Nine Wheels in Germany – April 2020 (Month 73)

Corona continues. It hasn’t affected me closely (a relative in the UK has had it but recovered), but of course the lockdown and other effects are making a difference to all our lives. I am still working normal hours but as I share a smallish office with another colleague we are staggering our work hours and also working at home to avoid both being in at the same time. I initially was only working at home but it became clear I had to be in the office sometimes to keep up with everything. But it is also good to see some different faces at work – apart from this I am staying at home, venturing out just to do some grocery shopping, walk the dog (which often includes buying strawberries from our local asparagus farmer) and do some longer cycle rides for exercise.

Cycling in April 2020

From the image below you can see that I managed over 1,000km on the bike this month.

And I also happened to notice that my lifetime cycling is now over 130,000km – that’s in 12 years, all on three (or four) wheels. And over 3 million calories apparently – all eaten back in cake deliciousness!

Veloviewer statistics for cycling history

Here are all the cycle rides this month.

And here below is the same list from Veloviewer with more information.

As you can see from the list above, the words ‘cake’ and ’tile-bagging’ pop up quite a few times. As I know many of my loyal readers enjoy seeing the cake pictures I have written some short descriptions of the rides (and the cakes).

We had the week before Easter off (we were supposed to be holidaying in Scotland) and so Klaus decided to challenge himself to ride every day. I accompanied him for lots of these rides, and we managed to find cake whilst out and about too.

I had discovered that our favourite cafes all had Facebook pages which informed you when/if they were open for cake take-away. The rules in our part of Germany at this time of Coronavirus was that restaurants and cafés can provide take-away but people must move at least 50 metres from the restaurant/cafe.

So here are some quick summaries of our rides.

Easter Challenge – Büllhorsthof 1

My favourite café in Germany is Bauerncafé Büllhorsthof. This is because it is in a great location (Winnekendonk, 31km from home by the most direct route), just outside the village. It has a lovely garden with seating and also a nicely-decorated interior. The staff are very friendly and helpful (they always give me my hot water for tea with no issues) and the cakes are wonderful! The only slight negative is you can sometimes have to wait a bit at busy times, but this is a very small disadvantage. After all, when going out for cake you are rarely in a rush.

We zoomed up the road as normal and soon found ourselves parked outside the café. We had notified them through Facebook that we were coming.

There was actually a bit of a queue (I think three sets of people in front of us) which was good to see – I want the cafes to still be here after the lockdown has finished!

She wrapped up our cake and we headed down the road about 150 metres to the picnic table for our cake picnic.

This time we had gone for the standard Pfirsich Schmand. It tastes as good as it looks!

A man stopped to chat to us while we were there and said he had put the flowers there in a pot and if we had any water left over perhaps we could water them (which we did). As you can see from the photo of Klaus on the bench, I had my tea with me in a flask.

Bauerncafé Winthuis near Weeze

The next day it was time to visit my other favourite café. In fact, the day before I had discussed with the lady at Büllhorsthof that her Pfirsich Schmand was my second favourite cake because Winthuis in Weeze do the absolute favourite – Erdbeer Baiser. So I thought I ought to go and check it out again, especially as they said on their Facebook site that it would be in stock.

We took a more scenic route than normal, just for fun. This was taking quieter country roads with more twists and turns, so slower but more scenic. When on main roads we tend to ride on the cycle paths now as there is less traffic so they are not as dangerous for us and keep the motorists happier.

We arrived at Winthuis with the sign “Kuchen zum mitnehmen”. Good news!

We had a nice chat with the chap selling them and then realised that we didn’t have any plastic spoons with us. Fortunately he gave us some, and also let me use the loo.

We rode up the road a little until we found a bench.

Not only had I brought my flask of tea along but also a mug to drink the tea from!

I had the Erdbeer Baiser, Klaus had a normal Käse Sahne Torte.

Interestingly, the Erdbeer Baiser, although extremely tasty, wasn’t quite as great as I had remembered. I wrote a message to the Büllhorsthof lady that evening and sent her some photos of the cake (she had asked about it), but I said that overall her Pfirsich Schmand was better!

