Category Archives: Alfie the Trike

Kylltal & Mosel Day 7: Koblenz to Cochem

This was the last day of our tour and would be the shortest at around 45km.

We breakfasted and then made ourselves ready. Once again we left for our morning’s ride around 9am – we have been very consistent about this!

I was relieved to find that my motor did indeed work this morning, that the battery was still functional despite a loose metal pin.

Here is our route for the day.

We had of course ridden this way yesterday. Well, it was not all the same as yesterday we did a section on the other side of the river and today we would stay on the left hand side. But that meant that 70% was just retracing our steps/wheeltracks.

But travelling in the other direction does show you some new things. It helped that the weather was a bit warmer today.

Here is the section on the way to Winningen where we are sandwiched between the railway on the left and some rocky walls on the right.

And here’s what it is all about… the grapes! A bit early for them, but there is some promise showing.

A few times on our tour we have seen the ADAC helicopter which is some kind of rescue helicopter I believe (like an air ambulance). We saw it set down in a very small field – there can’t be that many flat landing places in the Mosel valley!

I find it very interesting considering the age of the terraces which we were riding past. The Mosel has been used for viticulture for ever, and sometimes you come across something like these steps made out of stone which could be hundreds of years old.

The Mosel is, of course, a castles and wine river. Here is Klaus with a castle in front and some vineyards to his right.

On our journey to Koblenz yesterday we whizzed past this small area which had been planted for the bees. As we were going uphill to it today we stopped and had a look.

At Löf we stayed on the same side of the Mosel rather than crossing over and so had a short section with some new impressions. I liked this tower – I of course started quoting “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!” and it turns out the German pronunciation of Rapunzel is quite different.

Here is a pic Klaus took of me. Notice I just have one pannier at the back – travelling light, the other pannier was in his car in Cochem.

Photo by Klaus

We decided to stop for cake after 35km in Treis Karden. We found a nice café and had a Schmandkuchen with a nut base. This is slightly more Keto than all the food we had eaten so far on this holiday! It tasted good, too!

We were looking across at this pretty church whilst enjoying our cake. The church had a sign saying it had been built in 1699.

Photo by Klaus

From Treis-Karden we had just 10km back to Cochem, although we had a couple of dodgy cyclists to contend with. One was a time-trialler doing at least 40 km/h on the cycle path (normal maximum is 15 km/h) and it was a path we were joining after crossing under the railway so visibility was bad. I think we gave him a bit of a shock but he should have been on the road, he was way too fast for the cycle path. We also had an idiot chap who just wheeled his bike across the path, blocking it – I think he had forgotten it was a cycle path in use and just thought it was part of the parking area where he was standing. Fortunately we have good brakes and Klaus can sound authoritative in German!

And then we arrived back in Cochem which was REALLY busy. The car park which had been almost empty yesterday morning was full now – presumably with visitors for the bank holiday weekend. In the final 5 metres of the tour, when Klaus had to ride up a steep slope to get to the car, he managed to put so much power through the pedals that he twisted the boom around. Clearly the boom quick release bolts weren’t quite tight enough. He was then stuck as he couldn’t get up from the bike as his brakes probably wouldn’t hold him, so I came to the rescue and stood behind the bike so he could get up.

We disassembled the bikes and managed to tetris them into the car again. I managed to get oil all over my hands and some on my face too, but this is normal.

We headed away from Cochem through the crowds of tourists. I don’t imagine there will be another June opportunity to tour the Mosel without hordes of other cyclists. We had noticed more every day as it was, and this reminded us why we prefer to ride in less-busy places. We are both a bit misanthropic!

Here are the statistics for the day.

And here is the map of the whole tour.

We rode in total 343km and enjoyed ourselves very much! Klaus is already planning future tours, with an eye to the Romantische Straße and also some 1-2 day tours in the Eifel. Of course, I need to get my upgraded batteries before that!

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Kylltal & Mosel Day 6: Cochem to Koblenz

Today we would be back on the road again, but a shorter day than the previous ones at around 60km in total.

But first we took the opportunity to offload some more unnecessary items to the car at Cochem Long Term Parking.

I made a last-minute decision to keep my rain jacket as the weather seemed greyer than the forecast yesterday had suggested.

Then we set off.

Today‘s motor plan was to ride on number 4, using number 5 for any inclines that slowed me down too much. I would try and keep to a relatively consistent speed. Klaus wanted to stay behind me again today to try to match his speed to mine.

I had issues with my squealing brake again (the disc rotor is slightly fouling the brake gubbins, but this will be a bit of a fiddly job to repair). I also had to adjust my seat. But it was OK for Klaus to wait for me to faff about taking off my jacket, etc, as the views were good!

We passed a lot of castles today but the light wasn‘t great for photography. But here is one!

There was quite a strong headwind at times today but then we would round a curve and it would be gone. This mini harbour at Hatzenport had incredibly still water.

We were making good progress today, averaging about 17km/h, and my motor was performing well on number 4. I was also giving a bit more Helen Power to the pedals as I felt more rested and energetic after our day off yesterday.

The route is largely alongside a road but we crossed over to the right hand bank of the Mosel at Treis-Karden for 15km or so. After we crossed back across the river at Löf we headed through Kattenes and then the cycle path crossed under the railway and went up a narrow path the other side of the railway to the road. This was much more scenic but the road surface was pretty rough too.

At another short faffing stop we were overtaken by a big bunch of leisure cyclists so we stayed put for a bit to give them a chance to get ahead so we didn‘t have to overtake them again.

Here we saw lots of the little metal bogies for the viticulture. Apparently they can go up slopes of up to 60%!!

We were making good progress but had been on the bikes for a couple of hours so decided to stop for cake at a likely-looking café in Kobern.

Cheesecake for both of us!

We carried on, crossing under the A61 motorway which is our usual choice of route when visiting Klaus‘s father or other places in the south.

Photo by Klaus
Photo by Klaus

After the bridge we started climbing a little up the side of the hill on the way to Winningen. We watched gliders being launched from Winningen Airfield; my father once flew there with my Mum for a holiday (he was a private pilot).

I wasn‘t sure of the significance of this giant snail shell!

The route takes you down a steep hill in Winningen and at the bottom we saw a lady nearly fall off her ebike. It seemed that the act of turning a sharp corner in it was too much for her!

Along a road in Winningen we saw this amazing building with individual letters formed out of sheets of plate about 1 metre squared.

Photo by Klaus

Very posh for a wine shop!

We arrived in Koblenz-Güls where our hotel for the night was located. I asked if I could drop off my pannier, which was fine – the hotel took it. I said we would be back in about three hours.

From the hotel it was just six and a half kilometres to Koblenz. Klaus and I got split up twice, once when he fell foul of some unhelpful traffic lights and a second time when he chose not to go through the road closed sign that the rest of us cyclists did and ended up on a wild goose chase around Koblenz. But we both knew our destination, Deutsches Eck, and we were both there soon enough.

Photo by Klaus

This meant for Klaus he had joined up 3 river tours – Kylltal, Mosel and Rhein. There are lots of other rivers we need to add to our repertoire though!

The v-shape in the middle is our current tour. We need to join up from the Vennbahnradweg (south of Aachen) to Gerolstein. I have also ridden from Mainz to Frankfurt am Main but for some reason the GPS track is missing.

We decided it was time for some more food so stopped at the café Wacht am Rhein where we stopped on our velomobile tour. I had crepes and Klaus had Apfelstreusel.

Whilst we were there it began to rain so we had chosen a good time to sit under an umbrella! The rain eased off before we decided to head back to our hotel.

This time Klaus followed me through the Road Closed section as it was actually a lovely smooth new surface.

It felt like just a few minutes before we were back at the hotel in Güls.

We took our luggage off and then when I disconnected the battery from the motor cable – Disaster!

That little metal spike should not still be in there!!! There are four holes in the connector in the photo below, and one is missing its metal widget inside.

Was this Game Over? Klaus said that if necessary tomorrow he would cycle to pick up the car and fetch me, but I decided I would at least try to make a start on the ride back. It would probably be slow but I can ride 45 kilometres without motor assistance, just the Winningen hills would be a pain! I had resolved that I would give Klaus the pannier and the heavy stuff to carry.

I put the battery on charge just in case it would work after all. We then went out for our dinner in the restaurant next door to the hotel, and we had some good food. Klaus enjoyed his last glass of Mosel white wine on the Mosel.

Güls seems to be a bit of a ribbon development along the river but it is good to be close to the water.

When we got back from dinner the battery had fully charged. The suspense was killing me so I decided we would try it out tonight so that I would know if the motor would work for me tomorrow. I was most relieved, after carefully plugging it in, to see the battery was indeed providing power to the motor. We will see if that will be the case for the whole of tomorrow‘s 45km. But we have hope!

We have really enjoyed this tour. We have been lucky with the weather and also it is much less crowded than normal due to Coronavirus. I don‘t suppose the Mosel will ever be as empty again in June, so I am very pleased we have had the chance to see it like that.

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Kylltal & Mosel Day 5: Cochem

We both slept really well, starting to recover from a few difficult weeks at work. It is good to feel rested again!

Yesterday the WiFi was being tricky (we had to use a phone hotspot) so I didn‘t manage to include some photos that Klaus took of Cochem, but here they are now.

Cochem Castle by Klaus
Cochem by Klaus
Painted Stairwell in the bridge by Klaus

We had a leisurely breakfast knowing that we didn‘t have anything planned for today. We talked a lot to the Guest House landlord who was discussing all the ebikes and the problems they can cause. We saw this yesterday – many people riding ebikes who perhaps haven‘t ridden much for many years. They have quite a lot of speed and power available to them and tend to often ride on a very high power setting but with a very low cadence. We were regularly overtaken by ebikes and I am riding one myself. Probably we are more careful with energy usage as our journeys are longer – over 80km yesterday, for example.

After breakfast we did a bit of judicious packing for a bag we would leave in the car today. The weather forecast is improving so we don‘t need so much wet weather clothing. As we will just be riding to Koblenz and back over two days, about 110km in total, we don‘t need much with us. We had a full bag which we carried with us to the car park in Cochem where Klaus‘s car has patiently been waiting since last Saturday. It won‘t be moving again until Friday afternoon/evening. We will go tomorrow morning to buy parking for the next two days and I may well drop off my mudguards then too as they are annoying and rattly and if there isn‘t any rain then I would rather leave them. Klaus will probably keep his on as they are as yet rattle-free.

I also took the opportunity to telephone Gerrit Tempelman of Ligfietsshop Tempelman in Dronten. He is the chap who always serviced my Versatile Velomobiles but is also an ICE dealer and has over the last few years developed a new side of the business which is electric motors for recumbents. As I needed a new battery or two (following the discussion between Klaus and I yesterday) but also really wanted my trike serviced (dodgy brakes), it seemed wise to take it to one place.

Gerrit was, as usual, very helpful. He can offer me two batteries that will work with my Bafang motor, although changing to a better socket system (the one for my battery is a bit tricky and I am always afraid the cable will break or bend badly, whereas the one for my Milan seems pretty bulletproof). I also explained that it is really hard to adjust the brakes with the Bafang electronic brake thingie and this is a known issue with these brake levers (with a motor cut-out sensor) and Avid BB7 disc brakes – there is simply too much travel on the brake lever. Gerrit can offer a gear sensor for the motor which is a much better idea (and which I have on Millie‘s motor).

Gerrit has a lot on but we booked for me to deliver Alfie to him in July and he will do a service, provide me with two new batteries, possibly provide me with a seat-mounting system for the batteries (rather than me using the sidepods, although I am happy with that option), add the gear change sensor, change back to my original brake levers (which I still have), provide me with batteries and new cabling for them… and also the basic service. Alfie will enjoy the attention! Hopefully having two good-size batteries means that I can go a bit faster on the longer rides with Klaus and we can maybe tackle some hillier routes too.

It wasn‘t raining so we decided to go out and deliver the bag of things to the car. We found the car undisturbed in its parking place and said a brief hello. We‘ll be back tomorrow to feed another 10 Euro to the parking meter.

We then sat on a bench looking at the Mosel for a bit. Looking behind us and to our right was Cochem castle and it didn‘t look like too high a hill… perhaps we could climb up and have a look.

So we set off walking through the town and up steeper and steeper cobbled roads until we found ourselves at two schools, perched high on a hill. Quite a tough walk to school for the kids! Past the schools was the route to the castle.

Photo by Klaus

It wasn‘t a difficult walk but neither of us are used to hill climbing, living as we do in the flatlands, so it was definitely a bit of effort!

At the top a gateway, we had to wear masks from this point.

The view from the top was worth it!

There was a terrace café but there was a big queue for it, so we decided to walk back down for our cake lunch.

This sort of sign was not around 10 years ago! No drones.

We decided to go down a different way, which took us past a little chapel built in the 1400s.

We were soon walking down steep cobbled streets again.

Photo by Klaus

Cochem is a nice town with lots of pedestrian areas although they also allow cars for residents so you do tend to have to dodge a lot of cars.

We found somewhere to sit for some cake!

Whilst we were enjoying our tea and cake it started to rain, but wonder of wonders we had accidentally managed to sit under a large umbrella so we stayed dry. We watched the people go past for quite a while before heading back to our Guest House for a rest (and for tea and blog-writing for me).

I popped out a bit later in the day to buy a new home card for someone, and a stamp, and managed to blag a free pen as I didn‘t have anything to write with. Card written, we then decided to go out for dinner and did a bit of googling for decent places as last night‘s Italian had been very disappointing. There was a place just down the road from our Guest House which looked good so we went there. I had a very tasty steak and Klaus had a schnitzel. We also had dessert of course!

