. In spite of rumours to the contrary in the UK restaurant meals in Germany are reasonably priced once one is away from the major cities.
There are similar tours later in the year between 22 July and 1 August 2017, and 26 August and 3 September 2017.
Just to make one thing clear we have no financial interest in the organisers of these holiday nor have we been offered free accommodation on any of the company's trips. It is just that this holiday is an excellent way of learning more about Bach, listening to some private organ recitals and visiting a part of the world that few Britons have or will ever visit. As such it is worthy of being mentioned in our blog.

http://bachbybike.com/en/welcome/

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

SPEZI Special Bike Show 2017

If you are interested in recumbent bicycles, recumbent tandems, tandems, folding bikes, trikes, four wheeled human powered vehicles, rehab vehicles, e-bikes, bolt on e-bike kits, work bikes, cargo bikes and trailers, then you should plan on visiting SPEZI, the world's most successful specialized bike show in Germersheim/Rhein, Germany on the weekend of 29 and 30 April 2017. For more information check on www.spezialradmesse.de  and click on the union flag.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Bike Friday Haul-a-Day Cargo Bike

Like many cyclists I am fascinated by the concept of the cargo bike. I have this vision of nipping round to our local ALDI store to pick up a mild steel garden frame to take window boxes and popping it on the bike to cycle home. It would obviously a good idea for a weekly shop or our trips to the local dump to pick up compost, but these bikes are normally big and heavy. I mentioned the Tern Cargo Bike a few weeks ago. I have just come across the Bike Friday Haul-a-Day Cargo Bike which can be dismantled/dismounted/knocked down. It can be stacked on its rear end which could be useful in a flat or appartment. It is light enough to go touring. There might even be room in our cellar. A nice bike. More details from https://www.bikefriday.com.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Instant Germanisation

We cycled along part of the Berlin-Copenhagen Cycle Route two or three years ago through wet and windy weather. As usual when we are touring through areas we don't know, we each wore a helmet. In addition we could keep our heads dry by slipping a North Sea Ferries shower cap over the helmet. One day we were met by several hundred schoolchildren on some form of organised cycle day. None of them wore a hemet. It's not usual in Denmark. The bicycle is seen as a means of transport and  cycleways are designed to keep cyclists alive, not as a cosmetic excuse that is true for much of Europe. Cyclists in Denmark don't need extra protection to stay alive. We were somewhat bemused to be greeted by "Hallo!" rather than the Danish "Hej!". "Hallo" is  a standard cyclist's greeting in Germany. It was obvious the kids realised we were not Danes. We were wearing helmets. The majority of non-Danish cyclists in Denmark are Germans and some Germans wear helmets. Logical really, I suppose. It was no great problem. Nobody threw bricks at us. It was just amusing.



Friday, March 10, 2017

Surprising Denmark

We are planning to travel along the Danish-German border later this year. We have bought a guide book to the Grenzroute/Grænseruten as the Germans and the Danes call the route. We were surprised to read that the Danes turn left somewhat differently to the Germans.

In Germany you check the traffic behind you,
indicate,
when you can, move to the middle of the road,
check the oncoming traffic before you cross the lane to turn left.

In Denmark you cycle on at the junction,
park at the far side of the junction,
check the traffic and then cycle over.
We have seen something similar in Copenhagen with junctions with traffic lights.

When in Denmark if you try to use the German method, and are spotted by the Danish Police, you can be fined 500DKr (about 67€).  The same fines are charged for broken brakes, reflectors and lights, so a word to the wise, check your bike before you cross the border. Whether these are on the spot fines is not clear, but an illegal left turn or a broken reflector could put a modest hole in the holiday  budget.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Post and Packet Deliveries in Cities - Reduction in exhaust emissions

Some weeks ago I suggested that post and package deliveries in towns and cities could be made less polluting by using a "last mile" delivery with cargo bikes. I was interested to read that DHL, the German Post logistics company has a pilot scheme in Utrecht, Netherlands and Frankfurt am Main, Germany to test this concept using four wheel recumbent HPVs with electrical assistance.
“DHL Express has already replaced up to 60% of inner-city vehicle routes in some European countries with cargo bicycles, and we expect that the City Hub and Cubicycle will both help us to accelerate this approach in other markets over the next 3-5 years,” said John Pearson, CEO, DHL Express Europe. “Bicycles offer a number of advantages in express delivery operations: they can bypass traffic congestion and make up to two times as many stops per hour than a delivery vehicle. The total cost of ownership over their lifetime is less than half of a van. And crucially, they generate zero emissions, which reinforces our own ongoing program to minimize our environmental footprint and supports city governments’ efforts to promote sustainable city living.”
The concept of zero pollution is debatable. Obviously the vehicles deliver less pollution in situ, but some of the electricity to charge the batteries will be fossil sourced.
The Cubicycle vehicles used by DHL in these pilot schemes are manufactured by Velove Bikes AB, http://velove.se/.The website offers some interesting ideas about low emission deliveries in towns and cities.


