Friday, December 25, 2015

Knooppunts (navigation nodes) on the Rhine Bicycle Route

In August 2014  we wrote that the RadregionRheinland, i.e. the association planning cycle routes and signposting in the area between Bonn and just before Krefeld mainly on the left bank of the Rhine, was bringing in navigation nodes (knooppunt). It has announced in its Christmas 2015 newsletter that the work is completed. The nodes are shown in The association has issued a map: „Radwandern in der RadRegionRheinland – Mit Knotenpunknetz und ausgewählten Themenrouten“. The map should be available from February 2016 onward from decent book and map shops (ISBN 978-3-87073-756-6). We plan to travel up there sometime this spring to check out the node numbers to incorporate the information in our The Rhine End to End Part II Basel to Rotterdam (eBook) guide available from Amazon and Smashwords.
BTW I hope the success of this system persuades other regions including the area we live in, the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region, to adopt this touring-cyclist-friendly signposting.

Friday, December 18, 2015

'nuff said! Tourist Offices recognise the importance of cycle touring.

A sentence or two I found in Huffington Post recently:

"Cities and states have long urged their residents to ride bicycles, as a healthy form of recreation and as a green alternative to driving. Now they’re recognizing pedal power’s economic potential.
Tourism officials and cycling advocates sometimes refer to tourists on bicycles as “wallets on wheels.”

"That’s because they stay longer in a state and spend more per day than other tourists."

I hope this is displayed in every tourist authority and planning office in the developed world.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Schools and Bicycles in Viernheim Part II

More on bikes in Viernheim…

We wrote to the member of staff who runs the bike team and he summed up the thinking behind the idea better than we could:

"…teenagers onto their bikes instead of watching them wait for their parents to take care of even such simple things in life as going to school.

Viernheim is small enough to make them all go by bike. I hope that once they have tried and realized that it is quicker, more convenient, and most of all it makes you independent from your parents, pupils will continue to enjoy the comforts of a bicycle."

This is an example that others could follow.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Schools and bicycles in Viernheim

A quick tale to cheer the heart, which in times like this, we all need.
Viernheim has an extensive sport park to the west of the town (or city if you're an American). There are two secondary schools, one secular and one Roman Catholic about 2km away north east of the town. The schools have sports lessons at the park that are two teaching periods, i.e. 1h30m long. It is a bit far to walk, so rather than using a bus or Mama-Taxi, the staff at the secular school investigated the option of the kids cycling to the sports park in groups supervised by a member of staff. The schools and the sports park are linked by a cycle paths. The journey would probably take about quarter of hour and allow a sensible period of time for sport training. In addition the children would learn about cycling in the town and recognise the use of the bicycle for short journeys. Many of the children at both schools come by bicycle, but there was a problem with children who lived far away or who came by Mama-Taxi. After making inquiries it was found that about 10 bicycles would cover any deficit amongst the children's bicycles. There then arose two problems:  where to get the bicycles and where to store them. 
  • German school budgets are under pressure as are public budgets anywhere. The staff at the school turned to Andreas Hofmann, who runs one of the local bike shops. He chatted up sponsors and manufacturers and came up with trumps with 10  simple robust bicycles for about €2000.
  • The staff at the secular school realised that their school did not have storage for all 10 bikes and enquired of the RC school who found they could store 5 bicycles. Both schools now share the use of the bicycles and storage. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Wertheim, A new town joins the Romantic Road Part I

Wertheim am Main, lying between Würzburg and Frankfurt am Main, has been attempting to join the select club of members of the Romantic Road for over ten years. It has finally achieved its aims and is now a member. The route of the Romantic Road is now changed. It runs west from Würzburg to Wertheim which lies at the confluence of the Rivers Tauber and Main and then follows the Tauber Valley south towards Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Wertheim itself is an interesting mediaeval town and well worth visiting. What this change means for cyclists is that the cycle route will be extended. I am not too sure how, but there seem to be two options:
  • Follow the Main cycleway for about 6 hours downstream towards Frankfurt am Main to Wertheim through Karlstadt, Gemünden and Marktheidenfeld, and then take the ADFC Five Star Tauber Valley Route.
  • Climb over the hills between Würzburg and Wertheim which appears to take about three hours. 
Myself I would go for the longer flatter option as the Main Valley is spectacular in this section and it's less work. 
There is, of course, nothing to stop you taking the old route out of Würzburg. It is an interesting series of ups and downs with a former Jewish community house and a pilgrimage chapel on the way. At the moment the weather is inclement and we will wait until the spring to check out the new signposting. We will then write an addendum to the Romantic Road guide.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Bike Hire in SW France

Bike touring in France is getting better year by year and I was interested to come across a bike hire company in Southwestern France. Bike Direct offers a good range of touring bikes, tandems and accessories at reasonable prices ( We have cycled in this area and it was very enjoyable.
Bike hire is offered in the Charente (16), Charente Maritime (17), Dordogne (24), Gironde (33), Deux-Sevres (79), Vienne (86), Haute-Vienne (87) and from 2015 in the Vendee (85). - See more at:

Bike hire is offered in the Charente (16), Charente Maritime (17), Dordogne (24), Gironde (33), Deux-Sevres (79), Vienne (86), Haute-Vienne (87) and from 2015 in the Vendee (85). - See more at:

Friday, November 13, 2015

Moselle Valley News

The cycleway along the Moselle Valley near Metz in Lorraine, known by the French as la véloroute "Charles le Téméraire" (V50 Moselle Saone) has been extended to Moulins-lès-Metz. This means it is possible to cycle on quiet roads or cycleways from the French-German-Luxembourg border to Moulins-lès-Metz. After that our feeling is that it is better to cycle up into the hills as described in our book: "The Riesling Route".

Friday, November 06, 2015

Mannheim's battle with the bicycle

To take one of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's epigrams about Cologne slightly out of context, but still on the Rhine: Mannheim, Germany, whose "…pavements are fanged with murderous stones", has problems with bicycles. Agreed the first trip by the hobby horse, the forerunner of the bicycle was made in the city. To this day local school kids follow his route one day of the year and there will be major big time celebrations in 2017 two hundred years after the day when Karl Drais swung his leg over the not very comfortable seat of his invention and propelled it and himself to a pub in Rheinau, at that time a nearby village, now a suburb of Mannheim.
However after that Carl Benz built a cycle car, but still a car and his wife nipped off to Pforzheim in 1886 to come back the next day. The age of idly sitting about during individual travel was upon us. The Daimler company, successor to Carl Benz, still builds buses and lorry engines in Mannheim. The next Mannheim inventor in this area of technology was Heinrich Lanz, initially an importer of American and British farm equipment who developed the Bulldog tractors, propelled by a semi-diesel motor. Mannheim can truly be said to be a pioneer city for individual travel, both motorised and unmotorised.
Is it a bicycle city as is repeatedly declaimed by the city fathers? I doubt it. There are some good cycle paths and there is an active cycling community, but it is still major fight to cut down space on the roads for motorists. Without this there will be no real improvements for cyclists.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Bike repair for schoolchildren