Eistorte (known as Grillage Torte in the Niederrhein)
Weincreme

I‘m contemplating using just my sidepods for our 2 day trip to Koblenz and back. I did a test pack and it is just possible to fit everything I need to take just in the sidepods, which means I can leave my two 25 litre panniers in the car, but it also means the battery will be a bit squashed and, as mentioned above, I think the connector is a bit weak. I will decide tomorrow if I will risk it, but it would be nice to ride without panniers on the back. And of course the mudguards which I will take off as we have no rain forecasted. In fact, the forecast is for sunshine, up to 27 degrees in Koblenz on Friday.

Today has been a nice rest day and it was good to walk around Cochem. Back to the trikes tomorrow!

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Kylltal & Mosel Day 4: Bernkastel-Kues to Cochem

We woke to rather grey skies with misty hills in the distance – perhaps w would have a wet cycle ride today.

Here is a picture from my bedside table – charging station for phone, iPad Mini, Garmins etc, and some biscuits that Klaus bought yesterday. They worked well dunked in tea first thing in the morning!

Breakfast was served in a lovely room overlooking the hills. Because of Covid-19 the hotels are not allowed to supply a buffet breakfast, instead they deliver everything to your table. This Guest House had everything very nicely set out.

We went back to our room, packed everything and then retrieved the trikes from the garage. I needed to tighten my mudguard again as it keeps coming loose, and Klaus needed to tighten up his seat.

I forgot to mention in yesterday‘s blog that I had noticed part of the general cabling for the Bafang motor had slightly separated apart. I pushed the two sockets back together again and lo and behold my left brake motor cutout was magically working again. That was a relief!

Talking of the motor, I had a comment on my blog yesterday from regular reader antc1946 who said he has the same motor and he uses the 9 levels option, riding mostly on level 3. That means the battery lasts well. So I decided to switch from my 5 levels back to the original 9 levels and try riding on 3 as antc1946 suggested.

So we set off, again pretty much at 9am, assuming it would take us quite a long time to get to Cochem as it was 82km away and I would be using less battery power.

It was a bit grey as we started and we had our jackets on but not our coats as it was warmer than previous mornings.

Today‘s scenery was largely vineyards and there was quite a lot of activity going on as well – we saw lots of people walking amongst the vines, tractors in the vines, people using the funny little railway bogeys and even a helicopter spraying (see the photo below).

We crossed under this very impressive bridge, the Hochmoselbrücke, which carries a Bundesstraße across it.

You can see from the two photos above that the sun had come out and the sky was blue. When stopped to take these photos I took the opportunity to remove my jacket and socks.

It‘s really impressive to see where the vintners are able to place their vines – this area was particularly steep and they squeezed the vines in every nook and cranny.

Whilst on the ride today I reached a mini milestone with Alfie – 3,000km cycled using the motor. I was quite surprised it was that much as I only did a 3 day tour before with Alfie, the rest must have been lots of commuting and leisure rides.

When checking out the route last night Klaus had noticed that we could do a shortcut across the hill which avoids Zell on a river meander. However, the route planner showed it was a mighty hill and we didn‘t fancy it! You can see below the very narrow section we would have needed to cross.

However, we went the long way round, pootling around Barl. There was a sort section which wasn‘t asphalted and which had a couple of roller-coaster ups and downs.

As you can see from the above map, after we arrived at Zell we crossed the river was was our original plan, but you can see our track stops and we have to retrace our steps. It turned out the cycle path beside the road was blocked for bikes. There had been some signs showing diversions but it was not clear that the entire route was blocked.

Klaus and I had ridden up rather a hill to join the cycle path, only to discover it was still blocked at this further point. Here we are in a mirror at the top of the hill.

Looking at the road closed sign.

We ended up crossing back into Zell and then heading up the right hand side bank of the river, which was actually quite nice although the block paving needed to be repaired as there were lots of very lumpy bits due to tree roots.

We also failed to find somewhere for cake. We had been riding for 50km or so but all the places we saw were wine sales shops/cafes. I am a lifelong teetotaller so wine isn‘t anything for me, and as we were cycling anyway Klaus didn‘t want any. However, I know that the Mosel has loads of cafes so we would find one eventually.

After about 7km on the other side of the Mosel to our original plan we crossed back on this impressive double-decker bridge near Alf.

The scenery was still great of course – rolling hills, vines, water…

Fortunately we eventually found somewhere to stop for some food – an Italian which also did ice cream and strudel. Klaus chose the Strudel.

I went for a large ice cream.

We headed off again after half an hour with only about 30km to go. As the battery in my motor was doing much better than yesterday I increased the assistance level from 3 to 4, sometimes going up to 5. This was a very good thing as we had been rather too slow before this point, averaging about 14.5 km/h. Klaus had stayed behind me all day to try to match his speed to mine as I had been rather pooped yesterday trying to keep up with him, but it was very slow for him. My battery will not allow me to travel more than about 60km with lots of assistance. So I was experimenting with Level 3 today, which certainly gives me more range but isn‘t really enough help for me to ride at a useful pace. It seems clear I need to get a second battery so that we can do some longer rides at a faster pace.

I saw this impressive ruin on the other bank, not sure what it was!

With about 15km to go we saw some very heavy clouds in the distance and expected we would get rained upon.

However, we were lucky and the wind blew it round a corner. We managed to stay dry on the entire journey, with the rain starting heavily in Cochem about two minutes after we arrived.

About 200 metres from our Guest House I stopped to buy some cake for us to have when we arrived. It was very tasty!

Our guest house is pleasant with quirky furnishings and decor, a kettle in the room (which isn‘t functioning 100%, I have to hold the button down to get it to boil, but it does heat the water with this assistance!) and friendly staff. Our trikes were safely put in the garage.

After the traditional washing of clothes and unpacking we had a few cups of tea and then went out for a meal. As we like to sit outside (because of Covid-19 ) the choice of places wasn‘t that high but we found a generic Italian restaurant. The food was rather mediocre but that‘s often the case in tourist traps. We had a view of the river from where we sat and we were served fairly rapidly.

After the meal we had a short wander around Cochem.

We have a day off tomorrow so will probably spend some more time exploring and if the forecasted rain holds off we might do a short ride too. The following day (Thursday) we will head to Koblenz, staying overnight just outside Koblenz, and then will return to Cochem and our car on Friday and head straight home.

And here are the details of our ride today:

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Kylltal & Mosel Day 3: Trier to Bernkastel-Kues

We woke up a bit early – this is the disadvantage of a hotel in a city next to a supermarket. The deliveries for the supermarket come early and there is lots of banging and crashing of trolleys etc. But it was OK as we had had a fairly early night.

Breakfast was at 7:30 in the morning which worked out well – time for a bit of a chill out and to investigate possible hotels for tonight in Bernkastel-Kues.

We extracted our bikes from the bicycle storage room, I did a bit of maintenance on Alfie‘s left disc brake (which is squealing rather) and then it was time to roll, almost exactly 9:00 again, the same as yesterday.

We had a shorter and flatter ride today, only 65km rather than yesterday‘s 90, but I was pleased about this as I felt rather pooped yesterday after the riding with all the hills and an easier day would be good.

We had made a route out of Trier on the right bank of the Mosel (the official cycle path is on the left bank) as we had ridden 10km on the left bank on our way to Trier yesterday and it wasn‘t particularly attractive. After 11km the official cycle route would cross over to join us.

The first 3km coming out of Trier weren‘t particularly attractive either, we were on main roads with Monday morning traffic, but we made good progress and soon found ourselves on a separate bike path.

You can see here the beginnings of the vineyard valley sides which are so typical of the Mosel. And, of course, the river itself!

We were now bumbling along nicely. Interestingly, in order to keep up with Klaus I had to have my motor on number 3 (out of 5), whereas yesterday I had mostly been using number 2. We had a shorter day so I thought that would be OK. If I switched down to number 2 Klaus kept disappearing off into the distance, and if I was ahead and switched down to number 2 he would very quickly overtake me and disappear off into the distance. So Number 3 it was.

The scenery is lovely – lots of vineyards perched onto rocky hillsides, lots of weird machinery to tend the vines (little engines which pull up on almost vertical rails) and we saw lots of tractors spraying stuff; these are extra-narrow tractors which pass between the vines and which presumably have very grippy tyres!

I told Klaus before we started on this holiday that one of the delights of Mosel touring is watching the locks. Sure enough we arrived at Detzem and knew that about 10 minutes behind us was a barge, the Eentracht from Dordrecht. So we decided (well, I decided and Klaus didn‘t demur) to wait for it and watch the lock in action.

Looking downstream:

While we were waiting we did some photography… or Klaus did anyway (my pics of the bikes were no good)

Malcolm X, the ICE Sprint X

The barge came into view and the lock gates on the far side disappeared under the water…

We watched them tie the barge to the wall of the lock with just one rope to hold all that weight! And then the lock started emptying below our feet on the bridge over it.

It‘s surprising how quickly all the water is let out and the barge continued. We saw him again just as we reached our evening destination and had seen him right at the beginning of our time along the Mosel so it was interesting to compare our progress. I don‘t think he stopped for cake and photos as often as us!

Talking of cake, it seemed about the right time half an hour after the Lock experience so we stopped at a café which had a sign outside saying „Kuchen“. This was in Leiwen. The café was up some stairs with a view over the hills and the river.

With shade, too, which was welcome as the day had warmed up enough for us to remove our coats and at this point I even removed my socks (so I just had sandals on=.

The cake arrived – it was an extremely tasty cheesecake!

We had a very good leisurely break but eventually it was time to move on. We had done 30 of our 60 kilometres for the day.

In Neumagen-Dhron it started to rain. Not very heavily but enough that we eventually stopped under a tree and I put my waterproof jacket on. More for warmth than to keep the rain off. We carried on a few minutes later and the rain eased off.

One we went, and as we arrived in Piesport I saw a decent location to take a photo for the header for these blog pages.

At Piesport Klaus phoned the Guest House that we had chosen as our favourite option for tonight, and they said that they had a room free. We said we would be there in about an hour and a half.

In Mintrich there was a new cycle facility. I actually remembered having to cross a busy road and then cycle up a hill to get into Mintrich, but this time I saw the track on the Garmin was a bit different – they had built a bridge over the road. How nice of them.

Except… at the end some bright spark had put two planters together as a speed reduction method for bikes. But it was impassable for me with panniers on, I had to get off and shove the bike round the corner. It would be no fun with a trailer either. There must be a better solution!

Klaus was also doing some photography underway. He took this selfie…

And he also took this photo of the vines.

I was suffering rather with range anxiety now. The display on my Bafang controller was flickering down from 2 bars to 1 (from 4). Now I know that the display tends to overestimate the remaining juice, so I was really getting low. We had 15km to go. Riding at Number 3 all day had taken its toll, despite being a flat ride today.

I warned Klaus that my battery was running low and tried to conserve it as best I could, which is tricky when trying to keep up with a speedy trike rider. As we came into Bernkastel-Kues it was showing 1 bar all the time – a bad sign. I resigned myself to possibly having to ride up the hill to the hotel without a motor. Not an enticing thought.

And that is indeed what happened – about 500 metres from the hotel the battery was dead. I was on my own with my own muscle power, which wasn‘t much today as I rather overdid it yesterday. I crawled up the hill, eventually arriving at the hotel where Klaus was waiting for me. I was feeling a bit grumpy as I had to work a bit harder than I wanted – we discussed it later and we will go slower tomorrow, especially as we have 80km to ride rather than 65!

Our Guest House is really nice. We have our own room with a patio and a view over the Mosel. It gave us a great opportunity for a washing line art installation too!

After the usual shower, washing of clothes, cup of tea etc it was time to walk into Bernkastel-Kues for a bit of sightseeing and eventually our dinner.

It‘s a lovely quaint town.

Photo by Klaus
Photo by Klaus

We had a Schnitzel dinner and Klaus enjoyed some local wine.

We shared a dessert!

On the walk back to our Guest House across the river the light was lovely. Here is the Burg.

And here, although not a great photo, you can see the sunlight playing on the contours of the wine terraces.

All in all it was a very nice day, with some grey skies at time and a few minutes of rain but lots of sunshine and great views.

And here is where we went (track up, not north up)

We have looked at the weather forecast and although our ride to Cochem tomorrow looks dry, it seems the following day will be rain the whole time. So we have booked a hotel for two nights, as neither of us wants to cycle in the rain. We have the unusual advantage that Klaus‘s car is in Cochem so if we want to go somewhere else on the rainy day we can leave the bikes in the hotel garage and take his car for a spin!

The plan is the following day to ride to Koblenz and then back again to Cochem the next day, from where we will drive home. So it will be a six day bike tour which is a nice amount of time.

Klaus is now bonding well with Malcolm his trike and is learning again how trikes differ from Velomobiles. He has clearly chosen well, and although there are a few bits and bobs we need to do to Malcolm (and also to Alfie), they are both basically well-built and reliable machines. Alfie has done 45,000km, Malcolm 250, but they will both have a lot more miles on them by the end of this summer I think!

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Kylltal & Mosel Day 2: Gerolstein to Trier

We slept very well and then went down at 8am to a very good breakfast – served at our table rather than buffet-style due to Covid-19. However, they needed to give us a larger table really!

