Cycling statistics for this month
January was fairly snowy in Germany with lots of strong winds as well. Despite the weather, being on three wheels meant I was still able to ride 844.29km which was pretty good. Here is the list of my rides.
And this is a map of all the rides combined – as you will see, the short ride at the bottom to Tagebau Garzweiler was car-assisted.
My average speeds are pretty low for this month which is partly due to the weather (rides in snow are hard work!), with the knock-on effect of lots of clothing layers which makes it harder to ride fast for me, but also as I did some group rides with friends at a very leisurely pace.
I have continued riding regularly with Klaus – it’s such fun riding with another trike – although his route planning seems to have been letting him down a bit recently as we have been doing more than our fair share of mud and off-road (which I generally prefer to avoid). Routes such as this… spot the dot on the horizon who was trying to avoid my verbal wrath by cycling away quickly…
My target for last year was 10,000km which I managed. This year I have chosen the same target as it makes for a nice daily amount. I’ll hope to do half-and-half velomobile and trike over the year.
But something rather exciting in the bicycling world started this month. Steven Abraham (aka Teethgrinder), a cyclist I have ridden with a few times, is attempting the Highest Annual Mileage record, currently held by Brit Tommy Godwin from 1939 (75,065 miles or 120,805km). At the same time (although starting ten days later) an American named Kurt Searvogel is also attempting this challenge, although he currently has rather more favourable weather in Florida (although worse traffic, it seems).
Anyway, you can read all about Steve’s challenge here: www.oneyeartimetrial.org.uk. Steve’s ride is being validated by the UCMA (an American distance cycling organisation). By the 1st February Steve was just a few miles short of 6,000 miles, an incredible distance in snow and wind and rain. Go Steve! Lots of people are providing donations to help Steve through the year (he has had to give up his job to do this, of course), more information on the oneyeartimetrial website if you’re interested. And if you want to ride with Steve (or follow in his wake) you can check his location here: http://audaxclubhackney.co.uk/tg.html
I mentioned in a previous blog post that a friend who was trying Penelope had a slight accident which involved her rolling onto her left side and the paintwork being scratched. Well, another friend borrowed her just before Christmas and had a similar mishap, this time rolling her onto the other side. This meant that she was more symmetrical but really needed some remedial work. A respray was far too expensive so my husband and I came up with a plan to try a vinyl wrap – which has the advantage of being cheap as chips.
The repair was very successful and I will be writing a blog post about it all in due course (as well as explaining the new lighting that has been installed).
I also took Penelope to Ligfietsshop Tempelman in Dronten, the Netherlands, and had Penelope serviced (including her Rohloff hub). This went very well and it was excellent to chat to Gerrit Tempelman who knows all about Versatiles. I’ll include some photographs in the post I do about Penelope’s repairs when it is completed.
People and Events
As mentioned last month, my husband James (and his family) visited at Christmas. He returned (with my car) in mid-January for two weeks. We didn’t do as much riding as we might have done due to the snow (he had borrowed a two-wheeled bike from Klaus) but we were able to do a nice ride with Klaus and his family one day.
You may be able to see in this photo (sorry for the bad lighting!) that there are in fact three recumbent trikes. This is because my old Trice Q made the journey from the UK to Niederrhein with James in the car and has now been lent to Klaus’s wife Claudia. We had to adjust the boom to a lot shorter (she is not as tall as me) and shorten the chain but she is finding it very comfortable which is great. She is also discovering that normal clothing doesn’t work so well on a trike so is on the look-out for the next Aldi or Lidl cycling gear event.
Poppy also came along on this trip.
She often comes along with me to the Edeka supermarket 2km away on the trike – she runs, I cycle (very lazy of me).
As mentioned above, James and I also decided to do a cycle ride to Tagebau Garzweiler near Grevenbroich (south of Mönchengladbach). I had visited this giant hole in the ground previously (it’s an open-cast coal mine) and found it very interesting and I thought James would enjoy seeing it. Here’s my report from my visit in December 2012.
Jüchen/Garzweiler was a bit too far for us to ride, particularly as it was a very cold day, so we decided to drive to Wickrath which is just south of Mönchengladbach and ride from there.
Here’s the track that we took – you can see the giant area of nothingness that is the mine on the map.
On the way we found ourselves riding through a strangely quiet town.
The town was called Borschemich and when we got home we looked it up and discovered that the people are being resettled in a new town as Borschemich will in due course be dug up as part of the mine.
The Wikipedia article on it (in German) is here and makes for very interesting reading. The population was 518 in 2007 at the start of the resettlement but in 2013 had reduced to 88. I have no idea what the figures are today but the only other person we saw was a chap with a decent camera doing some photography, although a bus went through the town whilst we were there.
Anyway, our detour via Borschemich was to give us an additional view of the mine from further away but unfortunately the day was very misty so we couldn’t see it at all! James did get a chance for a close-up look at some interesting pipework though.
Apparently water has to be continually pumped away to prevent changes to the water table and problems with drinking water in the surrounding villages. Also the source of the Niers river has now disappeared and so comes from water being collected elsewhere (the Niers flows fairly near where I live).
