Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Triking on the German Baltic Coast or Murphy lives!

Unfortunately a recent bout of illness means that if I am going to cycle in future I should use a recumbent with electrical support. As my sense of balance is largely in the bucket, as the Germans say, it looks as if three wheels would be better than two. I do want to cycle in future, so we plan to slaughter the piggy bank and will triking around the cycle paths and minor roads of Baden Württemberg, Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate with a grin on our faces.
Being cautious souls before handing over a wadge of coarse notes to our Local Bike Shop (LBS) we decided to hire a pair of trikes for a few days to be sure that trikes are as much fun as their protagonists make out. We decided to hire from Ostsee3rad, Olaf Reinike, Lindenweg 41, 23974 Alt Farpen, Tel: 0049 (0)151 50589799, Website: https://ostsee3rad.de (in German, use Google Translator). We had cycled through Mecklenburg-Vorpommern along the Baltic Coast four or five years ago and had enjoyed it greatly. This time however we decided to stop in one place and take day trips, rather than touring. If we were not up to touring it could be awkward if we had to cycle 50 to 80km to reach our next hotel. All the hotels were full in August so we waited until our next appointment-free week in early October. We arrived in Groß Strömkendorf near Wismar on 1 October. The cycle hire company had recommended this hotel as it has a lockable garage. The trikes cost around five thousand Euros each, so it is worth chaining them up at night in the dry. 

Places on railway lines or bus routes in this area, have reasonable connections especially during term time, but  bus and train routes are thinly scattered. On Tuesday  Herr Reinicke collected us from our hotel on his Ruhetag (rest day) when the shop is normally shut and were driven 8 or 9km to Farpen. We were very impressed with his trikes and his professionalism. He has a good hire fleet: a number of KMX trikes, two Hase TRIGO trikes, an ICE Full Fat trike, two ICE Adventure trikes and several conventional bicycles. Some of the trikes are pedelecs. Farpen is not visited regularly by bus and the nearest railway station is 5km away, so we were glad of the lift. His workshop, is a brick and timber barn dating in part from the 13th century. We were both given ICE tadpole machines. Judith's was an ICE Adventure HD, so that we could  both ride the same ICE tadpole machines. Herr R Rapidly twiddled the seat and width of the handlebars were changed to fit Judith's cross section. The previous hirer must have been well fed.  The boom on Judith's trike was shortened to fit her lack of inches. She was then sent off to ride gingerly round the block.
I was assigned an ICE Adventure pedelec fitted with a Pendix electromotor. I had taken shoes for click pedals and after adjusting the boom to fit me, Herr Reinicke changed the pedals. I was lent a Hase TRIGO Up - a delta trike - fitted with a Shimano Steps motor to play with while this was going on - very enjoyable. It is a pity the Hase company does not offer a folding version of this trike, because it ticks almost all the boxes and I think we'd buy one, but DB - German Railways and other German railway operators do not allow unfolded trikes on their trains.

Finally Herr Reinicke was finished, after about an hour thoroughly checking the bikes and explaining how everything worked. He lent us a waterproof map, a tool kit, a puncture repair outfit, panniers and showed us where the trike rain covers and the lock were to be found. We fitted the trikes or they fitted us, so we set off after I had managed to click my feet into the pedals. This took some time and it was even somewhat of a problem two days later, after getting on and off the trike a number of times. Notice the look of concentration:
"Get in, you so and so!"

Both trikes were in excellent condition and well maintained. They both had a 3x8 SRAM Dual Drive hub gear/derailleur system with twist gear grips mounted on the steering bar ends. In my case the trike was fitted with a Pendix brushless electromotor and a Pendix battery (https://pendix.com/edrive.html). The Pendix is a German designed and built system, often used as a bolt-on modification for a unpowered bike. I found it excellent and very smooth in operation contrary to the one review I saw of the motor. The feature I found slightly odd was the on/off and power controls mounted on the battery. We are more used to a combined controller, battery charge level meter and speedometer mounted on the steering. Although there is an app that we could have used to control the power output of the motor, we did not download it. On the last day I pedaled some way before I realised that the motor was not switched on.

We cycled off towards the hotel initially following quiet roads. The weather forecast for the day was basically "Build your Ark, Noah!". It was windy but dry as we followed a local road to Blowatz where we turned south west into a gale. Fortunately we were sitting down and offered a lower profile to the wind than if we had been on road bikes, but this didn't stop us getting wet as the forecast rain arrived. We cycled back to the hotel, locked the bikes up and retired to our room to wait out the storm. You probably know the story:
"Cheer up. It could be worse." 
I cheered up and matters got worse. 
This was very true in this case. 

It was not cycling weather, so we took a bus to Wismar to look at the Altstadt (old town) and buy various essentials. Just to make matters clear, we are both prepared to cycle in the wet if we need to get to our next booked hotel or catch a train. We've been there, done that. If there is no need to cycle why run the risk of getting wet through?

On Wednesday, the German Day of Reunification we intended to spend the day cycling to one of the coastal villages between Travemünde and Wismar to meet a friend. He decided however that it was too cold and windy to cycle so he drove over from Lübeck by car. I had another rehearsal of fitting my shoes into the click pedals followed by a short five or six kilometre tour in the morning before our friend came. We spent the rest of the day on foot playing the tourist in Wismar, which is well worth doing, but it wasn't cycling.

The town was Swedish for about 150 years until the start of the nineteenth century. Gradually the older houses and the churches in the centre left unrepaired for the better part of 40 years in the German Democratic Republic have been restored. The town is historic and charming. 

On Thursday morning we had a good Mancunian drizzle and decided to wait an hour before leaving. We set off across the cyclepath on the causeway to the Insel Poel (Island of Poel). We crossed to Kirchdorf and found a NETTO supermarket to stock up on emergency chocolate and then through the village to reach the harbour. Beyond the village we picked up the excellent cycleway again and cycled over gentle hill and dale to Timmendorf Strand, a small resort on the outer edge of the island. We enjoyed Kaffee und Kuchen there watched by two pairs of eyes willing us to drop crumbs.

We then set off on agricultural roads through fields of Brussel Sprouts to follow the route near the shore north.  Brussels are a speciality of the area, much loved by local children, according to an informant. We dropped down into the hamlet of Am Schwarzen Busch, cycled along the sea shore on unmade forest tracks to reach Gollwitz before turning south towards Fährdorf and the causeway back to our hotel. Herr Reinicke was due to pick up his trikes at 17:00 Hours.

Judith's trike was a little too wide for the typical German Democratic Republic two concrete strip agricultural roads north of Timmenorf Strand. Notice the large legible signposts on the right.

Gulls following the plough. Truly rural
To sum up we were very satisfied with the trikes. This an excellent cycling area with good cyclepaths and signposting. There is no shortage of cafes and accommodation, but one needs to book ahead in the summer season. There are plenty of good beaches and enough pleasant rolling hills to add interest for cyclists, especially for those with electrical support. J says that despite initial worries she found the trike easy to handle and the gears adequate, even able to have a five minute conversation, on a hill, while sitting in the driving seat.

Blog Archive