Six Wheels In Germany – November 2016 (Month 32)

A short report for this month (phew, you say!!)

Cycling this month

Cycling Statistics this month

November was not such a good month for cycling for me. This is mostly due to the weather – it was very rainy for several days, and very cold for a couple of weeks, and with my job it means I have to make an effort to ride straight after work if I want to cycle in daylight. Which I sometimes manage, but not always.

Anyway, my total distance for November was 726km so half of what I managed the previous month.


And here is where I rode to:


Metric Century a Month Challenge

After last month’s statement from me that this challenge was really rather easy now, I found I had to eat my words almost straight away as the ride for this month was tricky.


Klaus was able to ride with me so we planned to go to Xanten and see where we fancied going after that. We met in Kempen where there was an ADFC Light Check stand so we put in an appearance there for an hour and talked to the police and the local bike shop chappie with our velomobiles proving a bit of a draw. But it was cold just standing around so we were pleased to get back into the Velomobiles and ride. We set off for Xanten following a route that Klaus had prepared which took us up a bit of a hill on the approach to Xanten. And it was at this point that I discovered I had a bit of an issue with my Schlumpf gearing in my bottom bracket. It seemed to be slipping!

As I was pedalling only a small amount of the pedal stroke transferred to the wheel, the rest of the time it just slipped. So I had to very quickly go down the gears to first gear which was very slippy and when I reached a slightly steeper bit of slope I was pedalling but getting no forward motion. Oh no!!

I changed the Schlumpf up into the high gear (no reduction gear) and it worked OK but my lowest gear in this configuration is very high – I think about 3.8 metres per pedal stroke – so my knees were really complaining. I got to the top of this long slope and said to Klaus that I needed to avoid hills after this until I could work out what was wrong with the Schlumpf.

I very much enjoyed my restorative slice of cake in Xanten and of course my cup of tea. The Christmas Market was taking place in the large square in front of the café so there were people everywhere and the two velomobiles make a very interesting picture too, but I had to bang on the window when one man decided to open up Millie’s flap and look inside. People can look, but not touch!

After the cake and tea it was time to carry on and we decided to ride towards Kalkar along a former railway line to Marienbaum which is now a cycle path. It was suitable for Velomobiles too so we pootled along – pootling because my knee was complaining and I needed to rest it a bit and also let it warm up slowly. It was a cold day for cycling and I still had summer-weight cycling trousers on (normally OK in velomobiles).

We reached Kalkar and decided to carry on to Goch. On our way to Goch we went through what turned out to be a very large village called Pfalzdorf. Klaus comes from the Kurpfalz area of Germany and it turns out that some people from the Kurpfalz region had wanted to emigrate to America but had only got as far as the Dutch border and been turned back, so they settled near Goch in Pfalzdorf. Apparently they still speak the Mannheim dialect there too, although we didn’t see anyone to speak to – just experienced an unexpected hill which was No. Fun. At. All in my high gears.

We rode through Goch where I had hoped to stop for cake but Klaus had to be home so we carried on, but unfortunately I was running out of energy so in the end suggested he rode directly home and I would stop for some food in Straelen. I arrived at Café Krone which I like very much, waved goodbye to Klaus and had this very tasty pumpkin soup in a Kilner jar.


It gave me more energy back and I rode home much more quickly, arriving home with 126km on the clock. Klaus ended up with 142km.

I have spoken to Liegeradbau Schumacher about the Schlumpf and it seems that the boom end on the Milan is of rather thin metal so that they couldn’t tighten the Schlumpf enough and it rotates inside the bottom bracket because of the very high power when in the low gears. They have ordered a new, normal-thickness bottom bracket shell from Tempelman in the Netherlands and will fit it to Millie when it arrives. In the meantime I am riding just with my high gears and doing even more hill-avoidance than normal!

Bike maintenance

The Milan is a pain in the neck if it gets a rear wheel puncture as you have to take out the back wheel to fix it (unlike most Velomobiles). I had practised this when I first got Millie but discovered one day when I was getting Penelope out of the shed that Millie had a puncture. At least this meant I could fix it at a time of my choosing.

Anyway, I did a reasonable job which took just 45 minutes but the tyre had a bad cut so I decided I would buy a new one. I also decided to change to AV tubes (Auto ventil, car valve) rather than the Französische (Presta) valves which I find a bit awkward. So I ordered some tyres and tubes, including a wider Marathon tyre for the rear wheel for winter. It will be slower but much more puncture resistant. A puncture in the dark and the rain is no fun at all!