Southwards – to Viersen

The next day Klaus decided we should ride in the other direction – back to his old stomping ground in Viersen. He plotted a route which picked up some Veloviewer tiles for him and off we went.

We stopped to buy a slice of cake on the way but didn’t eat it beside the noisy road, we kept on as we knew we would soon be on the cycle path to Waldniel. We stopped there for our short break.

Photographer in shot on the left, taking the following photo
Photo of Emily and Cake by Klaus
Cake with a view!
Oma Helene’s Blechkuchen (no, I am not a grandma!)

From here we went along the top of Mönchengladbach including Windberg (which is a bit hilly) before returning to more familiar territory. It was a nice day’s ride on a sunny day.

Good Friday at Schafstall

When I eventually write my book on The Best Cafés In Kreis Kleve I will include Café zum Schafstall in the top three (along with Büllhorsthof and Winthuis). So it seemed fair to visit Schafstall on this week as we had been to the other two. Once again I was able to contact them on Facebook to say that we would come.

Klaus had plotted us the route this time and off we went, enjoying the sunshine. I like the windmills along the route up past Saelhuysen/Kengen/Rheurdt.

The last 300 metres to Café zum Schafstall have very rough gravel and Klaus had his fast but thin Nutrak tyres on. We hoped he would survive puncture-free – which he did fortunately.

Very well organised with disinfection spray. They also let me use the loo which was a bonus!

The strawberry cake was very nice.

We cruised home, arriving back with a pretty decent average speed.

Another successful cake-finding ride!

Orsoy Tile-Bagging

Remember the tilebagging? This is a never-ending challenge from the Veloviewer.com website where you can ride in every square kilometre around you. My square was 25 x 25 in 2019 but I decided I would try to slowly increase this in 2020. There were a couple of missing tiles out to the north east so Klaus agreed to have a ride in that direction – and of course a cake.

We set off heading up to Saelhuysen although Klaus missed a turning and rather than turning Emily round, he did an extra 1km until he caught up with me. I stopped and waited just outside Stenden – look at the flat terrain in the photo below. If I had taken the photo from the other side of the velomobile you would have seen our local mountain (a small moraine).

We rode up to Orsoy and stopped at a bakery there to buy some cake, riding further to the church in the centre of the town to eat it.

I chose the mandarin cheesecake.

Klaus went for this orangey layery thing which I think may have looked a bit better than it tasted. I tend to find these complicated cakes are often a slight disappointment.

I didn’t get a chance to check it out myself though as Klaus ate the lot!

We then headed off, getting a random tile which meant we had to double back on ourselves afterwards, and pedalling our way through some residential areas around Moers to get tiles. We passed two very good looking Konditorei which were open so I now know another oasis if ever needed.

I was just ahead on the final bit after Siebenhäuser when I noticed Klaus wasn’t in my rear-view mirror. It turns out he had had an impressive blowout of a front tyre! BANG!

The Nutraks had only done about 200km, but the damage was impressive.

Klaus had said over the previous couple of days that he thought one of the tyres wasn’t quite right, didn’t seem entirely smooth, so I guess this issue was there at that point. He changed the tyre without any issues but somehow lost one of his favourite tyre levers, although there was nowhere for it to have gone! We looked everywhere but it had simply disappeared. So unless it falls out of the chain tunnel one day it will remain a mystery.

A relaxing 65km at 28 km/h.

Büllhorsthof again

I wanted to go back to Büllhorsthof as I like it there so much and they were open on Easter Day. Klaus had some tile-bagging to do as well so off we went, following a route he had planned which was 102km.

This alternative route was rather lovely, a bit quieter than our normal roads. We also found a lovely path heading south into Kevelaer which was well-used by bicycles but we had not been on it before.

There was also this underpass under a railway. We travelled through it and then made the turn that you can see to cross the road. But as we were about to go through it a car came though – as you can see from the signs it’s pedestrians/bikes only. But the woman came through in a car. Mad!

After bagging Klaus’s Kevelaer tiles we headed to Büllhorsthof.

As we had a 100km ride on total we allowed ourselves another half slice of cake each, so had a full Pfirsich Schmand slice and another slice of Oma’s Apfelkuchen to share.

