Monthly Archives: October 2018

Nine Wheels in Germany – October 2018 (Month 55)

Oh look, the title of this post has changed again! We are no longer in 13 Wheels but are now down to 9 wheels. This is because Humphrey has left us and gone for a new life in Düsseldorf.

But first, here is where I cycled this month:

And these are the distances I rode, largely commuting:

You can see on that list that I used three different Velomobiles: Millie (of course), Humphrey and also Bertie.

Humphrey leaves home

As I have probably mentioned before, Klaus had his own QuattroVelo on order since last December and he was using Humphrey after Celeste got damaged. We had seen Emily his new QuattroVelo arrive in Dronten but ended up having to wait almost two months for Emily to be prepared and to have the necessary adjustments and swing arm strengthening carried out.

As we knew the time that Emily would come to us was nearing, I decided to put Humphrey up for sale. I had several enquiries and one of which was from a chap in Düsseldorf who wanted to come and have a look. He wanted to come the following day, a Saturday, but I would be out at choir so Klaus said he would talk to the chap in my stead. This was all fine.

So Thomas arrived with his friend who has a DF and they both tested Humphrey and had a good chat with Klaus. I arrived whilst they were still there and we had some more chats and then started a minor bit of price haggling. We ended up both happy with our price (I hope!).

They wanted to pick Humphrey up as soon as possible, and in fact both had the day off work the following Monday. So we agreed they could come after I finished work on Monday. Thomas would get the train, his friend would cycle there in the DF, and they would ride back together. This was before Emily had arrived so Klaus was looking rather forlorn.

The day came. Humphrey was prepared. He had a change of tyres, all his odds and ends such as battery charger, touch up paint, etc were gathered together and a few minutes after I got home from work, Thomas was at the door.

He had a cup of tea and handed me some small green pieces of paper (Quattrovelos hold their value quite well) and then he started doing some final adjustments to the boom length, etc.

Before too long his friend in the DF arrived.

The DF rider had cycled through Krefeld on his way here which is a very bad idea, so I suggested they routed back via Traar, Uerdingen, the Rhein Deich and then Kaiserswerth. This seemed a good idea but as they didn’t know the route I offered to ride with them as far as Traar/Uerdingen as the route from there on was pretty simple. They were pleased with this idea, especially when we decided to go first to Kempen for an ice cream.

We all got into the velomobiles ready to head off for an ice cream… and Thomas said he just couldn’t clip his shoes into the pedals. He tried and tried, no luck. Most odd. He climbed out and showed me he shoes – he had the wrong cleats! When he had test ridden Humphrey on the Saturday he had brought different shoes, and they had the correct SPD cleats.

I remembered that I had an old pair of SPD cleats on my Shimano boots which I no longer use (feet don’t get very cold in velomobiles) so I fetched the boots and we then had the fun of removing rusted-on and muddy cleats from shoes to which they have been attached for many years. But we had success in the end!

Fortunately these cleats fitted, although the shoes Thomas had were also a bit bulky and he had some rubbing of the heels so will probably buy himself something a bit more compact. You don’t tend to need super warmth from shoes in velomobiles so normal summer shoes which are less bulky ought to be fine.

We rode steadily to Kempen as Thomas really started to get used to Humphrey. And as we parked he had the first experience of a Velomobile owner… a thousand questions from passers-by. But we eventually escaped and enjoyed our ice creams.

It was nice and relaxing and a beautiful day to be out on the bikes. But eventually it was time to head off to Traar/Uerdingen. As we returned to the bikes various passers-by wanted photos so Thomas and his chum posed.

We headed to Hüls but not taking the direct route (as the road isn’t so nice) but a slight diversion via St Hubert. It was all good practice for Thomas to get used to riding on roads. He followed me at a good pace, he had no trouble with putting the power down although he had not owned a velomobile before. We arrived in Traar and I decided at that point to wave goodbye as the route from there was clear. So we stopped beside the road and I said my goodbyes to Humphrey. I wasn’t sad as he hadn’t been the right velomobile for me and I am happy he is going to someone who will appreciate him much more.