We unlocked the bikes and then put all our luggage on. This was the first real opportunity to check we had our handlebars in the right place, etc.

And then we were off!!!

We had been told by some friends that the Kylltal Radweg was very nice and they were correct! It weaves its way beside the river, crossing it regularly on bridges built especially for cyclists or walkers.

We had gone just one kilometre when Klaus, who was behind me, said „You‘ve lost something!“ He noticed that my British Flag was missing. Oh no, it must have blown away!

As we had only been riding a very short distance, and this was the beginning of several days of touring, I turned round to try and find it.

Phew, I found it! I attached it with a very tight cable tie and hoped that would do.

Onward we cycled, generally in very green surroundings. There was the odd castle or church to be admired.

The nice thing about trike touring is you are slower than in the velomobile and you tend to see more are you waft along. I was really impressed by this large carved bird, simply carved into a tree trunk beside the cycle path.

The path tended in a downhill direction but there were quite a lot of short, sharp inclines. This coincided with the brake motor cutout on my left hand brake on Alfie stopping working. This is an electronic cut-out so if I use the brake, the motor switches off. I have to dab on the brake before changing gear so that the motor doesn‘t damage the Alfine hub; I brake with my left hand and change gear with my right. However, the left hand brake cutout wasn‘t working so I had to brake with my right hand and then do the gear with it – this often didn‘t work well (I forgot which order to do things) and so I had some gear changes where I lost a lot of speed. Not much fun in sharp inclines and no fun for Klaus if he was following me – he ended up stuck in a high gear at one point having had to come to a complete halt as I had ended up stationary.

It worked best if Klaus rode in front in the rolling bits, so he did so a lot of the time.

We rounded a corner and passed an old factory with this most wonderful chimney. The Leaning Chimney of Usch.

It was an impressively tall chimney but everything was very derelict.

And here below is Alfie posing beside the Kylltal Radweg signage.

What was cool on this tour was that we went through two railway tunnels (there would have been a third but there was a detour on the route so we missed it). They are impressive constructions, presumably with two rail lines originally going through them, now single track which leaves space for a bike lane.

The tunnel was cool and dark inside and we discovered that Alfie doesn‘t have many reflectives on the back – Klaus said all he could really see of me was the tiny red LED light from my motor wheel sensor at the back!

We then reached Kyllburg – the name ‚burg‘ gives a bit of a clue, as it means fortress which is usually built on a hill. Kyllburg was indeed hilly.

We winched our way slowly up a long, long slope and near the top I saw this lovely wicker stork with a mask on his beak!

We had a very long, slow climb out of Kyllburg which was hard work! The battery in my motor was clearly taking a beating and was showing a rather lower energy reserve than I would like. We both got really hot by the time we got to the top of the 2km climb.

The view at the top was worth it though!

What goes up must come down… and so we shot down the other side of the hill and I ended up with my highest trike speed for a while – 65km/h. My brakes weren‘t brilliant so after this downhill I fiddled about with the disk pads and things improved a bit, although they were still a bit uneven.

We had decided we would divert to Bitburg for lunch as it is a major town in this region, although was a 4km detour from the Kylltal Radweg. The detour started with a nice bridge.

But then continued with a long, long slow climb. Bitburg, too, is at the top of a hill, and we were grinding our way up slowly. I knew we weren‘t even halfway on our route for the day so I had a bit of range anxiety with my battery.

We arrived in Bitburg and there wasn‘t much open (it is a Sunday) but we did find the Prinz Café with its very friendly proprietor who was keen to speak to me in English.

He also kindly took my battery and put it on to charge whilst we had our cake.

We had a good chat with him and he recommended a few places to visit on our tour.

After about an hour we headed back towards the Kylltal Radweg, this time enjoying a downhill run instead of the tough uphill on the way in.

We were in a quite leafy and green section with lush grass, quite a lot of insects, interesting birds (I saw a greater spotted woodpecker) and more. We saw this chap wheeling around above us – I think he might be a kite (Milan in German)

We were also impressed by a lot of the buildings we saw. This image below shows the railway station building for a small village!

We were mostly riding beside the river on asphalt, but there were a couple of bumpier sections, including a couple of kilometres where it wasn‘t asphalt just forest path. These were OK on the trikes, although I had to tighten up my mudguards a couple of times as they start to swing about with the bumps. There were a couple of more bumpy concrete-type surfaces, such as in the photo below.

Although our mega climb of the day out of Kyllburg was behind us, there were still lots of little ups and downs. And some of the downs were quite steeply down!

And then we would round a corner and see a lovely bridge, or house, or scenery.

Klaus kindly stopped in the middle of this mini ford for the photo below, and then couldn‘t get traction to get out again. I zoomed across and then came and helped him with a good push.

Then it was time for another tunnel, very similar to the first.

After a while the route seemed flatter as we were making our way down from the Eifel. We had the path to ourselves most of the time, as you can see from the photo below. That‘s Klaus in the distance.

At Kordel I felt a bit peckish and we saw a Guest House that looked like it might be open. I rang the doorbell and the lady said she would come, so we sat outside in the sunshine. The grey morning in Gerolstein had improved into a sunny afternoon nearing Trier and we were shedding layers throughout the day.

The lady said she could provide tea and coffee but no cake. That was fine. But then she came out with a slice of Black Forest Gateau and said „something for the lady“, and for Klaus she provided some Rosinen Brot.

She said to us a bit later on that it was actually a slice of cake she had bought for herself, so we were very grateful. It tasted really good!

The lady warned us that the cycle path down to the next town was closed and we would have to go on the main road, so we knew what to do when we reached the closed path sign and took the main road. There was no cycle path and we were of course much slower than the 70 limit but I found the car drivers very courteous and not bullying. A nice change!

And then we were at the point where the Kyll flows into the Mosel. We couldn‘t actually see the point, but it was behind this shrubbery here.

We now had about 15km to go to reach our hotel, but on pretty much entirely flat terrain as we are in the Mosel valley.

We faffed around the Trier harbour area and then eventually crossed the Mosel and made our way slowly through the pedestrian zone to our hotel which was just behind the Porta Nigra.

They had some good secure bike parking for us.

And we had a mini balcony to dry our washing!

After a short rest we went for a walk around Trier, of course having another look at the Porta Nigra.

We had an evening meal of a burger and Klaus enjoyed a beer (although not a Bitburger).

We loved looking at the beautiful buildings in Trier.


And finished up with an ice cream. I hope you can see Porta Nigra in the background!

And our route for today?

And here are the statistics:

90.4 km at an average speed of 17 kph. Total riding time 5:19:06.

And a few more details:

Tomorrow the plan is to cycle along the Mosel to Bernkastel-Kues and see if we can find a nice hotel there. Weather looks good too!

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Filed under Alfie the Trike, Cycling in Germany, Kylltal & Mosel 2020, Recumbent Trikes

Kylltal & Mosel Day 1: Kempen to Gerolstein

One week ago Klaus bought a new trike. Today we set off for a cycle tour with this trike (and mine).

Klaus had yesterday off work and he spent some of the time doing a bit of trike maintenance, such as fitting a holder for his Garmin GPS, fitting bar tape onto his handlebars to replace the rather grotty foam ones and also fitted two new mirrors. Malcolm the Sprint X was ready to roll.

When I got home from work yesterday we put both trikes in the car – choosing a rather unsuitable time to do it, as we had a massive rainstorm. But we both wanted to get the job done so we managed to load the bikes only getting a little wet in the process.

To load two ICE Sprints in an Opel Insignia is not actually too difficult as it‘s such a large car. We put the back seats down and then pushed Alfie folded up to behind the front seats, then turned him round so his nose was pointing at one back window and his tail the other, and then we could put Malcolm in behind him in the boot proper. We stuffed the luggage in the back seat footwells.

We had been watching the weather forecast for a few days as it wasn‘t ideal – the warm May weather was turning cooler and rainier. But we were putting ourselves under no pressure, if the weather is awful one day we won‘t do any riding. Simple.

Saturday morning dawned rather grey and rainy-looking. We said goodbye to Poppy and set off at about 9:15 on the two hour drive to Gerolstein in the Eifel hills range.

We went through some mega rain storms on the journey to Gerolstein which meant we were slower on the motorway in places than normal. But we arrived safely at the hotel at 11:30am so very early, but I had pre-warned them that we would be delivering the trikes.

The receptionist was very helpful and friendly and showed us where we could park the trikes, in their covered parking area. It‘s not a locked parking area but we were not worried about this – Klaus had a lock for the trikes and they aren‘t as interesting to try out as Velomobiles.

We unloaded the car and rebuilt the trikes, fitting their mudguards as well due to the rainy forecast.

We then took our luggage to the hotel room (Klaus also took Malcolm’s seat with him) and then it was time to me to head off.

I was driving to Cochem to park the car at a possible finish point of our tour. Cochem is easy to access by train so if we don‘t end up there we can easily pick up the car via train. We had also found a very good value parking area – 15 € for a month. I headed off there.

My journey was along a lot of winding roads around the volcanic Eifel region. There were some good views and some sunshine and blue skies as well as more mega rain. I was briefly on the A1 motorway and saw a nasty-looking accident on the other carriageway. This was in a very heavy rainshower and we all slowed down some more after seeing that!

I arrived in Cochem at 12.48 and the bus was due to leave at 13:13. It was one bus every two hours so I didn‘t want to miss it. But first, the parking.

Strangely the parking signs had a different amount to the 15€ for a month. They said 5€ per day, but a maximum rate for 20 days of 20€ if you had a Cochem (COC) number plate. Which we did not. So for the 5 days I estimated was a sensible amount for our tour, we would need 25€.

The problem was… I had 2 x 10€ notes and 2 x 50€. And the machine did not give change. I didn‘t want to pay 50€ for a 25€ parking charge, so decided to walk to the bus stop to buy my bus ticket and so get change of a 50€ note.

The walk to the bus stop turned out to be longer than I thought as there wasn‘t a cut-through towards the railway station so I had to walk three sides of a rectangle instead of the short side. I arrived at 13:03 and saw a bus waiting at the stop – without any destination written on the front and with the driver eating his lunch.

The bus had a sign on the front door saying you couldn‘t go in that way and couldn‘t buy tickets from the bus driver. OK, so where do I buy the tickets? There was no machine near the bus stop and I went into the railway station and only saw a Deutsche Bahn ticket machine. I had investigated the Deutsche Bahn tickets on the Internet and it displayed the bus route (number 500) but doesn‘t give a price or the possibility to buy the tickets. I had found the price online, 10.80€, but there was no option on that website to buy a ticket.

So I went to the bus door and did an „Entschuldigen Sie“ to the driver, who opened the door for me. I asked where could I buy a ticket for the bus to Gerolstein. He said „not from me“. I said I was aware of this, but where was a ticket machine. He said he had no idea where I can buy them from, but I could just get on the bus if I wanted.

I said I needed to go and pay for my parking and I would see if I could find a ticket machine too. He said he would leave at 13:13.

I went into the café next to the railway station and ordered a bottle of water, simply to break up my 50€ note. I didn‘t actually want to drink anything as it looked as though I had no chance of the loo and had a 90 minute bus journey ahead of me! But now I had some change for the parking ticket machine.

So I went back to where the car was parked and put in my 25€.

So we had to either finish our tour by Thursday lunchtime or at least go past Cochem and buy a couple of days more if we were going to extend it. 5€ a day is a fair price though.

So now I needed to get back to the bus and buy a ticket somehow. Time was marching on, so I semi-jogged back from the car park to the railway station/bus stop. I am no runner/jogger!

I got back to the bus at 13:12. No time to play with the Deutsche Bahn ticket machine in the hall, instead I got on the bus to see if there was a ticket machine inside it (like there often are in trams). No.

So I then asked the people on the bus „where can I buy a ticket?“ They all shrugged their shoulders.

The driver heard this and said „I can‘t sell you one because of Corona“ (which I knew). But then he said „Take a seat.“

I said I would try to download the App and then buy a ticket.

There was a sign right in front of me with the logo of the ticket company:

This VRT is the Trier public transport company. And they had an App!

So I started downloading it (signal wasn‘t great) and we set off about 30 seconds after I had sat down, first driving along the Mosel. It was good to see it – my last Mosel tour had been 10 years ago.

The App eventually downloaded. It seemed I could only buy tickets for bus journeys in the future (not ones I had already started) but I assumed the ticket would be valid for all journeys. So I found it, bus number 100.

„Price not available“. No chance to buy a ticket. Great.

I was unable to buy a ticket from the driver, from a machine on the bus, from the app, and from the non-existent ticket machine at the bus stop. So I gave up. I would be a Schwarzfahrer. I have a suitable colour face mask for this highway robbery.

I did wonder how many other passengers actually had a valid ticket as no-one seemed to know how to buy one. There were 5-6 other passengers on board and we were all wearing face masks. One guy had one he had made out of a cut up face flannel with a bit of string.

The journey was very scenic, climbing steeply up the valley side of Cochem with some great views down to the Mosel. Then it was up and down around the volcanic Eifel region, through towns and villages. The bus driver was very skilled and it was a comfortable journey.

At one point we met the 500 bus coming the other way down a very narrow bit of road and the two buses stopped and the drivers had a five minute chat. All very friendly. These busses were also towing a trailer with a rack to hold up to 10 bikes – there were no bikes on either bus. The cycle tourist season is not going well due to Corona.

We were soon nearing Gerolstein and the rain cleared away to leave blue skies and sunshine. We passed a huge volcano caldera (Maar) and I think there are several others in this region. I think the volcanoes of the Eifel are technically only dormant, not extinct, so we could be in for a surprise on this tour!

