Friday, August 11, 2017

Changing trains in Hamburg, Germany

If you are travelling south from Hamburg by train rather than using the main railway station, Hamburg Hauptbahnhof consider using the Dammtor station just to the north. The Hauptbahnhof is very busy, whereas Dammtor is much quieter. Just check that your train does stop there before heading south using www.bahn.de. Especially if you are going to put a bicycle on the train Dammtor is much easier to use.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Bicycle of the week?

We subscribe to a digital version of the "Observer", a British Sunday newspaper. The newspaper features a Bicycle of the Week. More often than not these are expensive thin tyred road bikes without such luxuries as mudguards or baggage racks meaning they are useless as commuter bikes although they are often described as such. The "Observer" is not alone in this. Most newspapers review motor cars that are outside the financial comfort zones of their readers. I think I should stop reading these bicycle reviews. It will be better for my blood pressure.  For some reason unknown last weeks bicycle of the week is a motor bike, OK without a petrol engine, but fitted with an elecric motor: a Neematic FR/1. This ticks all the newspaper boxes: it's expensive, Price: £7,075. It probably needs a motor bike licence to ride it, at least in Germany with its top speed of 50mph (80kph). It's basic purpose in life is to be popped on the back of a car and ridden offroad skidding round forest tracks as though one is in the Utah backwoods. It's heavy though, 50kg. There are no points where one can fasten a bag, so you need to carry your gear on your back. 
What worries me is that at the moment about all these electric mountain bikes is that we spend a modest amount of time hill walking in the Odenwald and in the Pfalzerwald, where the Germans who consider that one is roughing it, if there is no chance to munch a sandwich, drink a Weizenbier, a cider or a glass of wine once one has ascended the summits, have built inns and mountain huts on the tops. In the past one saw the odd mountainbiker up the top, as  it was hard work climbing three or four hundred metres from the plains, but with electric oomph there are more and more bikers in the restaurants. Even if they lay off the Dornfelder Rosé and most off them do, they can still let the pig out on the way down as though they were taking part in the Trans Provence race. This is what mountain bikers do and it bothers me. Normally the rules are that the mountian bikers should follow the wider more gradual forest roads, but for some of them it's more fun to transfer to the paths that we walkers use. OK if I am walking uphill, I can keep my winkers open to spot any would be downhiller barrelling down the narrow paths, so I can shout "BIKE!" and jump into the bushes, hoping that she who must be obeyed has heard me and followed suite. Walking downhill is more difficult. One needs to look round like a WWII fighter pilot in a dog fight. Matters aren't helped by the advertising for the Neematic which shows a mountain biker skidding around corners burning off adrenaline. It does not encourage responsible cycling in woods packed full of families and pensioners rambling uphill and down dale.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Mudguards/Fenders

Recently I have come across three examples of bikes that in my opinion are not fit for purpose as touring and commuter bikes: two hire bikes used by a pair of US Americans in Scotland; a bike offered as a prize in competition to celebrate 200 years of the bicycle and "The bicycle of the week" in a British Sunday newspaper. I checked the bicycles of the week feature and realised that over 90% of the bicycles shown were without mudguards although they were intended to be used for commuting and/or touring. I am sorry to tell you this but in Britain it rains a lot, not as much as is popularly thought, but one can normally reckon with wet roads from time to time even in summer. Your tyres will then spray mucky water at you and your bike. If you are a fair weather commuter or tourist, or even just use your bike as a fitness machine then a bike without mudguards does give you a sportier image, but if you are going to use your bike as a means of transport then think seriously about mudguards.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Booking a touring holiday in Franconia, for example or in the far east of Germany

Where do you start planning a cycling  holiday in Germany? You can, of course, fly to say Friedrichshafen and then follow the Rhine to the Dutch border finding your finding your overnight accommodation as you drift downstream. This is not a problem if you are in a small group and you start to look for your acommodation at around 4pm.
If you would like to get off the beaten track or you are worried about your lack of German, then check out the offers such as:
Those shown on www.mainradweg.de on the River Main between Bamberg and Aschaffenburg. This self-guided pre-booked trip costs 519€ pp for 8 nights with breakfast. Contrary to what "The Guardian" writes restaurant meals in Germany are less than in the UK.
The Fürst-Pückler Weg - 500km through Eastern Germany. This self-guided pre-booked trip costs 659€ pp for 10 nights with breakfast. http://www.radreisepartner-spreewald-lausitz.de/ 
The Spreewaldradweg - 420km through Eastern Germany. This self-guided pre-booked trip costs 399€ for 6 nights with breakfast.You end up on the edge of Berlin and could then spend a day or two there and follow the route round the wall, the former border with the DDR. The website is www.spreewald.de and it is in English.

Friday, July 14, 2017

MTB Trans-Odenwald Tour

Follow in the footsteps of Wagner's heroes like "Siegfried - The Killer of Dragons" on a mountain bike rather than a horse. How do carry your sword? We are not mountain bikers, preferring to use map reading and thinking to avoid hills. This trip is on offer by one of the bike shops in Lorsch, south of Frankfurt am Main. It should be possible to fly out on an early morning flight to Frankfurt International and followed by a train to Lorsch to reach there in time to join the group. You will experience the Odenwald, one of the German middle sized mountainous or hilly areas. From Lorsch in the Rhine Valley, you cross the Odenwald almost to the Bavarian border and back across the Neckar to Lorsch. The bike shop organises the hotels, baggage transport, the sag waggon and offers technical support. The ice cream shops in Lorsch are something else. After your ice you can catch an evening flight back to Britain to go into work on Monday morning.
The requirements:The trip is only really suitable for fit, technically competent mountain bikers, but you can cheat by using a MTB e-bike. The trip is four consecutive days with a total of about 230 km and 4,000 m. Bike hire is also a possibility.If you are interested drop the organisers an email under info(at)odenwaldbike(dot)de.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Radweg Deutsche Einheit - German Reunification Cycle Trail

The Radweg Deutsche Einheit - German Reunification Cycle Trail was initiated in 2015 by the German Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, Alexander Dobrindt. It runs from the previous capital, Bonn, the "Bundeshauptdorf" - "Federal Village" as it was known, to the present capital Berlin. It is designed to show how reunification was achieved and what has happened in the 25 years since. Unlike most German cycle routes which are planned by a province, sometime acting together with another province, this was the work of the federal government. It is about 1100km long and offering some climbing as it does not follow a river like many of the major German cycle routes. Perhaps because of this plans are in place to install e-bike charging points at the stopping points near the 100 or so highlights en route. These stopping points "Radstätte" offer information, free WLAN, charging points not only for for  e-bikes and mobiles, digital information vis touch pads, bike racks and, in some cases, baggage lockers. Much more information can be found under https://www.radweg-deutsche-einheit.de/, in German only unfortunately.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Cycling Holidays in Alsace

A number of outdoor centres, holiday villages and youth hostels in Alsace cooperate to offer holidays across Alsace. You can if you wish help rebuild a mediaeval castle using authentic methods, go canoeing, learn or brush up your French and German, or hike. However the cycling trips would be of more interest to the readers of this blog: cycle touring in the North of Alsace or mountain biking along the Vosges Mountains. Much more information can be found under http://www.aja-tourisme.fr/en. If you looking for a holiday with children or young adults this could well be a solution.

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