Six Wheels In Germany – September 2016 (Month 30)

cycling this month

Cycling statistics this month

Last month I increased my year’s cycling target from 10,000km to 12,000km which means I need to do 1000km per month (plus a bit more to make up my slight deficit). I’m glad to say that by the end of October I had made up the deficit so I am now on 9000km ridden, as you can see from the screenshot from my software Ascent that tracks my riding.


And here are the tracks of where I have ridden (except for the test rides of my new Milan in Ostfriesland)


Metric Century a Month Challenge

As you can see from the Wheel above, I did three Metric Centuries this month. I think for next year I might try for the Imperial Century Per Month challenge (162km or 100 miles) but I will think a bit more about it. With a faster velomobile it’s much less of an investment in time to do these longer rides.

A ride to meet the Fridays

When I was in the UK I did a couple of the ‘Friday Night Ride to the Coast’ rides organised through the cycling forum CycleChat. I made some friends there, including Olaf who brought me a potato peeler when I first moved over to Germany.

Anyway, the Fridays had organised a holiday where they would all ride to Cologne from the Hook of Holland and from there into Belgium. I had met Olaf when he did the recce ride a couple of months ago, and now it was time for the real ride.

Because I am now working I realised I wouldn’t be able to ride with them, but it turned out they would be riding from Tilburg to Venlo on a Sunday in September so I thought I could meet them in Venlo, or perhaps a bit earlier. I contacted Olaf and he sent me the track they were planning to ride from Tilburg and I said I would ride along the track towards them until we bumped into each other.

Here is my actual track for the day (142.6 kilometres):


Jochen said he would come with me, and Klaus also wanted to ride a little way with us before going home. So we set off, three velomobiles, but in the usual arrangement (me struggling to keep up with the two chaps in their Stradas…)


Klaus had forgotten to put fresh batteries in his walkie talkie so communication wasn’t always that easy but we managed to cycle together without any issues to Arcen, where we stopped for tea and cake.


We’d only done 30km (well, Klaus had done 50) but they both look like they are striding very purposefully towards cake!


I not only had a slice of cake but also poffertjes. I needed fuelling for what might be quite a long ride.


Although Klaus had originally planned to turn back at Arcen it was such a nice day for cycling he decided to continue on with us. He thought I was expecting to meet the Brits at America, but I hadn’t explained this clearly enough – America was where our track would intercept with theirs, so I had to be sure we would get to America before them. But we didn’t find this misunderstand out until we got to America.

But first, a ferry across the Maas.


Then a wonderful speedy ride on roads we had used on the way to Ysselsteyn a few weeks before, and soon enough we arrived at America (sorry for the fuzzy photo, we were cycling too fast!)


No Brits were evident, and as I had been exchanging messages with Olaf I knew that they were expecting to stop at Helmond for lunch at about 12:30. So clearly they were a long way west of us – but now we could cycle along their track until we all met up.

Because we velomobiles were fast, we actually got to Helmond just 15 minutes after the Brits had arrived there and stopped for lunch in various eateries. As we rolled into the centre of town I noticed lots of bikes lying around with panniers and various vaguely-familiar faces. We had found some of them!

We parked up and had some food as various Brits came over to say hello. It turned out there were 26 of them!


And here are the three of us awaiting our food, photo taken by Ian.


The velomobiles excited lots of interest of course, so we chatted to a lot of people about them, but we were also pretty interested in eating and drinking as it was a hot day and we’d done 70km (or 90 in Klaus’s case).

The Brits (well, two of them were German!) started to head off so we joined the back of the group. This was riding in a group proper-style with waymarkers etc. This is actually quite hard for velomobiles as the braking and acceleration profiles are so different. We started off at the front but kept going too fast. At one point we were off the front and there was a problem (puncture or something) behind so we realised they had stopped. Jochen was playing his music through a loudspeaker in the velomobile and Klaus used the opportunity for a quick nap.


In the end it was better for us to stay at the back. The group spread out a bit but always came together after 10 or so minutes.


