Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Bergstrasse Bike Books Newsletter 2009

Seasonal greetings from a chilly Viernheim
Enough has been written or spoken about bad banks, even worse bankers, property crashes, economic plunges, swine ‘flu and other disasters elsewhere so we’re going to ignore them here and concentrate on more pleasant activities.
Our year has been dominated by several cycling breaks but we kicked 2009 off in the Alpes Maritimes, S. France tramping about in deep snow on snowshoes with Space Between, often in brilliant sunshine. A sudden blizzard meant that we spent New Year’s night most comfortably sleeping bagged up on our tour leaders’ floor with other snowshoers after a most jolly evening and dinner party.A couple of days later, after enjoying a post Christmas Marché de Noel in Nice we caught the sleeper back to Strasbourg and arrived home next day.
The next few days were dominated by a deep freeze - temperatures below 0°C for about a month so our car went into hibernation and our neighbour’s cellar flooded. Fortunately we discovered this as water began lapping round our feet in our cellar and for the next few hours it was all hands to the mop as we sought to prevent the waters rising far enough to damage a new freezer and the rather more expensive new boiler. The neighbouring house is unoccupied, opinions vary as to whether they really are still looking after an elderly relative, said to be at death’s door (for more than 4 years), fleeing from justice or abducted by aliens (someone does still collect their post once a week). By the time a phone number was obtained, the flood water was being contained using a borrowed pump on which J had ripped her finger so badly that medical help was required. The neighbour finally showed, installed a new pump in his cellar, apologised for the inconvenience and offered to pay for any damage. We got the floor dry, no damage was sustained to appliances and J’s finger healed quickly.
After that being carless in the cold was compensated for by some excellent winter walking over crisp snow in our nearby hills, until the temperatures finally rose above freezing and SZ (our ancient car) just started without any trouble.
The year then followed its usual pattern with work in house and garden gradually giving way to more cycling. Chance acquisition of an updated maps of our nearby province Rheinland Pfalz (Rhineland Palatinate) ( revealed many more cycle routes than we’d suspected. The Eifel hills on the left bank of the Rhine form the northern part of this province and were accessible by train from Mannheim. Our account of this trip, one of three with the theme ‘Weathering summer storms’...) can be accessed in this blog. It was a taste of things to come, the Bodensee was colder and wetter and the first Kiel Canal trip was windier and also wet!
In between we concentrated on day trips southwards into Rheinland Pfalz as far as the border with Alsace and considered the best way to project our enjoyment to English speaking cyclists. A combination of research and chance lead to our discovery of Gecko Guides, a Singapore-based organisation who publish guides to cities, walking areas or cycling routes see: Our first is called A Cycling Guide to the Lauter Valley and is available in electronic form for a small fee from Gecko, as is our extended Kiel Canal route - entitled Cycling in Northern Germany, a Loop through Schleswig-Holstein.
After the dismal summer rainy season August through to October was characterised by long sunny spells though fortunately without too many brutally hot days. We used our pensioner’s tickets to hop on and off local trains delivering us to the 50 km distant S. Pfalz from where we made loops in and out of Alsace or enjoyed the delights of the Cabbage and Carrot trail,
or the Vineyard route among the ripening grapes. We discovered that Wednesdays were to be avoided (someone unkindly said that Doctors surgeries were often closed so the pensioners all went cycling, as if...) as some trains could only carry 16 bicycles, rumour had it that some cyclists were forced to detrain, once back in Germany.We intend to continue our explorations next season and make them public via Gecko.
Future trends: Printing costs continue to rise and it seems likely that we may turn more and more to online information, for which we’ll charge a small fee. All our books are still available from us in paper form, or from Omnimap in the USA though we will probably be updating some of them and having them printed on demand by a company in Germany. Our book for Cicerone ‘Cycle Touring in Switzerland’ did very well intitially but sales appear to have fallen, perhaps due to the unmentionable events in the world of finance. Do suggest to your nearest and dearest that they order it as a New Year present for you, please.
After our second trip to Hamburg, Kiel and points south and west in September we have completed the Schleswig-Holstein loop guide, which leads through an area we can thoroughly recommend to families or anyone wanting a gentle and varied return to cycling.
As I write this on December 19th 2009, the year seems to have turned full circle with the car dead at the front door after night temperatures below -15°C! Both of us are still alive and able to cycle 90 km per day. Neil’s doctors encourage both of us that ‘business as usual’ is the best way to deal with his form of Lymphoma - obviously this includes regular check ups in Heidelberg. Up to now he has not needed any treatment so we continue to enjoy life and taking the bikes out for a spin or more often walking in the winter.
We continue to be happy to help anyone planning a trip particularly to Germany to cycle and feel that despite the fall in the value of the pound sterling against the Euro that many Euroland countries still offer value for money. On our Schleswig-Holstein trip, once in the area we spent an average of € 100 per day for the two of us. This included accommodation - a mix of B&B, family hotels and Youth Hostels, meals, some travel on ships and local trains. When we read of B&B prices in the UK or ridiculously expensive meals in the ‘Sunday supplements’ Euroland and even Switzerland outside the real honeypot locations seem fair enough.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Back to the mirrors

Sometime ago I wrote about a "fashion" item that I often wear, i.e. a mirror that attaches to my glasses. This is a better icebreaker than a dog or probably even a Brompton bicycle. I find the mirror very useful in traffic and do not enjoy touring without it, so it is always embarrassing when asked where I bought it. We bought a couple at SPEZI in Germersheim two or three years ago, but it is invariably a long time until the next SPEZI. I did not know where else you can buy them. I have recently discovered that the mirrors can be bought in Germany from pedalkraft ( for the reasonable price of 16€.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Fashionable Winter Gear

We are in the words of one of neighbours not famous for our interest in fashion. However the growing interest, at least in the UK, in urban cycling has given rise to a number of specialist shops selling fashionable and reputedly utilitarian cycling clothing and accessories. They seemed to be designed on the premise that one can wear the clothing to cycle in and one does not look like a would be Lance Armstrong or cycle tourer in the office or pub afterwards.
Typical companies are Cyclechic, Cyclodelic, the Danish firm Yakkay, who manufacture helmets that don't look like helmets and one of our favourites: Do You Velo, not only for its stylish website and the quality of its French, but also for its stylish but practical gear:
Unfortunately although we are pleased that urban cycling is becoming a normal activity, we ourselves will only become fashionable in winter when shower cap covered helmets, GoreTex jackets, Aldi MTB winter gloves and Rainleg leg covers come into fashion.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Weathering summer storms: II Around the Bodensee

