Monthly Archives: May 2022

Six Wheels in Germany – May 2022 (Month 98)

First a warning – there seems to be an excess of cake photos in this blog post. If you feel that seeing so many tasty cakes might make you feel that you are missing out, I suggest you skip this episode. Or perhaps the entire blog!!

Last month I detailed our plans for Klaus’s birthday week with a bike tour along the Lahn river from Weilburg to Koblenz. Well, Corona happened, so that didn’t happen. But May was still enjoyable! Read on!

Big Birthdays and COVID-19

May 2022 was an important month as both Klaus and his daughter Lara celebrate their birthdays mid-May. Klaus would be 55 and Lara 18.

We had LOTS of plans, which included Klaus and I going for a posh meal at Küppersmühle the weekend before his birthday. I had the whole week off as holiday in which both birthdays fell but Klaus didn’t, he just had the Friday off when we planned our Lahn river tour. His birthday was the day before Lara’s.

The previous week he made the first business trip in ages, this time to Austria. And whilst he was there he started having cold symptoms and didn’t feel 100%. As soon as he got home he did a corona test and it was very faintly positive. So he did a second one from a different manufacturer and that was also faintly positive.

We both then went to the official Corona testing station and they gave us both a negative result but we weren’t convinced, so Klaus went off for a PCR test. I informed work that he was probably positive but they wanted me still to come in to the office the next day. Klaus installed himself in the spare room/office and quarantined himself. He went to bed feeling a bit rough. He had been due to be a taxi for Lara’s dance class that evening so I did it, on the basis I had only seen him for 15 minutes and he had been away the previous 4 days so I probably wasn’t infectious. I had to wait while Lara was dancing so I bought myself a banana split whilst I sat in a car park in Lobberich.

The next day Klaus felt rough still and stayed in bed. I went to work as there was a bit of a flap on. We had already cancelled the booking at Küppersmühle but it now looked as though Klaus wouldn’t be able to go to his own birthday gathering (pizza) the following Wednesday or Lara’s 18th family meal on the Thursday.

His PCR test came back as positive (no surprises there) but on the third day he started to feel a little better. He was still eating OK and hadn’t had much of a fever. He spent the weekend in bed but on Monday was able to start work – which involved walking 1 pace from the bed to the office. He did a few short bursts of work but was pretty tired.

I decided on the Saturday to go for a cycle ride to keep out of the house whilst Klaus felt poorly in bed – he likes to be alone when he is ill. I had done hardly any cycling this year, my longest distance was 40km and yet Oliebollentocht would happen in 3 weeks and would be 135km. So I decided I ought to try to ride at least half of that (based on the theory that you can always double your maximum distance without dying).

I decided to ride to the start of Oliebollentocht in Reuver so I knew where it is. I plotted a route with my Garmin which unfortunately decided I might like to do some off-roading and so I had to stop and turn round several times, as this map shows.

I had planned the route via Weißen Stein and I was soon there and it was just a few kilometres further to the Oliebollentocht Start Point.

While I was there I thought I’d stop for a cuppa and something to eat. They had only just opened the café and didn’t have much on display so I went for a waffle, asking for some ice cream with it. I was a bit surprised when it arrived that it was stone cold and very hard – I expected a warm squishy thing – and I had to pick it up to eat it as I couldn’t break it up with a knife without shooting it all over the place.

It tasted OK but when I went to pay I saw some Appeltaart which would probably have been a better choice.

I then rode home mostly the same way (without the off-road detours) and ended up with 75 km and 1,208 calories.

Fortunately although this was a lot more cycling than I am used to it was fine, my knees were OK by the next day and I enjoyed being out and about in the velomobile again!

