Friday, July 31, 2015

Bike hire in Salzburg

If you are looking for a hire bike in Salzburg, then check out "a velo rent-a-bike" on the Mozartplatz near to the Salzburg-Info. Prices range from 12€ a half day to 55€ for a week. The company offers MTBs, road bikes, recumbents, e-bikes, children's bicycles, trailers, helmets, bags and rainwear for hire. The website given on their flyer: does not work for me. Maybe the telephone number does: +43 (0) 676 4355950.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

How do bike years compare to people years?

We went by Brompton to Lorsch to a rally about the line of the new high speed railway line from Frankfurt to Mannheim. The plan is to run the line east and parallel to the A67 autobahn through a forest. In addition Deutsche Bahn plans to run goods (freight) trains along the line overnight. Many locals object to this project because of the damage to the local woods which are an important leisure area and because of fears about health problems due to noise pollution. There is a serious suggestion to submerge much of the route in a tunnel. We understand these fears, but also support any move to move goods transport away from roads to rail.
While we there we met various friends who are members of the ADFC (German Cycling Club), chatted to the odd soul on the stands, enjoyed Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake) and listened to an excellent local amateur big band. It was a fairly typical summer afternoon in Lorsch. We set off for home and in the Viernheim Woods Judith got a stick caught in the chain tensioner. The chain left the pulley cogs and the drive train jammed. We had no choice but to turn the bike over, loosen the chain tensioner and get oily. We had almost finished when two of our ADFC friends appeared and enjoyed a little Schadenfreude. One of our famous Bromptons was giving us problems. We pointed out that the bikes were twenty years old. Then came the question, "How old is that in people years?". This we couldn't answer, but it struck us that if the Bromptons were cars, and both are about twenty years old, they would more than likely be sitting on a scrap heap rather than being ridden about.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Danube Cycle Way: Hire bikes for a one way trip between Passau and Vienna

We've just spent a few days in Austria cycling down the Tauern Cycle Path from 1100 or so m down to Passau on the Danube. As usual I took the chance to check out bike hire facilities on the way. In Passau we found the Fahrradklinik ( in the old town not far from the Danube Suspension Bridge.  This shop has an innovative bike hire policy and rents high quality bikes with puncture proof tyres and in part Rohloff 14 speed hub gears. These are better bikes than we have at home. The company also offers bike trailers, Ortlieb panniers, tandems and e-bikes. Prices seem reasonable to us starting at 13€ a day for one day hire and 70€ for a week for the normal bikes. E-bikes and tandems cost twice as much. The real clincher though is that the shop offers one way hire to the edge of Vienna for 29€ extra. The shop also offers repair and service of your steeds.

Bräugasse 10
94032 Passau
T: +49 (0) 851 33411

There is a second shop in Passau in addition to Fahrradklinik offering one way hire bikes for the trip down the Danube as far as Vienna: Bikehaus. This organisation will pick up bikes from hotels and B&Bs along the route. Prices are much the same as those from Fahrradklinik: One Day: 13€, One Week 70€. Pickup prices are slighly higher than Fahrradklinik at 35€ per bike, but the company will pick up their bikes from any hotel or B&B en route between Passau and Vienna whereas Fahrradklinik uses one hotel near Vienna. The bicycles have only 8 gear Shimano hub gears rather than the fourteen speed Rohloffs offered by Fahrradklinik. The hire base is in part of the Hauptbahnhof (railway station) in Passau. Opening hours in season are surprisingly long for Germany: 9am to 1pm and 2pm to 6pm every day of the week including public holidays! The company also offers a repair service and sells spare parts, tyres, maps, panniers, clothing and drinks.

Bahnhofstraße 29
94032 Passau
T:  +49 (0) 851 - 966 25 70
Mobile: +49 (0) 151 - 1283 4224

Friday, July 17, 2015

Cycle Tours in and around Mannheim

For those of you who read German, we have contributed to the Mannheimer Morgen's "Rauf aufs Rad" a guide to seventeen tours in the Heidelberg-Ludwigshafen-Mannheim metropolitan area. This all came about by accident, as we went to a meeting of the ADFC with the MM to see if we could pick up some tips on publishing and suddenly found ourselves responsible for three tours. We wrote up the tours in the telegraph style preferred by various bicycle touring guidebooks and these were translated into something more similar to the language of Goethe by the MM. The book is available from all good bookshops in the metropolitan area. The definition of a good bookshop is one that sells our books.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Interesting free German Cycling Magazine

If you read or teach German it would  be worthwhile checking out "Fahrrad News" available free as a digital download from, from App Store: or from Google play:

Surprisingly, the magazine is as good as any of those costing five or six Euros with a good mixture of reviews, travel tips and news of new products. The only giveaway is that about 90% of the cyclists shown in photographs and advertisements are wearing helmets.