Our next round with St Peter and the weather gods was planned for mid-June to coincide with the visit of two friends, one from Scotland and the other from USA. Both were willing to experience the fabled Forsyth biking trip and as we set off towards Lake Constance the sun was shining and the forecast, changeable but not dire.
Day 1 Once aboard the train towards Radolfzell, the clouds began to gather and we soon noticed the first fat, glistening drops on the carriage windows. Our holiday spirits were not greatly dampened and we set off in a dry period from Radolfzell catching glimpses of the Gnadensee arm of Lake Constance to our right. Despite a picnic in the train our stomachs reacted to the early start and we stopped for a round of Pommes (chips or fries, according to nationality) at a wayside cafe. Fortunately the large umbrella shielded us from the worst of the heavy rainstorm, as one of the locals nearby managed to down three large Weizen beers over the next half hour. The black cloud remained stationary overhead, a phenomenon with which we were to become familiar over the next few days. Meteorologists explain that low pressure systems which often whistle rapidly through much of Germany get trapped against the rising Alps just south of the Lake and often linger and linger. However we got back on the bikes and pedalled the few remaining kilometres to our overnight resting place in Mindelsee, just uphill away from the Lake. Keeny, beany students of geology will recall the various Ice Age periods from oldest to youngest: Gunz, Mindel, Riss and Wurm. The glaciers scooped out the hollow for the Mindelsee (lake) and also produced the drumlins, rounded hillocks of clay and rocks of the local landscape. We stayed in a delightfully rustic Landgasthaus on the edge of a wildlife park. Brown bears, big birds of prey, totally trusting deer free to roam in a huge enclosure and a group of acrobatic goats, including a few ‘teenagers’ trying their chances with the chief billy goat, all made for an enjoyable wander through the park in a dry spell.
Day 2 We had heard downpours and thunder in the night but our bikes were dry in a nearby barn and we set off through the drumlins, up and down towards a sunlit Lake Constance. Along the Lake riding in shirts and shorts, we headed towards the city of Konstanz where a ‘frontierless Flea Market’ was in progress. Street music, 1000s of people pushing bikes or walking carrying treasures such as African masks, doll’s houses, baby clothes and that LP from the 50’s that they had always wanted. We could have sold all 4 bikes many times (2 Bromptons, 2 Dahons) but people shied away when value was discussed! We pressed on down to the lake and the Konzilgebäude (a historic warehouse), just in time to shelter from the first downpour of the day. We took coffee or hot chocolate, listening to jazz in a neighbouring beer garden until the rain slackened, then cycled out along the shore, past wonderful houses and gardens to the car ferry across to Meersburg, just visible in the murk ahead. Meersburg is a wealthy, picturesque little centre of wine growing, where the fine houses of the vintners perch in the upper town above the crowded lake shore shops and cafes. Tearing ourselves away and again in sunshine we cycled along towards Hagnau and a restaurant we remembered. Tischlein deck Dich (Little table set yourself) was still there, though bigger but we all enjoyed our lunches, outside under sunshades, against the strong sun. Then after a short steep climb through the vineyards we gently wandered along to our overnight stop in Friedrichshafen. Just on the edge of town we paused at the Schlosskirche, now fully restored after wartime destruction which the other party members hadn’t visited before. Before dinner we discovered that the lake promenade with its various memorials to Graf Zeppellin was in the grip of a gigantic Volksfest. There were dancers and food stalls not just from Europe but from America, Africa and the Indian subcontinent as well. Everyone was having a jolly time, trying out delicacies and goggling at the costumes. Outside the Zeppellin museum we took shelter from a rainstorm which had turned the whole western Lake pitch black. No night for a romantic cruise on the Bodensee! Back at the hotel (Gasthof Rebstock) the food was tasty and plentiful as usual and we all tucked in, washing it down with beer or wine as inclined. And so to bed..
Day 3 Hm, rain showers dogged us as we cycled into town on a back road discovered the evening before. Jackets on we set off on what should have been a lovely ride past all our favourite little resorts like Langenargen, Kressbronn and Wasserburg to Lindau, which really does deserve its reputation as a crown jewel. I lost count of how many times we stopped to shelter under the eaves of barns, huddled under immense trees (there was no thunder and lightning) or steamed gently under overhead heaters at lunch at a farm restaurant. All the locals assured us that it would be fine by the afternoon, tomorrow or sometime later. However we had seen the forecasts for the next few days.... The minor low pressure system the meteorologists were discussing as we left home had turned into a major problem, rotating slowly anticlockwise over the eastern Alps and causing flooding, transport interruptions and even deaths in parts of Austria and Switzerland. In addition snow was forecast in the mountains and temperatures for the next day would start in single figures Celsius. We were all grateful to reach our lodgings and pleased to find we had been allotted a small apartment, nicely modernised looking out over quiet courtyards. Despite the rain we rediscovered all Lindau’s delightful nooks and crannies before finishing the evening in a great restaurant: Alte Post, with tasteful decor and an excellent choice of food.
Day 4 It was pouring down relentlessly in the morning, skies dark grey without even a lightening where the sun should be so we put on a few extra layers and all available foul weather gear and set off to the quay. We saw absolutely no point in a 40 km slog in a cold downpour along the Lake into Bregenz and round to Arbon. We took the ship instead, occasionally venturing on deck but mostly keeping snug in the restaurant, thankful that the lake steamers take bikes as well as riders. After docking, the rain was just a heavy drizzle so we rode the 8 km into Arbon and had a hot lunch in a cafe, where various other cyclists were also taking refuge. Exhausted by our efforts, most of the party had a snooze in the afternoon in our ‘billet’, which we shared with a huge collection of teddies and fluffy animals. We had a bit of a wet trudge round the town in the evening but eventually found a local pub, with reasonable food though the waitress was so shy and softly spoken that communication was difficult. However one of us left ‘the bag’ with money, passport etc. behind, hanging on the chair back - the pub manager chased us up the road and round the corner to return it - before its loss was noticed. Panic over before it had begun and thank you honest citizens of Switzerland!
Day 5 The roads were still wet as we left Arbon but the weathermen, who had been absolutely correct up to now had promised improvement, no rain and even sunshine. As we bowled through the fields alongside the railway the cloud thinned more and more, layers of clothing were shed until the sun finally reappeared. Both the landscape and the party members began to smile once again, lunch could be taken outside and even an ice cream contemplated. Through Romanshorn and on to Kreuzlingen, opposite Konstanz on the Swiss side of the Lake then across the intensively farmed delta flats to the hills above Ermatingen. It was worth the almost vertical climb up to the country house once occupied by Napoleon III to view the furnishings and fittings, sturdy wooden cabinets used by Napoleon I in his Egyptian campaign and other trappings of a bygone age. What was even more interesting to most of us was the discovery that the entire family, over several generations had been dedicated garden designers, plantsmen and -women leaving superb gardens in Europe and America to posterity. Later we took the train along the Untersee and Hoch Rhein to Diesenhofen and then cycled on to our B&B in Gailingen, just across the border. This little town is almost an enclave of Germany more or less surrounded by Switzerland, with the advantage to us of being in Euroland where accommodation prices are reasonable. Our rooms were delightful, looking onto the garden with distant views of Switzerland and the hills in Thürgau. Most of us had pushed our laden bikes up the steep hill from the town. We had a jolly evening meal down the hill, sharing our table with a young man recovering slowly from a stroke. His mother and several other young supporters were visiting, having travelled hours by car. We were very impressed by the whole group and the effort they were determined to make. A special clinic in Gailingen offers hope and continuing research into treatment of stroke, especially in young people.
Day 6 Wall to wall sunshine on our final day of cycling. A beautiful long gentle downhill section into Büsingen, another anomalous German enclave. It has a curious history involving murder, kidnapping and goodness knows what else, with two postcodes one Swiss and one German, where the inhabitants pay German income tax and Swiss purchase tax, where two telephone boxes, one Swisscom, one Deutsche Telekom stand side by side in the main street and which for many years had different time to the rest of Germany. Along the silent, fast flowing dark green Rhine into busy Schaffhausen, where the bridges are bedecked with geraniums and downstream to the Rhine Falls. All that rain had done its job, the Falls were as loud and spectacular as one could hope for. On the north bank of the river you can get close to the Falls for free, whereas on the south bank the view is blocked by an hotel and access only by an expensive series of steps and platforms. These were closed and being rebuilt in summer 2009. We retraced our way to Schaffhausen and then took the south bank through small villages and fields, with a little climbing here and there to a bridge just downstream of Stein-am-Rhein, one of the prettiest towns we know. On the long descent into the town one of the party was suddenly attacked by insects, causing her to leap from her bike and roll over in a convenient meadow. Fortunately inspection in a nearby ‘restroom’ did reveal a few bites which were quickly treated and the incident forgotten. After marvelling at the painted houses depicting local history and people, it was finally time for those ice creams, sitting in the sun whilst the cold, wet days slipped away. We met the young man and his friends again that evening, enjoying hearing their banter and wishing them all the best in what will be undoubtedly a long uphill struggle.
Day 7 Back to Mannheim by train and a pleasant cycle ride home, another tour through summer storms completed without great problems, returning to a sunlit house and garden.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Wet legs?