So I decided to do it again the next day. This would be a shorter ride but I thought I would go and get cakes from Bauerncafé Jacobs – I wanted to pick up cakes for Klaus’s birthday gathering the next day and I thought I’d check this would be OK. So I cycled to Straelen and then right to the border with NL, arrived at Jacobs and… no take-away. I said I had cycled 20km to buy these cakes but they were adamant, no take-away cake sales. So I then asked what if I wanted to buy some cakes for a birthday – I had to have a full cake of each type. So that was no good at all. I was a bit annoyed as they have lovely cakes and I would have liked a selection for Klaus’s birthday. So I turned round and headed home via the bakery in Straelen where I got some standard cakes for Klaus and I to share.

So I hadn’t solved the cake issue, but I went out for another ride on the Tuesday, the day before Klaus’s birthday, up into Kreis Kleve on some of the lovely roads. As I was returning towards Aldekerk I suddenly remembered that there is a very decent Bauerncafé and farm shop in Aldekerk/Rahm, so I made a short diversion to take a look.

They had a really good selection and so I bought two slices for us to try out. Here they are.

As the lady had said I didn’t need to preorder and could buy lots of different slices if I wished I made it my plan for the next day, Klaus’s birthday, to pick up a selection of cakes from this café.

A week before we had arranged for a few friends to come round for beer and pizza on the evening of Klaus’s birthday. That morning he still tested positive for Corona but with a very faint line so we decided to have our gathering in the garden and he would sit a bit away from us.

So early afternoon I went to Café Beyen in Rahm/Aldekerk and bought a fab selection of cakes (this is 30 Euros worth)

I collected Lara a bit earlier and we made a start on the cakes with her and Klaus – we decided to risk briefly being together in our large lounge, Klaus kept his distance.

Lara enjoyed the cheesecake and Klaus and I also each had a slice of cake.

Klaus had received a Fischers Fritze hoodie from me, along with a bottle of Berlin 55% Gin (as he was now 55 years old) and from his father he also received a bottle of gin, a completely different one from Italy. And some nice Italian pesto. Lara had bought him the matching Fischers Fritze hat, and the two Fischers Fritze presents turned out to be good choices as he had put himself on the waiting list for both items as they had sold out and he wanted them.

In the evening we had a good time with Gudula, Frank, Rohallah, Ralf and Lara and we ate pizza and also more cakes. I had bought some beers and we enjoyed chatting in the garden. Klaus’s chair got closer to us as the evening wore on – he was feeling well again and it was nice for him to set foot out of our flat for the first time in six days!

The next morning was Lara’s 18th birthday and, with impeccable timing, Klaus tested negative for Coronavirus! This meant he could attend the meal at Schloss Rheydt that Lara wanted with her mother and uncle too. What she didn’t know was that her grandfather was travelling from Mannheim to be there – I was picking him up from Köln Hauptbahnhof and driving him to Viersen. I did a PCR test the day before which came back as negative (I had tested negative the whole time) and Klaus’s father was also negative so off I went to Köln and met Klaus’s father outside the station. I went an hour early so I could have a wander around and of course I visited the cathedral!

Lara was absolutely thrilled to see her grandfather when he rang her doorbell that afternoon and they had a lovely meal together. Lara had some good presents from us and had some friends round for the weekend afterwards so it was a really great birthday for her. It was good to have some fun times after two years of Coronavirus and all the restrictions it has placed on young people socialising. And she is now 18! The icing on the cake was that Klaus was able to celebrate with her after all as it was very important to her. The next day I returned Klaus’s father to Köln Hauptbahnhof as Klaus was working!

We managed to rescue a bit more of his birthday though, rebooking our meal at Küppersmühle to the Friday evening after the birthday. We once again ate a fabulous meal and as I had said it was his birthday he was given some birthday cake to take home!

Honeymoon #8, the alternative – Aachen & Monschau

I mentioned last month that we were planning a trike tour down the river Lahn. Because of Klaus’s coronavirus we had to cancel this but we decided to have an overnight stay in Aachen instead, so to make something of the weekend. We had visited Aachen several years ago when on our velomobile tour 3 days, 3 countries, and thought it worth another visit.