Conclusion – one and a half cakes is actually a bit too much. One is enough! My stomach was a bit gurgly on the way home.

Another Büllhorsthof trip

Easter Monday was our last day of the long weekend/long ride options, and as we had been blessed with wonderful weather we wanted to make the most of it.

I requested another visit to Büllhorsthof, Klaus picked a new route, more laney again.

It’s lovely to try out some new routes and enjoy the sunshine. I also liked this tree decoration in a tiny hamlet.

This time when we got to Büllhorsthof Klaus decided to try a different cake – Himbeer. He liked it very much!

Büttgen and Neuss Tile-Bagging

The third week in April was when originally my Mum was coming to visit. Of course she was not able to come but my company asked that we keep to holiday plans where possible, so I had some days off (in the end only 2 as there was too much to do and my colleague was also off sick).

On one of these days I decided to bag some irritating tiles to the south. I am much happier riding north into Kreis Kleve than south into the more built-up areas, but I planned a ride I thought would be OK.

I rode first of all to Schiefbahn which is a familiar route (my choir meets there), but after that it was less familiar roads, heading to Büttgen where one of our cycling chums Norbert lives. I didn’t visit him due to social distancing of course.

I rode through the town of Grefrath. There is one of these about 10km from us but this was a different one!

After Grefrath I had to go through Neuss which is not too much fun. I am less keen on riding in unfamiliar busy towns, although I was mostly skirting the real centre.

However, when doing a complicated turn at a traffic light to pass under the railway my Garmin Edge 1000 GPS suddenly switched off. I turned it back on again and it was complaining about low battery – I had started with a full battery about an hour and a half before.

I had noticed it being a bit weird with battery so fortunately had a powerbank and cable with me, so I stopped and fixed them on. However, the cable was a tad short (I had to tuck the powerbank into my shorts waistband so the cable would reach the tiller where the Garmin was mounted) and it was also tricky to plug it into the Garmin when attached to the tiller, but I couldn’t fix the Garmin onto the tiller with the twist action if it was already plugged in (cable fouled the tiller).

I managed to get it charging up in the end but the cable was rather in the way of my thumb when braking. Not dangerous but not comfortable. I resolved to do something about the Garmin!

I carried on riding and fortunately had the track to follow as I was in very unfamiliar territory. I stuck to the cycle paths in busy areas but of course had to deal with all the usual cycle path nonsense such as this – fortunately I just squeezed through!

I got home, pleased to have ticked off a lot of tricky tiles. I was still on 25×25 but had at last got to the point where just a few more tiles should get me up to 26×26. They were all in the Wesel area.

Wesel tile-bagging

So of course it was time to go and finally get up to 26×26. I agreed with work I would ride in the morning and work in the afternoon and so I set off on a quite long ride to Wesel, and rather than crossing back at Orsoy/Walsum I would ride further south to get some tricky tiles – if I could – and then go back over the motorway bridge for the A42.

The trip up to Wesel via Alpen is very nice. I take the country route through Saelhuysen/Kengen etc, which is a route we always enjoy. Very quiet and lots of windmills!

There’s a railway crossing which has a signpost at the top – I don’t think I needed to go to Sevelen in Switzerland, it’s a bit far away!

Eventually the route ends up on the main B58 which goes from Geldern to Wesel, but the cycle path alongside this is good so I was pootling along comfortably. Near Büderich my Garmin conked out again. This time I was better organised with a longer cable so the power bank could be on the floor of the velomobile, so normal service was resumed. Except when I went over bumps the USB socket on the power bank was a bit temperamental and my Garmin would peep “external power lost”, then “charging”, then “external power lost”… every second until I poked about at it. This was annoying and I resolved to either replace the Garmin or buy a new battery when I got home.

Here is the Wesel Rhine bridge hoving into view.

The other side of the bridge I went the same route as we did last month to go to Tetrion (bike shop) and saw the same annoying chicanes on the bike path. This is to stop cyclists going too fast past a building site. Why don’t the lorries just look carefully!