The photographs are, as far as I know, © DHL.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Nightjet Overnight Sleeper trains across Europe Part II

As we reported some weeks ago OeBB, Austrian Railways have taken over the activities of CityNightLine, a DB German Railways subsidiary company and intend to continue offering them. Fewer services are offered, but more than would have been offered if CityNightLine had stayed in business.There is now an overnight Zurich Hamburg train which now travels via Basel, Frankfurt am Main and Berlin. It turns out, or at least it looks like, bikes will be carried after Easter. Check bahn.de if you need to travel.  The hair in the soup is that although the northbound trains leave Mannheim at a minute to midnight and get into Hamburg Hauptbahnhof (Central Station) at a sensible eight thirty-one, the southbound trains leave earlier, just before eight pm and get into Mannheim at four forty which is not the most convenient of trains.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Another event has been suggested to celebrate 200 years of the bicycle

I read recently that further suggestions were being considered by the City of Mannheim to be included in the festivities celebrating Karl Drais's pioneering hobby horse run in June 1817. The suggestion that caught my eye was a naked bicycle ride. OK, Mannheim is usually hot enough in summer to allow cycling in light weight clothing. In fact it is often too hot. If it is put on the official programme which I cannot see, I won't be taking part in this event. On the one hand I am over 70 and my body is no longer a thing of beauty and on the other hand the thought of my naked lower regions coming into contact with a Brooks' leather saddle does not appeal.
Preparations for an earlier clothed mass cycle ride in summer in Mannheim city centre

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Deliveries in cities

We ordered and took delivery of  BioHort bicycle garage recently.

It comes knocked-down in two boxes weighing about 90kg. The two boxes were delivered in a 38ton lorry. We were obviously the last customers on this run as the load area was empty apart from a number of pallets. It struck me that using a diesel powered 38ton vehicle to deliver 90 or so kg was overkill. The same can be said of DHL, Hermes, UPS etc. who deliver smaller packages daily in diesel powered vans with a capacity of up to 14 cubic metres and a payload of two or so tons. 
Air pollution largely due to diesel powered vehicles is a major problem in cities. Air pollution is a problem taken very seriously by city governments all over the world. Two examples of the many programmes suggested:
Our small German town, Viernheim, is part of a three province conurbation based around Ludwigshafen, Mannheim and Heidelberg with a number of smaller towns and villages in between. DHL distributes packages from a central office. It would ease air pollution if packages were then distributed by lorry to a centre in each town where local deliveries could be made by cargo trikes such as the Musketier (http://www.radkutsche.de in German) which can carry a maximum load of 300kg or the powered or unpowered Carla Cargo bicycle trailers (http://www.carlacargo.de/en/). Most of the settlements have letter distribution centres where the packages loaded on a pallet could be picked up.

UPS has pioneered low polluting deliveries in city centres for some years. In cooperation with the city of Hamburg, only e-transporters have been used  since 2012, and in the inner core there is the package delivery of four mobile parcel depots on foot, with a sack truck, a bicycle and pedelec. Each day, pollutant-free deliveries over ± 800km of were made. The concept is now much in demand and has been adapted to Offenbach am Main, Herne and Oldenburg.
This concept may well involve higher costs, but on the other hand blocked up lungs and heart problems due to pollution are not cheap to treat.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Nightjet Overnight Sleeper trains across Europe Part I

The good news is that OeBB, Austrian Railways have taken over the activities of CityNightLine, a DB German Railways subsidiary company and intend to continue offering them. The bad news is that fewer services are offered, but lots more than would have been offered if CityNightLine had stayed in business.
There is now an overnight Zurich Hamburg train which now travels via Basel, Frankfurt am Main and Berlin. The even worse news is that the train does not carry bicycles except between Zurich and Basel. Why bother? Practically every Swiss train takes bikes, but an overnight link between south Germany and Hamburg for me and my bicycle would be a thing of wonder.
Correction 24.02.2017 It turns out or at least it looks like bikes will be carried after Easter. Check bahn.de if you need to travel.  The hair in the soup is that although the northbound trains leave Mannheim at a minute to midnight and get into Hamburg Hauptbahnhof (Central Station) at a sensible eight thirty-one, the southbound trains leave earlier, just before eight pm and get into Mannheim at four forty which is not the most convenient of trains.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Tern Cargo Node Folding Bike A good idea whose time has come, I hope

