Six Wheels In Germany – April 2016 (Month 25)

Cycling in April 2016

Here is a listing of all my rides in April 2016

April Statistics

You will notice that I haven’t used Alfie again this month. In fact, my last ride on Alfie was on 29th January… Velomobiles are so much more pleasant to ride in winter than open trikes!

And here are all the routes that I took over the month.

Tracks for April

My target for the year is 10,000km and I have fallen a little behind the schedule of where I should be at this point in the year. This is partly explained by riding less in winter and also because I have been making lots of journeys to the UK so not able to ride. But I hope to make up more kilometres now the nicer weather is approaching.

And at this point I have to say a big ‘congratulations’ to Klaus who has cycled further than me this year (normally I do almost double his mileage), whilst also having to go to work every day and sit at a desk pretending not to be bored. He has increased his speed significantly which means he can cycle much further in the same time, thus increase his overall distance. He is also of course enjoying his new toy of a velomobile so perhaps cycling more than he will in the long run. But kudos to him!

Metric Century A Month Challenge: A ride to Mülheim

As mentioned above, Klaus has started cycling to work. This is a pretty massive round trip for him of about 120km minimum, but it is a great way to start the working day.

On his first attempt he decided to ride on a Friday as he finishes earlier that day. I suggested, as I didn’t have to work for many hours that day, that I met him and we cycled back together. This seemed like a good plan so he set off at 5:15am and did a full day’s work and I pootled off in the direction of Mülheim at midday.

Ride to Muelheim

I took a fairly direct route there through Moers-Kapellen and over the A40 motorway bridge which I regularly travel over in the work’s van. I stopped briefly at the confluence point of the Ruhr and Rhein.

Rhein trifft Ruhr

Klaus had taken a similar photo on his ride to work many hours earlier.


Anyway, I had a good fast ride to Mülheim, arriving at 2 o’clock. I had planned to stop for a sandwich om the way but hadn’t seen anywhere to stop. I followed the new Radschnellweg (fast bike route) from Mülheim Station towards Essen – it’s a great bit of bike route.

I parked Penelope in the bike sheds next to Celeste.

VMs in Muelheim

After drinking a cup of tea in Klaus’s firm he was ready to escape for the day so we headed down to where the bikes were parked. Several of his colleagues had to have a go in Celeste of course. Apparently they all think he’s mad cycling so far to get to work.

We decided not to do the same route back and to cross the Rhein via a different bridge. Our initial route was the same, we whizzed down the Rad Schnellweg, stopping at the railway station for me to buy some lunch (a filled roll). It was at this point that I realised my knee was hurting a little. It seemed to be the problem I had experienced on the way back from Dronten again – not good.

Anyway, we arrived at Duisburg Hafen and decided to have a look around. I took a few photos. I loved these yarn bombing balls!

Duisburg hafen

Klaus also took a photo and did a bit of editing to bring out the colours:

Klaus's Hafen Yarn Bombing

What is noticeable when both velomobiles are together is that most passers-by seem to engage us in conversation if we stop; when on my own lots of people talk to me but there are definitely a higher proportion of people wanting to chat when there is more than one velomobile. We had a 15 minute conversation with two chaps at the Hafen.

We then carried on, discovering the small bridge we wanted to use was closed but found our way OK to where we needed to go.

Penelope and Celeste at the Rhein

Having seen the interesting filters available on Klaus’s iPhone App I invested in one myself (a different one) and produced this…

Penelope and Celeste at the Rhein 2

My knee was getting more and more painful though. I stopped a few times to stretch it but it didn’t help much so once again I was reduced to much less power with my right leg and our speed reduced noticeably.

But eventually we arrived back at my home and I had completed 103km so also my Metric Century for my monthly challenge. An enjoyable ride but there are some less good bits between Duisburg and Mülheim on busy roads – it is possible the route could be refined further!

My third visit to SPEZI

Last year I visited the SPEZI Radmesse (Special Bike Show) by bike… the wonderful SPEZI Tour with Klaus, Simon, Joyce and Nigel. This year I decided to go by car and persuaded Hartmut to come with me; he ended up driving and also brought along a chum Dirk from the ADFC in Mönchengladbach. Part of the motorway was shut on the way so we had to detour through the fantastically-named Titz; definitely worth the detour!