In the time we have had Humphrey, since February 2018, I have cycled 1,145 km and Klaus had cycled 9,204 km so Humphrey had done just over 10,000 km. Not bad!

Emily and Bertie arrive!

Having seen Emily back in August, it seemed a long wait until she was ready to be collected. This process was speeded up a bit by me emailing Velomobiel.nl and telling them that Humphrey was sold and Klaus was rather missing having a Quattrovelo. He did ride Celeste a couple of times but found her harder work. He wanted his Quattrovelo!

Anyway, Velomobiel.nl were able to prepare Emily for collection the following weekend, and this would also be the opportunity for me to collect Bertie the Versatile from Ligfietsshop Tempelman, where he had been waiting for six weeks or so for me to come and get him.

We had borrowed Ralf’s Sprinter again, but this time the smaller one as we would only be bringing Bertie back in the Sprinter. Klaus wanted to ride home of course – this is velomobile tradition for him! Because we knew he probably wouldn’t set off till the afternoon we booked a Vrienden op de Fiets place just north of Apeldoorn in Vaassen. We would both have bikes there but I would actually be coming by Sprinter. I asked the host if that was OK and he said yes, fortunately (so I didn’t have to park the Sprinter somewhere and ride Bertie a km or so to the accommodation).

We arrived in Dronten at ten o’clock and Allert immediately started getting Emily set up for Klaus. This included seat positioning, which takes a while, and then also boom length. Klaus decided he wanted the boom slightly closer to his body as he had just begun to get some hip pain in Humphrey and wondered if this was because he was rocking his hips due to the stretch for his legs to the pedals being slightly too far.

As usual there was lots going on at Velomobiel.nl with people coming and going – it’s always interesting to be there and chat to people.

Emily looked good!

She originally had all Shredda tyres. He had ordered other tyres but not everything was available so the front tyres were changed to some Continental ones – by Klaus.

Allert also changed the ‘head out’ hood to the ‘Alien haube’ (covered one) as Klaus wanted to start out by using that. I would transport the other hood home in the Sprinter. Theo fitted a tiller hanger, and some other small jobs were done.

Then it was time to do a few circuits to check how everything was.

There were a couple more adjustments of the boom and seat before it was right, but it’s important to spend time on this.

Whilst Klaus was doing this, I went and collected Bertie from Gerrit Tempelman.

I did a couple of circuits too, whilst a couple of minor things were also done by Gerrit. It’s a very strange feeling being back in a Versatile.

It was time for Klaus to head off on his journey to Vaassen, and I would go first to Intercity Bike to collect a new battery and visor for Ralf. I had also picked up a carbon fibre repair kit for Hartmut from Velomobiel.nl.

Klaus headed off and had a great ride. He said that Emily made different noises to Humphrey – less banging and crashing at the back, more noises from the front drivetrain – but she went well and he really enjoyed himself.

He took these photos on the way.

During his journey he had the experience of being stopped by the Dutch police! This was because he had crossed from the cycle path to the road about 150m before he had to turn left, knowing that the cycle path would probably have too sharp an angle for the Quattrovelo’s turning circle. The police saw him on the road, not on the path, and stopped him. He unfortunately didn’t have the magic bit of paper which shows he is allowed to ride on the road (we now each have a laminated copy in our Velomobile bags, one side Dutch, one German) and they said they weren’t interested in his safety (it was safer to be on the road at that point), just in following the rules. They asked where he was cycling and he said to Kempen, so they said because he had such a long journey ahead they wouldn’t fine him. A bit random! But more encouragement to always have the piece of paper with the relevant laws printed on it so police can be persuaded we’re really not shocking criminals.

I drove directly from Dronten to Vaassen and arrived about fifteen minutes before Klaus. The Vrienden op de Fiets place was fantastic, we had an entire thatched cottage to ourselves!

