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We took advantage of the
good weather, lack of rain, slight reduction in the rain to go on a bike ride this afternoon with the boys because three growing lads in a tiny apartment is a powder keg by about ten in the morning. We visited a couple of local farms where the farmers don’t mind you making friends with the animals as long as you don’t complain when they try and eat your boots, and the boys had a great time watching some cows eating lunch, a horse being attached to a buggy, (Not as unusual here as you’d expect) and having their shoes attacked by goats, before we rolled back down the hill to pick up a bag of compost and check the seedlings in the garden.
This was not propaganda to make the boys enthusiastic about trying this ourselves one day.
I hope that’s clear.
They want chickens, cows and goats.
Eldest Son goes to a school some distance away, which is a perfectly normal here: schools tend to be far enough away that children are sent off on their bikes or public transport to get there. This is a great thing, of course, because they gain independence and experience navigating the real world without parents (except when they are brought to school in Mummy’s SUV, of course, but there’s always one).
During school hours, there is a direct tram from the next town to a stop just across the road from the school. Unfortunately this useful service goes off to bed at about six, because grownup people don’t need public transport, obviously. So if there is a parent’s evening at the school, we need to get on a tram into the city, change to another tram back out of the city, change again, go one stop, and change a final time for the last bit of the journey to the stop for eldest son’s school. This seemed a little pointless, especially as the last change involved waiting for ten minutes for a tram journey that lasted exactly fifty-seven seconds, so this time I took my bike.
Whereupon the clouds above delivered rain in large quantities.
Thankfully the bike storage at the school is covered, so the saddle didn’t get wet*, and I met another cycling parent who showed me a way through the black hole of fast roads and contraflows in one of the lesser suburbs of Stuttgart, so we got home quicker than I’d have managed by tram. I used the extra time drying off clothes, but never mind. It’ll be dry next time. Hopefully.
*The main concern of a Brooks user when it rains: ‘Must keep the saddle dry.’ The madness is catching, I tell you…
Now it is officially spring again, the cyclists are coming out of hibernation. The Xtracycle and I spotted this classy looking bike at a local metro stop.
Having more cyclists is a great idea in theory, as long as they remember they aren’t driving their car down the Autobahn and expect everyone to jump out of the way.
Eighteen months of cycling to the bus stop has taught me I need fifteen minutes for a relaxed ride, ten at speed, and about seven and a half when I forget my wallet and have to go back and get it. The bus leaves the next village at 0635, so I aim to set off by 0620.
How I expected to catch the bus on Wednesday after leaving home at half past six I’m not sure.
On arriving I cunningly worked out that I’d failed in this by the empty bus shelter and clock showing it was 0640. meaning I had to cycle to the railway station, five kilometres away from our village, and 200m lower, and the other end of a busy road. I’m a fairly experienced cyclist, I know how cars usually react and I know the road. The weather was dry and visibility clear. What could possibly go wrong?
Apart from, say, falling off at high speed and being run over by an SUV.
With this comforting thought I went through the traffic lights and dropped off the end of the world. There were a couple of interesting moments like the point the street lights stopped and we plunged into darkness on a sharp bend with a drop on the left hand side of the road. Fortunately a helpful driver assisted by driving close enough to my back wheel that he lit the road ahead of me. Stopping for traffic lights was interesting and my bottle dynamo will never be the same again, but I made it in plenty of time, and the bike was still in the bike shed -with wheels- when I came back in the afternoon.
I doubt I’ll make a habit of this as the ‘ride’ back took almost an hour of climbing via a road cycle-cross riders would reject out of hand, getting lost in a strange isolated housing estate with a thousand identical houses and crossing a seriously muddy field.
On the other hand, I could look smug when the students who commuted by car came in late, again.
Found a shortcut through the forest between us and the next town. This has the advantage that we cross over the busy arterial road into Stuttgart on this bridge rather than having to zigzag through traffic lights.
Having grown up in the UK, the ability to travel cross country without using a major road still feels like a luxury..
Youngest son had a birthday party a while back so Papa had to transport supplies (To make Minions, if you are wondering)
Notice glorious cycling weather.
Being one of those people who is anticipating the end of the world as we know it, I naturally warm to things like the Transition Network, and its emphasis on local people responding to peak oil and climate change, rather than waiting for politicians to wake up and do something about it.
Unfortunately I’m in a minority here.
Think about it. One in five people locally works for a car company, or a company making things for car companies, doing research for them, or collecting data on car sales. I can talk about local communities getting stronger as much as I want, but for most people here a world with less oil and fewer cars means potentially losing their four-wheeled status symbol, their job, qualifications, social standing, financial security and pension. Nice vegetables and knowing the neighbours may not seem much of a return.
It’s no surprise people tend to change the subject, so I’ve learned to censor myself to appear slightly less like the resident weirdo in public.
This makes reading about ‘Transition Towns’ a bit frustrating, but apparently there is a sort of conference in Stuttgart soon for people who are thinking about stuff like this. I’m not entirely sure what it will be about because they don’t seem to do updates on their website, so it was still advertising last years gathering until about a month ago, but hopefully I’ll be able to go along and enjoy sounding slightly less differently sane, or at least not being the only oddball in the room.