At one of these gathering points we stopped for several minutes and chum Kim (a fellow recumbent-rider, although usually two-wheelers) had a go in Penelope.


We rode on and Jason got some photos of Jochen, Klaus and me whizzing along. Except that we look stationary. In reality we were going about 25 km/h.



Just before we reached Venlo we lost Klaus when he turned the wrong way and didn’t see which way we’d gone. When I realised he wasn’t behind us I turned round, as did Jochen, and we found him after a minute. Unfortunately the Brits had all gone out of sight and as we were only 3km from Venlo at that point we weren’t able to catch them up. But it had been a great ride and it was lovely to see lots of different people and reconnect with some old friends.

Klaus and Jochen dropped me off at home and then decided to continue riding so they could do over 200km. Klaus ended up with 213km I believe, which is rather a change from the original plan to ride 50-60km and be home for lunch. But it was a great day and lovely to share the road with some other Brits!

Another visit to Rolf’s

Rolf in Schwalmtal seems to have developed a little Velomobile Stammtisch with Gabi (and sometimes her husband Achim) riding up from Bonn, me visiting from Kempen, and Klaus and Jochen also invited. I received another invitation to come along and cycled over in Penelope. Unfortunately neither Jochen nor Klaus were able to attend this time, but HaJo (well known from the Velomobilforum) was there. Here is the selection of velomobiles, excluding Rolf’s Quest which was stored safely in his garage.



We enjoyed some lovely cake made by Rolf’s wife.


After a good natter it was time to head for home before the rain really hit, so we said our goodbyes and I rode home via Waldniel. I had a 30km ride, Gabi and Hajo had near enough 100km to go. But they are much faster than me!

Trikes and Velomobiles

The heading of this section of the blog is ‘six wheels in Germany’ which is clearly inaccurate as from the 18th September I had two velomobiles and two trikes. This is because I bought myself a Milan GT Carbon. That’s 12 wheels in total!!

So something needed to be done, especially as the garage will only fit two bikes/velomobiles. The first stage was to store Alfie in my lounge for the time being whilst I decide what to do.


The second stage was to sell my Trice Q which Claudia no longer wanted to ride. So I mentioned that I was selling it to Dirk from the ADFC in Mönchengladbach (he had talked to me about trikes at SPEZI) and lo and behold he was very interested. We arranged for him to try it out and after a short test ride the deal was done!

What was rather lovely was that when Dirk came to collect the trike, and Klaus and I decided to accompany him home to Mönchengladbach as it was his first proper recumbent ride, I realised that during the course of the ride (which was 101km for me) I would reach 100,000km cycled with recumbents. This was riding my newest, Millie, but being accompanied by the first recumbent I owned, the Trice Q. So that was a big milestone and it was lovely to share it with the Trice Q.


Dirk rode the Trice Q to the Critical Mass in Mönchengladbach five days later (which I also attended) so he’s already getting the hang of it. I know it has found a very good home – but I predict that he will be on the lookout for a velomobile within two years!

And as for my new Milan, I have received lots of great advice from Ludwig who sold it to me, and also TimB in Konstanz who has been very helpful through the internet. I decided I needed to practise changing the rear wheel as it is known to be tricky, so on a warm Saturday morning I laid Millie on the grass and experimented.


It wasn’t as bad as I had thought getting the rear wheel out but I did have a few moments with the derailleur system when putting the wheel back in. I have a bit of a thing about derailleurs, I really don’t get on with them, but I managed. I don’t fancy doing it in the dark and rain and cold but hopefully that won’t happen too often – rear-wheel punctures are very rare.

The front wheels are not as easy as Penelope either as there’s not much room to work. I didn’t take the tyres off but did pump them up – I will have a go at tyre removal one day when I am very bored. What is nice about the Milan is that you can prop it up partly on its side.


The space inside Millie is very different and so I have bought a couple of soft bags to hold my things; anything with metal (such as clip or buckle) has the potential to rattle against the carbon shell so I have chosen wisely. I had a trip to Rose Bikes to get some new cycling shoes and found a few other bits and bobs.