I arrived back at the station in Gerolstein, got off the bus and then walked to the hotel. When I got there Klaus wasn‘t there, he had walked to meet me at the bus stop and somehow we had missed each other. I was very pleased to see him as I needed to go up to the room for the loo and he had the key!

After I had had a few minutes to chill out we went out for a very late lunch in Gerolstein which was a bowl of soup for me, a salad for Klaus, and then a crepe as a dessert (Klaus had a chocolate cake).

This was a very late lunch, nearly 4pm, but we still wanted an evening meal a few hours later so walked to a Pizzeria. We had a book with vouchers for 10% off the meal but of course we forgot to take the voucher with us!

And when in Gerolstein…

We walked around Gerolstein a little, including visiting the fountain outside our hotel.

And just around the corner was the river Kyll, which we will follow down the valley to Trier. It‘s not very wide or deep here!

We also saw a huge storage area with bottles of Gerolsteiner Water.

A great German word on this signpost!

And a German false friend. „Shooting“ with your whole family isn‘t generally considered a good thing in English!

Our Hotel Garni am Brunnenplatz is very nice, I can definitely recommend it. The room is pleasant, the staff very friendly and helpful, and we also have breakfast in our room rate too.

Tomorrow we will set off on the Kylltal Radweg. This heads to Trier and is 70km long, with 10km then along the Mosel to Trier. This is a manageable distance in a day on a trike but if the weather is bad we may have a shorter day stage. Trier is a nice place to visit, I have stayed there a couple of times before, and phoned this afternoon to book a hotel near Porta Nigra. We don‘t want to just whizz along, we want to stop and see the scenery – one of the great benefits of the trike over the Velomobile – but we have plenty of time so that should be no problem.

We were both pretty tired by 9pm, not just the driving but also the excitement of starting a tour and also we have both had a fairly tough few months at work. It is good to have a break!

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Filed under Alfie the Trike, Cycling in Germany, Kylltal & Mosel 2020, Recumbent Trikes

Thirteen Wheels in Germany – July 2018 (Month 52)

The observant among you may have spotted that the title of this month’s report is a little different… More about that later!

Cycling this month

July was a good month for cycling, despite Germany sweltering under mega temperatures.

I think we were above 30 degrees for almost every day of the month, and I saw a temperature of 39 degrees at one point. That is hot!

It also means that the afternoons are just spent hiding in the house with the shutters down and my new best friend, an oscillating tower fan, doing its thing!

So this meant that most of my cycling was on Alfie the trike (out in the fresh air!), except for a few longer rides.

Here is the list of rides:

The green rides are Alfie, the red ones are Velomobiles (Millie or Humphrey, almost entirely Millie).

And here are the year statistics:

As you see, I did 896km in July which was OK.

And here is my Wheel for the places I have been in July.

If you looked closely at the list of rides or the wheel you might have noticed something slightly interesting on Sunday 15 July.

My first 300km ride

Klaus is now riding much more than me, including regular commutes to work (a 94km round trip). For example, I’m typing this on 3 August and he cycled to work today (Friday), as well as on Tuesday and Wednesday. Impressive stuff!

Anyway, he had started toying with the idea of attempting a 300km ride. His highest previous distance in one day was 220km, mine was 215, but we both felt that more was possible. He started thinking through how to do it – he knew his risk was to go out too fast and get tired, and he also knew he would have to ride this on his own as trying to accommodate to someone else’s speed makes you more tired.

Klaus had arranged a week’s holiday with his daughter in Austria and I started to think about what I would do during the week he was away, particularly the first weekend. About three weeks before he went, I got the idea that I could try for a 300km. But the one thing I didn’t want to do was tell anyone (except my Mum!) beforehand as I didn’t want any pressure at all. If the weather was good, I would try for the distance. If I felt bad partway through I would stop.

A week before, when the weather forecast looked good (although mega hot!) I checked with Gudula that she could look after Poppy for the whole day as I knew I would be out for a very long time. I estimated my average speed would be about 25 km/h over such a long distance, which meant twelve hours’ cycling time. I would also need time for breaks, food, loo etc. Gudula was happy to look after Poppy, so my plans were moving on.

The day before, on the Saturday, I ended up driving for nearly six hours (more below) in Ralf’s Sprinter. As I delivered it back to him, I  decided to tell him what I was planning for the next day as he, Klaus and I often rode together on Sundays and I thought he might like to ride with me. He said he would quite like to meet me for a short part of my ride so I told him I would send him my planned GPS tracks and we would communicate the next morning and arrange a meeting spot. I did warn him that I would have to go my own pace and couldn’t wait around a lot.

The whole time that Klaus and Ralf had been talking about doing a 300km ride I, too, had considered how I might do it. It was clear to me that I would need to ride in Kreis Kleve, north of where we live, as it has open roads, few traffic lights, not many cars and – also important – several nice Bauerncafé. Of course, Kreis Kleve isn’t 300km in a straight line so I decided to plan several loops that I could ride – of different distances so I could choose how far to go. Each loop went past a nice Bauerncafé (of course!). One was 90km, one 70 and one 45km.

I also knew I would have to leave early in the morning to give myself enough time. This is partly because in the evening my cycling speed slows a lot, but I am OK with early mornings. So at 06:13 I was in the garage getting into Millie after freshly pumping up her tyres. I had two 500ml bottles of water with me but that was my only extra preparation.

Here is the map of my ride today – three major loops and some smaller ones:

It’s pretty hard to see where I actually rode so I have included images of the individual loops.

So I set off on loop one, which was the 90km one past Weeze airport and then up to Siebengewald (NL) before returning along Ceresweg to Arcen. This is a route we have done loads of times and I know it’s fast and easy roads – well, the German section anyway. NL is not so good but I fancied a bit of NL and Ralf would meet me in Straelen at the end of that loop.

I started off a bit slower than I expected but this is often the case in the early morning. I had eaten a breakfast of scrambled eggs with bacon to give me energy for the first 100km which I wanted to do without a proper stop, if at all possible.

I followed the traditional route up to Kerken, then along Eyll towards Winternam, then going past the prison in Pont and heading towards Twisteden. From there I hugged the NL border going north west past Weeze and then enjoyed the fast road to Siebengewald.

At Siebengewald (48km) I stopped to put my feet down and have a drink. I also sent Ralf a message – he said he was on his way and would meet me in Straelen. I pedalled on.

I had unfortunately forgotten how bad the road surfaces can be in NL. Well, I had sort-of remembered but decided they couldn’t be as bad as I remembered. My memory had been correct! I lost about 3km/h speed because of the rough surface. I was making sure I was just cruising along the whole time, not using much power at all, so that I could last the full 300km. So I just accepted the slower speed and resolved not to do this loop again.

The hill up from Arcen is one of the easier ways of getting up into Germany (Germany is uphill from NL where we live), and as I was approaching it I exchanged messages with Ralf (who was already in Straelen eating his breakfast) and Klaus (who had just woken up in Austria and had no idea I was doing a long ride).

I rolled into Straelen just as Ralf was finishing his breakfast. Rather than stopping for a cake at Hoenen’s bakery in Straelen I said to Ralf I would prefer to go to Café Winthuis near Weeze which has fantastic cakes and was just another 25km. He thought this was fine, so after a sit down on a chair for five minutes I headed off again with Ralf behind me. He rode the whole time together with me tucked in behind so I didn’t have to concentrate on keeping up with him, I could just ride my own pace. No doubt a very leisurely pace for Ralf!

Here is loop 2:

We arrived at Winthuis at 95km ridden (you can see the little stick on the left hand side halfway up the track in the image above), got out of the bikes and I realised I had left one of my two water bottles on the table in Straelen. Annoying! Oh well!

The next annoyance was that Winthuis was “Geschlossene Gesellschaft” (private function) that day so we couldn’t have cake. I said to the woman “I’ve cycled 95km without a break!” but this didn’t sway her so off we went again. I suggested to Ralf that we continue to follow my Loop 2 (which I was now on) as it went past Büllhorsthof in Winnekendonk. As the crow flies this was only about 7km away but my loop went much further north first so in the end it would be 29km. He said that was fine, although he had a bit of a deadline to get home for lunch with some neighbours. But off we went.

The day was warming up a lot now, already in the low thirties. My speed had increased to an average of 26 km/h now, as I always find I am faster in warm weather. But my lack of water (only a 500ml bottle) was troubling me a little. I would need to ensure that whenever I stopped I drank plenty.

As we were passing Weeze we saw lots of signs for “Parookaville” which is apparently a festival (Ralf’s daughter has attended). Fortunately it wasn’t this weekend but I made a note not to ride that way the following weekend. As it was, we were a bit later heading through Twisteden towards Weeze and there were a lot more cars. We had a couple of bad overtaking experiences from stupid motorists on the stretch from Straelen towards Goch.

Eventually we arrived at Büllhorsthof and Ralf and I chose cake and drinks.

It was nice to have a break after 125km, and I drank several bottles of water in the loos of the café to replenish some fluids. It was a hot day and I was sweating a lot (which is usual with velomobile riding).

Ralf and I discussed his route home as he had the appointment, and I said that I would amend my Loop 2 to return to Straelen with him so he could easily ride home from there. I thought it’d be a bit tight on time but he seemed relaxed about it, as always.

After a break of about 45 minutes we set off again, me looking forward to reaching the halfway point of my ride. It’s always nicer to know you have a shorter distance to ride than you have already completed.

The ride back to Straelen with Ralf seemed pretty speedy. I had no aches and pains except for my feet felt a little uncomfortable in my cycling sandals. I had worried about my right knee which often gives me issues on longer rides but this time I was riding at exactly my pace, not trying to keep up with Klaus and Ralf who are stronger riders, so everything was fine.

At Straelen I waved goodbye to Ralf and hoped he got home in time (he did, two minutes before his curfew!)

Now it was time for Loop 3, and for this one I decided to go a bit more to the east on the Kengen route that Klaus and Ralf had ridden the previous Sunday (when I was in bed with a lurgy). They said the road had been resurfaced in places and was really fast.

So I went back almost to my start point in Kreis Kleve at Kerken and then rode along the busy B9 (on a decent cycle path) for a short distance until I could take the road up towards Rheurdt. We would normally ride through Stenden here but they seem to be permanently digging up the road so you never know when you will meet a blockage.

I enjoyed the ride north again towards Issum as these roads are fast although there was a whopper of a pothole (well, more of a pot-trench across the road) which Millie crashed across. This is the kind of situation which might give me a puncture but I got away with it.

It was hot hot hot and I had soon drunk all my water that I had filled at Büllhorsthof. But my route would take me back to Büllhorsthof before too long so I kept going.

The road from Issum to Winnekendonk is one of the roads that I love – great surface, fast, no cycle path so you don’t get annoyed motorists hooting at you, and of course low numbers of motorists, although there were more than normal (as I was now riding on a Sunday afternoon). It turns out Sunday afternoon motorists will hoot at you even if there is no cycle path – but hey, they also regularly say they can’t see me (a giant white thing the size of a fridge freezer on the road… they need to get their eyes tested!) so I don’t pay much attention to motorists.

I was enjoying myself, my average speed was around 25 km/h now and I felt just as strong at 190km when I arrived at Büllhorsthof for the second time than I had at 20km. I also knew I was almost two thirds of the way round. Klaus had worked out what I was doing and was sending me supportive messages.

I was very parched when I got to Büllhorsthof so immediately drank about a litre of water (refilling my bottle from the tap in the ladies loos) and then had a cup of tea and a Grillagetorte which is a mixture of ice cream and cake.

I sat inside where it was a bit cooler and found a room that was empty and sat there. I desperately needed to take my sandals off to give my feet a bit of a break from Shimano Sandal Shape, but I was pretty smelly from my sweat and also a bit from my feet. A brave couple came and sat in the same room as me whilst I was there.

I had decided to give myself a reasonable break and was there for another 45 minutes, recharging the battery on my Garmin and exchanging messages with Klaus and Ralf. The Grillage went down very well. I am not entirely sure that fuelling my entire ride on 4 eggs, 1 Mandarinen-Schmand Kuchen and 1 Grillagetorte was ideal but I didn’t feel like anything else. On long rides your digestion tends to shut down a bit anyway and my guts were slightly complaining. I was a bit annoyed with myself for failing to bring any nuts with me to snack on – we have packets of them in our cupboard (low-carb lifestyle that we have at home) but I failed to bring any. Numpty.

Despite drinking loads of water I was still thirsty, but I couldn’t do much about that as there is only so much you can drink at one sitting. The lack of water was the only real issue on this ride, and I suppose I could have stopped at a petrol station to buy another bottle, but I hadn’t actually passed any petrol stations so far, and as this was Sunday all the other shops in Germany were shut.

I was originally planning to do Loop 2 in reverse but decided instead to go off-plan and head towards Uedem and from there to Goch as it looked like there was a nice straight road. So off I went, on what turned out eventually to be a road I had never cycled before. All was well until I noticed the road went over a huge flyover which looked very steep. I don’t like hills and was avoiding them as much as possible so took the opportunity to detour through an industrial estate instead, hoping to work my way round to the road I needed back towards Siebengewald. This worked, mostly, although I did have to go up a bit of a hill coming into Goch, and I also had to use a rather badly repaired cycle path which was a bit bumpy and slowed me down quite a lot.