As I rode through Walsum I saw a bakery so stopped to pick up my fuel. There was quite a queue so I had to wait for about 10 minutes without being able to see what cakes were there. The choice was actually a bit disappointing but I plumped for a mandarin cheesecake.

I didn’t eat it there (not allowed of course!) but rode on, following my track which wound its way through a very industrial section.

There were very impressive steelworks and, as you can see from the track above, I had a bit of a dead end. My track showed a way which turned out to be a narrow footpath through nettles, but I had seen some other cycling signs which suggested a path onto the dike and there was indeed a way up. So I rode along beside the Rhein, stopping for my cake at a convenient bench.

Looking back at the Thyssen-Krupp steelworks
The Rhine heading south

I carried on, enjoying the sunshine and the quiet route. There were loads od dogwalkers out and other cyclists too.

I crossed over on the motorway bridge back to my side of the Rhein and then wended my way home through Moers.

This isn’t the most attractive bit of cycling territory but you can’t expect everywhere to be lovely when we are right at the mouth of the Ruhr river!

Over 100km I felt quite tired when I got home. One cake was perhaps not enough!

Ice cream in Moers

Klaus managed to cycle to work on one Friday and so I decided to meet him on the way back for an ice cream or cake. We had heard that ice cream (and perhaps cake) were available in our usual café in Moers so I headed there.

The ice cream was open but not the cake – that’s just weekend. Klaus isn’t such an ice cream fan so he did without but I bought some take-away ice cream and we rode around the corner into a park where I ate it. And got an ice cream headache. Well, it was my first Eis of the year!

Two tiles and cake

The good weather became a bit less reliable (a rainy Saturday) but Sunday looked good so it was time for another ride.

This time it was some tile-bagging for me, two missing ones right up on the border with NL near Weeze. I plotted a route that remained in Germany but if we had stopped the bikes and crossed the road at a few points we would have been in NL.

We had to stop for the Kempen train as we headed out from home. It’s a rarely-spotted thing these days, less than one an hour I believe.

I took us on a fast route up to Weeze, where we then took the road that circles round the airport. I wasn’t sure if one of the tiles was possible as it seemed to be up an unmade track but the website rideeverytile.com showed that one other person had done it in the past. I just hoped it wasn’t on a mountain bike!

We got there and it was manageable.

Klaus didn’t follow me the 150 metres up this track as he’s not so desperate for these tiles yet! He may regret it in a few months though.

After my 150 metres I turned around and came back again, tile duly bagged.

Photo by Klaus
Photo by Klaus

The two required tiles in the bag, the next stop was Bauerncafé Winthuis.

Photo by Klaus
Stachelbeer Baiser
Himbeer Schmand

And then a speedy ride home, fuelled by cake.

This was the last of the April rides in great weather. However, we did have a couple of shorter trips with Lara, the daughter of our landlord and landlady.

Collecting Lara and taking her training

She was coming to visit bringing her new race bike (she’s a triathlete). She was travelling by train but had a rather large bag with her so we said we would pick her up from the railway station so Klaus (and Emily) could transport her bag.

We ignored our usual plan of avoiding Krefeld like the plague and instead arranged to meet Lara at Krefeld Hauptbahnhof, although on the quieter south side.

The problem with riding to Krefeld is when you stop, lots of dodgy-looking locals come and ask you about the bikes and try to poke at them. This is ignoring the trauma of the Krefeld cycle path system which is a recipe for broken suspension and angry cyclist. However, we survived our journey there and Lara appeared a few minutes later. We agreed we would just ride back along the B9 (main road) rather than faffing about as the road was much safer than the cycle path.

Lara is very competitive and as we were leaving Klaus said to her “do you want us to give you a real challenge”. She said yes as she thought, “how fast can they be?” Especially knowing Klaus had about 10kg of Lara’s luggage in his already-heavy velomobile.

So we zoomed along the B9 heading out of Krefeld. Lara rides really well and was comfortable keeping with us till about 35 km/h but it was when we accelerated to over 40 that she really had to work! We could drop her at 42, and she couldn’t maintain the really high speeds for very long.

When we got home she admitted she was pretty pooped and she hadn’t expected us to be so fast. Even uphill! (Of course, I was cheating with my motor, but Klaus was doing it all with pedal power).

