Saturday, July 23, 2016

Questions to ask a bike hire company

If you are planning to hire a bike or an e-bike for a touring holiday then it is worthwhile checking the following points:
  • Saddle:  
    • Can you take your own saddle with you and fit it before you leave? 
    • Can you leave the hire company's saddle with the hire company?
  • Pedals:
    • If you normally cycle in clip pedals then check whether you can take your own with you and fit them before you leave? This is not as silly as it looks. A friend of ours hired a bike in Ireland some years ago and was surprised to see on arrival that the hire bike had the curved steel rod cranks often fitted to children's bicycles.
  • Bags: 
    • Does your favoured bike have a rack? Try and avoid carrying a heavy rucksack on your back.
    • Will it take your brand of panniers?
    • Do you need a pannier? You can always buy bungees or straps to attach a small bag to the rack.
    • Can you attach a bar bag to the handlebars? This is often not possible with e-bikes.
  • Locks:
    • Does the hire company offer locks free of charge?
    • Are they just the rear wheel frame locks beloved of cycling midwives, as seen on TV?
    • Can you hire a better lock so that you can attach the bike/s to a fixed object?
  • Mudguards/Fenders:
    • It does rain in summer in much of Western Europe in spite of the brightly coloured photographs in the tourist office brochures. I realise that bikes with mudguards/fenders don't look as cool as those without, but muddy legs don't look cool either.. Obviously this does not apply if you are going mountain biking and are used to showering with your bike and your clothes after a day out in the hills.
  • Helmet:
    • Helmet wearing in Europe is not compulsory. In fact in countries with heavy use of bicycles as a means of transport, e.g. Denmark, the Netherlands, it is unusual apart from keenie-beanie road men and women. If you wear a helmet when touring in these countries you run the risk of being thought a German. Some hire companies throw bike helmets in with the deal others charge you a Euro or so a day to hire.
  • Punctures:
    • It is worth enquiring what to do in case of a puncture? Does the hire company supply a tool kit, a pump and a puncture repair outfit? Bigger supermarkets will sell cheap spanners and puncture repair kits.
  • Spare batteries for e-bikes:
    • Hire e-bikes see some kilometres in a season, so it is worthwhile trying to pin the hire bike companies down to find out what the typical range of their batteries is to decide whether to hire a spare battery. A spare battery weighs more than a kilogram.
  • Water Bottle
    • Does the hire bike come with a bottle or a holder? 
    • If it's just a holder would your bottle fit in it? 
    • Does your pannier and/or rackpack take a bottle?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

English is a simple language, nicht wahr?

Our local paper the German language "Mannheimer Morgen" has problems with the English language. Homophones like "boarder" for "border" are very common. However the editorial team has excelled itself in an article about the new waste heat and electricity plant in the Plymouth Royal Dockyard - designed and run by the MVV, the Mannheim utility, opened by Prince Charles this week, when it described the plant as being in the "Royal Duckyard". 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Cycling in Latvia

An area that has not been explored by cyclists much, as yet, is the Baltic Coast and we came across a website offering information and a map of cycle routes in Latvia. One can buy printed maps but also download a pdf file. Latvia is crossed by the Iron Curtain Trail.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Adopt a Signpost!

We were cycling back from Ladenburg yesterday when I noticed that a signpost south of Heddesheim directing cyclists left towards Viernheim had disappeared. This is a problem because strangers to the area would cycle straight on into Heddesheim. There it is necessary to talk to the locals to find the way out of the town. Cycling left brings one on to a well signposted trail through the streets of Heddesheim. 
A missing or disfigured signpost can thus make life very difficult for cyclists. Signposts make good souvenirs for the study wall. I was very pleased to read that the Duchy of Lauenburg in Schleswig Holstein has a campaign to check the 850 signpost sites, clean signposts where necessary, repair or replace them. The signposts have been fitted with a serial number so that if a tourist rings up a tourist office staff will know where the questioner is and can give accurate directions. Staff will also know where defective signposts are to be found. Local cyclists and others can adopt a signpost keeping it clean, etc. It strikes us as an excellent idea. It has of course already been done by the Dutch. Local cycle clubs and shops adopt a number of the excellent knooppunt signs and check them a couple of times a year. 
It wouldn't do any harm for many of us to unofficially adopt a signpost or two and keep it clean and make sure it points in the right direction. It'll be more use than moaning anyway.

Blog Archive