From Goch to Siebengewald was easy, and then it was back on roads I knew well but was this time riding in reverse (this had been Loop 1).

It was baking hot and I stopped from time to time in the shade of some trees to rest my feet and to drink my rapidly-dwindling water supply. I decided I would stop for proper food in Straelen, I thought a take away pizza would be good. I needed to fuel with something other than cake really.

I zoomed down through Twisteden, keeping my regular speed and with my knee still not really complaining. I was feeling very proud of myself now, with 250km completed. I had known from about the 140km mark that I would manage the 300km, I just had that feeling that all was going well. Millie was faultless as usual – no issues at all with her, although I didn’t use the new shifter for my front chainrings (more on this below) in case it didn’t work properly and I unshipped the chain. I took no chances with anything!

From Twisteden I dropped down to Straelen and stopped for a pizza at a tiny pizzeria take-away in a side street. They had a couple of plastic chairs and a table outside so I could sit and eat. I only ordered a small pizza as my digestion wouldn’t want any more. What this place didn’t have was a customer loo or bottled still water or even pure orange juice. As they couldn’t supply either of the two drinks I actually drink, I asked for a glass of tap water. They gave me a really small glass, which I drank instantly, and then asked them to fill my bottle. I drank that immediately and asked for another refill, which they did, but I got the impression this was my last chance.

From Straelen I knew I had to do some extra loop in order to get enough kilometres.

I headed off on familiar roads and rode past Landcafe Steudle (which was closed as it was now 18:30). From here I rode through Hartefeld and then along to the Witchy Roundabout as I call it in Sevelen. From Sevelen I took the fast road south – in the distance I could see a fire burning. My colleague Alex told me the next day that it was a hay store.

Because of the lack of water I decided to go home and drink plenty (and use the loo) before my final mini loop. I got home with 25km still to ride, and resolved to spend just 10 minutes at home (in case laziness overtook me). I drank plenty of water, ate some nuts and used the loo, then it was off again for my final loop.

This was my first real bit of riding in Kreis Viersen – it’s less suitable for long-distance velomobiling because of the traffic lights and more general traffic. I rode around Kempen, then headed towards Grefrath and then north past Zur Fluchtburg and to Abtei Mariendonk, which seems to be a place where most cycle rides somehow go past!

You can see the long shadows… it was approaching nine pm now.

At 298km I had to stop for a couple of minutes whilst a very nervous horse and rider made their way past me. It was a lovely feeling knowing I had almost reached my goal, and so I pootled the last three kilometres (I wanted to do at least 1km extra in case Strava or Garmin clipped some of my ride, which sometimes happened). And then finally I was back home with 301 on the clock!

Here are the statistics of the ride from Strava:

I felt great – no knee pain, no backside pain, I didn’t even feel massively tired. I just felt a bit dehydrated despite gallons of water and absolutely desperate for a shower. I had been dreaming of a cool shower for the last 100 kilometres!

The next day I rode Alfie to work and all was fine, I had no body issues at all although I also had no great desire to go out on long rides, so just commuted with Alfie for the rest of the week.

My conclusion – an old fat woman can ride 300km in under 15 hours total (12 hours moving time) with the massive help of one of the fastest velomobiles, a Milan GT, and also good weather. I am happy to know I can manage this distance, but I have to say I have no great need to do it again. Not because I don’t want to put my body through it, but because it’s a bit boring riding for that long in a day. How people do the massive audaxes of 1400km in five days I don’t know!

Auntie Helen buys YET ANOTHER Velomobile!

Oops, I did it again! I now have thirteen wheels in Germany (3 x Millie Milan, 3 x Alfie ICE Sprint, 4 x Humphrey Quattrovelo and 3 x ….)

Well, after lots of consideration about the situation with velomobiles and car, something needed to be done.

I have given away my car to my landlord and landlady; I can use it on occasion if I need, but it is generally not available to me. And definitely not for my morning commute in winter as that’s when it is being used by Gudula.

The plan was to use Humphrey for winter commutes as he’s mostly waterproof. This was a very good plan up until I realised I couldn’t ride him long-term because of my disability. The plan is to sell him in September/October when Klaus’s Quattrovelo arrives.

I started looking at perhaps leasing or hiring a car for the winter months, as that would probably be cheaper than buying a car that sits all spring, summer and autumn doing nothing. But it still means an extra car taking up space on the roads, not something I really wanted. I considered the option of just getting very wet on a few commutes each year by using Millie, and had almost got to the point of thinking this was the best option. And then I saw a Versatile offered for sale for 2000€ on the Velomobilforum, and not so far away (in Hagen, which is about an hour and a half’s drive away).

This was clearly worth a visit, so Klaus and I made arrangements with the seller to go and visit. We had just seen a couple of photos before this – it was a yellow Versatile with some crash damage that was partly repaired but the spares required were apparently all there, just not yet fitted.

When we arrived I asked the owner Stefan what number Versatile this was (serial number). He said he didn’t know, so I took a quick look on the metal crosspiece behind the rider’s head where the number is stamped – it was number 17, so younger than Penelope but still pretty old.

We had a good look around the bike. The crash had damaged the rear and bent the metal frame slightly. This had been re-straightened by the current owner although the lid didn’t open very smoothly at all. There were scratches on the yellow paintwork at the side.

We checked the underneath and it all looked good.

There was clearly work to be done on the ball joints for the steering mechanism. But this Versatile had to be at least 8 years old so it was not too surprising. We noticed that the rear wheel rim was damaged, and also noticed a couple of missing spokes on the front wheels.

I also noticed that it had the strengthened area where the steering track rod goes through the bodywork. I remember Peter van Heul, who delivered Penelope to me four years ago, explaining that he had this done on his Versatile as the bodywork could be too weak here.

We gave the Versatile a test ride. It rode very well (once we had managed to get the lid shut). The pedals were in the forward position compared to Penelope which gives more luggage space behind the seat but the seat is then a little differently positioned in terms of getting out, but it was fine. The Rohloff worked well which was important as we doubted it had been serviced for a long time. The guy who now owned it had bought it from someone in Belgium but he was a bit vague about how much that person had ridden it.

The electrics weren’t functional and there was no battery anyway. It looked like we might need to do a complete rewire job which wasn’t a terribly pleasant though. One of the front lights was missing, the other was a type that I didn’t recognise. Poor lighting at the front was a real issue with Penelope so this was a job that needed to be done.

I felt that it rode well enough for my 4.6km commute in winter, but didn’t fancy doing some of the bodywork repairs so decided to phone Gerrit Tempelman to see if he was interested. I thought he also might know some of the history of this bike.

And indeed he did! I told him it was number 17 and yellow and he said “I think this is the one that belong to Peter van Heul that he crashed”. Peter is of course the chap who delivered Penelope to me. The world is very small!

Gerrit went on to explain that after the crash the Versatile was written off by the insurance company and sold to a car breaker’s yard for 750€. Gerrit had bid for it but a lower amount as he wasn’t too keen on repairing the bent frame, so he didn’t win the auction. He didn’t know where it had been in the intervening eight years. His advice was to check that it was running OK, but that he would not be able to fix the bent frame. I explained that this seemed already to have been done, and that lots of spare parts were already waiting to be fixed (Gerrit remembered these had been bought from him). I asked Gerrit if he would give it a service and a once-over if I bought it and he said yes, so I went ahead and agreed to buy it with the seller after discussing with Klaus. We know its faults, that the frame has been bent (and is therefore a little weaker), but for my short commute we really couldn’t see a downside.

Once the deal was done I said I would try to collect it in a week or two, would BACS the money to the seller when I got home (which I did), and Klaus and I set off home again. Once at home I emailed Peter van Heul and said I thought I had just bought his old Velomobile. Which indeed I had, he was the original owner of Versatile 017 until the crash. He sent me photos of it…

You can see the bent frame on the side here. A car hit him broadside and knocked him on his side where he slid until being stopped by a post.

In my photo above of the Versatile that I bought you can see a panel on the side where this sticker below with the lions was!

The back section is completely broken and my seller had a new one that he had started to paint yellow.

The interior looks OK. The main front/back chainlink was unaffected.

So two weeks later I had an opportunity to collect the Versatile. I arranged to borrow Ralf’s Sprinter again and set off to Hagen very early. This was because I would then drive it straight to Dronten to Gerrit Tempelman before returning home, a journey of nearly 600km on the first day of the school holidays in NRW when there would be lots of traffic (including Klaus driving to Austria with his daughter). This was the day before my 300km ride so spending up to six hours driving wasn’t ideal but it was the best opportunity to pick up the Versatile. I also planned to take Millie in the Sprinter to get her front chainring shifter changed to a trigger shifter from a grip-shift in the hope that my disabled arm could work this a bit better.

I left home before 8am so I was in Hagen by 9:30 and loaded the Versatile into the Sprinter next to Millie. I then set off towards Dronten, trying to avoid the worst of the holiday traffic; as I crossed the border into NL there was a huge motorway queue but Google Maps gave me a very decent cross-country alternative which I took and I was soon back on the motorway past the blockage.

I parked first at Velomobiel.nl as I wanted them to have a chance to start the work on Millie. As I arrived I noticed a familiar face…

This is Alex who sold me Penelope originally and since then bought the Quest XS which formerly belonged to chum Gabi. More of the Velomobile Small World syndrome. It was very fitting that Alex helped me unload my new Versatile from the Sprinter!

I handed Millie to Velomobiel.nl and then wheeled the Versatile round the corner to Ligfietsshop Tempelman.

In this picture you can see the back is open – the yellow thing on the right hand side is the new rear cover. This will be fitted after the electrics and other things are done.

I asked Gerrit if he might be able to do the electrics for me and he cobbled together a suitable battery and lo and behold it seems that the electrics are actually OK (except for the headlamps). He would replace the headlamps with some decent ones, change the battery connectors to the same ones we have on our other velomobiles, and would also service the Rohloff and change the ball heads on the steering mechanism etc. There were lots of other small jobs to do but the spare parts that the previous owner had bought were mostly the wrong ones, according to Gerrit. I trust him absolutely to do a good job so I left it up to him how much he did.

This is the only picture I have taken of the new velomobile. As you can see, it is very yellow. I am now on the search for a good name for it; at the moment I am considering giving it some black stripes in a vinyl wrap to make it look like a bee, seeing as the house we live in is called Bienenstock (Beehive) and therefore it needs a name starting with B. I am considering Boris, Bertie or Brian. I will wait to see what name best suits when I have him back sometime in August/September. There was no hurry for the work to be done, and Gerrit Tempelman has holiday in August, so I asked him to fit in the work when he felt like it and I would collect when it is ready.

When I returned to Velomobiel.nl Millie’s shifter was changed and the broken spoke I had picked up on our NL tour was fixed. I have since used the shifter a bit and I am still struggling with it; it’s better than the previous grip shift but it is still very difficult for me to change back up to the big ring as I am not strong enough to push the lever really hard which it seems to mean I have to go up and down the gear for a minute or so before it finally works. I have asked Klaus to see if he can do it better and work out what the knack is and that might give me a hand. Really a Schlumpf Mountain Drive would be the best option for me but my previous one was faulty and new ones are just too expensive. That’s life, but at least living in Niederrhein I very rarely have to use my Granny Ring!

I look forward to reporting when I collect the yellow Versatile and how I get on with it.

A visit from Bobb

When I lived in the UK I was part of a very loose cycling group based in Witham in Essex who used to do evening rides, and occasionally I would join them (usually car-assisted as Witham was a fair way away). One of the riders there was Rob (known as Bobb) and I had him as a Facebook friend.

He was on a very long bike tour from Spain back to the UK via France (including some of the big mountains), the Rhine valley and then NL. I realised he would be fairly near Kempen on his way through so offered for him to stay one night with us (rather than camping).

That fitted in very well with his plans and so we arranged for him to stay the night with us and I offered to ride to meet him somewhere on the way. This was on a Thursday so a work day so I checked with him where he was once work finished and we agreed to meet in Willich. I rode there in Millie and sat at an Eiscafé to enjoy an ice cream on a sweltering day!

Bobb arrived five minutes later on his very laden Surly Long Haul Trucker (here is a picture outside our house later).

We rode a scenic 25km ride back at a leisurely pace.

Once we got home it was Bobb’s time for a velomobile test ride.

We rode a short loop around our hamlet, it was a very different cycling experience for Bobb!

We had a pizza in the evening and then a good chat. It was very interesting from Klaus and I to hear of Bobb’s touring experiences, especially as he went over some real mountains in the pyrenees with his heavy bike. Respect!

I plotted a good route for his next day and we googled a good campsite, so he set off the next morning early as I had to take Poppy to the vets to have her teeth cleaned. Congratulations again Bobb on your impressive tour!

A new skill – soldering!

Three of Millie’s four indicators have had to be changed since I owned her, and Klaus has wielded the soldering iron for this. On our NL tour the left side indicators stopped working so I had to use hand signals for indicators. However, I decided to check what had caused this one afternoon and a quick peer inside Millie’s cabin showed me the problem…

I had some spare LEDs from when we had previously repaired it, so I wondered about whether I could try the soldering myself. I would also solder an extension to the cable as it was too short inside Millie, which was one of the issues (the cable could easily be kicked by my foot during pedalling and it was under strain).

My main issue was to ensure that I had the terminals the right way round, so I took a photo…

I had my first ever soldering experience and it went very well – I was able to solder the cable onto the new LED very neatly which would make it easier to fit in place in Millie’s nose. Soldering the new cable onto the old was not so easy as I needed three hands but I eventually managed it. And the new LED worked!