We arrived around midday – and there were lots of interesting bikes and velomobiles parked all over the place!

SPEZI Velomobiles

Directly after registering I was accosted by Rene, another velomobile rider who I had first met on LEL. We had a good chat and he had some recommendations for improvements to the route to Mülheim that Klaus rides to work.

After Rene and I had had a good chat we said goodbye and I headed to the first Messe Hall, being stopped within a few metres to chat to Michael who had joined us for a day on the SPEZI tour last year. We chatted a bit too… and then I got round to visiting the exhibition. It’s great to meet people you know though, especially in a foreign country!

I had a good look around – most of the exhibits seemed similar to last year.

I liked this bicycle helmet – but I don’t wear helmets.

SPEZI bike helmet

I also noticed a stand from Liegeradbau Schumacher, a local recumbent shop to me just 20km away. I visited them several years ago.

SPEZI Schumacher

I also spotted the Veloschmitt. There was lots of interest in this last year but then it all went quiet.

SPEZI Veloschmitt

To me this looked a bit sad and manky. I think the drive for this project seems to have sloughed away. Sad.

One thing that did catch my eye was this new velomobile on the Cycles JV stand:

SPEZI Mulsanne 2

It clearly had an opening very like Penelope’s but looked faster and lighter… so I had a closer look.

SPEZI Mulsanne

SPEZI inside Mulsanne

Hmmm…. unprotected chain.

I decided I’d like to try to get in and out so with a passer-by translating (the exhibitor spoke only French, not German or English, and I couldn’t produce enough French to ask him what I needed to know), I worked my way carefully in.

My food was just millimetres from the chain and there were only a few places I could put my feet that were strong enough. Some sharp edges at the back dug into me – but I eventually made it in!

SPEZI Helen in Mulsanne

SPEZI Helen in Mulsanne 2

Although it was comfortable inside it was even more difficult to get out and I just didn’t feel happy about that open chain. I would undoubtedly end up with dirty legs immediately. It looked good but isn’t an option for me.

I spent a little time on the ICE stand and there bumped into TimB who had been at SPEZI last year in a wheelchair as he had broken his foot. We had a good chinwag!

I bought a ventisit neck rest for Klaus (who asked if I could see if there was one there), a new flag pole for Claudia’s trike as she is using my old rather battered one, amd a mew Union Jack buff for me. Apart from that it was a surprisingly cheap exhibition for me as I managed not to buy another trike or velomobile.

We headed off back home in due course, agreeing that the fact it was a really cold and rainy day had made the whole event a little harder to appreciate. But it’s still worth a visit and it was interesting to see lots of new velomobiles in development, particularly from Eastern Europe.

Thanks to Hartmut for driving me!

Velomobile photography

As Klaus is a bit of a photographer and has a nice shiny new velomobile, he takes lots of pictures of Celeste. This has got me into the habit too, so here are a couple of Penelope pics.

Penelope at sunset


Strada and Versatile

Strada and Versatile 2

And here are a few photos Klaus has taken of Celeste:

Celeste 2

Celeste 3

Celeste 1

Celeste and Penelope

Strada BW

Sorry for all the Bike Pr0n there!

A speedy trip to Kevelaer

As Klaus was doing lots of fast cycling I decided it was time that I worked a bit harder on my speed; after all, as a velomobile rider I should definitely be achieving higher average speeds than I do.

So one day after work I decided to ride to Kevelaer and to take a fast road and put the pedal to the metal.

Here was my average speed after 30km…

Average speed 26

I arrived in Kevelaer and stopped for a Grillagetorte and tea. Yummy!

Grillage in Kevelaer

As you see, Penelope was once again proving interesting for the passers-by.

I rode home at a slightly slower speed but my average speed for the 65km was 25.1, with which I was very pleased.

A few days later I did a ride with Klaus to Geldern on a Sunday morning and managed an average of 25km per hour on that ride too. But generally I am slower.

Events this month

A funeral in England

As I reported last month, my father died at the end of March and so I returned the the UK at the beginning of April for his funeral.

Klaus, Claudia and Lara kindly said they would come too to support me, and we ended up all travelling together ‘the long way round’ (Dunkirk to Dover) which involves lots of driving but a cheap ferry; the other route, Hoek van Holland to Harwich, involves lots of expensive ferry and not much driving but was too expensive for a last-minute booking.