This was another trip in Zuzanna the Z3 which nearly went wrong at the beginning as we couldn’t find the key to the underground garage where Zuzanna is kept. I had collected her and delivered her back whilst Klaus was in Austria on a business trip and hadn’t switched the key from my Smart Keyring back to Zuzanna’s. So we arrived at the garage with no way of opening it – fortunately it was only a 10 minute drive back home again to get the key.

We arrived at our apartment and had booked a parking space in the underground garage. We then went out for some breakfast cake but didn’t find anything too exciting – I ended up with a pastry and Klaus a slice of cheesecake.

We had had a filled roll before this which was a bit disappointing.

Klaus didn’t feel 100% yet, still a bit poorly, so he stayed in the apartment in the afternoon and I went out for a wander around Aachen. It was bustling with loads of people and once again the world started to feel as if it were coming out of hibernation after Corona.

For our evening meal we found a nice restaurant near the Rathaus.

We ate some traditional German food but forewent dessert… as we walked around a bit more first before settling on an Eiscafe.

I had earlier been into a Turkish supermarket to buy some baklava but had failed as the guy using the weighing scales couldn’t get them to work properly and after 10 minutes of him weighing, typing numbers into the scales and then presenting me with a 150 € bill for 4 small pieces of baklava, I gave up. So after our ice cream I thought I would try to find some baklava but without success. In the end we bought some cookies in REWE – but they weren’t that tasty. But looking at the sunset on our apartment balcony with tea and cookies was OK!

The next morning I had a real hankering for a croissant. The apartment didn’t provide breakfast so I went out to a bakery to find some croissants… but as we had no butter I also had to buy a whole pack of butter too. Not cheap but worth it!

So we breakfasted on the balcony before heading off in the car – and rather than going directly home we decided to visit Monschau on our way home.

This was a nice drive with some scenic views and of course some nice curves in the road which Zuzanna appreciates.

We had a short wander around Monschau which is very beautiful. And then it was time for some cake!

We headed back to the car and then made our way back towards home, sticking mostly to Landstraßen so we were not doing so much on motorways.

We decided to have a second stop and ended up finding a very decent café where we once again had cakes!

As you can tell, we had quite a cakey and carbohydratey weekend but enjoyed it for a change!

Meeting up with Rashmi again

I previously worked with Rashmi, a lovely lady from India who has lived in Germany for many years, having completed her second MSc here. Although we only worked together for a year we have kept in touch since we both left the previous company and we meet up now and again – but because of Corona we hadn’t seen each other since we both married. Rashmi’s husband was still in India but was hoping to get a visa to come to Germany soon – and in fact he arrived before the end of the month, which was great news!

We had planned to meet with Rashmi twice before but she had unluckily had Corona both times (1 x delta, 1 x omicron) but we finally managed it at the beginning of May on a Sunday. I collected her from her workplace in Neukirchen Vluyn and we went to Hinterhof in Wachtendonk where Klaus met us by bike.

We each had a slice of cake, and then shared the final one at the end.

It was lovely to catch up with Rashmi and it felt like we were finally starting to move away from the Corona restrictions and life was returning to normal!

Ralf buys another trike!

I haven’t mentioned chum Ralf for a while – he’s the chap who previously had the Cookie Monster velomobile but sold it two and a half years ago. He also briefly had a trike – he bought Klaus’s Wild One and then sold it again as it was a bit heavy for him. Anyway, Ralf came to Klaus’s birthday pizza & cake and whilst chatting to Klaus he told us he was seriously considering a recumbent trike with a motor and had seen that the local shop Liegeradbau Schumacher had an HP Velotechnik Skorpion for sale. Now both Klaus and I are not fans of the Skorpion as they are very heavy and in our estimation rather over-eingineered but they sell well in Germany.