We have written in the past about the inability of cyclists to agree jointly on any topic even for the greater good of the cycling community. For example one good way of causing a riot such that the Justices of the Peace need to called out, is to mention the topic of cycle helmets at any British or German cycle club meeting. One is thus loath to criticise any other group in the cycling community, but there are times when one needs to roll one's eyes in the direction of the heavens and stifle some mild oath. We recently received a copy of the "American Bicyclist" the League of American Bicyclists' bimonthly magazine and I was struck by number of bicycles pictured without mudguards or fenders as our US friends call them. We also read the literature put out by Ground Effect, a New Zealand manufacturer of clothes for the mountain biking community - excellent reasonably priced gear and a very amusing website/newsletter. (We have bought the odd item from Ground Effect.) It is seen in some circles as "dorky" to cycle with mudguards. Dorky, I gather, is a major insult. Just in case I may have given the wrong impression Ground Effect itself does not have any opinions one way or the other about dorky-ness of cycling accessoires. Some of their reviewers are given to these opinions. A lot of folks would rather have wet and muddy legs and the black stripe up the back than run the risk of looking sensible. Very odd! As my dear mother-in-law used to say of fashionable but uncomfortable garments "Pride is painful".
If you wish to go out and use the bike as an outdoor fitness machine on sunny days it is fine to cycle without any protection, however if you are going to commute and not just to the pub, then protective fittings are a big advantage. It is noticeable that in the two countries where people cycle extensively as a means of transport: The Netherlands and Denmark people cycle on bicycles with mudguards in normal clothing and with stands so that one can leave the bicycle standing up without having to find a convenient wall to prop the bike up. I know the lads in the Tour de France don't have mudguards or stands, but these guys are being paid to get wet through and have a team of mechanics to hold their bikes.
Rant over, just don't get me started on rucksack wearing on touring bicycles.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

More useful stuff for cycle touring

This is a suggestion for day trips around home. One of the things that oafs find amusing is to break bottles on cycle tracks, so that with luck a cyclist has to repair a puncture. This is so sidesplittingly funny! We fight against this by taking a dustpan and brush with us now and again and cleaning the mess up. It might just discourage the idiots from doing this as well or at least from adding to the mess.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Packing again

In recent years while cycle touring on the Dahon Speed TR I have carried all my gear in a Carradice saddle bag and a handlebar bag. We cycled the length of the Kiel Canal recently and in the run up to leaving the house to cycle to the station to catch a train to Hamburg, I popped an old, battered, small pannier bag on the bike in addition to carry the Dahon El bolso bags. We had to smuggle the bikes onto a DB (German Railways) InterCity train that carries bicycles, but as is often the case at weekends all the bike positions were booked. Once these places are full putting bikes elsewhere is verboten. As soon as we could, i.e. on the next day we posted the El bolso bags home. We didn't need them again on the trip and when folded the bolso bags are quite bulky. They do fold up to go into a small duffle bag cum rucksack, but neither of us likes cycling far wearing a rucksack. Afterwards we were both surprised at how useful a half empty pannier can be - carrying sandwiches, a litre pack of fruit juice or even a couple bottles of beer is child's play. I think we will do it again in future, but probably using a new pannier bag, if we can find one small enough. Bags for 20" wheels are not easy to come by.

Allow more time!

Neil spent many years cycling between Viernheim and Weinheim every working day and could time his journey to the minute. Our tours and excursions often start by cycling into Mannheim to catch a train there. It is about 14 km door to door and we used to reckon we needed a maximum of 50 minutes, on laden bikes. Once recently we missed our first train and arrived panting 2 minutes in advance of our connection the other day. We don’t think we’ve slowed up appreciably but have miscalculated delays due to traffic lights, road works or other cyclists.
Though most of our route is on cycleways parallel to roads, there are several major junctions involving traffic lights. One of these has been rejigged because it now carries a tram route. Another involves crossing a dual carriageway where there is no link between the lights and very little space on the centre refuge.
As an attempt to boost the building industry and provide jobs Mannheim has received a massive package of Federal Government Aid to be spent on public works. All well and good but we were upset to find our main route past the Rosengarten Concert Hall/Conference Centre complex was virtually blocked by trucks, sand and in one case steps! However, cyclists do have some lobbying power here in Germany and we were relieved to see, on our next visit, that although the pavement renewal was still proceeding space had been left for cyclists and tarmac ramps replaced the steps.
As to our fellow cyclists there is little one can do about someone as wide as both of us put together occupying the middle of a cycle lane, someone just out to buy his morning paper wearing flip-flops and riding a bike perhaps older than either of us or a pair locked in a loving embrace straddling the cycleway...except allow more time!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Weathering summer storms I:In the Eifel