Here we are on the ferry… which was almost entirely occupied by German cars. Very few from other nationalities.

On the ferry

Klaus, Claudia and Lara would stay in my house in the UK and I would stay with my Mum.

We went straight to the pub for an evening meal, this time to the Wooden Fender in Ardleigh although I felt it had gone downhill slightly (less choice of food, and food more expensive). I had a steak and kidney pudding as you just don’t get that in Germany!

Steak and Kidney Pudding

We then went to my house in Colchester and I switched on the heating for my guests before Klaus drove me to my mother’s house 40 minutes’ away. He returned to what was a cold house – it turns out our heating had tripped out but they didn’t want to bother me with it so just went to bed very early with lots of blankets!

It was lovely to see my Mum again and she had some visitors who had come up early for the funeral so I chatted to them.

The next morning was the day of the funeral and we were treated to a beautiful sunrise.

Sunrise at Witnesham

Misty Sunrise 2

The funeral was a very moving experience and the church was packed with all Dad’s friends and colleagues. When we went outside for the burial a light plane flew low overhead – which we guess was a friend of Dad’s saying his own private goodbye as Dad had been a light aircraft pilot for over 32 years and had many friends in the flying community.

The next morning I was treated to another lovely sunrise

Another sunrise

Then Mum drove me to Stratford St Mary where I met Klaus, Claudia and Lara and we all had breakfast together at the Farm Shop before Mum headed home and we drove off to Dover, making a short stop at Tesco to buy a few English food goodies. The journey back was easy and we arrived back in Germany tired but it was a very worthwhile trip and lovely for me to have some friends at the funeral.

It has been very inspirational reading all the comments that people have made about my father, his nature and friendliness and how much he helped people. We all miss him very much.

The piano move

Tied up with the funeral was the planned collection of my baby grand piano from the UK and delivery to Germany. However, after the service was over I saw a message from the piano removal chaps that they had had an accident in Belgium on the way over the UK and couldn’t open the rear door of the van – thus no piano collection. We would have to find a new date. This was rather disappointing as the plan was for them to collect the piano when Klaus and Claudia were in the house to let them in and to keep an eye on everything, but it couldn’t be helped.

In the end they were able to offer a new collection appointment just a few days later. Unfortunately no one was available to be at the house in the UK so a neighbour hid a key for the chaps and I told them where it would be. In due course I got a message to say it had been picked up and they were on their way back to Germany.

The next day they said they could deliver it after I finished my work so I got the room ready and they arrived at five thirty in the evening.

Space for piano

They had used a trailer behind a car for the piano.

Piano in trailer

They separated out the keyboard for transit.

Keyboard separate

The piano was on a trolley.

Piano on trolley 1

Piano on trolley 2

The big issue about moving the piano was the fact that I live on the first floor and it is a fairly narrow spiral staircase with wooden treads. The chap had been round to check everything and said they could do it but would use three chaps to help carry the piano up to my Wohnung. But there were only two who actually arrived…

We carried all the bits and pieces up to the Wohnung first, including the keyboard which had this writing on the side.

Writing on side of keyboard

Interesting to see the date 1920 – I had been told it was a 20s or 30s piano from its style.

The keyboard was made by Herrburger Brooks (the piano is Raymond & Co, London)

Herrburger Brooks Ltd

To move the piano into the house they had a ramp which helped for the step up to the front garden.

From driveway

After that it was just heavy lifting – first the five steps into the front door.

In the doorway of the house

And then the massive job of carrying the piano up the stairs.

The two men prepared for about 15 minutes before lifting the piano. They covered with a cloth the bannisters. They fitted huge straps around the piano and then around their bodies to help them lift. They looked quite nervous about it – explaining that the piano probably weighed 250kg and just two of them would have to carry it up the stairs.

When they were finally ready to start they actually went pretty quickly.

Heading upstairs 1

Heading upstairs 2

Heading upstairs 3

They stopped at the top of the stairs, panting as if they had run a marathon. It really illustrated how much physical work lifting can be! They were also pouring sweat so we gave them cold drinks and they needed five minutes or so to get their breath back before carrying on – assembling the piano again.