The Heidelberg branch of the ADFC, the German cycling club offers weekly repair sessions every Monday where young people can learn to carry out simple repairs on their bicycles. These free sessions - Schüler-Radwerkstatt on Mondays between 15:00 and 18:00 are led by four youngsters and the training officer of the ADFC Heidelberg.  These sessions give young people the chance to repair their bikes under instruction and thereby learn to carry out simple repairs to their bicycles. It strikes us as a good idea that could be taken up by bike clubs and youth groups elsewhere.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Rhone Cycle Route - Valence

I have written before that the French have discovered the advantages of cycle tourists for the hotel and restaurant trade. We recently stopped overnight near Valence in one of the B&B chain hotels which are normally slightly out of town centres. We decided in the morning to cycle into Valence and took the Rhone Cycle Route. I don't how the rest of the route is, but if this stretch was typical for a conurbation then the French have cracked cycle touring. It was initially on a footpath/cyclepath along the Rhone bank and then followed quiet well signposted roads into the city centre. The town did not seem to be as old as Avignon, Nimes or Orange, but it made for a pleasant morning, swanning round the town on our Bromptons, peering in a number of very odd shops. Napoleon was a member of an artillery unit there before his rise to power. There is a life sized statue of him reading some military tome much favoured by the selfie types to add a little spice to their photographs.

Good clear signposting

Frequent clear information boards

Judith caught me looking over Boney's shoulder.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Cycle touring in Provence around Mont Ventoux

Every time we go to France I notice the growth in cycle routes and cycle touring facilities. Gone are the days when the only technique, which was a good one, for the cycle tourist was to follow the white roads on the Michelin maps. It still is a good way for cyclists to get about, because France is a big largely empty country, but these days there are many cycle circuits and  signposted long distance routes available to the cyclist.
We were in Malaucène recently. This village sits at the start of one of the routes up Mont Ventoux often a make or break climb on the Tour de France.  Its bars, shops and streets are filled with the Lycra® clad. We did, by chance, have our Bromptons with us in the back of the car, but since the hill has been conquered by not just one, but several dozen Bromptoneers

and because we were visiting non-cycling friends, we decided not to bother shocking the Lycra®-clad and spent our time travelling about the area, eating large meals, etc. The kind of thing many of us do in France.
As conscientious bloggers we investigated the cycling possibilities of the area in various tourist offices and found piles of pamphlets describing circuits on the south side of Mont Ventoux. These are available in digital form on the Provence Cycling website: (
A sunny day near Mont Ventoux

Friday, October 09, 2015

Cycling in the Autumn along the Carp Route

There is much to recommend waiting until the shorter days before setting off along the Carp Cycleway: Fewer people, hotels still open and welcoming, autumn colours to see, carp harvesting and the opportunity to eat them.
We first came across the Karpfen Radweg (Carp Cycle Trail) as we were late cycling out of Feuchtwangen to our hotel in the nearby village of Thürnhofen. "It is easy, not steep, avoids the main road and takes you right past your hotel", advised the guy in the tourist office.
Since then we’ve returned many times, to walk or cycle past the many carp lakes dotted around Feuchtwangen and Dinkelsbühl. Carp ponds were a feature of local life as monasteries flourished here some 800 years ago. The monks were required to eat fish on Fridays or during fasting and as the monasteries began so towns and traders followed. It seems carp prefer to live in sluggish or dammed streams, feeding on plants, worms or crustaceans close to the mud floors. After about three years in the ponds they were big enough to harvest, by netting or draining the ponds. In early days, before refrigeration they were only eaten in certain months, after capture and being stored alive in clear running water to cleanse them. Now you can eat them at almost any season, since they can be frozen, though they still taste a bit muddy in our opinion. After the monasteries were secularised by Napoleon, many of the carp ponds probably began to silt up and disappear. However business in carp, a Christmas delicacy in many parts of Europe, now seems to be booming and the Karpfen Radweg extends from Dinkelsbühl to Erlangen some 210 km distant along river valleys and through picturesque villages and towns. En route you will find hotels and guest houses, restaurants and hundreds of carp ponds in the folds of the landscape. The route lies mostly on quiet roads, well signposted and past other cultural landscapes like the Obstwiesen, often ancient apple, pear and plum orchards. Go at the right time and you can gather walnuts too.
This is secret, leisurely Franken, away from the madding hordes in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, across old river bridges over the Altmühl, a Danube tributary and bypassing the towers of Nürnberg. The route could be pleasantly completed in a week, and there are others following on from Nürnberg if you wish. More information is available on the Romantic Franken website: Some of the pages are in German so use a translator app.
Excellent signposting
A mediaeval protein factory

The trees are old and the apples often too sour to eat…

Friday, October 02, 2015

VW and the diesel engine exhaust software fiddle mess

So the big news of this week which has largely pushed the refugees off the pages of the German press is VW's fixing of the software used to control diesel motors, so that under test conditions the car used up to 5% more fuel per mile, but emitted less nitrogen oxide. In normal operation the motor did not meet the values laid down by legislation. VW will in all probability modify the software controlling the motor so that it uses more fuel in future, but emits less nitrogen oxides. This could well mean that VW owners in Britain and elsewhere probably will have to pay 5% more fuel costs and maybe more tax, as the amount of pollution put out by the car often determines the road tax paid by the owner.

To make one thing clear. I am horrified by the actions of VW. I am also amazed. My experience of German engineers after 30 or so years working in German industry has been that they are pernickety in the extreme and thus not always easy to work with, but I have never had any reason to doubt their honesty, at least at work, apart from filling out travel expense forms.

VW diesel car owners are faced with the prospect of ca. 5% higher fuel costs.

If you have a diesel engined car what do do when the costs rise? A few answers:
  • Get on your bike. Up to 5 miles distance a bike is as quick as car especially when you don't have to find a parking spot. 
  • If the cycling possibilities in your neighbourhood are restricted or even life threatening join an organisation like the CTC in Britain or the League of American Bicyclists in the USA to press for improvements. The day that the CTC or the League has as many members as the motoring organisations is the day when politicians will really sit up and listen.
  • Walk. Think about buying a pensioner Ferrari, i.e. a shopping trolley. Use your local shops.
  • We do most of our shopping on foot or by bike. We buy less but we still have enough to eat. We throw less stuff away though. 
  • If there is any, take public transport. It helps if it is electrically powered like a tram or Bombardier's clever induction charged battery buses
  • Plan your trips so that you don't need to drive as far.

A cycle museum on the Rhine

The Rheinhessisches Fahrradmuseum, Schloß Ardeck, Schlossgasse 12, 55435 Gau-Algesheim between Mainz and Bingen on the left bank of the Rhine is a small bicycle museum. It is open on public holidays and Sundays between Easter and the second Sunday in October from 11am to 5pm. The website gives details of arranging a tour outside of opening hours. It has four departments: The bicycle in Rhine-Hessen, the bicycle as a means of transport, the bicycle in art and cycle sport. Entrance is free, but there is nothing to stop you giving a donation. in German.
It'll be open this  year in 2015, on 3, 4 and 11 October 2015, so if you are planning a Rhine tour it's worth organising it, so you can visit the Schloß. We don't mention the Schloß and its museum in our two Rhine guides, but I will put them in shortly. The Rhine guides are available as e-books from Smashwords and your local branch of Amazon: “The Rhine End to End part 2: Basel to the North Sea", "Following the Rhine gently upstream Rotterdam to Basel. A Cycle Tourist's Guide".