Even though we are retired, we plan our cycling excursions somewhat in advance of weather forecasts. By the time we’ve organised cancelling the paper, mowing the grass and engaging friends to water or harvest whatever fruit or vegetable our tiny garden is producing, potential settled high pressure has often been seen off by dark and cloudy depressions. So it was with our Eifel tour in mid May. The Eifel region is a plateau in northern Rheinland-Pfalz roughly bounded in the south by the Mosel/Moselle and on the east by the Rhine. Other rivers like the Kyll, a Mosel tributary and the Ahr, which flows into the Rhine just upstream of Remagen have cut deep valleys while the uplands in this still tectonically active region continue to rise very slowly. As ever friends scratched their heads as to why we wanted to take to the hills by bike. As usual we found that with a bit of guile in the route planning and pacing ourselves on the uphills we thoroughly enjoyed our trip, despite a few downpours.
Day 1 En route to Trier by train, we were discouraged by a group of purple-kneed, soaked mountain bikers who threw themselves and their bikes suddenly into our compartment just beyond Kaiserslautern and shivered in their wet clothes, as the train pottered on through cloudbursts. By Trier the worst was over and we sailed with a tailwind, skirting the puddles, upstream along the familiar Mosel Radweg towards Luxembourg and Schengen. There is a short hiatus close to the frontier because there is no room beneath the bridge for a bike path but we were soon in Luxembourg, grateful for an excellent public toilet by the bridge. Our route continued alongside the Sauer/Sûre river, on quiet roads or cycleways, short climbs followed by flatter sections as the hills closed in around the incised meanders. Here and there war memorials reminded us that this region was in the front-line towards the end of WWII. By the time we reached the bridge at Bollendorf, our overnight stop, the weather was sultry and both of us sweated as we pushed our bikes up near vertical narrow streets to the YH, perched high above the village and back in Germany. The thoughtful wardens served us an excellent meal of tomato soup, roast chicken and veggies plus stewed fruit, in quiet splendour in a spare dining room away from the madding crowd of teenagers. We followed this with a beer in the cellar bar and retired to our comfortable double room pleased with our start.
Day 2 After a good breakfast we loaded the bikes under lowering clouds and set off northwards, losing a little of the height gained the evening before, reaching a minor road over our first real Eifel ridge which we crossed easily. We descended steeply into Enzen, taking a quick look at a castle on the way. From here the Enz cycleway, a converted railway line complete with lighted tunnels and viaducts was to lead us to Prüm. Woods, wildflowers, birds big and small were our companions the whole day as we thanked the railway builders, constricted by the physical limitations of the coefficient of steel on steel to gradients eminently suited to elderly cyclists. Even occasional showers weren’t enough to dampen our spirits, or the final climb to Prüm YH, a wonderful modern building where our room was hotel standard, large, airy and with twin beds plus en suite bathroom. Meanwhile the weather forecasts were looking ever grimmer, with falling temperatures adding to the gloom. Ah well, to think I’d brought a new tricot to brighten up our picture record!
Day 3 If you start the day in the headwaters of one valley and end in the headwaters of another, clearly climbing is necessary. Northwards in the Enz valley out of Prüm a concrete highroad bridge soared over to our right. After a climb steep enough to make both hearts and lungs work faster we crossed beneath the bridge and then looked down on the poor souls in their metal boxes, en route to meetings or whatever. Our way now rolled over high meadows and woods, through villages and past wind turbines, now down, now gently up heading towards Gerolstein. This is the home of a former noted German cycle racing team sponsored by the local mineral water company. This extracts water from wells deep beneath the volcanic rocks. The promised bad weather seemed to have passed by so we turned right before Gerolstein down the Kyll valley cycleway. The Kyll is delightful, mature woods interspersed with meadows, farms and villages, castles dotted here and there and linked for the cyclist by well surfaced trails, new bridges and picnic places. Information boards in English, French and German abound as this route has been designed to be child friendly to attract families as well as school parties. We bowled along gently downhill enjoying the sights and the ride, knowing that we could board a train for the trip back uphill. We stopped cycling in Kyllburg, just before the cycleway makes a short, very steep ascent to avoid a gorge, but after we’d cycled through a tunnel still in use by the trains (separated by high wire fences, but still making the heart beat). We fancied an ice cream, or lunch but the station restaurant was having its Ruhetag (i.e. closed day) so we diverted to a nearby supermarket, just in time for the first rain. That night it poured as we wended our way to a restaurant, ate well and braved the rain on return.
Day 4 Rain showers were still lashing the streets and pavillions erected in advance of a huge cycle fest over the weekend as we woke but had slackened to drizzle as we headed towards Pelm. We made a shortish tour to Daun over hill and dale, through forests and rarely out of sight of wind generators. It seems Daun is one of those places only reached by climbing steeply, whatever the direction of approach. We wanted to visit the Geological Museum there to bone up on the crater lakes dotting the landscape. First we needed to find the YH, which inevitably was perched on a crag in the woods. After some sweat and cursing we got there, dumped our bags and returned, uphill to the Museum (fortunately well worth a visit). Our evening was much enlivened by meeting a couple of Aussie motor cyclists, somewhat missing the promised German summer, so we drowned our sorrows together in the bar (a beer each, no worries).
Day 5 To the station in drizzle, with temperatures sinking. We wanted to take the Eifel Querbahn over to Ulmen. This is an historic diesel powered railcar, running at the weekends in summer and chugs along gently swaying through the woods and fields. Staff actually lifted our bikes aboard and handed the ‘old lady’ up and down! (Unfortunately since our visit one railcar has been rammed by a truck on a level crossing, with some casualties, so we are not sure of its future.) In Ulmen the weather was fine and bright with a fierce wind, fortunately mostly behind us. We headed north, through beautiful beech woods along bike trails linking villages devoid of shops where ‘the fox and hare say goodnight to each other’ as the Germans say. Intermittent rain, scudding clouds and wind turbines. Somewhere up ahead was the Nürburgring, said to cause traffic problems at weekends, and today was...a Saturday. Up, down, through Kelberg with its wartime air raid shelter cut into the hillside, then the climb to Nürburg began. Our information said that a route existed for cyclists, under, over, via the Ring so we slowly ground up an old rail trail conscious of apparent swarms of giant maddened bees off to our left, but without real worries about crossing the Ring. At last at the top, bee swarms clearly machines being driven to breaking point and...our cycle route ended in a building site of Olympic proportions. Signs ‘We are building an Erlebniszentrum (Experience Centre), we hope you understand’! Sure, much putting it down to experience and heading to the road (a normal public road, as used by normal vehicles) as a poorer alternative. Diversion! More Experience, and all free! Underwhelmed we returned to the building site where little old lady cyclist questioned security officers of route to freedom. No problems, straight on, ignore signs. A couple of hundred metres on, more road closures and another hi-vis guy. Still no problem, all downhill from here, soon into Nürburg village, he insisted. Well, the downhill soon turned into uphill and a feeder road for would-be Jenson Buttons, including a couple of JBs driving a bus and a Landrover who nearly took us out on the hard shoulder, deafened as we were by the maddened bees on the actual track. Then miraculously we were past and standing below the castle itself - the Nürburg, the highest in the whole of the Eifel. Relief, blow the castle, because our route took us down through fields and woods, past totally unknown villages like Quiddelbach, Herschbroich and Broidscheid, each gentle descent leading to another and even the sun breaking through. The quaint town of Adenau, on Sundays is a draw for be-leathered fans of two and four wheeled speed machines, drinking their decaffeinated lattes or being photographed next to something sleek and low slung, that clearly wasn’t theirs. Full of moral superiority we veered right onto the bike trail again, river banks, foals in fields and still running downhill to meet the Ahr cycleway by Dumpelfeld. Despite the valley apparently being far too narrow and the sides actually rock cliffs at times, to accommodate road, railway and bike path we found one all the way into Altenahr, just as pretty and quaint as Adenau but with fewer bikers and speed kings. We’d promised ourselves a beer or at least Kaffee and Kuchen if we made it alive from the Nürburgring but somehow we kept looking for the perfect place and eventually settled for the YH, almost hidden downstream in the valley depths. It seemed not quite as welcoming as Bollendorf, though the food was great.
Day 6 Yesterday we had both worn windproofs and pullovers the whole day and on our last day it rained most of the way down the Ahr valley, so we needed care on various wooden bridges and overpasses on route to Sinzig and our train. We were probably 5 minutes late in starting and in Kurort Bad- Neuenahr-Ahweiler we were also slowed by the Sunday morning strollers so we missed our intended train by a few minutes. It wasn’t much of a disaster, the weather was brightening up and we eventually enjoyed our trip to Worms with a change in Bingen. Keen-eyed husband Neil had noted that a change to a meandering, flower plucking local train enabled use of our over 60’s special passes. As we detrained in Worms it was clear that summer had broken out again so my new tricot did get an airing, Kaffee and Kuchen were eaten in style in a pavement cafe before we cycled home, across the Rhine bridge and through the fields south.
Rain yes, hills sure, but definitely great scenery, few cyclists and well worth the effort.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

More useful items when cycle touring

A number of folks use the disposable shower caps that hotels offer in showers as seat covers when they leave their bikes. Quite why hotels offer these I don't know as we never use them. We use them as helmet covers in rain. The only problem is finding the shower caps. We use the plastic bags that German supermarkets use to wrap loose fruit before weighing as seat covers.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


I regularly check the web using Google Alerts for bicycle topics and recently found suggestions about unusual but useful gear to take along when cycle touring, including a loop to lock the brakes when loading the bike. We invariably take a bungee along because the holding straps on German railway trains are sometimes a little short. It is embarrassing when the bikes fall over and judicious application of a bungee stops this. However an item that I often think would be useful and, I must admit have never taken with us, is a pair of secateurs. Invariably the vital signpost showing the turn we need is overgrown by ornamental creepers. If one cycles in winter or early spring this is not a problem, but for much of the cycling seasons somebody should really clean them up. In case of need we get round the problem by using our trusty Swiss Army knife or mini Leatherman®, but I suspect secateurs would be a darn sight easier.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Trier the city you can never leave