Raymond’s legs were put back on, and his lid.

On its legs

Here is a close-up of the keyboard which had some mould in places on the woodwork, probably a result of the cold and damp at the house in the UK as the heating hadn’t been working. I wiped it with a damp cloth and it seems to be OK now.

Keyboard close up

The soft pedal wasn’t working so the chap removed it and had a look – a nut that had wound down was the culprit and it was soon working.

Fixing the pedals

Here is the piano in my original planned position. You can’t lift the lid up here because of the sloping ceiling.

Piano in position

After a day I decided to turn it round – this position is much better! Whilst I am playing I am looking into the room and I can lift the lid up.

Piano rotated round

The piano survived the journey pretty well and isn’t appallingly out of tune. I decided to leave it a few weeks to get accustomed to the temperature here and then I will bring in a piano tuner – interestingly they are much more expensive in Germany!


My job continues and was much busier in April when the catering company had lots to do (lots of catering for confirmations).

I have started photographing some of the food as I am adding it to work’s Facebook site. I quite like some of these pics I have taken!

Food 1




Salad 2

Obstsalat 1

Obstsalat 2

Bad back

Somehow at work I managed to really upset my back, to such an extent that it was very hard to put my socks on or lean down at all. After a few days it improved a bit but it curtailed my bike riding this month.

When I visited the UK at the end of the month I managed to squeeze in a visit to my osteopath who made things much, much better and it is only lightly troubling me. He also did something to my dodgy knee and that seems to be significantly improved too so I am hoping the main problems with that are over.


Lara who I live with has joined the Wasserball (Water Polo?) team at her University in Essen and they were having a match against Uerdingen (the east side of Krefeld on the Rhein) and I decided I would go along and watch.

I have never watched Wasserball before and had to learn the rules by watching what happened.

It is clearly a very tiring game – people are swapped in and out fairly regularly as it’s so physically demanding.

At the beginning there is a race to the centre to get the ball. Lara is a very fast swimmer so won this race in the quarter when she was in the starting line-up.

Wasserball 2

The actual play was easy to follow as the ball doesn’t move that fast as swimming is much slower than running or ice skating.

Wasserball 1

Uerdingen are known as one of the best teams in the country and the final score showed that!


Everyone cheered when Essen got their one goal!

Lara still had the energy to cycle back from Uerdingen with me (20km at a reasonable speed).

Views this month

Some of my morning dog walks have offered wonderful misty morning sunrises.

Misty morning with horses 2

Misty Sunrise 1

Misty Sunrise 2

Dogwalk sunrise

Here am I with Poppy (a selfie)

Poppy and Helen


I saw this on Facebook and had to share it with my student Carole as well as some other friends – an excellent example of the awkwardness of English pronunciation.

English can be weird

I saw this piece of graffiti which I found rather interesting! (Image was edited with a phone App)


Cakes this month

I have had slightly fewer cakes this month due to becoming a bit lardy. Or not cycling enough due to dodgy knee. Take your pick!

Strawberry cake



Ice cream

Sticky bun

Strawberry cake 2

I had this waffle with banana in Xanten.

Waffle with banana

One of my companions had this very filling-looking apple cake.


Whilst in England visiting Mum at the end of the month (I went twice in April) I enjoyed some English cakes – as did Mum (one or two of these were eaten by her and not me)

Chocolate Brownie

Chocolate fudge cake

Coffee and walnut cake

Cream Tea 2

Mixed fruit waffles

And with this excellent option you can tell you’re in the UK!

English dessert


  1. As an avowed recumbent triker I’m fascinated with your velomobile experiences. Seeing them all lined up outside Spezi I’m prompted to wonder if everyone in Germany is scrupulously honest or is there some way of locking them up securely? I could imagine using one for commuting but doubt that a shiny velomobile would be waiting for me at the end of the day!

    1. I have a lock which secures mine around a lamp post and prevents the lid being opened but I almost never use it. I am relatively chilled about the possibility of Penelope bring pinched, although it does happen. Usually I keep her in sight if I’m in a restaurant or something but Germany is relatively safe for odd bikes which are tricky to sell on.

  2. I have not read your post since February and will now have to catch up, reading in reverse order. So sorry to hear your father died. He sound like a good soul. May the kind words of others comfort you in your time of loss.

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