Tag Archives: recumbent bike

Dinner with Velomobiles

Eight days ago I found myself having breakfast with a bunch of velomobiles and a recumbent bicycle on their way to LEL2013 (cycling from London to Edinburgh and back to London again in four and a half days).

I saw two of the riders at the Great Easton control on the way back from Edinburgh, Rolf and Morten, but Gabriele went through in the middle of the night and Bas had an injury which prevented him from completing the ride.

I’d been in contact by SMS with Morten who was going to stay overnight somewhere near Harwich tonight, so I sorted him out a room in The Crown pub/B&B in Manningtree. And last night I had a text from Gabriele saying they were riding back from London today and would love to meet up with me if that were possible on their way through.

I was going to be in Colchester early this afternoon to visit once again Chavasse VC House, the Colchester Personnel Recovery Centre for wounded servicepeople for which I raised money on my Berlin to London ride last year. However it was likely that the cyclists would be coming through Colchester after that so I suggested Gabriele texted me when they were about an hour from Colchester.

So I rode to Colchester and met my parents for lunch at a pub where I very much enjoyed a choc nut Sundae.

Ice Cream Sundae

We then went on to Chavasse VC House and had a really good look around (the first time my parents had seen inside). In the support staff office they have copies of all the fundraising cheques on the walls – and I found my one (the second one down in this picture) I’ve since raised over £1000 more.

Help For Heroes Cheque

We had a good look round, enjoyed a cup of tea and then I had a phone call from Gabriele to say they were about half an hour away from Colchester. So after a bit more chatting I decided to head off to see if I could intercept them as their route passed only about two miles from where I was.

I said my goodbyes to my folks and headed off to Shrub End Road, the road that goes out of Colchester towards Chelmsford (eventually).

I pulled in to a pub to wait for them, not knowing how long they would be. Bas had injured his achilles tendon which is why he had been unable to complete LEL so they might well be going very slowly on account of this.

After just five minutes I saw them all trundling towards me! I pulled out and joined the stream of traffic of weird vehicles.

I took them a short-cut through Colchester which included going down the High Street – an amusing sight for all the Saturday shoppers. We had a few climbs out on the Harwich Road but Bas seemed to be riding without too much difficulty and we were going at a very reasonable pace.

This was my view for some of the ride – there’s a metal ring on the back of Gabriele’s velomobile. I was rather tempted to put some rope through it and get her to pull me along!

Chasing Gabriele

We rode for about eight miles together before reaching the outskirts of Manningtree and the fantastic Cox’s Hill. This is a great downhill and I told Gabriele to enjoy it, except that there’s a roundabout at the bottom so you’ve got to be able to stop. I did my best to follow her down but couldn’t keep up. I did 40mph, she said she got up to 72kph. Great fun!

We rolled into The Crown at Manningtree (where we had our breakfast last week) and parked our five weird bikes, managing to fit them all in one car parking space!

Five weird bikes

We settled down with some drinks and Gabriele and Morten showed us their LEL Medals.

They come in a very nice bag.

LEL Medal Bag

Gabriele reported some problems when night riding with cyclists behind her shining their lights in her rear-view-mirrors, they could be quite dazzling. Morten pointed out that one of these bags, upside down over the mirror, would fix the problem. However, Gabriele has two mirrors, so she’d have to do another LEL; she didn’t seem too keen on that idea at this point!

Inside the bag, the medal!

LEL Medal Side 1

And the other side has the vague shape of the UK with the sames of the controls (although I notice the St Ives is placed where the Cornwall one would be and the St Ives on LEL was in Cambridge!) Also Great Easton has inexplicably moved south of London. But all in all it’s a really nice memento!

LEL Medal Side 2

Bas decided that despite his gammy ankle he’d have a go on my trike and whizzed down the road in it.

Bas On Alfie 1

Note the Dutch registered car behind him. We were sitting chatting on the tables outside the pub and there was a Dutch couple on the next table. They joined in with our conversation on the merits of Poffertjes and how to cook them yourself, and more. Everyone was very friendly!

Can you spot the difference between Gabriele’s Quest (centre) and Bas’s (right)?

Three velomobiles

Bas offered for me to have a go in his Velomobile as I have to say I’ve been rather taken by these contraptions over the last week. However, when he showed how you get in and out it was clear that I probably wouldn’t be able to get out on my own due to my arm disability (I could only pull myself up with one arm and Bas said he definitely needed both to get out). Oh well, I suppose it’s saved me the expense of buying one of these (and the trickiness of explaining to my husband why I really do need yet another weird bike).

And let’s not forget Morten’s Saki. There was another one of these on LEL as well.

Morten's Saki

Here we all are with our dinners.

Dinner at the Crown

It was time for those getting tonight’s ferry (the three Velomobiles) to head off, so we said our goodbyes. They had an hour’s ride on reasonably gentle roads to get to Harwich so hopefully all went well.