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 ( 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.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Take care in Bensheim

We are members of the Letzebuerger Velos-Iniativ (Luxembourg Cycling Club). Together with the City of Luxembourg and the Luxembourg government the club has produced a mini Highway Code for all classes of road users. In the cyclists' section I noticed the line that one should not overtake to the right of other road users. It is a pity that this brochure has not been distributed in Bensheim. We had cause recently to cycle along the cycle path along the edge of the Bensheim bypass. Although the path was quite wide some idiot woman on a bike insisted on squeezing past us on the right although there was plenty of room on the left. She was giggling so maybe she had looked on the wine when it was red. Just about as daft as the motorist who insisted in standing in the cycle path to lean into the car to help his wife change a baby's nappy/diaper. They might have unblocked the child but they succeeded in blocking the cycle path even though there was room on the left hand side of the vehicle on the footpath.
Though the latest news is that the town council is going to support cycling to the tune of 25 000€, which is probably half an inch of a new road for motor cars. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Mannheim powers through

I have been rude about Mannheim in the past and its relationship to cyclists, but some thing that has impressed me is the "Mannheim gibt Kette" app (, part of a programme to encourage people to cycle to work. Just about every national cycling club and health insurance organisation has a programme of this type, offering the chance of winning small prizes for cycling to work. The Mannheim app for the inhabitants of MA and the employees of the city council sums the distance cycled each day and propels one on a virtual journey along the Iron Curtain Trail from Kirkenes, Norway to Carevo, Bulgaria, offering tourist and geographical information and photographs of the areas covered. There are chances underway to answer questions to double one's daily kilometres for five days. The app is well designed. It is written by "GEVIO - Gesundheit und Prävention", 67256 Weisenheim, Germany ( A company that offers packages of measures to improve employees' health. Unfortunately the information on the web is in German but an email to the company's contact address: will bring information in English.
We have cheated, although we live just over the border in the small Hesse town of Viernheim and no longer work, we joined the game just to see how it functions. In our case we are largely not replacing car journeys by bike journeys, but trips by public transport and on foot. If we win anything we will come clean and send the gift back. The main prize is a trip to Amsterdam. Whether we will achieve the twenty days cycling necessary to be entered in the lottery for the big prize is debatable anyway.
Does it work? Yes! Since we have joined we have tried to cycle about 18 or 19km through the local woods on every day we can. Other teams have finished and we are still virtually cycling through the Finnish woods and actually cycling in Viernheim. Will we make Latvia before the cutoff date? We will do our very best.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Flow gently sweet cycle traffic (with apologies to Robert Burns)

Cycling in Heidelberg is not all nudge tactics to improve behaviour as described yesterday. The city fathers and senior planning staff meet regularly for a trip around the city and campus with representatives of the cycling community, where the cyclists can discuss actual problems with the evidence before them. A recent trip looked at parking facilities at the university library, bollards that not only restrict four wheeled traffic, but bikes with trailers as well and speed limits for motorised traffic amongst other matters. All in all the group examined twelve sites in Heidelberg where cyclists have problems and improvements were promised.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Five minutes more that could save your life - the Plus 5 campaign in Heidelberg

Thirty percent of all journeys in the centre of Heidelberg are made by bicycle. In comparison the figures for Mannheim - ten km away - are 12 to 15%. Many of these journeys to Heidelberg University and/or the university clinic. The main university campus and the university clinic lie on the north bank of the River Neckar, to the west side of the main road from the Ernst-Walz Bridge. About 7500 cyclists cross the bridge on summer days. There are narrow cyclepaths on both sides of the road. The bridge is also busy with motorists. It is only possible to cross the main road by waiting for two crossing phases of the traffic lights at the northern end of the bridge, so there is a great temptation to cross the bridge on the cyclepath on the left against the flow of traffic. This is against the law and in spite of the findings of German insurers that riding the wrong way along a cyclepath is six times more likely to give rise to an accident. The Police, the City of Heidelberg, the University and the University Clinic have worked together to reduce the number of collisions largely due to the impatient riding on cyclepaths on the wrong side. The police have been active in giving out warnings, putting up posters at hot spots, rewarding those who cycle according to the law with current buns and publishing an Internet site ( in German). One of the main themes was the idea of adding five minutes to one's journey, so that riders could travel more leisurely and show more consideration to others. All of these measures have been effective. During the period the campaign was running in the second half of 2014 accidents fell by 11%.
Interestingly enough the Plus 5 team showed another side during the dark months in the winter. Cyclists' lights were checked in November. The methods used were drastic: If a cyclist was underway with inadequate lights, he or she was given the choice of chaining the bike up and walking or letting the air out of the tyres to push the bike home. Whether these harder techniques will be used in future on those who insist on cycling the wrong way on cyclepaths? It's hard to know.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Are bike lanes invisible?

Like most regular cyclists I find my way blocked by oafs who park in painted stripe bike lanes: post vans, plumbers, shoppers, coaches, long distance buses, etc and I could go on and fill the whole blog with moaning, but I won't. I have learned to ignore these types who are too idle to walk ten metres when there is a perfectly good spot opposite the shop. Remonstrate and there's a good chance they will punch you or run you or some other cyclist off the road. It is not worth the high blood pressure. Forget it! These people have no idea and no manners. There was bike shop owner in Bolton who used to park his delivery van on a cycle lane on a busy main road in front of his shop. I am pleased to say that he is no longer there and the shop is shut.
What I didn't realise is that bike lanes are also invisible to city transport planners. The City of Mannheim, Germany is building a new tram line in the north of the city which has necessitated shutting 5km or so of track for six weeks during the school holidays. The service is now being covered by buses. At the end of the interruption passengers need to change from the tram to a bus and sometimes wait until one appears. The bus tram interchange at the southern end is by the Mannheim University Hospital just north of a bridge over the River Neckar which is also a main route for cyclists leaving the city centre to get to the northern suburbs and to the hospital. The cyclepath runs on past the site of the temporary bus stop. Unfortunately the road rises over the bridge and then drops past the hospital, so most cyclists let the pig out, i.e. speed up, as they drop down the slope. The two photographs below show that collisions and disturbances are pre-programmed. These were taken on a Saturday afternoon when there are fewer passengers. There are more during the week. Notice how the little hut has been cunningly placed to reduce the amount of space available on the footpath. The red brick area is the cyclepath.
Cyclepath (red)

The bus and tram arrive and the passengers cross to reach the bus, ignoring the cyclepath.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Bike hire in Salzburg

If you are looking for a hire bike in Salzburg, then check out "a velo rent-a-bike" on the Mozartplatz near to the Salzburg-Info. Prices range from 12€ a half day to 55€ for a week. The company offers MTBs, road bikes, recumbents, e-bikes, children's bicycles, trailers, helmets, bags and rainwear for hire. The website given on their flyer: does not work for me. Maybe the telephone number does: +43 (0) 676 4355950.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

How do bike years compare to people years?