Trier is one of the all time great German cities. It is without doubt the oldest German city and offers extensive Roman remains, superb churches and the Karl Marx House where the revolutionary prophet was born and lived, before he finally ended up in Highgate Cemetery. There are bus loads of tourists everywhere. Since the city is also the most convenient spot for most Germans to start the Moselle cycle path down to Koblenz, the town and its railway station are jammed packed with the Lycra® clad and other touring cyclists. Most cycling visitors stop overnight to simply look at the place, which is a knockout, especially if you're there when there is a Fest. Cyclists are well catered for. There is a multitude of cycle tracks, well sign posted with one odd exception. The city fathers seem to have decided that so many cyclists stop overnight that they do not need to sign post the connection between the railway station and the Moselle bank. They have enough time to orientate themselves before they head off east or south.
We decided to spend a week in the Eifel hills. We travelled to Trier by train. We'd been there before. We have seen the sights and so we decided to arrive and depart. We arrived in Trier on a cold showery day and after a quick sandwich we set off for the river bank. We passed by the Porta Nigra (signposted from the station) and ran on down the cycle/footpath along Nordallee dodging groups of rubber necking French kids. Then came the punishment for not stopping overnight. We came to a set of traffic lights and there was a sign off to the left, we followed it to a spot where the bicycle signs came to an end and spent a half hour wandering through the old town. (The cure for this problem lies with the city fathers. As you pass the Porta Nigra go through the gate and pick up a city plan from the tourist office on the other side. When you reach the traffic lights at the end of Nordallee, turn off half right down the Lindenstrasse.)
We finally found the river and headed off towards Koblenz into the wind, because this is what cyclists do. If the route is downhill and with the wind, it's the wrong way. We rapidly noticed our mistake and turned round to head for Wasserbillig in Luxembourg. As we left Trier we noticed a sign pointing across the river to Wasserbillig, which is the lowest point in Luxembourg. We followed it. A big mistake, the rain blowing in from the east now was horizontal and we arrived at the Trier Exhibition Grounds, swung right and right again to end up in a large car park inhabited by motor homes packed with bored individuals making cups of tea. We could not find a way up river and turned round once again to follow the right bank to Konz where we crossed the river on a cycle/footbridge adjacent to the railway bridge. This is the best place to cross the river if you are heading upstream. After a few km on the left bank we crossed into Luxembourg and headed up the Sauer Valley to Bollendorf. We stopped in the youth hotel there having climbed up what seemed to be the North Face of the Eiger and then we went on into the Eifel Hills, but that's another story.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Bring, buy or maybe hire

Tim Burleigh, a friend of ours who writes and publishes the excellent BicycleGermany web site on the joys and possible pitfalls of cycle touring in Germany wrote to us recently about some new ideas for the website. It would appear that some airlines are demanding $250 for the one way carriage of a bicycle from the USA to Europe or vice versa, i.e. return costs of $500. At the present rate of exchange $500 is about 370 Euro. For this sum of money you can hire a 21-27 gear trekking bike for about 3 weeks. However you will need to take the bike back to the hire company, which even after a short linear trip like the Romantic Road from Würzburg to Füssen will cost you the better part of a day which for two people and bikes will cost at least 25 Euro each.
It may be more convenient and even cheaper for a longer trip to buy a cheap bike at the start of the trip and get rid of it at the end. If you have family or friends in Europe this is an easy option, otherwise it could be difficult. You could always give the bike to a church or a charity. Obviously if you are planning to come back the year and have no relatives or friends in Europe after you can try to find a bike shop to leave the bicycle there for the winter. Various of the supermarkets in Germany like Aldi, Real or Lidl, the coffee roasters Tchibo and DIY stores sell their own brand bicycles for prices that one can hardly believe. You can buy a bike for less than 200 Euro. They have one major snag however. Most bike shops won't touch them if repairs become necessary or will charge you serious sums for the privilege of repairing the bike. The best option is to buy a Pegasus bicycle from a purchasing cooperative called ZEG. They sell these bikes through local bicycle shops in Germany, not all but a lot and in the Stadler chain of bike supermarkets. These bikes can normally be obtained for between 300 to 500 Euro.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The annoyed public schoolboy

I am sorry if this piece sounds like the title of a John Le Carré novel, because it has actually been prompted by a article in our local Sunday newspaper "Sonntag Aktuell" which is distributed by our local daily newspaper, "Südhessen Morgen". The paper is published in Stuttgart and distributed all over SW Germany to the subscribers of a number of regional newspapers every Sunday. Unfortunately it is fashionable to dot one's German with English expressions these days, even if there are perfectly good German words already available, e.g. "die Story" for "die Geschichte". This is annoying but can be inadvertently amusing. There is community owned "green" electricity company (EWS) in Schönau (Black Forest). This organisation is spearheading an attempt to buy shares in a privately owned company - an E.ON subsidiary that has minority holdings in a number of communal utilities throughout Germany. The leading light in this campaign said recently in an interview "Cross-Border-Leasing is out, communal ownership is in", which is an excellent idea. Unfortunately this was reported in the "Sonntag Aktuell" as Cross-Boarder-Leasing, which rather spoilt the effect, at least for these two native speakers.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

German Humour

There is this popular British theory that the Germans do not have a sense of humour. This belief has arisen because unfortunately the majority of Brits do not understand German, the language itself does not lend itself to the kind of word play that English allows and British society encourages humour whereas German society is of the opinion that one can only speak of serious matters in an earnest manner. In my experience most British after dinner speeches or lectures start with a quick one liner: I remember a distinguished professor of chemistry who started a speech one evening with "As Anthony said to Cleopatra, 'I have not come here to make a speech.'" This would be almost unheard of at a similar event in Germany. I worked for a German learned society for 15 years and during this time I must have heard between 50 and 100 speeches and lectures. Only one started with a touch of humour. However the German on the Clapham Omnibus can quite often come out with wit to make his point. One of our neighbours is looking after her very sick sister and we meet several times a week to deliver chicken soup which is a major hit with the patient. The sister doing the nursing has a line in insults that is quite remarkable. We were recently discussing her neighbours and heard them described as "…second generation newspaper deliverers".

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bicycle Hire in the Eifel Hills Part I

The Eifel is the range of hills in the west of Gemany on the Belgian border bordered by the Rhine to the east and the Moselle to the south. They peter out into the Rhine Plain between Aachen and Cologne. The area is largely unknown outside of Germany, which is pity because it offers pleasant cycling made more easy by a system of trains and connecting bus routes to help one get up to the higher bits. In all fairness these services are very useful. The Eifel hills are 500-600m high whereas the Rhine and Moselle Valleys are about 100m above sea level. There are a surprising number of bicycle hire centres.

Erft Cycle Route
The Erft runs for about 110km from the North Eifel in Blankenheim at over 500m to Neuss on the Rhine opposite Düsseldorf. There are a good rail connections from Köln (Cologne) and Trier. If you hire a bike from somewhere on this route you can take it back by train. In addition to decent cycling the route offers prehistoric fossils, Roman remains and mediaeval town centres.