More Lara training

Despite half-killing her she asked to go out riding with us the next day. Her competitive nature I guess!

We took her one some nice lanes around Kempen but there were also a couple of long, straight sections where she could get down onto the tri-bars and do her stuff. Here she is riding at 40 km/h on a cycle path.

We enjoyed riding with Lara and she found it a good challenge to keep up with the velomobiles. At low speeds she had much more of a power/acceleration advantage but as soon as wind resistance came into the equation we were better off. It was fun!

Tiles bagged…

And… at the end of the month, my Max Square on Veloviewer was 26×26 but I should very easily be able to get to 28×28.

Repairing the Garmin

Having an unreliable Garmin was most annoying.

What was also annoying is that the Garmin Edge 1000 is no longer available. It has been replaced by the Edge 1030 which is the best part of 400 Euros. I didn’t fancy that! The Edge Touring was a lite version of my current Edge 1000 and a possibility but it was missing some features.

I did some googling and it seems that you can replace the battery. I ordered a new battery, as at 14 Euro I thought it was worth a punt. I had the option for another 8 Euros to buy a toolkit for it but I was pretty sure we had everything. My tame electronic engineer would fit the new battery.

Except… we didn’t have a small enough Torx screwdriver. So we went out on Saturday morning to the local Obi and eventually, after about 5 minutes of looking, found one – 4.99€ so better value than the toolkit I didn’t order.

We came home ready for the job. Klaus got out his soldering station and we watched a YouTube video about how to do the battery replacement.

Basically you undo the 8 Torx screws and open up the casing. It looks like this.

Klaus carefully removed the battery (it was stuck on with adhesive that slowly gave way) and the green tape is released, and then he had to cut two wires to the loudspeaker. The old battery was now out, and he soldered the new battery wires to the loudspeaker. We had no adhesive to stick the battery in place but it was a tight fit and seemed OK when we closed the case again.

We turned it on – it worked!!!

However, it doesn’t do any pings anymore, the loudspeaker seems not to want to work, but as I don’t really need the noise prompts this doesn’t worry me too much. Klaus opened it up again to see if the solder had failed but no – it’s a mystery why it doesn’t work.

I have tested it and it seems to have fixed the battery problem, but I have had a couple of weird buggy things (screen lock randomly going on and I couldn’t switch it off, course suddenly stopping) but I assume this is just Garmin protest about being opened up and having surgery and it should settle down. The total repair cost of 19€ isn’t too shocking.

And more technology

Having saved the 400 EUR as I didn’t need to buy a new Garmin Edge 1030, I bought myself an Apple Watch instead. I liked my Garmin Vivoactive 3 very much but I missed the integration with my phone and there are a lot of benefits with the Apple Watch.

I’ve been using it for a few days now and I like it, but it has a different purpose than my sports tracker Garmin Vivoactive 3 so I am getting used to that. The battery life is also rather poor (which I knew about) so it has to be charged every day, and if you are using the GPS then you have to take that into account. The Apple Workouts app seems fine and I can integrate to Strava and also (although slightly more long-winded) to Garmin. We will see how I get on with it long term but my Vivoactive 3 is now up for sale.

Other items

April has had beautiful weather – lovely for dogwalking!

I have tried to get out every day with Poppy for at least 15 minutes but most of our walks are around 45 minutes.

I walk almost every day to buy fresh strawberries from our local Asparagus farm.

They have also created an asparagus drive-through because of Coronavirus.

And talking of coronavirus, my boss gave us all an Easter gift – toilet roll and 10 face masks. As well as a chocolate Easter bunny. Who would have thought, 4 months ago, that the loo roll and face masks would be more appreciated than the Lindt chocolate?

Klaus and I also had some Easter Bunnies on Easter day. We don’t generally eat milk chocolate as we are Keto but we made an exception on Easter Day. I have to say though, it doesn’t taste as good as I remember.

By the end of April the mega weather had subsided a bit but we still had some beautiful sunsets.

Cakes this month

There are rather a lot of cake pictures earlier in this blog, but here are a couple that weren’t included (mostly home-made)

Leave a Comment

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

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.