Inside was very quaint!

The upstairs had six beds, but there was also a bedroom downstairs which we used. I didn’t fancy walking down those stairs in the night without a handrail!

After a bit of a relax we walked into Vaassen itself to find some dinner. Vaassen has a very nice castle!

We had a reasonable meal and then walked back again, enjoying the fresh air.

The next morning started with a fantastic breakfast which we enjoyed at a leisurely pace. Klaus then set off homewards and I hung around a bit longer as we planned to meet in Kalkar for cake and Klaus needed a bit of a head start. I had a very enjoyable hour and a half chatting to our Vrienden op de Fiets host who restores old cars.

Eventually I set off, heading for Kalkar. In the end Klaus arrived five minutes before me – he was much quicker than I expected!

We enjoyed a slice of cake each, and two cuppas.

Then Klaus headed off again and I spent ten minutes trying to find where I had parked the Sprinter. I then drove home, filling up the Sprinter as I reached Kempen. When I got home Hartmut had just arrived to collect his carbon repair kit, and I’d only just made him a cup of tea before Klaus arrived. Klaus seemed to have cycled the distance in only slightly more time than it took me to drive it in a Sprinter and then fill the thing up with Diesel. Velomobiles for the win!

Our plan was to deliver Bertie in the Sprinter to our second garage for the time being as I needed to do some things to him before I could ride him to work, and we didn’t have any time left that weekend – and we didn’t have space for him in the main garage. We also decided to take some of our spare bicycle tyres to the garage. We decided to keep a seat of immediate spares we might need over the next few months in the main garage next to our house, and put the rest in the second garage, so we chucked the extras in the Sprinter with Bertie. But first I took a photo so I could remember what we had:

18 inch tyres:

  • 2 Schwalbe Kojak

20 inch tyres:

  • 4 Durano Plus (2 kept as spares additionally in our main garage)
  • 2 F-Lites (Gocycle)
  • 1 Marathon Greenguard (3 kept as spares in our main garage)
  • 7 nu-traks (1 loose, 6 in a large cardboard box)
  • 2 continental Grand Prix

26 inch tyres:

  • 1 Schwalbe Kojak (1 Marathon as spare in the main garage)

It seems we don’t need to buy any tyres for a while.

We took Bertie, the tyres and the second hood for Emily to the other garage and unloaded everything.

We then took the Sprinter back to Ralf with thanks again for letting us use it!

All in all a very successful weekend with Emily and Bertie both coming to live with us.

In the eleven days since Klaus collected Emily he has cycled 600 km so you can see he’s getting on well with her! He’s also had his first puncture before heading to work in the dark at 6:30am which was less nice for him, that was in a rear Shredda tyre.

I have started using Bertie for my work commute and have ridden in him three times at the end of October.

It was particularly useful to ride him on a very windy and rainy day. I would have been soaked in Millie but was fine in Bertie.

Average commute speed is about 17.5 km/h to 18.5 km/h, so that’s about 3 km/h slower than in Millie. But in a 4km commute that only equates to a couple of minutes so no problem!

Having ridden Bertie with the pedals in the forward position I need to really shift them to the back position, as I had in Penelope, as that is more comfortable for me. I have the instructions on how to do it from Gerrit Tempelman; he says it’s not complicated but is rather fiddly. We will have to choose a warm weekend day when we haven’t go much else to do before we attempt it, as I think it will involve quite a lot of lying on the ground trying to do things through the footholes.

An Orca at Rose Biketown

Klaus wanted to buy some winter boots for his commutes so he cycled to Rose Biketown and I drove (lazy!). Outside we spotted an Orca!

Klaus and the owner had a good chinwag. This guy’s Orca has a motor but he seems to reach very impressive speeds, averaging around 30-31 on his commute.

 

Cakes this month

Here are a selection of delicious cakes which I or my companions enjoyed this month!