Velomobiles leaving

And as an amazingly generous parting gift, Bas handed me two Schwalbe Kojak tyres, spares he had for his velomobile. He said that his achilles problem would probably stop him riding for two months so I might as well have them. I wasn’t previously aware that these things go ‘off’ that quickly (!!!!) but I’d been thinking of trying some out so this was a wonderful gift and I am very grateful!

But how to get them home? Bas showed me the correct way of stowing spare tyres on a trike (apart from my usual place which is round my middle!)

Alfie with Kojaks

They were held on with a bungy which worked really well and I rode home, leaving Morten with his extra Cheesy Chips at the Crown. He’s feeling hungry after all that cycling!

How to carry two spare tyres

It was a very enjoyable day, it’s great fun riding with other recumbents as your speed profile is similar. In other words, on uphills and downhills you tend to keep together whereas riding with upright bikes I get ahead on the downhills and left behind on the uphills.

Even better, I mentioned wanting to visit SPEZI (the German weird bike exhibition) in Germany in April as I will be living there by then but wasn’t sure how I was going to get there. It turns out Rolf was planning to drive down for the day and I think I should be able to cadge a lift with him (he lives very close to where I will be living in 2014). Bonus!

It was great to meet Rolf and Bas and Gabriele and Morten and I hope they’ve enjoyed their brief stay in England and bits of Scotland. They’ve cycled the length of it, after all!

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Filed under Cycling in England, Recumbent Trikes

Kreuzberger Kiez-Welten – The Hidden Side of Kreuzberg – cycling in Berlin

Kreuzberger Kiez-Welten (The hidden side of Kreuzberg)

This tour leaves Potsdamer Platz and goes through Kreuzberg via Tempelhof airport, then along to the East Side Gallery at the Ostbahnhof – this is a gallery of paintings on the former Wall. It’s about 12 miles. The GPS file shown above is in reverse for some unknown reason – I (and the guide book!) started the ride at Potsdamer Platz which is on the left of the map.

The forecast for today was very heavy showers but as I left my apartment the sky was blue and the sun shining. It was rather windy, however, which made for an amusing journey down Straße des 17 Juni as acorns were falling all around me – I reckon one of those would hurt if it hit me on the head but fortunately I was lucky and avoided that.

This tour started at Potsdamer Platz so I did my usual route there; not the shortest route (through the Tiergarten) but the main road route which goes past the Brandenburg Gate.

On the way, opposite the big memorial park of grey stelae for the holocaust, I looked out for (and finally found) the newest addition to that memorial. It’s on the other side of the road, set slightly back from the road in a small clearing in the park.

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This is a memorial to the homosexual people who were killed by the Nazi regime. It’s 3.6m high and 1.9m wide and is a stone cube with a window. Through the window you can see a short film. I was very puzzled as to how they get into the memorial to service it or repair the film or anything – I couldn’t see a single access point. I can only assume that there’s a way in from underneath, or something.

I continued on along Stresemannstraße before turning right just past Schönebergstraße. Once again I passed this ruin and decided to photograph it.

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Reading through the guidebook now I discover this is the very front of the old Anhalter Bahnhof railway station. It was a huge complex which had fallen into disuse in 1952, partly due to war damage but also because of its part in the story of the holocaust – from June 1942 trains left there to deport Jews to Theresienstadt (in the Czech Republic). The Jews were transported in two carriages which were attached to the third class carriages of regular trains. 116 trains transported around 9600 people.

Just behind the old Anhalter Bahnhof front is the Tempodrom, a sport place in the old Anhalter Bahnhof grounds.

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I then found myself cycling over Gleisdreieck which is a U-Bahn station.

“The station’s name literally means “railway triangle” or wye in English and marks the spot of an earlier major train hub opened in 1902, where the three branches of the first Stammstrecke U-Bahn line from Zoologischer Garten, Potsdamer Platz and Warschauer Brücke met. A major accident at the triangle happened on September 26, 1908, when two trains collided. One car derailed and fell from the viaduct, killing 18 people and injuring 21. Upon another dangerous incident, the single level triangle from 1912 was rebuilt and replaced by the current two-level station. Since then there is no direct rail connection between the two lines at Gleisdreieck, only an intersection. Though in 1939 the North-South Tunnel was opened in close vicinity, there is no interchange to the S-Bahn system.”

However, what struck me when cycling over Gleisdreieck wasn’t the trains, it was the DC-3 hanging from a building.

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Later on in the tour I found somewhere where a DC-3 was missing so perhaps it was this one!

Behind this, where the old railway tracks were, is a park “Gleiswildnis” which was very pleasant to cycle through. I came across a pair of windmills:

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These are part of the Deutsches Technikmuseum of Berlin which is one of those museums you could spend days in and never get bored! I’ve visited it multiple times and there’s always new interesting stuff.