We went by Brompton to Lorsch to a rally about the line of the new high speed railway line from Frankfurt to Mannheim. The plan is to run the line east and parallel to the A67 autobahn through a forest. In addition Deutsche Bahn plans to run goods (freight) trains along the line overnight. Many locals object to this project because of the damage to the local woods which are an important leisure area and because of fears about health problems due to noise pollution. There is a serious suggestion to submerge much of the route in a tunnel. We understand these fears, but also support any move to move goods transport away from roads to rail.
While we there we met various friends who are members of the ADFC (German Cycling Club), chatted to the odd soul on the stands, enjoyed Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake) and listened to an excellent local amateur big band. It was a fairly typical summer afternoon in Lorsch. We set off for home and in the Viernheim Woods Judith got a stick caught in the chain tensioner. The chain left the pulley cogs and the drive train jammed. We had no choice but to turn the bike over, loosen the chain tensioner and get oily. We had almost finished when two of our ADFC friends appeared and enjoyed a little Schadenfreude. One of our famous Bromptons was giving us problems. We pointed out that the bikes were twenty years old. Then came the question, "How old is that in people years?". This we couldn't answer, but it struck us that if the Bromptons were cars, and both are about twenty years old, they would more than likely be sitting on a scrap heap rather than being ridden about.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Danube Cycle Way: Hire bikes for a one way trip between Passau and Vienna

We've just spent a few days in Austria cycling down the Tauern Cycle Path from 1100 or so m down to Passau on the Danube. As usual I took the chance to check out bike hire facilities on the way. In Passau we found the Fahrradklinik ( in the old town not far from the Danube Suspension Bridge.  This shop has an innovative bike hire policy and rents high quality bikes with puncture proof tyres and in part Rohloff 14 speed hub gears. These are better bikes than we have at home. The company also offers bike trailers, Ortlieb panniers, tandems and e-bikes. Prices seem reasonable to us starting at 13€ a day for one day hire and 70€ for a week for the normal bikes. E-bikes and tandems cost twice as much. The real clincher though is that the shop offers one way hire to the edge of Vienna for 29€ extra. The shop also offers repair and service of your steeds.

Bräugasse 10
94032 Passau
T: +49 (0) 851 33411

There is a second shop in Passau in addition to Fahrradklinik offering one way hire bikes for the trip down the Danube as far as Vienna: Bikehaus. This organisation will pick up bikes from hotels and B&Bs along the route. Prices are much the same as those from Fahrradklinik: One Day: 13€, One Week 70€. Pickup prices are slighly higher than Fahrradklinik at 35€ per bike, but the company will pick up their bikes from any hotel or B&B en route between Passau and Vienna whereas Fahrradklinik uses one hotel near Vienna. The bicycles have only 8 gear Shimano hub gears rather than the fourteen speed Rohloffs offered by Fahrradklinik. The hire base is in part of the Hauptbahnhof (railway station) in Passau. Opening hours in season are surprisingly long for Germany: 9am to 1pm and 2pm to 6pm every day of the week including public holidays! The company also offers a repair service and sells spare parts, tyres, maps, panniers, clothing and drinks.

Bahnhofstraße 29
94032 Passau
T:  +49 (0) 851 - 966 25 70
Mobile: +49 (0) 151 - 1283 4224

Friday, July 17, 2015

Cycle Tours in and around Mannheim

For those of you who read German, we have contributed to the Mannheimer Morgen's "Rauf aufs Rad" a guide to seventeen tours in the Heidelberg-Ludwigshafen-Mannheim metropolitan area. This all came about by accident, as we went to a meeting of the ADFC with the MM to see if we could pick up some tips on publishing and suddenly found ourselves responsible for three tours. We wrote up the tours in the telegraph style preferred by various bicycle touring guidebooks and these were translated into something more similar to the language of Goethe by the MM. The book is available from all good bookshops in the metropolitan area. The definition of a good bookshop is one that sells our books.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Interesting free German Cycling Magazine

If you read or teach German it would  be worthwhile checking out "Fahrrad News" available free as a digital download from, from App Store: or from Google play:

Surprisingly, the magazine is as good as any of those costing five or six Euros with a good mixture of reviews, travel tips and news of new products. The only giveaway is that about 90% of the cyclists shown in photographs and advertisements are wearing helmets.

I picked up a printed copy at one of those big shed bike shops on the edge of Mannheim where oddly enough there is a parking area for hundred cars or so, but only bike racks for about twenty bikes.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Things don't always improve

We travelled to Zell on a DB (German Railways) EuroCity train. These trains along with the InterCity trains are the fastest trains in Germany that take bikes. We were on the train for six hours or so and I noticed that DB has replaced the tough grey heavy paper towels formerly used in the toilets/restrooms with much lighter, thinner, smaller, whiter, more absorbent ones. These may well be pleasanter to use and may be do not block the WC vacuum systems when oafs throw them in the WC rather than in the bin provided. However they are nothing like as useful to clean one's bike. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Changing trains with a bike in Austria or the tri-international incident on Schwarzach-St Veit station

We took the EC train from Mannheim to Klagenfurt on our way to Zell am See. I had booked the tickets three months before to obtain two of the contingent of the cheap Eurospezial tickets. My pleasure at obtaining these blinded me to the fact that we had but three minutes to change trains in Schwarzach-St Veit. We arrived in Schwarzach, left the train, looked up the platform and saw the IC that we should take to Zell am See. We pushed the bikes along the platform, looked for a bike storage slot and saw a bike logo on the window. Unfortunately ÖBB (Austrian Railways) model their trains on the Eiger North Wall and there were three or maybe four steps into the train. I staggered up the stairs with each bike. We discovered there was only one hanging space for one bike. At this point a guard appeared and explained to me in what I felt was a rude tone that I should have gone farther along the train to hang up the bike(s). It was not clear whether there was one or a pair of hooks farther along the train. I was not gruntled and so expressed my displeasure with the design of Austrian railway carriages, his tone of voice and the lack of  signposting on the station to allow bewildered foreign cyclists find somewhere to pop their bikes. I have lived in the Fatherland for forty or so years and so can on occasion rattle off an acid phrase or four in German. The guard fell back somewhat surprised and left us. Judith squeezed her bike into a corner and my bike blocked the entrance to an out of order WC. The train climbed through territory that resembled the Canadian Pacific routes through the Rockies. We cycled it a few days later and it is well worth visiting. The guard was very helpful in Zell and helped us dismount. Probably he wanted to see the back of us.

When we arrived at our hotel, our friends were surprised to see us so soon. They had travelled down the day before from Germany on an Intercity train, but had changed along the way to a local train which had very easy access. It left Schwarzach 20 minutes later and stopped at more stations, but was a delight to load the bikes. If only we'd waited.

Saturday, July 04, 2015


Like many people who live in Germany, we regularly shop at ALDI, one of the leading discount stores in the country and in Europe. We are generally very satisfied with the goods the company sells, but… ALDI sells not only its core grocery goods, but also has a series of special offers that are on sale over a number of weeks. It appears to be habit for some customers to break open sealed packets to examine what is inside them and then leave the opened packets behind. It is definitely weird. Not all the goods are handled in this way. ALDI-Süd is selling a filled pepper mill at the moment and various of the packets in our local branch had been opened today. For goodness sake, it's a pepper mill with a clear plastic cylinder and you can see the contents, What more do people want? Maybe there is a PhD or at least a Master's degree in retail sociology to be written here and maybe even a cure for the problem.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Get me to the station on time!