Some years ago we when the National Lottery was set up in Britain we would talk to friends over dinner what we would do if we won a million pounds. At that time, a long time before a million quid was the price of a lockup garage in East London, this was a serious sum of money and so it was actually a good way of organising thought experiments about what one wanted to do. A new house always seemed to be priority. After the house came the car. What kind of car would one buy? In our case we'd keep the one we'd got and talk was of what bike/s would we buy: a sporty trike like the Windcheetah (http://bit.ly/2jq8zVU), a long john cargo bike like the Bullit or the renovated version of the vintage Claude Butler we lusted after in our youth. We do save money by not buying lottery tickets, but it is not the way to suddenly accumulate a pile of money, but even if we were suddenly stone-rich, as the Germans say, we don't have any more room in our cellar in addition to the six bikes we are keeping down there - two touring bikes, two Dahon tourers and a pair of mountain bikes. We could build a cellar extension but would need to add a new back door into the garden as carrying bikes down the curving staircase into our cellar is not getting easier as the years go by. 
This scenario has tended to rule out new bikes although I still lust after a cargo bike, but they are big, heavy and unwieldy. The game changer could maybe be the Tern Cargo Node which I came across by chance. It is a full-sized cargo bike that folds. We could fit one in the cupboard that takes the Bromptons in the hall. When folded the chain is on the outside unlike the Brompton. However it can carry 160 kg of cargo as well as a rider, even a fairly plump one weighing 115 kg, has good braking, mudguards and decent lighting. It also has a sensible twin legged kickstand for stability when stationary. More details can be found on the Tern website, but it is not (yet?) available in Germany, but unfairly in the USA and the UK and even in France, so maybe we will have to wait or nip over the border while we still can. 
Whether I can justify buying a £1700 bike will not be easy. Maybe, if we got rid of the car?

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Cheaper by train from Stuttgart to Berlin

Deutsche Bahn - DB (German Railways) face little competition in the field of long distance passenger transport. There have been attempts by companies other than Deutsche Bahn to run long distance trains across Germany, but only one has remained and this offers a reduced service in comparison to the start of service: HKX between Köln and Hamburg.

A new service from Stuttgart to Berlin via
  • Berlin
  • Wolfsburg
  • Hannover
  • Göttingen
  • Kassel
  • Fulda
  • Hanau
  • Frankfurt
  • Darmstadt
  • Heidelberg
  • Vaihingen (Enz)
  • Stuttgart
has just started on 15 December 2016: Locomore. This is cheaper than Deutsche Bahn, German Railways. Fares are planned to be under the cost of a standard DB fare with a half price BahnCard 50. Heidelberg - Berlin costs between 20 and 65€. The standard DB fare is 136€ (68€ with a BahnCard 50), though with luck and early planning one can buy a DB ticket for 29€. Locomore tickets can be bought online, per telephone or directly in the train. Tickets bought in the train are the most expensive. The long distance bus fare Heidelberg - Berlin (Flixbus) costs from 19€ but at popular times like Christmas customers are looking at prices above 50€.

The trains are comfortable and reasonably fast: the Heidelberg - Berlin journey with Locomore takes 5h 48m whereas DB ICEs take 5h 15m, The bus takes at least eight hours. The Locomore trains take bikes. Bikes must be reserved in advance.

More information under https://locomore.com/en/. Will it be a success? Who knows? The company has some teething problems at the moment and is only offering a service four days a week until 6 April 2017, but passenger levels appear to be as expected.

Friday, January 13, 2017

World Bicycle Relief a great idea!

"Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race." 
HG Wells
If you read cycling magazines or scan the web for news of the latest road and mountain bikes you will rapidly notice that modern high quality bicycles are built of materials and using technology that would not be out of place in aerospace construction. The prices charged for these lightweight wonders also resemble the prices charged by aeromanufacturers. Although these bicycles are a triumph of modern design and manufacturing, I would like to suggest that the 300,000 heavy (24kg) steel  framed single geared utility Buffalo Bicycles supplied by World Bicycle Relief (WBR) bring more happiness into the world than all the high-tech wonders. 
Buffalo Bicycles are durable with steel alloy frames, forks and spokes and a rear carrier capacity rated to 100kg. Weighing in at 5kg (a complete bike is 24kg), the weight of the steel frame is not a hindrance but evidence of the bicycle’s strength. WBR is committed to using high-quality, well-designed parts. This improves the bicycle’s functionality, reliability and strength, and keeps  Buffalo Bicycles on the road.
WBR has since organised programmes to provide specially designed, locally assembled bicycles for students, health care workers and entrepreneurs across Africa, South America and Southeast Asia. The bicycles help students travel farther to school, help health professionals see more patients a day and farmers and market traders find new markets and increase their carrying capacity. WBR has also created new economic opportunities by training field mechanics and employing bike assemblers to support their localprogrammes. WBR has developed an efficient, innovative and scalable model to successfully address the need for reliable, affordable transport in rural areas of developing countries. WBR works with a number of third world development aid charities and NGOs.
If any bicycle club or organisation is looking for a charity to support World Bicycle Relief should be high on the list of candidates.
A Buffalo Bike at the City of Mannheim's Annual Reception for its citizens January 6 2017

Friday, January 06, 2017

River Cruising coupled with bicycling

River Cruising is a fast growing tourist activity in Europe and several companies specialise in combined cycling and cruising holidays with a wide range of prices. As usual you get what you pay for. Some companies offer barge trips wheres other companies have larger cruise ships.
A sample of the type of trips available:
Aktieve Vaarvkanties offers barging and biking tours in the Netherlands / Bavaria, Germany  / Lorraine, France on a converted barge that takes eighteen people in nine double cabins with ensuite facilities. 
Aktieve Vaarvkanties
Barend Visserstraat 9
8861 HB Harlingen 
T: +31 6 22418892
info@actievevaarvakanties.nl http://www.boatandbike.eu/ 

Arosa offers bicycle day excursions (surcharge) on its river cruise ships: https://www.a-rosa.de/en/river-cruises/index.html.

Bicycle Tour Europe offers barging and biking tours in the Netherlands / France / Belgium on a converted barge that takes sixteen people in eight double cabins with ensuite facilities.
www.Bicycle-Tour-Europe.com | P/O Bo 1097, Postalcode 1000 BB, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Bike & Barge Holland Tours offers barging and biking tours in the Netherlands / Germany (Bremen-Berlin) on a converted barge that takes twenty-eight people in fourteen double cabins with ensuite facilities.

Address:
13440 179th Ave NE
Redmond, WA 98052-1103, USA
Phone:
425.636.8071
800.437.4771

European Waterways Ltd offer barges for charter by small groups.
European Waterways Ltd 
The Barn, Riding Court
Riding Court Road, Datchet
Berkshire, SL3 9JT
United Kingdom
http://www.gobarging.com/cycling-cruise

Bicycle-Tour-Europe offers week long trips in Belgium, France and the Netherlands.
Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours has partnered with Trek Travel to offer guests bicycle tours on Europe itineraries.
Guests aboard the seven-night, all-inclusive Bike & River Cruise sailings will be able to enjoy Trek Domaine 5.9 carbon road bikes on explorations that range from 15 to 60 miles with daily route support and experienced bicycling guides. These tours come in addition to those which Scenic already provides and are available from May to September on the Gems of the Danube and Rhine Highlights itineraries.
Gems of the Danube, aboard Scenic Amber, allows cyclists to ride through Furth and Erlangen, sampling local beers, the vineyards of the Wachau Region, the Vienna Woods, and Budapest’s Buda hills and its architecture. Non-cycling tours include a walking tour of Cesky Krumlov or Salzburg, a Budapest city tour or thermal baths, and spa experience and a Scenic-exclusive concert in Palais, Liechtenstein. Prices start at $6,499 per person per double with departures on May 10, 22, and 31, June 26, July 26, and August 30.
The Rhine Highlights, aboard Scenic Jewel, visits four countries. Highlights for bicyclists include cycling through the Alsace wine route for tastings of Rieslings and Pinot Gris, the Rhine Gorge with its scattered castles and vineyards, the bike trails of Cologne, and Amsterdam’s countryside for a cheese-tasting tour. Non-cycling tours include a Scenic-exclusive private tour and classical concert at the Baroque-period Mannheim Palace, a “Sweet Tastes” tour of Heidelberg, and a trip to the fairy tale town of Cochem. Priced from $6,599 per person per double, departures take place on June 12, August 16 and September 13.
Scenic Space-Ships offer private butler service, unlimited complimentary beverages and spirits, full-size private balcony staterooms, Scenic Tailormade handheld GPS guided tour systems provided to every guest, and up to six dining options.
Visit www.scenicusa.com

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