When Klaus got home from work we put Millie upside down in the garden and fixed the LED in with silicone sealant as usual. This worked really well for the first three weeks but then the hot weather released the gaffer tape which was holding the cable to the side and I caught it with my foot and pulled the LED and cable out of the silicone holder. The silicone was just too soft from the heat. The LED still works, it’s just attached to a long cable hanging loose inside the velomobile! I will fix it in place again when the weather is a bit cooler so that the silicone sticks (hopefully) and we will also find a better cable fixing option. But I am very proud of a new skill – soldering! – and this at the advanced age of 47.

Other news

Auntie Helen’s Brexit Stage 1

I am absolutely gutted about Brexit of course, I think it is a complete disaster and hope against hope it can be prevented. I want to stay a citizen of Europe with the right to live in Germany!

However, I have to plan for the worst, and I did the first stage of this… changing my Driving Licence to a German one. I had held off doing this as you lose a lot of the entitlements with the German licence. I took my UK licence to the Stadthaus in Viersen and had to fill in a form, supply a photograph and pay them 28€ and I should receive a new German licence in due course.

I took a photo of the categories I am allowed to drive on my UK licence. We will see when the German one comes what I still have. I think it will probably only be B1, B and C1. No way will I have C1E or D1E on my German licence.

Poppy’s dentist experience!

Poppy ended up having to have her teeth cleaned as she had very bad scale on them. This has to be done under a general anaesthetic of course.

Rather different to the UK, I was there when they put her under and they also made sure I was back before they woke her up. They said this is less stressful for the dog, which I can believe. In the UK you just hand your dog over and have no idea what happens.

Anyway, when I returned after an hour to see if she was waking up, they told me that they had had to remove seven teeth!

These were mostly teeth from her upper jaw although the two at the front of the bottom jaw were also gone. They woke her up whilst I was there and she was obviously very woozy and not too happy. She would not be allowed toys or dry food for ten days as she had stitches in her gums (she could have moistened dry food but I decided to buy her some upmarket wet food instead, which she really loved!)

Whilst she was under I had asked them to clip the hair on her belly which we are not allowed to do and which had got long and matted. They completely shaved her belly and this actually caused her problems with itching as her skin is clearly sensitive and was constantly irritating her. She would scratch it with her back legs and make it red and sore. She got really upset by this and wouldn’t settle, she was often hyperventilating, so on the Monday morning I took her back to the vets for an injection which was like an antihistamine and this did the trick. But she had a very uncomfortable weekend before! I must remember not to have a procedure done on a Friday as there is no vet surgery at the weekend! She hasn’t seemed to mind missing her teeth, but she is disappointed that we have not continued with the wet food which she absolutely loved. It’s a very expensive habit to get into though!

Cakes this month

Here are a selection of cakes that I or my companions have enjoyed this month!

July has been a swelteringly hot month and the beginning of August has continued the trend. This is tiring, and a bit noisy as we have to sleep with a fan running, but it looks as though August should become a little cooler. We all hope so!

Thanks for reading, any comments greatly appreciated as always!

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Filed under Alfie the Trike, Cycling in Germany, Humphrey the Quattrovelo, Millie the Milan GT Carbon, Recumbent Trikes, Six Wheels In Germany, Velomobiles

Ten Wheels in Germany – April 2018 (Month 49)

April is a busy month in the world of Velomobiles as it is when the annual SPEZI Special Bike fair takes place, and once again I visited.

First things first, here are my list of rides this month:

And here is where I went:

The green rides are E-bike rides on Alfie.

Celeste, Humphrey and Millie

Each of our velomobiles has had a bit of rebuilding/maintenance/body shaping activity this month, but unfortunately for Celeste she was the one who drew the short straw…

Celeste gets a visit

It all started one Sunday afternoon when Klaus was driving to Hannover to take part in the Hannover Show. There were a lot of sirens going past and then our road had a visit from a friend of Gudula and Frank who came round in his Amphicar:

What can you spot in the background of the last photo? A fire engine, one of the 11-12 that were visiting the farm buildings about 400 metres away (this one was here for the water hydrant). Next to the farm there is also a house with some garages and we use one of the garages to store our spare bikes and spare car tyres. As it happened, only Celeste was in there (as Millie was at Emvelomobiel.be being serviced and Alfie was in the garage next to our house as I was using him to commute rather than Humphrey).

I had a call from the owner to ask if I was out riding my ‘Seifenkisten’ (Soap crates) but I said no. He suggested I come to check but the fire brigade had closed the road – I looked from afar and could see that the fire wasn’t that near our garage fortunately.

Klaus arrived in Hannover and phoned me to say that his tracker on Celeste had detected movement two hours ago but it was still showing as in the garage so presumably hadn’t been burnt to a crisp. I told him that the fire appeared to be far enough away and we shouldn’t worry.

The road was closed the entire afternoon and evening and so I couldn’t go and check. The local newspaper informed us that there were four lads between 12 and 14 years old who had set fire to the hay barn, which indeed was what was burning. There was a gas tank not far away which was causing them some concern and thus so many fire engines keeping it cool.

The fire was out the next morning so on my way to work I popped into the garage – no sign of fire there, so all good. I went on to work.

On the way back from work the fire had started up again, no surprise with a barnful of straw. It was out again a couple of hours later.

I spoke with Klaus again and said Celeste looked fine, no sign of fire, but I was surprised he had draped the spare tyre over her side. He said he hadn’t.

Uh oh.

So I whizzed round there again. The tyre was hanging off the side as the young lads had steamed through the garages (it turned out later), damaged the contents of many of them, smashed windows, farm machinery etc.

And here was Celeste, undamaged by fire but…

It looks as though they had sat on her.

They had also jumped inside with very muddy feet, stood on the tiller and also ripped out the tacho (although this is minor damage).

They had also punched a couple of holes in one of the wheel covers.

Klaus’s jacket that had been inside was chucked in a corner of the garage, but otherwise Celeste seemed OK. The wheels were all OK. We had her locked which is presumably why they didn’t go for a joyride.

Poor Klaus was devastated, and also was miles away in Hannover and unable to do anything about it. He first had a chance to see Celeste five days later.

I reported it to the police. The young people had all been arrested but it would be exceptionally difficult to get the cost of the repairs from them so we will just have to cover the cost of repair ourselves. Celeste is not insured under the house policies as she is so far away. The tracker did its thing and told us when she was disturbed by the lads but this doesn’t really help us. It’s such a shame.

Klaus checked her over the following Saturday when he returned and found nothing else damaged. We popped out the bump in the nose and some more of the gelcoat cracked off. We have had a rough estimate from Velomobiel.nl for the repair and will take her to them as soon as possible to get her fixed.

In the meantime, Klaus is using Humphrey. We are so disappointed that this stupid vandalism happened, but at least the value of the damage to us is not very great. For the farmer whose hay store was completely destroyed it is another story, and the parents of these young people will presumably be paying for their damage for some time to come.

Humphrey gets a service

As described in detail in my previous blog post about Humphrey, there were a number of issues with him that we wanted to get solved if possible, so we arranged for a trip to Velomobiel.nl to look at this.

1. Very swimmy rear suspension

2. Lack of comfort in the cockpit, partly because of no tiller hanger

3. Difficulties for me getting in and out

4. Fix the seat which moves a bit on one side.

We arrived at Velomobiel and talked about our issues. It turns out that they had very recently uprated the suspension dampers that they use at the back and that we still had the old ones, so Theo changed ours to the newer ones that are rated for more weight. Klaus had a mini test ride and said it was a huge improvement, and subsequent riding at home has shown this. Humphrey rides completely differently now, with a much more consistent feeling when going over bumps and kerbs at the back and he feels much safer. However, these new suspension dampers have a habit of unscrewing over rough ground and Klaus seems to have to screw them back together every couple of days. We will try something with Loctite in due course. We still also suffer from lots of loud noises at the back which are partly from the dampers and also from the transverse strut as part of the axle suspension structure. We have not found solutions to this yet.

The lack of comfort in the cockpit had become very significant for me on the ride from Nijmegen home at the end of our NL tour. We put the arm rests in which helped, but asked if Theo could fit a tiller hanger for us – which indeed he did. Which required him to dive headfirst into my velomobile.

We adjusted it a few times to find the right length cable and then tried it – also very good!

Theo had fixed a holder to the end of the boom nearest the seat and then used a brake cable to hold the tiller up.

He also filed off a sharp edge on the light adjustment lever on the tiller which kept catching my lycra trouser leg and had killed one seam.

The seat was fixed tighter, it wasn’t a crack in the carbon as we had feared, although this seems to have a tendency to come undone again.

We had a long talk about possibilities to help me get out of the Velomobile using my legs rather than just my arm to haul me out, but there really isn’t any suitable mounting point in the Quattrovelo for a foot rest which allows the knees to not get stuck behind the tiller/frame. So this was one we couldn’t solve.

Writing at the end of April Humphrey has now done over 2000km; I have ridden him 1049km and Klaus  1076km. Due to Celeste being out of action Klaus is now riding Humphrey all the time, and I am riding Millie who I finally got back two days after Celeste was damaged.

I also discovered when cleaning Humphrey that his maker left her name in the wheel arch:

Pimp my Milan – Millie gets a makeover!

Once the realisation dawned that Humphrey would not be a suitable velomobile for me for all purposes, because it was too painful for me to get out of him regularly because of my arm disability, I decided I needed to make Millie more user-friendly as I would keep her.

You can read all about it in this separate blog post here: Pimp my Milan – Millie gets a makeover. Needless to say, this has been a huge improvement to Millie and I am loving riding her at the moment, although Klaus is faster in the Quattrovelo (when Klaus rides his Strada our speeds are broadly similar, but the QV gives him an extra 4 km/h).

Hartmut’s Birthday Bash

Friend Hartmut turned 60 and retired. He had been counting down to this date for several years and we had a date in our diaries for his celebration for at least six months. And at last the day arrived!

This was also a big day for Hartmut as he had awarded himself a velomobile for his 60th birthday (he is selling his car). He had spent a long, long time choosing what to have. He had borrowed Penelope but rolled her so this put him off. He tried the Strada and Quattrovelo but wasn’t keen. He loved the look of the Milan but wasn’t happy with the turning circle. In the end he chose a WAW from Flévelo and collected it a few days before his birthday bash.

His plan was for us to ride together to the café where we would celebrate with him and enjoy a buffet. We were all to meet in Buttermarkt in Kempen and then ride together to Hinsbeck where the party was.

We had all got t-shirts printed with pictures of our bikes/velomobiles, our names and then ’31’ which is a long-running joke with Hartmut which is too obscure to print here. We also got a shirt for Hartmut with his WAW on it.

I also got myself a new hat with a Milan which Poppy seemed to like:

Klaus and I arrived at Buttermarkt a bit early and stopped for a cup of tea. Then Hartmut arrived in his new WAW… with a flag on the back!

We headed off towards Hinsbeck, Hartmut going at a whopping pace which dropped all those on normal bikes. We had to tell him to slow down – I guess he was enjoying the velomobile speed feeling!

His wife was concerned about the visibility of the WAW and this was why he had the flag. It’s a bit of an aerodynamic killer though!

We had a great afternoon and evening in Hinsbeck. There were lots of Hartmut’s friends, many of whom we already knew (this was the gathering of his cycling freinds) and he got lots of presents, very many velomobile or bicycle themed of course! The food was also very good. It was great to show the velomobiles to lots of people who hadn’t had a close look before, and it was so lovely to know that Hartmut finally had his VM as he had wanted one for so long! We will undoubtedly do many rides together over the next months.

A search for a new Landcafé

Long-term readers of this blog know I have a knack of finding good cafés and good cakes in Germany (although this does not work as well in the Netherlands, unfortunately). Klaus and I like to do a Sunday morning ride for cake and we have our favourite places (zum Schafstall in Twisteden, Steudle in Geldern etc) but I felt that most of our good cafés were rather too close to home for a speedy summer Velomobile ride.

So a new plan was hatched – to experience cafés further afield. Maybe I will write a book on good cafés in Kreis Kleve.

I had a look on Google for ‘Landcafé’ and found a new one in Winnekendonk near Kevelaer, called Büllhorsthof. I  note that they were exceptionally quick-off-the-mark with the Internet as they have the following web address: https://www.bauerncafe.com/.

So off we went, on what turned out to be a 111km ride as it was such a good day and our legs were good.

When we arrived at the café the car park was full of Mercedes as there was some kind of historic Mercedes breakfast meet but they were actually leaving so we had the place almost to ourselves.

Bike parking is next to the Penny Farthing which also has an electric bike charging point (the old meets the new)

I had this very tasty peach cake.

We felt so good after our very relaxed cake eating we decided to ride further and ended up in Xanten via Marienbaum. We went around Xanten rather than through it as I wanted to ride on the Bislicher Insel again, where we stopped for a waffle.

And Klaus enjoyed a beer.

It was a really hot day and we both got a bit of colour! It was lovely to do a long ride again, although I did find Humphrey very hot in this weather as he doesn’t have as good airflow through the cockpit as Millie.

I must mention again though the convenient storage in the Quattrovelo. Here is a picture of Humphrey carrying 60 eggs and two glass jars of soup. All without any issues!

Alfie back in service!

We had a lovely spell of hot weather, with temperatures around 25 for over a week. This gave me the opportunity to fetch Alfie from the second garage (this was before the fire/vandalism) and use him with his most convenient electric motor for my commutes.