It was a chilly day for cycling but in due course we arrived at the viewpoint and had a look at the hole in the ground.
At this Viewpoint area there was also one of the digger buckets, a huge lump of metal that must have weighed tonnes. It made rather a good trike shed though!
More views of the hole in the ground.
The motorway that runs along the north side of Garzweiler is being rerouted because of the extension of the mine so they were working on this, which meant that my planned route was not possible (the road was closed). We tried a few alternative diversions but always ended up in a dead end so in the end decided we had seen enough in the misty day and rode back to the car.
It was once again an interesting visit – it’s an amazing place (although I would like to see it on a non-foggy day one day!) but I would hate to live in one of the surrounding villages.
James really enjoys visiting this sort of place so Klaus suggested that one day we all ride to LaPaDu (Landschaftspark Duisburg) which is an old factory which has been turned into a park. We arranged to go on a Sunday afternoon so that we would be able to see it all lit up, but the plans kept changing because of the weather and because more people wanted to come. In the end Klaus and I decided to cycle there and a group of six others (including James) would come by car because the snow made riding a two-wheeler unwise.
Riding a three-wheeler had its moments on the way there:
We rode a large proportion of the way on roads (rather than the cycle paths) because of the snow but there were some sections where we had to work our way along snowy tracks and this can be VERY hard work with recumbent trikes. Needless to say we earned a cake when we arrived – especially as the others were stuck in a traffic jam and didn’t get there till half an hour after us.
LaPaDu is a really interesting place to visit – the old factory area has been turned into a multi-activity place with climbing walls, children’s slides, a sub-aqua centre, restaurant and lots of things to look at.
Klaus has previously done a lot of photography here – here is the link to his LaPaDu photos on Flickr. Well worth a look!
Because of time constraints we only had about an hour to look around (which was probably not a bad thing as it was really cold!) and then it was time for our meal. Here is James enjoying his traditional German beer.
Following our successful concert in November (Beethoven’s Mass in C) the choir had a bit of a break but rehearsals for the next concert (Mendelssohn-Bartholdy’s Elias/Elijah) started in January.
There were loads of new women auditioning – I think at least thirty – so the ranks of altos had swelled significantly when it was time to start. Great fun though, and although I don’t know this work at all the first two practices showed that it’s going to be very enjoyable. The concert is in November so there’s a lot of work to do before then…
Kempen Fahrrad Stammtisch
In Germany there are lots of things called ‘Stammtisch’ which are meetings in a restaurant or bar to chat about something. Hartmut had organised a Stammtisch for the Kempen area of the Kreis Viersen and Krefeld ADFC which meets on the second Thursday of every month. I’d been unable to make the first two but was around for number 3 and brought Klaus along too (although we very lazily went in the car because it was raining. Very poor showing!)
I wasn’t entirely sure what a Stammtisch was about but had my suspicions which turned out to be correct – it’s just a chance to drink beer and have a chinwag and make occasional references to bicycles.
I wrote a fair bit last month about my trip to the Karneval Proklamation. Well, I was offered a visit to another Karneval event as a spare ticket became available so of course I said yes! I had to check that the first experience wasn’t just a figment of my imagination.
No it wasn’t, it turns out. It was just as bonkers the second time (but I was more prepared!)
Part of my additional preparation was bringing along a flask of hot water, some teabags, milk and a mug.
This is because they didn’t serve any drinks I liked last time – not even still water. It was not allowed to bring your own drinks (obviously they want you to buy drinks from them) but we explained and were let off. So I had a couple of cups of tea during the three hour event which made it much more relaxing!
I detailed last time the throwing of food and other goodies when the Prince and Princess process in. Well the same happened this time but unfortunately our table was right to one side of the hall and their throwing arms were a little weak so this was my very meagre haul.
However the event is not about free food but watching the various dances. Little Lara, Klaus & Claudia’s daughter, was doing two events – one was a singing duet with another young girl dressed as a gypsy.
The other was another dance again.
The event was broadly similar to last time except the MC job was shared between two young men who did a reasonable job but less slick than the adult chap who did it last time.
Claudia kindly bought me a waffle to keep me going.
I enjoyed the event again but still find it rather mind-boggling that people do this, and the considerable costs which are borne by the Prince and Princess. But once again I was glad to be invited.
Here’s a pic of Poppy enjoying the snow on our walk to St Hubert
But when you have a velomobile or trike you can still ride in the snow and ice – here’s how much fun it is on Alfie!
I bought James a 1500 piece jigsaw puzzle for Christmas and he decided to start it here. He made reasonable progress before heading back to England so I have been continuing as a break from work.
Views I’ve enjoyed
The wonderful thing about living in Niederrhein is the constantly-changing views, particularly the wonderful sunsets. Here are just a few I have seen this month.
Cakes I’ve eaten
A reminder that I have not eaten all of these cakes – some were eaten by my companions!
Anyway, January was a good month but I had lots of work to do so less time to write the blog. My workload continues in February but I look forward to more cycle rides, more cakes and more socialising!