53947 Nettersheim
Bicycle Hire in the Naturzenrum Eifel
Urftstraße 2-4
T: +49 (0) 2486 1246
F: +49 (0) 2486 203048
eMail: (in German)

Fahrradshop Nagelschmidt
Bahnhofstraße 1
T: +49 (0) 2486 1000

53902 Bad Münstereifel
Schmiko Sport
Kölner Straße 13 (In the railway station)
T: +49 (0) 2253 543877
F; +49 (0) 2253 543878

50321 Brühl
Radstation Brühl
am Bundesbahnhof 2a (Either at or very near the railway station)
T: +49 (0) 2232 950761
F: +49 (0) 2232 950826

41515 Grevenbroich
Radstation Grevenbroich
Bahnhofsvorplatz 1a (In front of the station)
T: +49 (0) 2181 122685
F: +49 (0) 2181 122695

41462 Neuss
Radstation am Hauptbahnhof Neuss (Either at or very near the railway station)
Further Straße 2
T: +49 (0) 2131 6619890
F: +49 (0) 2131 6619899

Friday, March 20, 2009

Burgundy, bikes and b&b

We have mentioned Gites de France, the excellent French system of B&Bs before and we recently used the website to find accommodation. We went to Burgundy on Tuesday to see relatives who were driving through and took the chance to spend a couple of days there. We both enjoy cycling in France, because it is a fairly empty country apart from the major conurbations. There are lots and lots of very quiet roads rather than the cycle routes the Germans go in for. We can use the white roads on the 1:100 000 IGN maps in France and in addition these excellent maps for cyclists and walkers show a number of byways. These are often unsealed, but can be used by anyone apart from racing bike riders. Visiting France is good for us as well because we are studying French at present at the local Volkshochschule. On this trip we booked into a chambre d'hote with table d'hote in a village near Beaune. We had a jolly time before dinner catching up on the events of the past few months over a bottle of Burgundy and practising our French over the excellent dinner putting the world to right. The advantage of table d'hote is that one eats with the family and needs to talk French. The family in this case was a single lady and two dogs. The dogs said but little. They were incredibly well behaved. The house had two guest rooms and had a large garden with a swimming pool. The house backs onto a small sports field. It is near the church. There is no restaurant in the village. We can recommend it for an overnight stay or for a few days.
The address:
Guardiola Laurence
2 Rue des Tilleuls
21250 Courgengoux
T: (in France) 03 80 26 66 08

Monday, March 09, 2009

Newsletter 2007/2008 (somewhat late)

Bergstrasse Bike Books Newsletter 2009
Looking up our records I’m horrified to see the last time I reported on our activities seems to be 2006. Tempus has definitely been in fugit mode.
Don’t panic, there is no blow by blow description of life at Forsyth Towers but we did think it useful to confirm that we have not yet called in the bailiffs or hung up our cycling undies for good. It maybe that each of us is trying to fire the other one or send them on a government training scheme, but the messages are not getting through.
2009 has been chilly (coldest night so far -17 C) and rather snowy, limiting our biking to quick trips into town, so thoughts turn to adventures past and possibilities when spring steals over the horizon. We are still producing and selling all our cycling books and sales of our ‘Cycling in Switzerland’ guide published by Cicerone in April 2008 are going strong. Our costs have continued to rise. The value of the pound against the Euro and the Dollar has slumped to such an extent that we’ve finally been forced to increase the prices of our books. See our web site: for an update on prices and postage charges. Our books are available in the USA from:
Russell Guy
Omni Resources
International Map Specialists Tel.: 800-742-2677 (USA only)
P.O. Box 2096 Tel.: 336-227-8300 (International)
1004 South Mebane St. Fax: 336-227-3748
Burlington, NC 27216-2096 USA

Despite our status as pensioners and occasionally needing the attentions of doctors for this and that we remain active, mostly walking in the winters and cycling in the warmer months. Neil’s Lymphoma continues to be monitored and seems to be regarded as stable by his medics. Both of us enjoyed a strenuous snowshoeing week in the Alpes Maritime over New Year, see if interested.
After two seasons cycling in Switzerland, sometimes in horrible conditions of rain and snow (see picture J in Gotthard mist), combined with writing and extensive checking of the Swiss guide we did not make any new long tours in 2008. Instead we revised and also revisited parts of our Riesling Route so we could reprint with more colour, price and route updates. We were especially delighted that the canal route between Sarrebourg and Lutzelbourg has been given a tremendous new look. The abandoned Marne au Rhine canal has been dewatered and is now a nature reserve with a fantastic smooth cycleway alongside. We also tried and tested some more French B&Bs and found those chambre d’hote offering table d'hote - i.e., evening meals with the hosts to be excellent value for money, if you are prepared to brush up some French (see picture of breakfast spread). For more information look up our blog (2008 archive - French B&Bs) which contains not only comments about our cycling activities but also includes information about new routes, accommodation costs and bike hire.
We try to help potential visitors to Germany or neighbouring countries find information on maps, cycleways or accommodation whenever these come our way, by chance or redirection from CTC or other cycling organisations. Mostly these questions are easy but sometimes we are amazed at the unusual routes or challenges people give themselves - Europe to Israel via Turkey springs to mind - and no we couldn’t suggest anything very much.
A new venture for us was cycling along the Romantic Road in September with a group of US/Canadian cyclists. Despite some cultural differences in interpreting touring by bike and rather indifferent weather we think they enjoyed the experience and we still keep in touch with many. Their preferred road bikes were not suitable for parts of the route so there were several modifications including taking to the Via Claudia Route south of Augsburg and into Füssen. This runs through pretty, dreamy villages on quiet roads approaching the Alpine foothills. We had already cycled some testing parts of the Via Claudia in Switzerland and Italy the previous year. Discussions are underway with the Romantic Road Tourism Organisation about leading a group using touring bikes and following the route directly, so contact us if you are interested.
Winter is also a time when we print supplies of books ready for the springtime flood of enquiries and orders (we hope). We try to avoid those nasty moments when we are out of copies of this and that, with both printers claiming to feel tired or completely out of toner. Please do continue to buy our books, but do be patient if they take a few days to arrive.
It is hard to remember that we’ve now lived here more than four years, and yes, the attic guest room is up and running, the exterior of the house is now an eye-catching primrose and the garden doing quite well when not buried in snow and ice (see veggie patch picture). Somehow we find time to socialise, go to French classes, help keep our town tidy and managed to visit the UK, Spain, Italy and France last year. We’ve not finalised any longer cycling tours yet for the warmer months but may return to Belgium and the Flanders route or possibly Berlin to Copenhagen which appears to interest many people.
We hope you have a good year, despite gloomy economic prospects and enjoy some excellent cycling, whether for work or pleasure.
Best wishes,
Judith and Neil

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Bike Hire in Saarland

The Saarland, a tiny province in the far west of Germany on the Luxembourg/French border, is a good place to sample both German cycle touring and start a cycle trip beyond its borders:
The River Saar with its towpath offers a connection north to Trier in the Moselle valley, and south via Saar Coal Mine Canal to reach the Vosges and Strasbourg.
The Saarlorlux Cycle Route connects Luxembourg, Metz, Saarbrücken and Trier and crosses parts of Lorraine, Luxembourg and Saarland.
The Saarland Provincial Tourist Office has a website in English with information about cycle routes and a list of Bed and Bike accommodation where cyclists are made especially welcome.
Saarbrücken has excellent rail connections to Paris and Frankfurt and even an airport with some international flights.
For once there is no shortage of bicycle hire outlets.
The provincial tourist office also has a list of bike hire facilities in German ( which may well be more up to date than this one.