Klaus decided to ride Humphrey to work one Friday so we agreed to meet up in Moers on his way home (about 20km from home). I took Alfie, enjoying the fresh air but obviously not as fast. We met in Moers at Café Extrablatt.

It was time for ice cream!

We had a lovely leisurely time just watching the world go by and enjoying the sunshine.

A week later I rode Millie to Klaus’s workplace and then back with him (he had Humphrey) via Moers and we stopped for a pizza in the café next door to Extrablatt. This time the wind was blowing a gale and there were also heavy showers. The weather can certainly be different in April!

A visit from my Mum

This month my Mum came to visit for five days, which was lovely.

Unfortunately the situation with the fire, Celeste damage and police reports happened whilst she was here which changed our plans a bit, plus she came with me to collect Millie as we needed her back, but we managed to visit Kempen and Moers together and enjoy some cakes of course!

Klaus and I drove to pick Mum up from Hoek van Holland and stopped for breakfast on the beach there, the first time we had ever visited. It was a beautiful day with clear blue sky and as we had to wait until 9 for the café to open we had a bit of a walk along the beach.

The breakfast at Dechi Beach was very good!

I had to still work unfortunately whilst my Mum was here so in the mornings when I was slaving over a hot desk Mum took Poppy for walks, which Poppy was very happy about! In the afternoons we went on short outings.

I drove Mum back to Hoek van Holland via Maassluis where we stopped for dinner. Years ago I had my first Poffertjes experience there but we didn’t manage any this time.

SPEZI – Spezialradmesse

Once again I went to SPEZI, this time just with Ralf as Klaus was attending his daughter’s confirmation.

I didn’t take any photos there except of the pastries we had to fuel us before hitting the exhibitions.

For me, the purpose of visiting SPEZI has changed. At first it was so I could see what was available in the world of trikes and velomobiles, now it is really just a chance to catch up with friends as lots of our velomobile chums visit. I had a lovely chat with a couple who read this blog and said how encouraging it is for the lady, who also has a slight disability, to know of another velomobile-riding lady and the different experiences that I have as opposed to men’s experiences. She is right, the things that matter to men about velomobiles (mostly speed!) may not be quite the same for women who have usually less power. I think lots of women struggle to fit into the VMs because women are generally shorter; the Quest XS is a possibility but many other velomobiles are just too large. I am lucky in that I am tall and have long legs so can swap bikes with Klaus without any adjustment to pedal reach.

Anyway, it was good to be at SPEZI and meet up with lots of people. I also talked to Velomobiel.nl about Celeste’s repair, which we will have to organise in the next week or so. In the meantime I have ordered a second tracker (this time for Humphrey) as I think we now see the value of the tracker, and we are also looking at alternative garage options.

Some other random photos from this month

Here are some more photos from this month to give you a taste of life in Germany!

And a random event from this month too…

The company I work for shares a fence with Griesson de Beukelaer, the chocolate factory in Kempen. My 2 colleagues and I were sitting in our office pretending to work when a chap from de Beukelaer came round to ask if they could go through to one of the bits of fence as someone was checking it. We just had to get  a key for it, which we did. I said the chap “did you bring any chocolate with you?” and he laughed and said “no”. We ribbed him a bit about this, all very good naturedly.

He arrived back 10 minutes later with a large bag…

containing:

What a bonus! We are sharing the goodies around our colleagues.

Klaus and I are continuing with the low carb but are more relaxed about it at the moment, partly because of visits (my Mum, and he was at the Hannover show) where it is difficult to eat low carb. However we are back on the wagon now and are just allowing ourselves a piece of cake when we do a ride. After all, living here in Germany requires frequent cake eating in order to fully assimilate. I also make low-carb cakes that we have at home during the week.

Next month, May, has lots of public holidays (we have 3). plus several Brückentage (bridging days, when a public holiday is on a Tuesday or Thursday most companies shut on the Monday or Friday) so we have 3 weeks of just 3 working days. Klaus also has his birthday, as does Ralf, so we have bicycle and cake things planned. Watch this space!

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Filed under Alfie the Trike, Cycling in Germany, Humphrey the Quattrovelo, Millie the Milan GT Carbon, Recumbent Trikes, Six Wheels In Germany, Velomobiles

Six Wheels In Germany – August 2016 (Month 29)

Cycling this month

August has been an exceptionally good month for me for cycling mileage – as you can see I’ve done over 1,761km, that’s over 1000 miles. And enjoyed every one of them!

Cycling Statistics this month

Statistics August

And here is the Wheel with where I have gone (excluding a trip I did near Hannover).

Wheel

Rhein-Maas Cycle Tour

At the very beginning of August I undertook a trike tour along the Rhein, Waal and Maas rivers with Klaus and Claudia. You can read the reports of this tour here.

Jochen’s birthday breakfast

Jochen had his birthday in July but as various chums were away his Birthday Breakfast Celebration took place early in August, the day after I returned from my cycle tour with Klaus and Claudia.

The plan was to meet in Kempen and then ride together to Landcafé Steudle near Geldern for breakfast. So bright and early we gathered in Kempen – three velomobiles and five normal bikes.

Waiting in Kempen to start

It was a beautiful day for cycling and the route (provided at the last minute by Herbert – Jochen thought that Klaus or I would plan a route, and we thought that he would…) was very scenic although not 100% ideal for Velomobiles.

Here is the track for our 50km ride from Kempen to Steudle and back to Kempen.

Track Steudle

Here we all are underway.

Ride to Steudle 1

Ride to Steudle 2

Ride to Steudle 3

Ride to Steudle 4

When we arrived we sat outside and enjoyed the buffet breakfast, although Klaus just had a slice of cake and coffee as he had to get home as he was driving to the Baltic Sea for a family holiday later that day.

Here we all are.

At Steudle 1

At Steudle 2

We had a very pleasant few hours at the café before deciding it was time to head back to Kempen.

This hen seemed very interested in us.

Chicken and VMs

And in Penelope. A good place to lay an egg?

Chicken and Penelope

We rode back to Kempen and settled onto the picnic benches outside the Markt Grill. Kempen was just awash with cyclists.

At Buttermarkt 2

At Buttermarkt 1

We whiled away the afternoon very pleasantly drinking beer (or water in my case) and trying not to get too worried when people were peering into the velomobiles. As Jochen is a new VM owner he hasn’t quite managed to affect the nonchalance that you never feel when a kid with an ice cream is diving headfirst inside your bike.

4 chaps in Kempen 1

As many beers had flowed, and indeed some Ouzo or similar clear liquid made an appearance, lots of grand plans were made about cycling events over the next few months. One involves using a pistol to shoot more ventilation holes in Jochen’s velomobile, another a massively hilly weekend tour in the Mosel valley where I was unexpectedly invited (I am famous for my hill-avoidance); I expect Hartmut will think better of that invitation once he has sobered up else they’ll be riding till midnight as I winch my way slowly up the hills – and that would mean they didn’t have much time to sample the wine. Who knows!

But all in all it was a very enjoyable birthday celebration for Jochen. And thanks to him for inviting me!

The Duisburg Liegeradtreff… and a Milan!

Klaus and I set off on our usual Sunday ride but he had the whole day rather than just the morning. The original plan was to ride to the German Cemetery in Ysselsteyn, NL, which is near Venray, but then I hit upon the idea to visit ReneF in Duisburg as he has a Milan velomobile and I fancied trying one out, for reasons which will become clear later in this blog.

René said we were welcome to visit and to sit in his Milan and so Klaus and I headed off on what is his normal work commute as far as Duisburg Innenhafen.

Duisburg Treff

We arrived and had a chat outside René’s house. René has lots of very useful information on velomobiles as he has done lots of audaxes in the past. He had a go of Penelope and was a bit shocked at how heavy she is and how much she rolls in the corners.

He then mentioned that the Duisburg Liegeradtreff was just up the road and would we like to go, so we said yes and followed him the short distance to the pedestrian area where we met several recumbent bikers and trikers and caused great interest to the good burghers of Duisburg on a Sunday morning.

3 VMs 1

3 VMs 2

And in due course I managed to squeeze myself into the Milan SL (which is the small version). And yes, I look stupid in this photo – blame photographer Klaus.

Helen in Milan 2

And here I am with the lid on.

Helen in Milan 1

Klaus also had a go. Neither of us could actually pedal the thing as our knees hit the bodywork – we are not small enough it seems – but I was able to get in and out unaided which was an interesting discovery.

We decided to head to Landschaftspark Duisburg next and did a rather scenic route via the main docks where we stopped for a Currywurst for lunch. We then rode on to LaPaDu which was full of visitors.

I loved these symbols on the toilets!

Duisburg toilets

We rode through the park, which was very different in feel to when I had visited in winter when all the trees were bare and there was snow on the ground. This time it felt like nature was really fighting back.

Strada at LaPaDu

We get asked all sorts of questions when out in the velomobiles, and get lots of attention, but a lady at LaPaDu asked a question I have not previously heard in my 98,500km of recumbent riding… “Did you rent this bike?” No, I didn’t. But a random question!

After a short stop for some cake and to refill our water we headed off, deciding to ride back via one of the more northerly bridges. My initial Garmin-following led us down a footpath, then a set of gates we couldn’t pass through, then we gave up and took the main road (third time lucky). We had to pass through a closed road section although the cycle path was still functional but poor Klaus had a coming-together with a bit of road furniture which scratched the front of Celeste a little. It’s not very noticeable but still annoying.

We ended up riding on some of my favourite roads back, the route from Moers to Niep and then Siebenhäuser which is a lovely smooth but quiet road that goes round Tönisberg. It was a very enjoyable day’s ride, 82km in total at an average of 20km/h, not bad considering how slowly we crawled around LaPaDu.

A visit to Räderwerk

Having tried out the Milan SL and found it was possible to get out of it without needing a crane, I decided to visit Räderwork (the manufacturer) near Hannover for a test ride.

The fan for the air conditioning on my car decided to stop working so I was extremely lucky that Klaus said he would come with me – which meant we went in his company car (free diesel and, rather more vital at this point, functioning air conditioning).

You can only do a test ride on weekdays so we went on a Friday afternoon when Klaus was able to leave work earlier. It’s a long drive, three hours, to Siedenburg where the test ride would take place and we eventually arrived at about 5pm.

We met Jens with whom I had chatted a few times on the phone and he set the test Milan GT up for my leg length and after a few bits of fiddling about to get it right I set off.

Helen in Milan 1

Helen in Milan 2

Unfortunately the Tacho wasn’t working and as my Garmin was out of sight on the floor behind my seat I had no idea of what speed I was going, but my impression was not particularly fast. I had to get used to the tiller steering and the very wide turning circle (14 metres instead of Penelope’s 6 metres). But it was good fun and as the lid was missing there was lots of nice fresh air as it was 34 degrees outside.

Jens had told me to head for Asenburg which is about 10km away and I seemed to arrive there a bit sooner than I expected. I turned round and headed back along the same road, this time able to go a bit faster as I knew that all the corners were manageable. The Milan corners like it’s on rails, a totally different feeling to Penelope (who feels like she is teetering on the edge sometimes as she leans into the corners with her very soft suspension).

I got back to where Klaus and Jens were waiting and extracted my Garmin – 34.5 km/h average. Wow! My average for the same cycling power level in Penelope is about 22 km/h. That’s a 50% increase in speed!

So then it was time for Klaus to have a go. He was wearing his normal work clothes but had brought his SPD shoes with him so in jeans and a t-shirt he headed off up the road to Asenburg. He appeared back in half an hour – with an average speed of 40 km/h. He can do 35ish in his Strada so the increase in speed for him was not as marked, but it was still faster.

Klaus and Jens

I’m considering whether to order one of these as a companion for Penelope and when I want to do longer rides and faster rides but the Milan isn’t always as easy to live with as Penelope; punctures in the rear tyre are a complete nightmare, the lights are a bit low down for ideal visibility in night riding, water can come in where the flap thing shuts, they can be noisy around the back wheel (the test one was very noisy but it seems there might have been a fault with it), plus there’s at least a six month lead time once you order. But I am sorely tempted and am taking the opportunity to talk to some Milan owners and see what they think about them.

Metric Century a Month Challenge

Not only have I managed this twice this month, I have actually managed the Imperial Century (100 miles or 161km) twice too!!

A ride to Kleve and Nijmegen

I had a Sunday with absolutely nothing to do so clearly a long cycle ride was in order. Unfortunately rain was forecast but that was for mid-afternoon and perhaps I would be back by then.

Klaus said he could ride with me for a couple of hours in the morning so I planned a long route north via Kleve and Nijmegen, with several alternative shorter routes if my legs weren’t good, and told Klaus he could come to my house and cycle the first part with me. This seemed a good plan!

Here is my track for the day.

Nijmegen Track

We set off at about 8:30 under slightly grey skies but with a very comfortable temperature of about 18 degrees.

Heading to Geldern

My legs were good and we made decent speed to Geldern, arriving earlier than I had expected. I decided to have breakfast of a filled Fladenbrot to give me energy for my long ride ahead.

Geldern breakfast

Klaus enjoyed a cheesecake and then he set off home as I ploughed on northwards, next stop Kleve (Cleeves).

I was very lucky to have empty roads most of the way.

Riding on empty roads

I whizzed along at an average of 25 km/h, enjoying the long flat roads and lack of traffic lights! I rode through some quiet villages as I headed north. I liked this castle built of hay bales!