We cycled from Viernheim to Mannheim at the start of our recent holiday. We took the direct route along the B38 main road thereby increasing the CO levels in our bloodstream and coating our lungs with unburnt polyaromatic hydrocarbons rather than following the fresh air route by nipping off through a series of green and leafy Schrebegärten (allotments) and then running along the bank of the Neckar into the centre of Mannheim.

I am not too sure whether the direct route is quicker. There are a number of roads to be crossed with pedestrian/cycle traffic lights on the direct route and these can add up to ten minutes to the journey. Under German law a red light for cyclists or pedestrians is a red light and one should stop and wait. If the gendarmes are about it can be an expensive pleasure with fines of up to 60€ for ignoring red lights. However I suspect these are for many of my two wheeled colleagues rather like speed limits for motorists advisory rather than mandatory. Cyclists arrived at the lights, cast a quick glance left and right and stamped on the pedals to cross the road pronto, whether the lights were red or green. 
There is seemingly a little known aspect of German traffic laws that unless it is specified otherwise cyclists should travel along cycle paths adjacent to roads in the direction of the traffic on their left. The path on the right side of a road should be used by those cycling in the same direction as the motorised traffic. German cycle paths are laid out fairly economically. These are constrained by the need to have wide enough motor roads. The poor Mercedes drivers need the room for their safety protection features, electrical mirror adjustment devices and foot wide tyres. These heroes of the economy cannot be made to drive more slowly. This could mean them arriving a few seconds late at work or having three minutes less to visit an Einkaufszentrum (shopping centre/mall) thus causing a a 0.000001% drop in the DAX stock exchange results. This means that there is often not enough room for two cyclists to cycle alongside each other. Amongst the massed ranks of cyclists there are determined individualists who if given their head could transform the economy and they too like those sitting in high powered automobiles wish to cut through the red tape stopping us achieving our best. They are prepared to cycle on the wrong side against the flow of traffic on the cycle path. We had a train to catch and so put the pedal to the metal. We were not pleased to meet those wishing to shave a microsecond or two off their journey time to the uni cycling towards us a path wide enough for a bike and a half. 

Then we arrived in the city centre and met the worst problem of all: pedestrians. The cycleway across Mannheim runs along pavements/sidewalks. Along the pedestrian zone by the congress centre groups of youths practised progression on the drunken sailor random model. It is de rigeur not to look where one is going and rapid changes of direction without checking if there is anyone behind are par for the course. 

It seems to be beyond the capabilities of the average German pedestrian to notice that he or she is walking on a red path marked as a cycleway. When one politely warns them that one is approaching they turn round and  are very surprised that they are on a cycleway. Perhaps they too wish to get to the shops in time to save the economy. 

As we headed across Mannheim I was amused while waiting at a red light to observe a car whose driver was cuddling a small dog as she drove. Perhaps all classes of road user have their problems with sensible behaviour. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Where Marmots dare

We have had several requests to republish "Marmots" our guide to Swiss Route 3. It has been out of print for some years. The route is covered in slightly less detail in "Cycling in Switzerland" From Cicerone, along with all the other Swiss National Cycle Routes. Finally we gave in to the requests and we updated the accommodation, bike shop, bike hire and transport sections; checked the route cartographically and modified the page layout of the book to produce an e-book. It is available for US$ 8.99 from Smashwords. We will also produce a version for Amazon, one of these days. Kindle users too should remember that one can download a Kindle compatible formated file from Smashwords.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Cycling commuters, a rant in a minor key

We recently took part in a Mannheim ADFC tour. The ADFC is a German cycling club - similar to the CTC or the League of American Bicyclists, campaigning for better cycle facilities and organising tours of various difficulty. Our tour was on a Wednesday morning, so the majority of the riders were old fogeys, like us. We had four e-bikes amongst the dozen or so riders. It was fine day and it was good cycling through the centres of Mannheim and Ludwigshafen through heavy traffic. There were no problems motorists driving both cars and heavy trucks treated us with respect. We cycled north along a series of lakes and arrived at our destination an Italian restaurant at a tennis club. Lunch was taken and enjoyed. In many ways Italian restaurants in Germany offer the best of both worlds: good Italian food and German beer. What could be better? Well fed and replete, at peace with the world, we cycled round the edge of Frankenthal and swung south along cycle paths next to the B9 federal road into Ludwigshafen. At the start we cycled parallel to the B9. We could hear it but it was two or three hundred metres away. As we approached the dreaming spires of the BASF plant, we found ourselves on a narrow cyclepath almost rubbing elbows with 18 wheeler trucks. We still had no problems. We nipped through Ludwigshafen's centre like a hot knife through butter and climbed up the approach road to the Konrad Adenauer Bridge. There were roadworks for the fossil-fuelled on the bridge, so we passed them on the cycleway, feeling to be not only on the high moral ground, but on a more sensible means of transport. The group split up in Mannheim and we followed a series of cyclepaths along the Neckar, through a Schrebergarten (allotments) and through a former US Army residential area until we reached a cycle path along the edge of the Viernheim Forest adjacent to a busy road, but separated from the road by a thick hedge. The path is narrow and bushy and shortly after crossing the border from Mannheim the path gyrates a little swings left and right over a hummock. It is place we take care, because cyclists can come the other way. We were pleasantly gruntled. We were almost at the end of our first tour of the season, had cycled 60km in good weather, seen a few mates, heard the odd joke and eaten garlicky spaghetti, then this idiot  on a mountain bike dressed in gear more suitable for a downhill race in the Alps or a bank job with face mask shot up behind us, realised that the road narrowed, because of the aforementioned 'S'-bend, braked hard and very noisily, swerved round us out into the possible path of anyone coming the other way, pushing us towards the hedge, almost giving me a heart attack and accelerated away to cries of "Idiot" from my Mrs. I have no objection to getting a move on, but at the same time it is necessary to cycle taking account of the road conditions. We were definitely disgruntled. Under German Law cyclists should have a bell on their bikes and even if the idiot had taken his bell off his velocipede he still had a voice unless his face mask made conversation impossible. I wonder what he will do do with the microsecond he saves, write the doctoral thesis hat will deliver a cure for the common cold or a solution for world peace. Typical that the only impolite expletive-deleted idiot we met on this very pleasant day was from the ranks of the cyclists, our people. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

From Weizen-Bier to vino rosso: Over the Alps from Munich to Venice by bicycle and train

Obviously you can, if you want,  swing your leg over your mountain bike at Munich Airport, tighten your rucksack and set off on stony trails toward Italy across the Alps, risking life and limb on MTB routes, but the good news is that you don't have to bounce around on single track trails to get from Munich to Venice by bike. There is a signposted road and cycle path route with the option of taking the train up the Brenner Pass by train or bus. This means that all of us have the option to make what may well be the trip of lifetime through three countries, with two languages and through three climate zones. It is 560km (350 miles) from Munich to Venice via Innsbruck and the whole trip can be cycled in about a week though you may want to take more time. There is information available on:
  • The English version of the website does not mention the Munich - Venice route at all, however the German version has downloadable gps and gpx tracks bottom right.
  •, but the English language portion is largely in German. Persevere and you can get some information. You could also use Google Translator to get more information. 
  •  This website is the best laid out of these three websites and gives you all you need to know about the route. It is a commercial site for companies offering guided and self-guided tours. You can book the whole trip for about 800 Euros per person from Munich to Venice for an eight day trip. This is the comfortable option.
You may choose to use the information on the websites to organise your own trip. There are youth hostels and B&Bs along much of the route, which could cut your costs considerably.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Draisine/Pedal Trolley