Fahrrad Schwarz
66740 Saarlouis-Fraulautern
Tel. 06831/80472
open: daily 9:00 - 12:00 und 14:00 - 19:00, Saturdays until 14:00
Bicycle rental, sale, repair, service, spare parts and accessories

Diakonisches Werk an der Saar Fahrrad-Service-Station Saarlouis
This church backed organisation offers work to the unemployed and training to those without an apprenticeship. The bikes will not be new, but reconditioned. They will be reliable and none the worse for this.
Donatusstr. 13
66740 Saarlouis-Roden
Tel. +49 (0)6831/87592
Open: daily 8:00 – 16:00,
Fridays until 14.30
Bike rental, no repairs, guaranteed secondhand bikes for sale
Bicycles can be delivered from the Saarlouis railway station to your holiday start point.
Office/workshop on the railway station
open: daily 8:00 - 17:00
Friday until 18:00


STADT-RAD - Fahrradverleih
The above mentioned Diakonisches Werk an der Saar, the city of Völklingen and the provincial government set up a bicycle rental service in July 2006. This can be found very near the railway station in Völklingen in the GLOBUS Passage, Rathausstraße. It is open from Monday to Friday: 10:00 - 16:00
Tel.: +49 (0) 68 98 / 50 31 74 or 29 62 32
Basic Charge: 3 Euro/day, each day afterwards 1 Euro,
Weekends (Friday-Monday): 5 Euro
Bike deposit: 20 Euro

Homburg (Saar)

Kirchenstr. 7
66424 Homburg (Saar)
Tel.: +49 (0)6841/ 31 88
Web Site: (in German)
This bike shop offers repair, service, new bike sales in addition to a bicycle rental service.
Open: Monday - Friday 10:00 - 18:30
Saturday 10:00 - 14:00


Zweirad Schellhase, Hauptstr. 194, 66773 Schwalbach
Tel.: 06834/52079 Fax: 06834/51684, eMail: (in German)
This bike shop offers repair, service, new bike sales in addition to a bicycle rental service.
Open: Monday - Friday 08:30 - 12:00 14:00 - 18:30
Saturday 08:30 - 14:00
November - February closed Wednesday afternoons


U. Hoffmann Fahrräder, Bicycles Service, Rental
Von Boch-Liebig Str. 5
66693 Mettlach
Tel.: +49 (0)6864/303
Fax: +49 (0)6864/594

Nennig (Moselle valley)

Verkehrsverein Nennig e.V. (Tourist Office in Perl-Nennig)
Bübinger Straße 5
D-66706 Nennig
Tel.: +(49) (0)6866 · 1439
Fax: +(49) (0)6866 · 1278
eMail: info(at)
Website: (in German)
Bicycle hire 10 Euro per day with a reduction after three days.
Open: April to October: Monday - Friday: 10:00 - 12:00 nnd 14:00 - 16:00
November to March:
Monday and Tuesday: 10:00 - 12:00
Wednesday - Friday: 14:00 - 16:00 Uhr


Fahrradfachhandel Schulz + Schade,
Vorstadtstr. 45,
66117 Saarbrücken, Tel.: +49(0)681-52676,
This bicycle shop offers electrobikes in addition to a number of touring bikes.

Friday, February 27, 2009

An interesting blog

We mentioned Jean-Jacques' and Domenique's B&B in a short blog on French B&Bs last year (2008) on July 6. They run an excellent establishment near Beziers in the South of France not far from the Canal du Midi. They have just set up a new blog in French about what is on in Beziers with some superb photographs ( It is well worth checking out if you are intending to visit this fascinating area.

Bicycle Rental in Hamburg

This list has been edited and is now available in the "Cycling in Europe" blog of 28 June 2013.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bike Hire in Berlin

Berlin is a great place for cyclists. It is as flat as the proverbial pancake and has an extensive bike lane system. Riders have access to 620 km of bike paths including approx. 150 km mandatory bicycle paths, 190 km off-road bicycle routes, 60 km of bike lanes on the roads, 70 km of shared bus lanes which are also open to cyclists, 100 km of combined pedestrian/bike paths and 50 km of marked bike lanes on the pavements. Riders are allowed to carry their bicycles on suburban trains, underground trains and trams. There were about 400,000 trips daily accounting for 12% of total traffic in 2007.
In addition Berlin is a major tourist attraction. The city has a large number of bike hire companies. Several of the hire companies offer guided tours as well. From what I can see the majority of bike hire shops only have German websites. Just use Google Translator to get a rough and ready translation. We edited this page on 30 August 2012 and removed broken links and added a few more hire shops.

Deutsche Bahn (German Railways) offers its Call A Bike ( bike rental service. Pick up a bike or leave it locked to a traffic sign or bike rack at major railway stations or within 30 yards of major street intersections. The fee is 8 Eurocents a minute, up to 15 euros for 24 hours. Seven days is 60 euros. The bikes are city bikes and not suitable for touring.

Alex rent a bike  Alex rent a bike
Alte Schönhauser Straße 31
10119 Berlin
Ecke Weinmeisterstrasse
U-Bahn Station Weinmeisterstrasse
Tel: +49 (0)176 - 670 92 856
Opening Times:
Mo - Su 08:00 - 22:00
(Modified 22 March 2013)

Aspire Cycling (Road bike specialist)
This company delivers your bike to your hotel, B&B, crash pad etc.It offers Canyon Carbon Frame Endurance CF bikes. They also offer guided tours.
T: +49 173 7457479

Christoph Beck (Folding bike specialist)
Goethestr. 79
10623 Berlin-Charlottenburg
Tel. (030) 31 80 60 10
Opening Times:
Tu., Th., Fr. 16.16 - 19.19
We 11.11 - 13.13 and 16.16 - 19.19
Sa. 11.11 - 13.13 

When necessary also longer, and at any time when you make an appointment. How pleased Christoph would be to have an appointment at 06:00 I don't know.

Bornholmer Straße 75, 10439 Berlin
Telefon: 030/60 9494 98
Opening Times
April - September
Mo - Fr
9.30 - 18.00
Sa & Su
9.30 - 14.00
Opening Times
October - March
Mo - Su
09.30 - 11.00
15.00 - 16.00

Torstraße 220
10115 Berlin - Mitte (Corner Novalisstr)
Tel. (030) 285 99 750
Opening Times (Summer):
Mo - Fr 10:00 - 20:00
Sa 10:00 - 18:00

Fahrradcenter Friedrichshain
Warschauer Str. 55 A
10243 Berlin-Friedrichshain
Tel. (030) 291 07 41
Opening Times :
Mo - Fr 10:00 - 18:30
Sa 9:00 - 13:00

Fahrradbox Berlin
Konstanzer Str. 55
10707 Berlin
Tel. (030) 891 18 96
Opening Times:
Mo - Fr 10:00 - 18:30
Sa 10:00 - 14:00

Fahrradservice & Country Bar in Berlin
Friedrichstraße 129 / Ecke Claire-Waldoffstr.2, 10117 Berlin 
Telefon: 030 447 66 66    Mobil: 0179 992 40 39
Fax: 030 447 66 66
Bikes for rent and country music. an odd mixture but probably quite amusing.