I pootled on for a while before arriving at Viktoriapark in Kreuzberg. I was rather impressed by this waterfall!

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I should have known, however, that the author of this guide book would have me cycling up to the top. I’ve gone up every high place there is in Berlin, it seems, following the Berlin Erfahren routes!

A steep climb in my lowest gear got me up to the Tempelhofer Berg, a 66 metre high bit of Berlin which used to have vines grown on it (no longer). At the top of this is a 20 metre high “Kreuzbergdenkmal”, a memorial, from which the waterfall starts. There’s a good view from the top.

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Looking down at the waterfall and Alfie the trike:

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From here a very quick descent led me to the former Schultheiss Brauerei, an old brewery (the beer is still brewed today but clearly elsewhere) which is being converted into oh-so-posh apartments. The cobbled streets and periodic flights of steps made this a pain in the neck to cycle round.

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Now I found myself at Tempelhof Airport again, which of course I had been round a few days ago, so I whizzed down Columbiadamm to get to the next point of interest (which happened to be a mosque). On the way my attention was taken by this large sign.

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Thing is, there was no DC-3 there. Perhaps someone had pinched it and hung it from a building at Gleisdreieck.

Saw the mosque, then cycled through Volkspark Hasenheide which had lots of people walking dogs and cycling. I then carried on along some streets before arriving at Görlitzer Park which actually seemed a bit of a mess. It was created in the 1990s when the former Görlitzer Bahnhof (station) was taken down and still has obvious areas where rail tracks were – rather like a lot of the UK cycle paths. They were digging up the path where I wanted to go so I had to find an alternative route.

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Which suddenly involved a big pile of stand which acted as a very effective brake.

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I’m glad I had an Alfine hub rather than the derailleur on my other trike as that would undoubtedly have been full of sand at this point. The chain tensioner was almost too low for this trike!

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And then when I got to the end of this former railway line, I had to contend with some steps. Lovely.

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I now found my way to Treptower Park which had a huge Soviet war memorial, with two very imposing gates as you go into and come out of the park.

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I then found myself at Flutgraben which is where the Landwehr Canal and the Spree River join. I saw this memorial plaque but Wikipedia doesn’t seem to know anything about it.

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I stopped here for a crepe.

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And to be amused at the unfortunate name for this café.

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I saw myself in a shop window so took a pic.

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I had stopped off earlier at a little local shop which had various mobile phone things to buy a cover for my cracked camera screen (which I have now fitted and works very well). I had a 10 minute chat with the shop owner who was interested in my trike and looked at various bits. He seemed really excited that I had Schwalbe tyres – they are German, you know, he said. I did know, and I then pointed out the Schmidt Dynohub (that’s German) and the Busch & Müller front and rear lights (they’re German) which are much more interested but he wasn’t that impressed. Clearly tyres are his thing.

Anyway, I continued on going the wrong way over one bridge initially as the correct track wasn’t very obvious. I sorted myself out eventually and found myself going into a roaring headwind along the bank of the Spree.

Whereupon I saw a huge metal sculpture rising out of the water.

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There was a plaque which explained it a bit.

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Then I crossed over the Oberbaumbrücke which links Kreuzberg with the district of Friedrichshain.

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The middle span of the bridge is rather less attractive than the ones either side. According to my guide book, Adolf Hitler had the middle span removed to try to slow down the Red Army’s march into Berlin.

I was then at the East Side Gallery again which I visited on a ride earlier in the week.

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From here it was a direct route home as I had finished the tour once I got to the Ostbahnhof.

Whilst pootling along I saw the Berlin equivalent of Boris Bikes, whose control mechanism thingie appears to be solar powered.

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There was a chap there cleaning everything and maintaining the bikes, except he knocked one over!

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On my way back I cycled past the Rotes Rathaus. I took this pic when stopped at some traffic lights.

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I have refrained from taking yet another photograph of the Brandenburg Gate (aren’t I kind!) but I did pass this comedy bike at the Siegesäule and took a pic. You usually see them with a bunch of drunk lads helping to pedal. This one seemed rather lonely.

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Back to my apartment after 22 miles, so a short day today although it took almost five hours in total.

This is my last cycling day in Berlin as we drive home tomorrow lunchtime. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my adventures – next year I shall be cycling from Berlin home to Britain so at least I’ve checked out the first five miles of the 700 mile route!!!

 

Statistics for this ride:

Distance – 21.84 miles

Time – 2 hours 58 minutes

Moving average – 7.35 mph

Average heart rate – 97

Max heart rate – 140

Maximum speed – 20.50

Calories burned – 776

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Filed under Berlin 2011, Cycle Tours, Cycling in Germany, Recumbent Trikes