I picked up a printed copy at one of those big shed bike shops on the edge of Mannheim where oddly enough there is a parking area for hundred cars or so, but only bike racks for about twenty bikes.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Things don't always improve

We travelled to Zell on a DB (German Railways) EuroCity train. These trains along with the InterCity trains are the fastest trains in Germany that take bikes. We were on the train for six hours or so and I noticed that DB has replaced the tough grey heavy paper towels formerly used in the toilets/restrooms with much lighter, thinner, smaller, whiter, more absorbent ones. These may well be pleasanter to use and may be do not block the WC vacuum systems when oafs throw them in the WC rather than in the bin provided. However they are nothing like as useful to clean one's bike. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Changing trains with a bike in Austria or the tri-international incident on Schwarzach-St Veit station

We took the EC train from Mannheim to Klagenfurt on our way to Zell am See. I had booked the tickets three months before to obtain two of the contingent of the cheap Eurospezial tickets. My pleasure at obtaining these blinded me to the fact that we had but three minutes to change trains in Schwarzach-St Veit. We arrived in Schwarzach, left the train, looked up the platform and saw the IC that we should take to Zell am See. We pushed the bikes along the platform, looked for a bike storage slot and saw a bike logo on the window. Unfortunately ÖBB (Austrian Railways) model their trains on the Eiger North Wall and there were three or maybe four steps into the train. I staggered up the stairs with each bike. We discovered there was only one hanging space for one bike. At this point a guard appeared and explained to me in what I felt was a rude tone that I should have gone farther along the train to hang up the bike(s). It was not clear whether there was one or a pair of hooks farther along the train. I was not gruntled and so expressed my displeasure with the design of Austrian railway carriages, his tone of voice and the lack of  signposting on the station to allow bewildered foreign cyclists find somewhere to pop their bikes. I have lived in the Fatherland for forty or so years and so can on occasion rattle off an acid phrase or four in German. The guard fell back somewhat surprised and left us. Judith squeezed her bike into a corner and my bike blocked the entrance to an out of order WC. The train climbed through territory that resembled the Canadian Pacific routes through the Rockies. We cycled it a few days later and it is well worth visiting. The guard was very helpful in Zell and helped us dismount. Probably he wanted to see the back of us.

When we arrived at our hotel, our friends were surprised to see us so soon. They had travelled down the day before from Germany on an Intercity train, but had changed along the way to a local train which had very easy access. It left Schwarzach 20 minutes later and stopped at more stations, but was a delight to load the bikes. If only we'd waited.

Saturday, July 04, 2015


Like many people who live in Germany, we regularly shop at ALDI, one of the leading discount stores in the country and in Europe. We are generally very satisfied with the goods the company sells, but… ALDI sells not only its core grocery goods, but also has a series of special offers that are on sale over a number of weeks. It appears to be habit for some customers to break open sealed packets to examine what is inside them and then leave the opened packets behind. It is definitely weird. Not all the goods are handled in this way. ALDI-Süd is selling a filled pepper mill at the moment and various of the packets in our local branch had been opened today. For goodness sake, it's a pepper mill with a clear plastic cylinder and you can see the contents, What more do people want? Maybe there is a PhD or at least a Master's degree in retail sociology to be written here and maybe even a cure for the problem.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Get me to the station on time!

We cycled from Viernheim to Mannheim at the start of our recent holiday. We took the direct route along the B38 main road thereby increasing the CO levels in our bloodstream and coating our lungs with unburnt polyaromatic hydrocarbons rather than following the fresh air route by nipping off through a series of green and leafy Schrebegärten (allotments) and then running along the bank of the Neckar into the centre of Mannheim.

I am not too sure whether the direct route is quicker. There are a number of roads to be crossed with pedestrian/cycle traffic lights on the direct route and these can add up to ten minutes to the journey. Under German law a red light for cyclists or pedestrians is a red light and one should stop and wait. If the gendarmes are about it can be an expensive pleasure with fines of up to 60€ for ignoring red lights. However I suspect these are for many of my two wheeled colleagues rather like speed limits for motorists advisory rather than mandatory. Cyclists arrived at the lights, cast a quick glance left and right and stamped on the pedals to cross the road pronto, whether the lights were red or green. 
There is seemingly a little known aspect of German traffic laws that unless it is specified otherwise cyclists should travel along cycle paths adjacent to roads in the direction of the traffic on their left. The path on the right side of a road should be used by those cycling in the same direction as the motorised traffic. German cycle paths are laid out fairly economically. These are constrained by the need to have wide enough motor roads. The poor Mercedes drivers need the room for their safety protection features, electrical mirror adjustment devices and foot wide tyres. These heroes of the economy cannot be made to drive more slowly. This could mean them arriving a few seconds late at work or having three minutes less to visit an Einkaufszentrum (shopping centre/mall) thus causing a a 0.000001% drop in the DAX stock exchange results. This means that there is often not enough room for two cyclists to cycle alongside each other. Amongst the massed ranks of cyclists there are determined individualists who if given their head could transform the economy and they too like those sitting in high powered automobiles wish to cut through the red tape stopping us achieving our best. They are prepared to cycle on the wrong side against the flow of traffic on the cycle path. We had a train to catch and so put the pedal to the metal. We were not pleased to meet those wishing to shave a microsecond or two off their journey time to the uni cycling towards us a path wide enough for a bike and a half. 

Then we arrived in the city centre and met the worst problem of all: pedestrians. The cycleway across Mannheim runs along pavements/sidewalks. Along the pedestrian zone by the congress centre groups of youths practised progression on the drunken sailor random model. It is de rigeur not to look where one is going and rapid changes of direction without checking if there is anyone behind are par for the course. 

It seems to be beyond the capabilities of the average German pedestrian to notice that he or she is walking on a red path marked as a cycleway. When one politely warns them that one is approaching they turn round and  are very surprised that they are on a cycleway. Perhaps they too wish to get to the shops in time to save the economy. 

As we headed across Mannheim I was amused while waiting at a red light to observe a car whose driver was cuddling a small dog as she drove. Perhaps all classes of road user have their problems with sensible behaviour. 

Blog Archive