And, just as a note, there are some other reasons to visit cafes rather than just cake. Look at the view we found at one café!

And adding to the cake gallery, we have this month’s Cheddar finds.

Aldi used to supply vintage cheddar which is of course a basic food staple for Brits. Unfortunately they have now stopped stocking it. Oh no!

Fortunately a week later I discovered Lidl were doing a special offer on Cheddar and other British cheeses and stocked up.

I went back the next week to get some more and they had sold out! Fortunately we passed another Lidl a few days later and got the remainder of their Cheddar stock, including three blocks of 1kg. I guess this will last a week or two.

 

So that’s the end of this month’s report. Not much to say except bikes this month, but November is looking interesting as we’re taking another trip to Usedom on the Baltic Sea, plus I have my choir concert.

As always, I would love to receive any comments. Do get in touch!

6 Comments

Filed under Bertie the Velomobile, Cycling in Germany, Humphrey the Quattrovelo, Millie the Milan GT Carbon, Six Wheels In Germany

Thirteen Wheels in Germany – September 2018 (Month 54)

Cycling this month.

This year continues with Klaus doing mega kilometres (he’s now on just about 11.000) and me doing significantly fewer.

My total for September was 352km and was almost all commutes except for a couple of longer rides. I used Humphrey for my work commute twice too, because of bad weather/need for large boot for shopping.

And here is where I went:

This month I put Humphrey up for sale in preparation for the arrival of Emily, Klaus’s Quattrovelo. We have had several enquiries but nothing firm yet.

This month I also ended up removing one of Millies front wheels to change a spoke. The spoke went ‘ping’ under heavy braking which was odd but I decided I’d tackle it myself as Jochen, the usual spoke-replacer, was unavailable. Klaus had gone out and I had a couple of hours before I had to leave for choir so I gave it a go.

It is a bit of a fiddly job as you have to undo some nuts with very little room but I managed it, replaced the poke and then fitted it all back together again.

I have decided life would be much easier if I had a shorter spanner so I will buy one and cut it down to size, I think, before the next spoke replacement.

A trip to Heidelberg

Klaus’s mother’s funeral took place on a Friday afternoon so as we had the day off work we decided to stay overnight in Heidelberg and do a bit of exploring.

I didn’t attend the funeral so as not to upset Klaus’s ex-wife so instead he dropped me off at Bensheim, a local town, and I wandered around a bit.

Bensheim is twinned with Amersham, and this twinning seemed to be pretty successful!

The plan was for me to take the train to Heidelberg and Klaus would join me later after the funeral.

It was lovely to be on a German train again – a reminder of all my bike tours and other visits over the last twenty years.

I arrived in Heidelberg and made my way to the hotel, which was situated right on the edge of the pedestrian zone in a narrow street.

Klaus was on his way to Heidelberg by car and had soon parked in a local car park and made his way on foot to the hotel.

After a bit of a relax we headed off to have a look around Heidelberg, including its famous bridge over the Neckar river.

Heidelberg has an impressive castle just a little way up the mountain.

That evening we enjoyed a lovely Italian meal and were joined by Klaus’s friend Martin for a good chinwag.

The next morning our plan was to visit the technical museum in Sinsheim but on the way we drove up to the Königsstuhl to have a look down on the town.

The Technical Museum in Sinsheim is the sister Museum to one in Speyer. What was interesting about the Sinsheim museum was its two rather impressive aircraft:

It also had a British plane outside with a rather suitable number plate for me:

The museum is great, with two large halls filled with different cars, planes, motorbikes and more.

It was interesting to be able to walk underneath Concorde, and also inside.

They also had the Tupolev T-144 (or Concordski)

Inside Concordski there was more room as it was wider. I liked this instrument panel!

And of course a big difference between the two, the canard.

It was interesting to see these two planes and it’s sad to think that we seem unable to make this technology cost effective now. It was also interesting to read how they managed to transport the planes here – mostly by barge.

