Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The ten most beautiful bikes in 2015

In recent weeks both the BBC and the "Observer" (A British heavy Sunday newspaper) have featured reviews of bicycles, in all cases by their motor car journalists. I do begin to wonder whether these characters actually ride bikes rather than just praising their aesthetic qualities. If we ignore the full enclosed cycles, less than half the bikes shown in the BBC list have mudguards (fenders) and none of the "Observer"bikes shown over the last three weeks had any mudguards. Has it stopped raining in Britain these days? No mudguards means not only wet legs, but wet, dirty legs and the black stripe down the back of the shirt shown, for example, displayed by Chris Froome on his yellow jersey during the last day of the Tour de France on the Champs Elysee. I despair, I really do. If we are going to have articles on bikes, what about articles on bikes normal folk can afford and that can be used as a means of transport and why do motoring correspondents have to write them?

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Mannheim powers through Part II

Did the app used by Mannheim to encourage cyclists and maybe non cyclists to cycle to work function. In our case definitely yes. Unfortunately we were away on walking trips for much of early September, but we definitely put in some hours on the bikes to get us out of Finland when we got back.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Cycling Tours up, and around Mont Ventoux

By chance we were stopping in the excellent Domaine des Tilleuls Hotel de Charme in Malaucene, one of the hotels of the Ventoux Club Hôtelier association (www.ventoux-hotel.fr) last weekend and met a group travelling with Forever Holidays Ltd. I was impressed with the friendly but clear, professional way the guide prepared the customers, a group of road bike men, for their trip around  Mont Ventoux. If you are interested in pulling on the Lycra and pushing aluminium or carbon fibre bikes up some serious hills in France with sag wagon backup, but are worried about not having any French or travelling around an area without any noticeable public transport then check the company out. You do not have to be male to travel with the company, this particular group was all male, but the female of the species is obviously welcome too. The company also offers bike hire and self guided tours.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Road bikes for hire in Berlin

If you are looking for a road bike to hire in Berlin, then check out:

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. The company also offers guided tours. The company is not cheap but offers value for money especially when you check out the prices the airlines will charge you to get your bike to Berlin, the quality of their bikes and the service they offer. At the time of writing the first day's hire cost 65€ with serious reductions for longer term hire.
T: +49 173 7457479

Friday, September 11, 2015

Emergency Services for Cyclists

Like a lot of cyclists over the age of 18 we also own a motor car. When we are travelling in the thing we know that if it starts to make funny noises, a tyre punctures or the gears stop functioning we can ring a motor club hotline and sooner or later a representative of the club or a contract garage will appear and repair the damage. Until recently these services were not available in Germany for cyclists. If your bicycle gears went belly up, you needed to walk or get transport to the next town or village to find a bike shop or if your bike was stolen, you had to find a bike hire station, etc. This service for cyclists has been available in the Netherlands from the ANWB for some time. I was pleased to read that the German ADFC is now offering a similar service (ADFC-PannenhilfePLUS) as an additional package to members for 11.90€ (individual) or 19.90€ (family) annually covering the EU and Switzerland and Norway. A 24 hour hotline will provide those insured with information about bike repair workshops and bike hire stations, send a sag wagon if the bike is damaged beyond repair or organise a return home. This applies to all bicycle problems except punctures. This could well be adopted by other bicycle clubs, even the CTC, the cycling charity. Then of course the various clubs could cooperate to make life easier for cyclists travelling abroad, but is this asking too much?

Friday, September 04, 2015

Saving weight when touring by bicycle, can you take it too far?

This is a cautionary tale that's worth bearing mind when you come to pack for the tour. Judith talked to a member of our walking club during a ramble. We are well known as cyclists and enjoy discussing cycling, so we are often asked our opinion about cycling matters. It turns out that the member and her husband started to save weight when cycle touring using hotels by not packing any nightwear. We assume they slept in the altogether. All went well until they found that the hotel they'd booked had showers/WCs across the corridor from their room rather than having facilities en suite. We always take simple night attire: a T-shirt and a pair of boxer shorts for me and an old thin light weight nightshirt for Judith. I don't think the extra weight adds much to the load.

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