Reservation hotline: (0) 180 510 80 00
Events: (030) 20 45 45 00

Berlin-Mitte 1
Auguststr. 29 a
10119 Berlin-Mitte
Tel.: (030) 28 59 96 61                                                                          

Berlin-Mitte 2
Friedrichstr. 95
Eingang Dorotheenstr. 30
10117 Berlin-Mitte
Tel.: (030) 28 38 48 48                                                                  

Berlin-Mitte 3
Leipziger Str. 56
10117 Berlin-Mitte
Tel.: (030) 66 64 91 80                                   

Goethestr. 46
10625 Berlin-Charlottenburg
Tel.: (030) 93 95 27 57                                

Bergmannstr. 9
10961 Berlin-Kreuzberg
Tel.: (030) 215 15 66                                   

Kollwitzstr. 77
10435 Berlin-Pankow
Tel.: (030) 93 95 81 30      

Fahrradverleih Bugs
Rudowerstr. 80-81
12524 Berlin-Altglienicke
Tel. (030) 75 63 4009
Opening Times:
Mo - So: 9:00 - 19:00

Fat Tire Bike Tours Berlin
Panoramastraße 1a
10178 Berlin
Tel. (030) 24 04 79 91
Opening Times:
Mo - So 9:30 - 18:00 (Winter)
Mo - So 9:30 - 20:00 (Summer)

Lila Bike
Schönhauser Allee 41 (opposite Konopkes / near the junction with Eberswalder Str. / Kastanienallee / Danziger Str.)
10435 Berlin
Tel.: (030) 42093446
0176 61124909
Opening Times:
Summer 15. March bis 1. November: 10.00 - 20.00
Winter 1. November bis 15. March: 11.00 - 18.00

next bike
Zimmerstr. 95-100
10117 Berlin-Mitte
Tel.: (0)152 289 90 264
Opening Times:
Apr - Oct
Daily 10:00 - 20:00 Uhr
Nov - March: Check when the shop is open.

Skalitzer Str. 69
10997 Berlin-Kreuzberg
Tel. (030) 618 77 72
Opening Times:
Mo - Fr 10:00 - 19:00
Sa 10:00 - 14:00

Pedal-Power 1
Pfarrstr. 115
10317 Berlin-Lichtenberg
Tel. (030) 55 15 32 70
Opening Times:
Mo - Fr 10:00 - 18:30
Sa 10:00 - 13:00
Tandems available.

Pedal-Power 2
Großbeerenstr. 53
10965 Berlin-Kreuzberg
Tel. (030) 55 15 32 70
Opening Times:
Mo - Fr 10:00 - 18:30
Sa 10:00 - 13:00

Tandems available.

Pino Touren (in German)
Sigmaringener Str 26
Road bikes.

Prenzlberger Orange Bikes 35
10405 Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg
Tel. 0163 892 64 27
Opening Times (April - October):
Mo - So 12:00 - 18:00

10967 Berlin
tel: 030/ 69519772
Recycles cycles, but since I regularly undertake tours on a 25 year old bike, I would gladly hire from here.
Friedrichstrasse 210
10969 Berlin-Kreuzberg
Tel.: 030 24 03 78 65
Fax.: 030 24 03 78 66
Opening Times:
Mo - So 9:00 - 20:00
Sa 9:00 - 1600

Lausitzer Str. 22
10999 Berlin-Kreuzberg
Tel. (030) 69 57 95 22
Opening Times:
Mo - So 9:00 - 21:00
Recycled older bikes. No reservation possible, but once you have a bike you can extend your hire period by ringing up.

Spinning Wheelz GbR
10119 Berlin-Mitte
Tel.: (030) 24 03 83 45
Opening Times:
Mo - Fr  9.30 - 19.00
Sa 10.00 - 14.00          

Stadt und Rad
Hardenbergplatz 9-11
10623 Berlin-Chalottenburg
Tel.: (030) 68 83 62 17
Opening Times:
Mo - Su
(1.03-30.03) 9:30 - 18:00
(16.04-30.09) 9:30 - 20:00
(1.10-30.11) 9:30 - 18:00
and on public holidays

Take a bike
Neustädtische Kirchstr. 8 (near the US Embassy)
10117 Berlin-Mitte
Tel. (030) 20 65 47 30
Opening Times:
Mo - So 9:30 - 19:00

Fahrradbox Berlin
Konstanzer Str. 55
10707 Berlin
Telephone 030 / 89 11 89 6   -  Telefax 030 / 88 91 26 55
eMail:   mail [ at ] fahrradbox [ dot ] com   ! 
Opening Times: 
Mo - Fr: 10 - 18:30   -   Sa: 10 - 14 

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bike Hire in Munich

One thing is surely missing in Munich is somewhere to lock up one's bike safely near the Hauptbahnhof (Main railway station), but there are plenty of companies offering bike hire:
Radius Tour and Bikes
Arnulfstraße 3 (inside the Main Train Station)
80335 München
Tel.+49 (0)89 59 61 13
Fax:+49 (0)89 59 47 14
A friendly bunch of characters, well worth supporting.

Radeldiscount GbR
Benediktbeurerstraße 20-22
81379 München
Tel.+49 (0)89 724 23 51
Fax:+49 (0)89 724 34 35

Radeldiscount GbR
Trappentreustraße 10
80339 München
Tel.+49 (0)89 50 62 85

Radsport Huber
Friedrich-Eckard-Straße 56
81929 München
Tel.+49 (0)89 93 93 06 70
Fax:+49 (0)89 93 93 06 71

Ismaningerstraße 68
81675 München
Tel.+49 (0)89 54 27 88 0
Fax:+49 (0)89 54 29 01 18

Friday, February 06, 2009

Bike Hire in Frankfurt am Main

Sometime ago we were asked to help someone find a bicycle hire company in Frankfurt am Main. The questioner wanted to cycle round the Riesling Route (a route suggested by Judith and I: Mainz - Rhine Valley - Koblenz - Moselle Valley - Trier - Metz - Nancy - Strasbourg - Karlsruhe - Mainz). I contacted the tourist office and at that time I had great difficulty finding anything at all apart from DB German Railways city bike scheme: Call a Bike which offers very distinctive city bikes that one can pick up anywhere in the city and drop them off elsewhere paying only for the time one uses them. They are not much use for cycle touring, but are ideal if you wish to explore Frankfurt’s miles of cycle routes.
Since then we have kept our eye on the market and several new more companies have come to light offering bikes more suited to the touring cyclist:

Die Radprofis. Kai Hundertmarck und Theo Intra
Westerbachstraße 273
65936 Frankfurt am Main
Tel.: +49 (0) 69 / 34 27 80

Hex Hex Fahrradladen
Owner: Berthold Gentzler
Gutleutstraße 156
60327 Frankfurt am Main
Tel.: +49 (0) 69 / 23 34 44
Fax: +49 (0) 69 / 23 34 94

Fahrrad Station Frankfurt
Inhaber: Susanne Sitzius
Ginnheimer Landstrasse 133
60431 Frankfurt am Main
Tel: 069/95114061

GoetheRad - Fahrradverleih am Goethturm
Sachsenhäuser Landwehrweg 1
60599 Frankfurt am Main - Sachsenhausen-Nord
Tel: +49 (0) 176/50 52 85 99
Open Wednesday to Sunday from 2PM to 6PM 

You can of course also hire bikes from the above by the day.

I don’t know if all of these organisations can speak English, but I expect so.

If you are going to cycle for a week or so, it is worth taking your favourite saddle and click pedals if you use them.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Strasbourg Station in winter

We have recently been to the South of France for a snow shoeing/walking holiday with the Space-Between organisation and took advantage of the excellent Prem offers from the French Railways (SNCF) to travel between Strasbourg and Nice by overnight train. The city is not that far from Mannheim/Heidelberg and offers a number of convenient trains to travel into France, rather than travelling via Paris. Strasbourg station, although magnificent in the German manner, is a cold place to have to wait for one's train to be announced. For some unknown reason SNCF only announces the departure platform of its trains about 20 minutes before the train departs, so one stays within the station building squinting at video screens. In winter and this year is a cold one, it can be a cold wait by the main entrance, unless one goes to Hall Nord which is at the northern end of the station. This hall has automatic closing doors, a better newspaper and book shop, a couple of good coffee/snack bars and a heated ticket office where one can wait until the train is announced. Strasbourg station in addition offers bike parking and bicycle hire.

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