Klaus had reported that he had a puncture on one of his solo rides and had an AV tube which didn’t fit through his wheel rim. This caused a brief panic for me as I had just bought 4 new AV tubes but I tested one in the front wheel of Millie (without completely removing the old tube – no need for extra effort!) and it worked fine.


I have ridden Millie to work a couple of times recently – she looks amusing in the car park. She is longer than the Smart Car I parked beside!



Starting work at 8am means I cycled through some wonderful sunrises in November.





Rolf once again organised his Velomobile Meet in Schwalmtal, although this time it ended up with just Jochen and I visiting due to illness or busyness from the other velomobile riders.

Here are Millie and Endeavour side by side.


And here is the very tasty soup Rolf made for us, most welcome on such a chilly day!


Non-cycling events!

Messiah Concert

As in the previous two years, I have spent the entire year practising with the Willicher Musikprojekt for a big concert in November. The first year was Beethoven’s Messe in C, last year was Elias by Mendelssohn Bartholdy, and this year was the Messiah by Handel (but in German).

In the previous years we have had just one concert but this year two were planned, one in Krefeld and one in Anrath (where we normally have the concerts). The Krefeld church is a very large Evangelisch church which seats 1000 people and in which the group had not previously sung.

Here was our final dress rehearsal…


We had to work out where we would all sit as to get 100 singers on the staging is challenging!

The rehearsal was on a Friday night and the concert on the Sunday evening. Here is a selfie taken just before…


There were a lot of people out there in the audience!



The concert went well although we noticed a few mistakes and I am not sure how good the acoustics were for those in the audience at the back. But it was lovely to sing after all our hard work together.

The second concert was the following Friday in Anrath, which has excellent acoustics.


As we had already sung the whole thing through once five days before we did a better job with this one I felt, although the audiences seemed very happy with both concerts. I really enjoyed singing it and look forward to starting our new project in January, Paulus by Mendelssohn Bartholdy.


Other events this month included the Fahrrad Stammtisch, an ADFC ride where I just met them for lunch, I continued providing Nachhilfe (tutoring) in English to a lad in St Hubert, and I attended three dog training sessions with Poppy. This is because Gudula wants to get Poppy registered as an official Visiting Dog so she can visit old people’s homes or homes for disabled people. This involves first of all a four week course at a dog training centre 10km away but Gudula could only make two of the four sessions as she and Frank were on holiday, so I agreed to go to the other two.

It was interesting to see the dogs and what they do – but I had lots of problems hearing in the large, barn-like hall. It was also very cold! I think all the other dogs had done their initial dog training there so knew specific things that they had to do whereas some of it was entirely new to Poppy but she seemed to really enjoy it and clearly has the temperament for a visiting dog, although she needs to have some more training.

For the last session I went with Gudula as we had to decide what to do in the long term. Rather shockingly, Poppy will need another six months training before she can do the exam (yes, they have an exam!) and I am not 100% sure if we want to do it as Gudula has to work shifts so may not be able to make all the sessions and it isn’t something I particularly want to do at the moment. Plus it’s expensive (500 Euro in total). But we are still considering.

With the change in weather from warm to very cold, and of course the clocks changing at the end of last month, winter is most decidedly on its way.

Decorating houses for Christmas seems to start rather early in Germany. Some people seemed to have already put up lights and baubles etc in mid-November. For me, the first day of Advent is maybe a bit early…

Anyway, one day I came into work and discovered a Christmas decoration on my desk.


I have now been in my job for four months and am getting the hang of it. I speak about 50% German and 50% English, and some of my colleagues now speak to me in English to practise it. I also work closely with a chap from Denmark who speaks Danish, English and German, but my main contact is with a Russian customer so the mutual language is English. It’s very interesting to be dealing with people from many countries although that also has its challenges!

Cakes this month

And here are the cakes that I, or my companions, have eaten this month. Yummy!



  1. Seeing Millie parked in the “car” park (!) prompts me to ask: how on earth do you secure a velomobile when you park it? It’s hard enough trying to lock up a recumbent trike, I can’t see how you’d lock up a VM…

    1. The short answer is that I don’t lock my velomobiles – I’m pretty relaxed about them being safe and I don’t usually leave them where I can’t see them. The work situation is different as it’s a private parking area and my colleagues can see people walking to where the cars are parked.

      With regard to locking them, with Penelope I could have a lock fixed to a metal strut behind my head and then around a lamp post. With Millie I guess a lock through the rear wheel is the only good option, but I have never tried.

      Trikes have a slightly higher risk of joyriding I think, Velomobiles are just tricky to work out, especially if they have a parking brake (as both of mine do).

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