And the next purchase was a Haube (cover for my head). I had the option of buying one with Millie but took a reduction of the purchase price instead. Of course after two weeks I realised I would want to ride her in the rain (I had assumed I would use Penelope in that case) and so I asked around for a second hand one and TimB had one he could let me have at a very decent price. So that should arrive next week and I will work out how to fit it… We will see how it goes!

I have had Millie for 13 days and have cycled 593.87km. When riding alone on decent roads I average 28-30km/h but in group riding with normal bikes (such as Critical Mass which I rode last week) it’s much slower so my current overall average is 26.2 km/h. This compares with my overall average for Penelope over 14,460km of 19.36 km/h, and Alfie 17.36 km/h (with 44,114km). I’m hoping to do a longer ride in Millie, perhaps a 175km ride, within the next few days to stretch my legs a bit and see how I do with the longer distances. I am looking forward to it!

And at some point I will do a new header for this blog with Millie and Penelope.

Penelope’s suspension

As mentioned in my last blog post, Penelope’s suspension had been getting stuck so I sent the relevant part off to Gerrit Tempelman in Dronten for repair.

It arrived back after a bit of to-and-fro-ing with the delivery company who for some unfathomable reason didn’t like the address (which was printed perfectly correctly on the parcel).


I refitted it and all was working much better. However, the dodgy creaking from the rear swing-arm has started again (as Gerrit warned it would) and this will be a long repair (maybe 3 weeks) so it’s a good thing I now have a spare velomobile as being without a VM for three weeks as winter approaches would be most annoying!!

Life in Germany

In England again

The month started off in England where I was visiting my Mum and also having a day trip to London for my annual hospital visit where they x-ray my arm and check the metalwork is still attached. All seemed as usual and we celebrated my 23rd year of survival post-cancer by having a very nice curry in Ipswich!

The day before Mum and I and James had visited Otley Hall for tea and cake. It’s a private house but with a tea room open. It’s a lovely spot with beautiful gardens and I think this photo shows how the house is a very traditional English country house – it’s lovely!


I took the overnight ferry back and collected my car from the car park at Hook of Holland and then whizzed back to Germany. This is by far the best option time and cost-wise, as my Mum collects me from Harwich. Taking the car on the Harwich Ferry is very expensive but going as a foot passenger (or with bike) is a pretty good bargain. One day I shall do it by Velomobile, perhaps next year for the GBI Charity Ride that I will be doing with Hartmut and Klaus.

Mum came back with me to Germany for a week and had quite a lot of time just relaxing in my flat as I had to go to work from 8am to 1pm each day. However, we went on a trip to Villa Hügel in Essen on Wednesday afternoon with Gudula and Lara. It’s the very posh country house which was built by the Krupp family (of Thyssen-Krupp fame) who were huge industrialists in Essen starting in 1810.

Here are Gudula and Mum sitting outside – you can see we had a lovely warm day for the visit.


It was a very ornate style with lots of wood. It felt actually rather dark inside.



There was a smaller building attached to the main building and this contained an exhibition of the history of the family which was very interesting. The Krupp family were so important for Essen and its development in the industrialisation of the Ruhr, but there were also some interesting reminders of how the UK also used to be strong in this area.


Although there are still steelworks in Germany they are struggling mightily against China’s cheaper production and who knows what the future will be. But Germany at least does still have a reasonable industry, unlike the UK (as far as my limited knowledge goes, anyway).

Afterwards we drove the short distance to the Baldeneysee and had a piece of cake whilst looking over the lake (where the Ruhr gets wider).


It was a very enjoyable day and good to visit a bit of local culture that’s not bicycle-related for me!


I think I would go for the Garlic sauce…


On my way to work I pass this fantastic pumpkin caterpillar!


And when cycling through Oedt pass this amusingly-named shop for kitchens and indeed bathrooms!


The fan within my car had stopped functioning and Frank did a fantastic job of replacing the thingie that had gone wrong. The company he works for had estimated it as six hours’ labour; he did it in his spare time so I only had to pay for the parts. Frank is a real hero!


Cakes this month

And here is this month’s cake collage…



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