We invited a friend along to today on a Draisine trip in the Pfalz. It was our and her first draisine trip. A draisine is small open pedal-powered railcar that runs on former branch or industrial lines. It would appear it is known as pedal trolley in US English.  In this case the line ran from Bornheim near Landau to Westheim about 12km. It crosses a number of minor roads on in part traffic light controlled crossings. Unlike normal railway lines we did not have right of way over the majority of roads and so had to switch on the red light for road users, lift a barrier and push the draisine across the road. We pedalled to Westheim, ate an excellent lunch in a local Italian restaurant and pedalled back. What we did notice was that the seating position was fixed unlike on a bike where you shift the bottom about. If we do this again I think we will wear padded underpants. The 24km there and back were quite hard on the bottom. It was good fun with lots of wildlife - birds of prey, storks and worth trying.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Hiring bikes in Darmstadt, Frankfurt, Fulda, Giessen, Wiesbaden

To mark the European Day of Cycling;
We have updated the Frankfurt page of the Cycling/Useful stuff/Bike Hire/Germany chapter on
We have written new pages for Darmstadt, Fulda, Giessen and Wiesbaden in the Cycling/Useful stuff/Bike Hire/Germany chapter on

Monday, June 01, 2015

Thoughts on High Speed e-Bikes

Friends of ours have recently spent a week or so tootling through the hills in the middle of Hesse on hired e-bikes. It is a seriously hilly district and our friends were very pleased to be able to cycle in comfort without having to get off and push or arriving at the summit of a climb out of puff, unable to speak. We have ourselves been thinking if we are ever asked to update our "Cycling in Switzerland" book from Cicerone that we'd try to scrounge or hire a pair of e-bikes to check the routes. However I don't think we wish to own an e-bike as long as the floor of the Rhine Valley in our part of the world stays flat.

I am less than gruntled though about the proposals for a Radschnellweg (High Speed Bike Path) in various conurbations in Germany, especially in combination with the desire to run High Speed e-Bikes with maximum speeds up to 45 kph. The bikes are selling like hot cakes in the Netherlands. In Germany these can be used, but are treated as mopeds. The "drivers" of these bikes need a moped licence, must wear a helmet and the bikes themselves have a licence plate. These vehicles can only be ridden on bike paths where mopeds are allowed. I am pleased about this because we normally cycle around 15 to 16 kph and the vision of sharing a bike path with vehicles going three times as fast is not a happy one.

I have heard recent comments that these restrictions will delay the development of high speed e-bikes in Germany. I can only say thank goodness!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Bike Hire in Mannheim and Middle Hesse

We've just updated our Bicycle Touring Europe website with a chapter on bike hire in middle Hesse (NE of Frankfurt am Main) and an addition to the bike hire possibilities in Mannheim:

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Romantic Road yet again

Judith has written an interesting article about the Romantic Road which has been published by Cicerone on its Cicerone Extra e-magazine: It is worth reading if you get the chance. This is our opinion and maybe we are biased.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Wörnitz Cycleway

We spend some time in winter visiting travel fairs ranging from the giant CMT event in Stuttgart in early January to minor, very minor events in shopping centres. We pick up brochures, too many brochures and sometime later when we start spring cleaning we look at what we've got and maybe find a topic for a blog or it's the bin.
Recently we found a map published by Ferienland Donau Ries, the regional tourist office for the Wörnitz Valley in western Bavaria, between Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Donauwörth across the ancient meteor crater. This shows a new route following a similar route to the Romantic Road Cycle Route. Much of the line of Romantic Road is shown on the printed map and on the website: but for some reason unknown the printed map does not show the stretch of the Romantic Road which runs through Feuchtwangen. We assume it is a mistake. This is a pity because Feuchtwangen itself is a little jewel and near by  is one of our favourite pubs/hotels: Gaststätte-Pension "Zum Grünen Wald" in Thürnhofen. The Wörnitz Valley would be a good area to have two or three nights and explore this new route in addition to the Romantic Road.

Monday, May 04, 2015

World-Klapp le 24 Heures de Schopp

The 24 Heures de Schopp, latest event in the rapidly growing SW German Klapprad racing scene was held last Friday and Saturday in the Schopp-o-drom aka the bike track in Schopp, a metropolis (1389 inhabitants) between Pirmasens and Kaiserslauten in Rheinland-Pfalz. A Klapprad is either the epitome of folding bicycle manufacture or one of those small wheeled folding bikes that were designed to be used to nip round to the baker's for couple of Brötchen (Rolls) for breakfast as long as the baker's was not more than 500 yards away.  Anymore than that and you spent the day crosseyed from the pain in your lower regions. 
Klapprad racing is a fast growing sport. The rules of 24h racing are simple:
  • The bike must be an at least 30 year old, single geared Klapprad with the original handlebars.
  • The hinge must still function.
  • The rider must wear an outfit from the 1970s with moustache. Think Jason King.
  • The Klapprad must be fitted with two functioning brakes. 
  • Because the race was to be held in part in darkness, the bikes needed lights, either battery powered or with dynamo.
  • Fake moustaches or full beards are verboten. Ladies can obtain a Bartwuchsunfähigkeitsbescheinigung (beard growth inability certificate) from the official race hair stylist.
  • Each team has four members. 
  • The team that cycles the farthest distance wins.
So what do the bikes look like?
Well originally something like this:

To get them to have a decent turn of speed you need to replace the wheels, fit narrower tyres and a bigger chain wheel (almost as big as the wheels):


You slipstream the field and let someone else act as windbreak. This photograph also shows the bar codes worn by the contestants that allowed automatic counting of the number of rounds:

Another view of the same technique showing the field and the Klapp-o-drom:

Not all the contestants seemed to address the race with the necessary earnestness:

Thirty eight teams from all over Germany took part and the winner was the Capri Sonne team:

who covered 1860 laps of the .45km track, i.e. 837km in 24h at an average speed of just under 38.9 km/h. (This is not much under the fastest speed we've achieved cycling down the Gotthard Pass with a following wind - 45km/h on bikes with good brakes and gears. That was terrifying.) Second was Klapp Sabbath at 1843 laps. Third  place was taken by the Early4Birds Team with 1828 laps. Even the tail end Charlies: Team Honnecker, we take it from the former East Germany or at least their bikes were, managed an average speed of 18.4 km/h. 

On a personal note we visited the event on Saturday afternoon almost at the end and should have introduced ourselves as members of the international press as we had to cough up 5€ a head to get in. Coffee and cake though were a very reasonable 1.50€. We also missed the riding in rain and darkness the night before which does not look as though it was enjoyable. We also wonder how much of the Pfalzer scenery the contestants saw in the dash round the circuit.  We'll see you guys in Kalmit or maybe in the Pfeiffertal on Whit Monday. Can we get a Press Ticket next time?

