Monday, May 20, 2019

Touring Lake Constance

Somewhere in the last few months we were at a tourism or cycling exhibition and I stuffed a postcard from the Vier Länder Region Bodensee (Four nation region Lake Constance) into a one of those useful free cloth shopping bags you find at continental trade fairs. I am just in progress of emptying the bag out and filing a lot of the information material in the round file. The postcard has a link to where you can find tours, a route planner with GPS download and accommodation suggestions for cycling, walking and canoeing trips in the Austrian, German, Liechtenstein and Swiss parts of the region. The website is an excellent place to start planning a trip to this cyclist-friendly scenic region. It has the great advantage that the tours are international and do not end at the border which is a typical snag for information issued by tourist offices.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Brompton on Brocken

While we were at SPEZI this year we picked up a leaflet in German about a Brompton event in the Harz Mountains in Germany in October. The idea is to climb  to the summit of Brocken (1142m) the highest hill in northern Germany, where, as legend has it, witches meet on Walpurgis Night. The ascent will take place somewhat later in the year on Friday 4 October 2019. The plan is to arrive in Schierke (600m) the day before, i.e. on 3 October, a public holiday in Germany. Dine together in Schierke. Spend a night in the Youth Hostel (or hotel, for those who do not have a IYHA card).  Breakfast together (wherever) and meet at 11 o'clock at the barrier on the Brockenstraße (the road up Brocken) at the Naturschutzhaus. Gently climb up the 500 ± metres or 1625 ± ft to the Brocken summit with breaks and walking/pushing passages for those who do not have that much puff. At the top lots of souvenir photos and then a fast descent. (Just make sure your brakes are in good nick.) Then coffee and cake in Schierke and everyone goes home when he or she feels like it or stays a bit. The group is basically German, but there are visitors from other European countries and the organiser would be glad to welcome visitors from the island, as the Germans call the UK.
There is a lot to see and do in the Harz Mountains: half-timbered villages, raging torrents, forested hills, a castle, several national or nature parks, witches and narrow gauge steam trains. There are a number of cycle routes. The beer is drinkable as well.

You will need:

Brompton (mandatory)
Witches broom (at least Nimbus 2000 or higher,
mandatory, but the imagination knows no bounds)
Ravens on handlebar (optional)
Bro-o-Bro T-Shirt (can be ordered in advance, will be redesigned every year) Attention: collectors' item!)
Registration with a fee of 15€ (10€ share for the T-shirt and 5€ to finance the Bromptonauten website with a further donation if you want)
Good weather has been ordered. You have to bring your own
good mood.
For more details contact Juliane Neuß on info(at) 

DB German Railways ( and the Harz Narrow Gauge Railway ( will get you to and around the Harz Mountains. "Around" if you don't fancy pedalling after climbing Brocken.

2018's T shirt: 

Monday, May 06, 2019

SPEZI Special Bike Show 2019

SPEZI, the annual Special Bike Show held in the last weekend in April is the world's largest show for recumbents, recumbent tricycles, quadracycles, folding cycles, tandems, family cycles, velomobiles, transporters, electrical bikes, special needs bikes, adult kick scooters, child and load trailers, customised designs and accessories ( Fortunately for us it is held in Germersheim, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany about an hour and a half away from home by tram and train. We visited the show for many of the 24 years it has been held including this year.
We always make a point of visiting the Junik-hpv stand ( This year two items caught our eye: a modified Brompton designed to be ridden by midgets: the Bromptolino 
and a Brompton equipped with a Velospeeder (, a friction e-drive that can be used for short periods when support is needed.
The Bromptolino

A few yards away in Hall 2 (or should we write metres) we visited the Sporthopeo stand ( offering what could well be a lifesaver for cyclists who due to illness or accident can no longer keep their feet on the pedals. It’s basically a pair of magnets that can be strapped on bicycle or even tricycle pedals to secure the feet to the pedal. A twist of the feet will free the legs in case of need. The system offers more ease of use than conventional click pedals which take some getting used to, in my opinion even on a trike where you are not trying to balance and pedal at the same time.

We popped on to the Voss Stand (German Brompton distributors) and tried to talk a possible customer in to buying a Brompton. Our argument was that the bikes may be expensive but well made. We have had ours for twenty years. We have cycled over the Alps on them and they are in good shape. (I wish I was in such good shape.) One of these days I suspect I will apply to Brompton to pay us a premium😎.
We are seriously interested in buying two trikes. One of my concerns about buying a trike is getting the thing on a train. I know I am going to buy it to cycle and not to take it for trips on the railways, but we would like to travel slightly farther away from home and want to travel fairly quickly without using a car. I popped on to the Hase stand and asked about  the company’s Lepus trike which has been offered in a folding version since 2016. The employee I talked to suggested that folded trikes could be put on DB German Railways regional trains but not on long distance trains. He also said there could be problems with Jobsworths - employees who would love to help you “…but it it’s more than my job’s worth”. The Hase employee had a cargo bike and found it was possible to travel by train with this bike, but from time to time he’d had problems. This was a honest answer.
Our next conversation was with an employee on the HPVelotechnik stand. Delivery times for the Gekko models is about 8 weeks at the moment. This is good news for HPVelotechnik, but it means we will have to wait when we get round to buying a trike.
We were amused to see a further advantage of a recumbent trike on the TRAIX stand (German distributors of KMX trikes): If the self service restaurant is full, take your dinner back to the trike and use the trike as an armchair:
I found the velo spring sprung handlebar grips which are made of nut tree wood an interesting concept ( Judith was less impressed. Old rubber grips after two or three years use are not things of beauty. These polished walnut grips which are internally sprung will stay good-looking for longer.
There is definitely a lot of interest in e-cargo-bikes and -trikes in view of inner city congestion, lack of car parking spaces and restrictions on diesel and petrol engined vehicles causing air pollution .
Radkutsche Musketier ( - one of many cargo bikes on show.
It could be that growing provision of high speed cycle routes has yielded dividends for the sales of velomobikes - cycle cars - enclosed body work for trike or quad bikes. The ecVelo Challenger ( with its rather neat body work on an AZUB TriCon trike caught our eye:
A good looking velomobile

One matter that was of interest was the fact that our local regional paper the Mannheimer Morgen finally noticed after well over 20 or so years that a major cycle event had happened in the area. Unfortunately another velomobile worth 16 000€ was stolen from outside a pub in Germersheim early on Monday morning after the event.
The stolen green velomobile
This theft was reported in the Mannheimer Morgen. I suspect the problem is that the Mannheimer Maimarket, a regional ideal home consumer show starts on the same day as SPEZI, and there is little desire on the part of the Mannheim paper to suggest visitors should attend an event other than the Maimarkt.

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