Klaus and I know Ralf well enough that when he gets a bee in his bonnet about something he usually acts upon it very quickly, so we were both completely unsurprised when 9 days after first mentioning it to us, he had an HP Velotechnik Skorpion with Shimano Steps motor, Rohloff and lots of other extras.

Naturally the first thing to do was to meet somewhere for cake. So we met at Landcafé Bruxhof in Kempen Klixdorf.

And then after inspecting the new steed (as yet unnamed) we went for a short ride together.

Klaus is carrying a giant branch with leaves on, for unknown reasons

Ralf seems very pleased with his trike. I sat on it and it is comfortable but it is indeed very heavy so not something you would want to lift up and down. We wish him many happy miles on the new trike!

Oliebollentocht 2020/2021/2022

Each December there is a Velomobile gathering called Oliebollentocht which takes place on 28 December somewhere in the Netherlands. We have attended 4-5 of these and really enjoyed them, the sight of over 100 velomobiles together is great fun!

The 2020 edition was to be held in Roermond which is just down the road from here. Unfortunately Coronavirus put paid to that. They rescheduled for 2021 but it was also postponed because of Corona. In the end they fixed on Saturday 28 May as an alternative day which was part of the long weekend in Germany due to Ascension Day.

As mentioned above, I had done very little riding and so started practising for the long ride three weeks in advance – in that I did a ride of half the distance. But I would just have to give it a go.

The day ended up having really good weather, blue skies and no rain, although there was a bit of a wind and it wasn’t mega warm. I kept my jacket on all day.

Klaus and I set off from home at 7:30am and rode to Reuver which is 35km from home. We registered, got our goodie bags which included tokens for lunch and a snack after the ride, plus a commemorative cycling jersey.

We then sat down at a table and were surrounded by cakes!

Klaus and I both fancied the same cake, a Dutch Rice Cake, which is very tasty (we find some Dutch cakes disappointing, but not this one!)

We sat and ate our cake, drank our tea/coffee and said hello to various chums, many of whom commented to me about the cakes. Strange that I am for some reason linked to cakes in their mind. It was a good opportunity for a natter to catch up with old friends and acquaintances, most of whom we hadn’t seen for at least two and a half years.

More and more velomobiles were arriving and were parked outside our starting location.

Photo by Klaus

At 10 am we had an introduction to the ride (mostly in Dutch) and then it was time to set off. We were all going to ride together the first 11km to a photo location and after that would split up into three speed groups – this is much better for riding in groups as it’s really hard trying to hang on to a too-fast group.

The ride left Reuver and we were soon in the old army area in Bracht, where special access had been arranged for us (Velomobiles don’t fit through the gates!) We were delighted to see Chum Uli manning one of the gates (he has a special key).

Once we arrived at the photo spot we parked our velomobiles and climbed the viewing platform to see everything.

Look at all those colourful jellybeans! (And imagine that they cost about 10,000 € each!)

Photo by Klaus

Back at ground level it was fun to see all the different velomobiles, including one Snoek (the newest one from Velomobiel.nl).

Photo by Klaus

Someone took this photo below which shows us all. Sorry I can’t remember who took it so can’t credit them!

Uli had followed the group after locking the entrance gate again and so we had a brief chat and he took this photo. I think I’ve seen Uli once in the last two and a half years again, we are really hoping that Corona is fading away enough that we can do more meet-ups with chums again.

We also saw Ralf who was in charge of locking one set of gates after we passed through. He was on his new trike again. He took this photo of Klaus and I as we were heading off, part of the green (slow) group who left last.

We arrived at the lunch place where we had tokens for a buffet lunch. This was filled mini baguettes, Frikandel in a bread roll (a weird Dutch lunch thing which is an acquired taste – and we haven’t yet acquired it) but also a few sweet pastry items…

Whilst we were eating our lunch we got a message from Lara who was dog-sitting at home. She had managed to shut the cellar door so she and Poppy were stuck in the garden and her phone was in the house. If she stood at the back of the house she could just get signal on her Apple Watch so we were able to send messages. Fortunately I vaguely knew where there was a spare key stored to the house and she was able to find it and get back in again – otherwise one of us would have had to leave and ride straight home, which would have taken at least two hours.