Friday, May 01, 2015

Public holidays and weather in Europe

I have spent many a pleasant hour or so reading "Crazy Guy on a Bike" - a website run as a place where cyclists can recount their adventures and pick up advice where to stop, cycle, eat or find the best beer in town ( Recently I was looking for information on cycling in the Netherlands and North Germany. Various of the articles mentioned difficulties with finding accommodation, somewhere to eat, shopping and the weather. I suspect there a few steps to take and a few facts to realise before you swing your leg over your bike and set out for the European Continent.

  • Accommodation: Check out accommodation before you go. Either use a search engine to find tourist office websites along your route, try to go to a tourism fair, check out our "Cycling in Europe entry" entitled "Cyclist- and bicyclist-friendly accommodation in Europe" or drop a line to the national tourist office of the country of interest. 
    • On the web you may well need to wade through a number of hotel booking websites to find an official tourist office website, where you can also find B&Bs and or holiday flats. You can also try using Name of or .dk or .fr,  etc. which will lead to the official sites. There are also regional tourist offices. Checking these sites will give you a feel for the average price of accommodation in the towns and villages on route. 
    • If you are writing to the national tourist offices, once you get the addresses of the regional or city offices write to them. Normally you will be showered with information. Read it all. As an example, we found some years ago that the average price of hotels in a string of French towns could vary by up to 50%. This will also give you a feel for how much accommodation is available. This will help you save time when looking.
    • Once you are underway, if you are not booking ahead, try to start looking for somewhere to stop at 16:00 (4 o'clock). You will rarely find anything at a reasonable price much later.
  • Eating: If you find a place way out in the country that is super remember you might want to eat in the evening and if the house concerned is 5 or 10km from the near restaurant or inn, that's what you will need to cycle to get some food. It might be worth enquiring whether your landlady can prepare you an evening meal.
  • Public Holidays: These are taken more seriously than in the UK. Shops and tourist offices will be closed on these days. Public transport will still run, but may be with a restricted service.  It is definitely not like the UK where shops are open on public holidays, so make sure you have enough supplies. Public holidays do not match those of your country.
  • The weather: It can be as cold and wet in the Netherlands as it is in East Anglia, so take appropriate gear.  The wind is your constant companion in the Netherlands, Denmark and much of Northern Germany. If you are cycling in hilly country you are unlikely to climb more than a few thousand metres per day, i.e. hills come to an end sometime, however a continental head wind can last several days and can easily reduce your normal speed by 20 or 30%. The prevailing winds come from the west. Bear this in mind when you are route planning. Just as an example if you want to cycle along the Elbe then cycle upstream with the prevailing wind behind you, rather than cycling downstream. The major continental rivers have few gradients along much of their routes. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Cycling in Amsterdam

Cycling in Amsterdam is like cycling in any major city with the exception that the city has more cyclists than you can imagine and about 400km of cycleway. There are parked bikes everywhere you look, fastened with one or often two heavy chains to street furniture. There are manned bike garages at some railway stations where you can leave your bike guarded or have it serviced while you travel up to town. Fietser (cyclists) zoom round the city, scattering all before them, up and over canal bridges, the only hills this side of Nijmegen, in their own lanes. Most of the bikes are Oma fiets (grannie bikes) single or three geared sit up and beg vintage 28” wheeled transport machines, some with just back pedal brakes. Second hand bikes are easy to come by. You can pick them up at street markets along with the important heavy duty chains. These bikes are real beasts of burden. We have seen them carrying a week’s shopping, one or two children, cellos or lawn mowers.

At rush hours the cycle lanes resemble the Charge of the Light Brigade. If you are a pedestrian crossing a zebra crossing as soon as the lights change you need to pick up your feet and run. Nobody wears a helmet apart from the shaven legged men and women on road bikes, often carbon fibre sculptures costing several thousand Euros. Nobody includes another problem on these cycleways, the Broomfietser (scooter or mopeds). These characters weave their way across the city, ignoring red lights, speed limits and pedestrians. In spite of the 400 km of cycleway some cyclists will jump a red light, cycle the wrong way down a road or across pedestrian zones to save a few seconds. It makes a pedestrian’s life interesting. After a while I developed paranoia both about cyclists and the expletive deleted Broomfietser. It probably kept me alive though. If it sounds like chaos it is, but it works. Bike traffic flows and in the main most of the cyclists are good humoured. 

We didn’t cycle when we were there. The friends we met there, were worried by the sheer volume of two wheeled vehicles. If you ever decide to cycle there, the best advice we can give you you is to get off the cycleway when you decide to stop to look in a shop window or your knowledge of Dutch will increase by leaps and bounds. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Bike Hire in Amsterdam

Obviously in a city where 60% of all journeys are made by bicycle, it is easy to hire a bike in Amsterdam. There are bicycle hire companies all over town. These bikes are well maintained and prices are roughly the same. Competition is such that companies offering poorly maintained or expensive bikes would rapidly go out of business. Practically all of these hire bikes are brightly coloured and bear an advertising slogan or logo from the shop or hotel they were hired from. There is however at least one exception:

Bike City

Bloemgracht 68-70
1015 TL AMSTERDAM (Across the Prinsengracht canal from the Anne Frank House on a side canal.)
Telephone: 020 626 3721
Fax: 020 422 3326

For city use this company rents out black solidly built three and seven gear city bikes with two hand operated brakes. You are indistinguishable from local cyclists. The three gear bikes can be hired from upwards of half a day. The seven gear city bikes are slightly sportier, intended for use farther afield and have a minimum hire period of two days. The company does offer some slightly cheaper single gear bikes with coaster or back brakes which are adequate, as long as you are used to riding this type of bike. 

Bike City also has ten aluminium framed Hybrid Bikes with a minimum rental period of a week which are a cross between a mountain and a city bike that come with Ortlieb panniers front and back, 28" wheels, an eight speed derailleur, a 5-function speedo, lighting front and rear, SPD combi pedals, a bottle holder, a pump, toolkit and 2 locks. (Bike theft is a major industry in the Netherlands, so make sure you lock your bike to something substantial before leaving it, no matter who you hire from.) If you are holidaying in Europe and want to have a week or so's cycling, then you can hire the bikes, pack the panniers, leave your suitcases behind and set set off to explore Holland from the Rhine delta around Rotterdam and Maastricht in the south up to Groningen in the north. Cost in 2015 is 172.50€ for the first week and 22.50€ a day after that. You have to return the bikes to Amsterdam. You will need to pick up your cases anyway.

A disclaimer just for the record: We have no connection with this company and have received no payments either in cash or kind for this blog. I was very impressed by the company's website when we were planning a trip to Amsterdam with friends. For various reasons we did not do any cycling when we there, but as our friends were stopping nearby we visited the shop and I talked to the one of the team. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

e-bikes in Saarland II

To order a free of charge folding map with cycling tour suggestions, rental stations and other useful information, please call the tourist authority on 0049 (0) 681 927200 or email or check Saarbrücken, the starting point for many of the suggested tours is easy to reach via its own airport and Luxembourg and Hahn airports. You can also take a TGV or an ICE from Paris. 