It was lovely to see an Isetta in very good condition.

They actually had a lot of really valuable cars, and it looks as though some of them are still used.

We spent several hours looking around and then called in on Klaus’s father on our way home. An interesting weekend and a nice relaxing time as well, despite Klaus attending a funeral.

A trip to the UK

September is the month when I have my annual review at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in London. This is following the humerus and elbow replacement I had almost 25 years ago.

We always combine this with a few days on holiday in the UK with my Mum, and did the same this time, travelling overnight on the Tuesday night so that we had a couple of free days in the UK. We were also celebrating my sister’s 50th birthday.

The hospital visit went well as usual. A week before I had visited the Deutsches Museum in Bonn with Gudula and Frank and they had an example there of an elbow replacement so it was interesting to see.

This time I saw a lady Registrar and she said that they would discharge me as I had no change in my arm over the last ten years and everything was looking good. This tied in with Brexit really, so I wasn’t too disappointed (it is encouraging to be checked regularly by such an expert team). She said that if I have any problems I can phone them and they will recommend a suitable orthopaedic department in Germany. So it is the end of an era.

Whilst in England I also visited my father’s grave in the local church. The issue of graves and how they are maintained has been in our thoughts recently following the death of Klaus’s mother. The way that Britain and Germany do this is very different.

In the UK you can buy a burial plot and once you are buried you put up a headstone and that is that. The grave can be tended by you or not, as you wish. The church will probably keep the graveyard mostly tidy but it’s a higgledy-piggledy place with graves everywhere.

In Germany the graveyard is tightly managed and if your headstone starts to lean even slightly you will have to pay a stonemason to re-set it. They have millimetre-accurate measuring devices in the cemeteries and they will condemn your headstone and send you the bill for it if you don’t do anything. But this is only for 25 years anyway, after that point you are dug up (unless you pay for longer). Graveyards are well tended (generally) and everything is flat and level.

For the Germans amongst my readers who have perhaps not seen a UK graveyard, here are a few photos from the graveyard where my father is buried. Some of these graves are over 200 years old, perhaps more as the stones are so covered in lichen I can no longer read the inscriptions!

And what if you are cremated? In the UK the relatives are given the urn with the ashes and can have them buried or can scatter them somewhere suitable if desired. In Germany scattering of ashes is never allowed, but the urn can be buried – in a graveyard, at great expense, and for 25 years again. Once the 25 years is up the urn is dug up and thrown away. You cannot take possession of the urn itself, it has to remain at the undertakers’ or another official place at great expense. I am starting to think of ways of getting myself repatriated on death so I can be buried in a lovely calm churchyard like this, or my ashes scattered in woodland or something!

Klaus and I had a day visiting my relatives, including seeing my niece’s new puppy, a cross between a Dachshund and a Miniature Schnauzer. He (‘Chip’) was really sweet but rather intelligent and full of energy. His face looked remarkably like Poppy’s but I guess he will end up a little shorter than her. And probably never meet her. We celebrated my sister’s 50th birthday with an all-you-can-eat curry buffet at her local tandoori. It turns out that you can eat-more-than-you-should in such circumstances.

On the Saturday that we were returning to England we had a trip to Aldeburgh and walked along the beach (after having a cream tea). I also visited the Aldeburgh lifeboat station.

We were very lucky with the weather on this trip, having sunshine every day. Klaus and I also took the opportunity for some shopping – he bought two suits and a jacket, I bought M&S undies as usual, and we restocked the teabag, curry paste and Cream Tea supplies for the next few months.

I shared a cream tea with my colleagues on Monday.

We’ll be back in England for Christmas so I will see how well my 1400 teabags have lasted.

We arrived home on Sunday morning to a nice sunrise at Hoek van Holland.

Cakes this month.

2 Comments

Filed under Cycling in Germany, Millie the Milan GT Carbon, Six Wheels In Germany, Velomobiles