Monday, January 25, 2010

Winter Cycling Spiked tyres

Winter cycling or at least cycling in snow even with a helmet is something that we don't want to do. Both of us have fallen with or from our bicycles when cycling in summer following moments of inattention without major injury except to our pride. However being balanced on a two wheeled device when the wheels can easily slip on a greasy icy surface strikes us as being on the daft side. We don't do it. We walk. Old-fashioned but it works.
There is a technological cure for sideways slipping tyres which we have not invested in. You can buy spiked tyres. Schwalbe for example produce Marathon Winter tyres with tungsten carbide spikes. An acquaintance of ours who commutes about 10 km daily summer and winter on a forest track speaks highly of them. There is another piece of high tech equipment that is often ignored in Viernheim - the glove. I was out shovelling snow this morning at temperatures of about -1°C when a young lad cycled past with one bare hand clutching the handlebars and the other tucked up his jacket sleeve. I doubt if he could have used both brakes quickly in case of an emergency and the bare hand must have been seriously cold. As one says in Lancashire, "No sense, no feeling".

Monday, January 18, 2010

Plans for the summer

On Saturday we are due to go to a knees up organised by the regional ADFC (German cycling organisation, similar to the Cyclists' Touring Club in the UK and the League of American Bicyclists). "Knees up" is probably the wrong term. We are going to drink coffee and eat tiramasu, rather than brown ale and jellied eels. We are due to discuss our projects and cycling last year and the plans for this year rather than standing round the Joanna* singing about "My Old Dutch"* and sending out for a Ruby* afterwards. I have noticed that the cycling blogs too are in this reflective and planning mode. It is a bit too cold and/or icy to get out on the bike, so it is a good time to settle down, report and do some thinking. Judith has already reported on our year in the last blog, so what are we debating doing this year? Well, our Rhine II book is still selling quite well and the Ruhr is one of the European cultural capitals this year, so a trip to the Lower Rhine is on the cards. We have talked for some time about cycling the Weser Cycle Route. We enjoyed our time up in Schleswig-Holstein very much and the routes up into Denmark are also very interesting. Maybe this is the year we go down to southeastern Bavaria to look at the Pope Benedict Route. There are large chunks of eastern Germany, the Oder-Neise Route, for example, we would like to visit. We definitely want to carry on with our day trip series in the Rhineland Palatinate, published by Guide Gecko. There is even a 420 km mountain bike route through Alsace which could well be good fun if we can get fit enough. We will have to see.

*For any non British readers:
"Knees up" is a raucous party. The name derives from a 1938 popular song "Knees up Mrs Brown".
"Joanna" is Cockney rhyming slang for a piano.
Dutch is London slang and is an abbreviation of Duchess, i.e. My Old Dutch is my wife. It is another popular song.
A "Ruby" is Cockney rhyming slang for a curry from Ruby Murray, a 1950's pop singer.

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