We set off after lunch in the groups again, this time I moved up to the yellow group (the middle speed) and it was mostly OK. As always with group riding there are some people less experienced at it who don’t always ride at an ideal pace/space and there are other people who are just a bit antisocial and do annoying things. But mostly it was fine.

We rode the Meinweg which has a super-fast downhill. My max was 64.4 km/h, I think Klaus went over 70.

We were soon back in Reuver after a group ride of just under 70km. It was time for some soup and of course Oliebollen. These are only really a winter thing in NL but they made some especially for us.

It was a chance to sit and chat to people again and to catch up with the news. I am always slightly hampered in such situations as I am partially face-blind so I don’t always realise who I am talking to – especially after three years. Lots of people looked a lot older! But I did recognise some faces (not always a given) and it was great to catch up with Roef Veerman, Klaus from Köln, Erwin and many others (sorry if I haven’t mentioned you by name but I am equally bad with remembering names!!!!)

It was time for Klaus and I to head home, another 35km. He had originally planned to stop at Burger King in Kaldenkirchen but as we had had soup and one-and-a-half Oliebollen each that wasn’t really necessary, so we rode back to Kempen and then I stopped for a Kebab for Lara and me and Klaus bought some salad.

Here is our route for the day.

And the statistics:

I think I enjoyed this Oliebollentocht ride the most, mainly because it was the least tiring for me (although I was pretty pooped the next day). I never go well in the cold weather so 28 December is always tough for me. I had given Millie a clean and service a few days before, she had a full battery which wasn’t even half used for the 140km, and I was able to ride faster than the motor assistance (that means over 25 km/h) without any issues. There is lots of stopping and starting with group riding so I was really grateful for the motor to help me with the initial acceleration.

The next Oliebollentocht is planned for this December but we won’t be able to attend as we are planning to be in England then. It would be in Utrecht which would be nice again but I am definitely less keen on winter rides, especially with the complication of actually getting to the start.

Once again the organisation by the Grensrijders for this tour was amazing. Chris Trines does fantastic work getting sponsorship and arranging everything brilliantly. It was great to see him again, and also Oliver who also helped organise it and our very own Hartmut and Stefan V who were also involved.

More triking

Last year we had a couple of occasions when Lara came out with us on the trike. She borrows my cycling sandals (with SPD cleats) and my trike Alfie and I follow along in Millie.

So when Klaus was fully recovered from Corona and wanted to slowly ease back into riding, we decided to go on a ride to the Tönisvorster Obsthof which makes… you guessed it… good cakes!

After a couple of kilometres I switched with Lara so she could ride Millie. She’d only ridden Millie once before when she was a lot heavier and it was a tight fit in the velomobile (as it used to be for me), so now that Lara has lost lots of weight Millie is a better fit. In fact, I think Millie is now slightly big for me, and also for Lara, but that’s a nice problem to have!

Anyway, we cycled to St Tönis and sat outside on some comfy chairs and enjoyed the above cakes. Not a bad life!

I have mentioned lots of rides and we have also done lots of walks this month (including walking to Kempen and back for an evening meal, a total of 12.5km) so here is my Wheel from Veloviewer:

We have already made plans for a cycle ride to Büllhorsthof at Pfingsten/Whitsun on the Monday bank holiday, and chum Kai will come along in his velomobile too. More cakes!

Some more cakes

Just in case I haven’t included enough cake photos above, here are some more.

My colleague Lucia had a birthday and, as is German tradition, brought in cakes for us all. Apple cake and rhubarb cake. Very good!

Next month’s blog will include our long-delayed honeymoon and as I think you can probably guess, I am expecting to include one or two cake photos. We will visit Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Lichtenstein and probably quite a lot of cafes along the way. Read all about it at the end of June!

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