Castle of straw bales

As I arrived on the outskirts of Kleve I noticed it was rather hilly. I had to climb slowly up a hill to get onto the ring road and then as I headed round following my track I discovered I had to go over a veritable mountain. It’s visible in the elevation profile of my screenshot above. A real mountain (in Helen world anyway)!

What goes up must come down, so after a breather at the top I started my descent. And boy was that fun! I maintained between 57 and 60 km/h for the three kilometres before it flattened out a bit and I did 40 instead. Because of the gusty wind and Penelope’s relatively high stance I had to continually work to correct her direction on the downhill and probably looked a bit wobbly – none of the cars following me tried to overtake!

It was great fun but more of a hill than I generally like, especially in my velomobile which is heavy and only has 14 gears; the lowest gear isn’t low enough for mountains!

I pootled along, crossing the border into the Netherlands and then noticing up ahead a very large hill. My Garmin seemed to be suggesting I had to ride over it. Surely not?! Surely my route would go around it.

Nope. Mountain number 2 for the day. This one was harder. I had to have an emergency banana halfway up.

Banana up a hill

And when I got to the top I found a restaurant advertising Poffertjes!

Poffertjes

Whilst I was eating my poffertjes the rain started.

The downhill that came when I was back in Penelope was much slower than the last one. The rain was too heavy for me to ride without glasses (it was stinging my eyes) but with glasses it wasn’t always easy to see, so I had to go down pretty slowly, especially as it was a twisty descent. Disappointing!

I made my way to Cuijk for a Maas crossing.

Maas ferry Cuijk

I parked beside a couple of touring bikes and one promptly fell onto Penelope once the ferry started. There didn’t seem to be any damage to my velomobile, fortunately.

It was raining heavily so I just pushed on, still really enjoying myself but slightly regretting I didn’t have my Versatile Roof as that would have kept the area where my phone was lying a bit drier. I couldn’t take photos whilst the rain was this heavy!

I then arrived at the second ferry to take me back across the Maas. I had used this ferry on the trike tour with Klaus and Claudia at the beginning of the month.

Waiting for second Maas ferry

And a view of the Maas with very forbidding clouds!

Oppressive clouds

I arrived in Nieuw Bergen and it was time for some food and drink. I found a little bistro and settled my very wet self in one of their comfortable chairs.

Here’s the typical cyclist clobber – Garmin and smelly gloves!

Garmin and gloves

I enjoyed some hot soup and a cuppa.

Soup

I know the way home from Nieuw Bergen very well and as it’s familiar it seemed very quick, although I had 40 or so kilometres to go. I realised I wouldn’t quite make the Imperial Century with my current track so did a bit of a detour between Straelen and home, going via Aldekerk, which added enough kilometres to make the 100 miles or 163 km.

I arrived home wet but with a typical recumbent grin – what a great ride! I will have to do it again soon, but avoiding the two mountains if possible (I have already found a suitable route and it’s only 170km so a mere 12km detour).

I awarded myself a big chunk of this, my favourite chocolate, having ridden so far!

Milka Lufflee Caramel

My average speed was 22.4km/h and my average heart rate 146, max 175.

A ride to the German Military Cemetery at Ysselsteyn

Klaus had planned a route to the German Military Cemetery at Ysselsteyn (north west of Venlo) several weeks ago and we decided to ride there one Sunday morning.

Because the weather forecast was very hot (33 degrees around midday) and Klaus needed to be back in the afternoon we decided to ride out at ungodly o’clock, which meant leaving home at 6:15 for me, 6:30am for Klaus. We had planned to meet in Grefrath, a common meeting spot when we are riding together.

Here is the track for the day.

Track to Ysselsteyn

I wasn’t very fast when ! set off, averaging about 20 km/h (I have speeded up recently and tend to average between 22 and 25 now) but I think this was the early morning and lack of breakfast.

I did get to see a lovely sunrise though!

Sunrise

We rode to Venlo on familiar roads, then headed west on what was a new route for us and included the new greenway which has been developed for Venlo. It was a very enjoyable morning for cycling as the temperature was just right, around 22 degrees, and there were almost no cars.

I was most surprised to discover that, after just 40km, I had already reached America!

America

We rode on and soon arrived at the Cemetery.

Friedhof sign

Ysselsteyn info

The cemetery is on rolling ground which means when you first see the gravestones, all crosses marked with the names and dates of the soldiers and their ranks (Klaus was able to explain these to me), it just seems like a lot.

Graves 1

But then as you walk through you go over small rises and see more and more…

Graves 2

And then you realise over 31,000 German soldiers lie here. All soldiers who died in the Netherlands were moved to this site, including a few from the First World War.

Graves 3

The number of crosses marching across the grass is very poignant and I felt very emotional seeing all these young men who died.

Graves 4

And not just young men, there was a section with many women’s names, and also some babies and children (judging by the birth and death dates).

Graves women

We had to sit down a couple of times on the benches to try to digest all that we were seeing.

Graves on slopes

For me, as an Englishwoman, it was interesting that I felt just as much sadness seeing these graves, even though presumably some of these young men were happy to fight for the Third Reich, as I would seeing the graves of Allied soldiers. It’s the total futility and waste of war that comes across when you see these. I also found the vast number of these graves really sad – the families of these young men never knew what happened to them.

Unknown soldier

It was a sombre experience visiting this cemetery. I have not been to the Allied cemeteries in Belgium or France but it makes me want to perhaps do this one day.

All these wasted lives. So many young men wiped out.

Graves 5

It was with a very thoughtful mood that we rejoined our velomobiles and set off again.

Velomobiles

We had done 55km to get here and I had another 100km to go. I had brought 1.5 litres of water but had already drunk most of it so we thought it sensible to stop for some breakfast soon, but not straight away as we had spent a lot of time walking around the cemetery and could use another break later rather than straight away.

In the end we found ourselves in a village called Helenaveen 20km later and stopped at a food place that was serving cake.

Cake

Rather strangely I could only eat about half of it – I think the visit to the cemetery had rather dampened my appetite. So Klaus got some bonus Apple Cake. We refilled all our water bottles which was useful and set off towards Roermond.

Klaus had planned the route and it was very good but we were surprised by a fairly long stretch of off-road.

Off road

It was a lovely path along a canal with various other cyclists saying hello as we whizzed by, but we couldn’t ride as fast as normal because of the path so we were getting later and later.

We were riding through bits of countryside with names we had never before seen, a totally new stomping ground, but as it was the Netherlands the cycle paths were mainly very good although there were lots of sticks and small branches everywhere as there had been a wild storm last night. We had to weave around the larger branches but survived unscathed.

We arrived in Roermond and cycled through the centre. I caught sight of a Frites place and was feeling peckish (we had now ridden 100km) so I stopped and bought a small parcel.

Frites in Roermond

I was eating these as we made our way out of Roermond which involved a lot of traffic lights and also some uphill but we survived!

As we were heading out of Roermond a car parked in a layby up ahead and a man got out and started waving his arms at us. So we stopped and he told us he has a Quest and rides regularly with a friend with a Strada and he also knew our friend Oliver who has a yellow Mango. This chap had had all sorts of velomobiles in the past so we exchanged comments about them. I told him I was considering a Milan and he was less keen on that than the Strada but the Strada (and Quest and QuattroVelo) are too difficult for me to get out of because of my disability. We had a great chat though and he took lots of photos of us.

Klaus had plotted for us to do the Meinweg section of cycle route which is lovely wide asphalt just for bikes but it inconveniently has some hills. He was way faster than me up them but I enjoyed overtaking some elderly people on touring bikes – the only scalps I will ever get going uphill in Penelope.

Klaus was waiting at the top and as it was getting really late and he’s much quicker than me I suggested he rode home alone and I would take a different route. It would save him about half an hour. His original aim was to be home between 1 and 2 but it was likely to be 3:30pm before he got home if he went alone, and if he waited for me maybe another half hour (as the route was quite hilly), so he went off alone and I did my best to keep up, at least initially. I managed to keep up with him for at least ten metres!

I then wended my way through the villages started with B (Birth, Brüggen, Born, Bracht and Breyell), making fairly good speed. I was running low on water so when I got to Sassenfeld I stopped at a restaurant we have often visited and had a pancake (which I forgot to photograph!) and a cup of tea and also refilled my bottles. The people were amazed to hear I had already done 140 kilometres.

From here the route is very familiar but I decided I wanted to go for the Imperial Century so had to add another 10km or so, so when I got to Grefrath rather than retracing my route of the morning I headed north to Vinkrath and then to Abtei Mariendonk.

Unfortunately as I was leaving Grefrath Penelope’s suspension played up again – she did this a week or so ago, the suspension gets jammed fully down. It rides OK but the whole bike is leaning to the right, like riding with a very strong camber!

Here is what the dodgy side looks like on the left, the normal side on the right:

Low side

She had done it slightly earlier on the ride and I was able to fix it by pushing my fist between the wheel and wheel arch and extending my hand, but I couldn’t do it at all in Grefrath. Oh well, I just had to keep riding.

I got home and as I turned into the driveway whilst braking the suspension popped back up again. All was back to normal. But I decided this really needed to be fixed properly and as I would be travelling to England this week and so unable to use Penelope I would take the offending part off and post it to Gerrit Templeman in Dronten – I had already mentioned to him when it had gone wrong before and he said he could take it apart and have a look.

Last time Frank helped me but this time he just gave me the tools and I did it myself. Frank is like that, he assumes that you will learn how to do stuff and doesn’t assume that women are all incompetent. I really like that! Obviously it took me a bit longer to do it on my own but I managed!

Penelope without suspension

The next trick was to find a suitable-size box to put the suspension arm in and then post it to Dronten.

The ride was brilliant though, 161.9km at an average of 22.4km/h, average heart rate 138 and maximum 185. And if you would like to relive the ride as a video, here is your chance!!

https://www.relive.cc/view/692159923

A short ride – with a rainbow

Klaus and I arranged to ride together one evening and picked St Tönis as our meeting place. I thought we could ride to Uerdingen from there to take a look at the Rhein.

Anyway, Klaus was already there when I arrived. And barely thirty seconds later Jochen turned up in his Strada. He had cycled 160km already and had seen Penelope’s front lights when he was heading through St Tönis so went to investigate.

Jochen Klaus and Penelope

We asked if he wanted to join us and he said yes, so we all headed for Uerdingen.

Halfway there a sudden heavy rainshower started so we sheltered under some trees until the worst was over. Then we set off again and were treated to a lovely rainbow.

Jochen Klaus Rainbow

The rainbow was still in evidence when we arrived at the Rhein. We were at the ferry crossing (which was closed for the evening) and were probably disturbing the two young people in the car!

Rainbow over Rhine

We crossed over the small bridge past the Crefelder Yacht Harbour as night was falling.

Crossing bridge in Krefeld

We headed back from Uerdingen, once again trusting my Garmin to plot us a route on the fly. Now I have no trouble finding Uerdingen but have tried twice before to plot a route back whilst on the road and have found myself in a less-than-successful route. Klaus has enjoyed commenting about my suboptimal routefinding.

So this time I promised them I would do better. And it was all going swimmingly, we were going on roads that I recognised that went in the right direction (and not through the centre of Krefeld which happened last time) and then suddenly we were sent up a side road and onto a footpath.

We cycled gamely on, and then I became a bit concerned as the footpath had got to a very narrow path, only about 30cm wide, with grass either side. The chaps were brave enough to carry on though so after 500 metres of cycling on grass we got to a slightly more suitable road. And eventually onto more familiar routes which were somewhat better! And we were soon on the right road and cycled together to Hüls. From there Klaus took the direct route home and Jochen and I headed towards St Hubert.

It was lovely to bump into Jochen unexpectedly. He ended up with more than 200km for the day but he is using Endeavour all the time and achieving great distances and speeds for a newcomer to recumbent cycling.

Life in Germany

New job

I started a new job this month!

I am working at a mixing and packaging company and am slowly learning the ropes. My job is in administration and I am looking after a major client who is Russian. Communication language is mostly English but with some German involved, and of course in the office it’s mostly German but with occasional English bits.

There is a lot to learn and no real handover from my predecessor who left in July but hopefully I will get a grip on it all before too long. I will be picking up extra areas of work responsibility in due course but we are starting relatively slowly which is good.

A photographic shoot

Last month I was interviewed for Niederrhein Tourismus GmbH for an article entitled “The Niederrhein from the view of a recumbent triker” (but in German). They wanted to take some photos to go with the article but had to wait for the perfect weather – obviously the Tourist Board wants blue sky and sunshine!

That day came and the photographer contacted me. We met near Tönisberg and he explained to me what he wanted to achieve – firstly, photos from the Trike as he went down a hill, so he hopped on Alfie and headed off, camera in hand.

Photographer 1

We went to a couple of other locations, and then returned to my house and I collected Penelope and we took some more photos with her. I reckon he took maybe 300 photos in all, and in due course I will have access to them. If I can find one where I am not gurning I will post it on this blog!

Visit to England

At the very end of the month I headed to England for a few days for a hospital appointment and to visit my Mum. For once supplies of teabags in my kitchen are sufficient that I don’t have to panic about getting more!

My Mum is coming back to Germany with me for a week so it will be good to show her around a bit more. She’s visited me here twice before but this time will have more time on her own as I have to work from 8:00-13:00 every weekday. She and Poppy will probably enjoy pottering around in the garden!

Cakes this month

Cake August 2016

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Filed under Alfie the Trike, Cycling in Germany, Penelope the Velomobile, Six Wheels In Germany