This is the only e-bike rental company in Saarbrücken, the capital of Saarland. Most visitors to Saarland will pass through the city. Check with the company before you arrive. There are obviously a limited number of bikes to hire. 

by.schulz GmbH
Vorstadtstrasse 53
66117 Saarbrücken

Tel: 0681 / 925 52 52
Fax: 0681 / 925 52 53

Schulz and Co offer Swiss built Flyers. The website is in German, I am afraid. (Hint Google Translator)
Rental costs for e-Bikes:
Half day EUR 12
One day EUR 20
Weekend all-inclusive price EUR 35 (from Friday 1 pm to Monday 1 pm)
For seven days: EUR 110

If you have ten days to two weeks to spare  you could pick up an e-bike in Saarbrücken, explore Saarland, Luxembourg and part of Lorraine or what I would be tempted to do is follow the Saar Coal Canal down to the Marne-Rhine Canal, where little added e-power is needed. Then cross over the Vosges where assistance is useful and look at the Inclined Plane in St Louis Arzviller, before cycling across to Strasbourg. After Strasbourg I'd head north through Speyer, Heidelberg, Worms, Mainz and Bingen to cycle through the Rhine Gorge with its castles and vineyards. In Koblenz you can turn left to follow the Moselle upstream to Trier, Germany's oldest city, founded by the Romans. The e-bike is very useful in the Moselle Valley as the cycle route climbs up and down the valley sides. Finally you reach Saarland again and can follow the Saar to Saarbrücken. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

E-bikes on the Berlin to Copenhagen Route

The organisers of the Berlin-Copenhagen Cycle Route ( have put out a booklet called "Grenzenlos vernetzt" "Exploring the Berlin-Copenhagen Bikeway by Pedelec" which lists 57 points on the cycle route - cafés, hostels, camp sites and hotels where e-bikers can charge their steeds. Normally there is a small charge unless you stopping in the accommodation. Although the hard types who can cycle up the side of houses are probably wondering why you need an e-bike to cycle across flat landscapes. It is true that Denmark is remarkably flat. The highest hill in Denmark is lower than the highest hill in the Netherlands. However the wind in Denmark can blow as strongly  and as long as its Dutch equivalent. Hills finish at 8,848m (29,029') the height of Mount Everest, but the wind can blow for weeks. It is not such a daft idea after all to take an e-bike.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Don't forget, it's SPEZI 2015 over the weekend of 25th April

SPEZI has crept up on us this year. In two weeks time we'll be visiting the 20th SPEZI Special Bike Show on 25th and 26th April in Germersheim. It is world's largest show for recumbents, recumbent tricycles, quadracycles, folding cycles, tandems, family cycles, velomobiles, cargo bikes, e-bikes, special needs bikes, adult kick scooters, child and load trailers, hand propelled bikes, mobile exercise bikes and accessories. If I haven't miscounted there are 115 exhibitors from all over the world. This is a good chance to talk to the makers of your favourite or dream trike and then to nip out and burn round a test circuit.
Something that shows how normal cycling has become in Germany at least, is that two exhibitors are showing bike stands and garages. 

Thursday, April 09, 2015

World Klapp The Le Schopp 24 Hours Race

Over the last couple of years we have written about the klapprad races organised by a group called the Pfälzer Klappvereins (Palatinate Klapprad Club). There is an annual hill climb up Kalmit on the edge of the Rhine Valley in early September. Last year the club went to Berlin and held a short 7.2km race around the government quarter in the German Capital. This year the klapprad community requested a longer race so that members of the Klapprad community could spend more time together.  Thus the club is organising a classical 24h race 24 hours le Schopp in the village of Schopp (Schopp-o-drom) near Kaiserslautern on 1st and 2nd May. Each team will have four members. The team that has completed the long distance wins. There will be a maximum of 48 teams. At the time of writing thirty teams have signed up for the event.  The racing machines must be an at least 30 year old 20" wheel single geared klapprad with its original handlebars.  Every starter needs to reflect the styles of the 70's, when klapprads were king or queen. This is especially true for the obligatory mustache. Fake mustaches or full beards are verboten. Ladies can obtain a Bartwuchsunfähigkeitsbescheinigung (beard growth inability certificate) from the official race hair stylist.
Much more information and registration forms can be found on the World Klapp website:

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Update on cycling in Strasbourg/Straßburg

We were there today and the good news if you're not a pedestrian is that there are many more bikes underway than there were were two years ago. If you're a pedestrian watch out as some cyclists push their way through the crowds of shoppers and sightseers treating the pedestrian zones as cycling zones.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Aldi Mountain Biking Gear

Aldi UK are selling mountain biking gear on 12 April. Items include amongst others:

  • Male and female waterproof jackets. The jacket seems to be a bit short on pockets or maybe the description is short on detail.
  • Male and female base layers
  • Male and female jerseys
  • Garmin Edge 200 cycle computer for £69.99!
  • A good looking repair stand for £24.99.
Aldi gear is competitively priced, well made and sells out soon, so pop in your local store on your way to church or on your Sunday run. More details under We have no connections with Aldi, other than being satisfied customers.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

E-Bike Hire in the high portion of the Black Forest around Hinterzarten

The Black Forest features some serious climbs and some of us who are long in years are beginning to think about renting an e-bike, rather than our usual technique of cheating by sticking to river valleys and even taking to the train or bus to ascend the hills. Over the next few weeks we will try to list those hotels, organisations and shops who rent out e-bikes in the Black Forest. We will also try to mention in addition whether a hire company has normal bikes in case you have purists or keeny-beanies in your party. There are over two hundred e-bike charging points in the Black Forest and a goodly number of hire points. While your bike is charging you can lunch or eat a serious sized portion of Black Forest gateau. (All of the portions of BFG in this neck of the woods are enormous.) Obviously you need to check beforehand whether your hire point has bikes available and whether in the case of a hotel the management is prepared to hire to non-guests. You will need a passport or identity card and probably a returnable deposit to hire the bikes in addition to the rental fee.
Müllers an der Staumauer Boots-/Fahrrad-verleih, 79856 Schluchsee
T: +49(0)1703803299,
Daily 10-18:00, Closed November to Easter
8 E-Bikes
1/2 Day 15€
Day 25€
Gasthof Grüner Baum, Bärhalder 2, 79868 Feldberg-Altglashütte
T: +49(0)7655 932227,
Daily from 12:00, Restaurant Ruhetag Monday and Tuesday opens at 18:00
2 E-Bikes
1/2 Day 15€
Day 25€
Hotel Kesslermühle, Erlenbrucker Str 45, 79856 Hinterzarten
T: +49(0)7652 1290
Daily closed Mid November for four weeks
2 E-Bikes
1/2 Day 12€
Day 19€
Erfurth's Bergfriedhof, Sickinger Str 28, 79856 Hinterzarten
T: +49(0)7652 1280
Daily 09-18:00
2 E-Bikes
1/2 Day 15€
Day 19€
Hotel Thomahof Erlenbrucker Str 16
79856 Hinterzarten
T: +49(0)7652 1230
2 E-Bikes
1/2 Day 14€
Day 19€
Landhotel Haringerhof, Brandhaldenweg 1, 79865 Grafenhausen
T: +49(0)7748 254
Friday to Wednesday 10-24:00, Closed Thursdays
2 E-Bikes
1/2 Day 10€
Restaurant Sonnhof, Schwarzwaldstr 9, 79777 Ühlingen-Birkend.
T: +49(0)7743 92010

Monday to Sunday 10-21:00
2 E-Bikes
1/2 Day 9€
Day 16€

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