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!

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