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Mill race in the hills near our apartment. The sign says “Cycling is not permitted”

These days you can’t even cycle in the canal, it’s health and safety gone mad…


There are many reasons our neighbours think we are strange. One is that occasionally when they bring their car out for a clean, we are lining up our bikes.* I’m not sure if the looks are because of the unusual nature of the bikes we ride or just because, they’re bikes, as in, Not Cars. And that’s just weird.

I’m a bit obsessive about cleaning my bike, probably he result of dealing with mud encrusted machines at the bike shop. I’m especially fussy about the front forks or the main bar, where mud collects easily. Fortunately the mudguards take care of most of the mud, cow poo, horse poo and assorted other semi-liquid matter that covers the cycleways around here, and the long frame of the Xtracycle makes cleaning much more pleasant as the area around the front gears doesn’t get spattered all the time, and you can get at it to clean much easier with the back wheel out of the way.

My goodness but I’m boring. As it is now spring there’s a slightly higher chance that the roads will be dry most of the time, and that I can relax on the cleaning. The bike still gets some dirt, of course, but it’s a grey-brown patina of fine road dust which makes it clear that this is a working bike, and is therefore very cool, whereas mud just looks mucky.

I think I should get out more.

Of course the real advantage of cleaning a bike is that even after I’ve taken the deck off the back, unfastened and removed the luggage carriers, cleaned the frame down, replaced the luggage carriers, removed the three kilos of rubbish I’ve been carrying about for weeks and wheeled the shiny bike into the garage, my neighbours are probably only half way through cleaning their car.

*Currently seven bikes, for a five-member family. And your point is?

In the depths of the hills towards Tübingen the forest Elves have made a spring, weary travellers for the use of.

It didn’t seem to give special powers like seeing the future, invisibilty, or even the ability to climb the next hill faster, but on the plus side I wasn’t attacked by any trolls and there were no dead sheep in the water upstream, so I was happy.

What the well-heeled farmer is building this year. Modern barn with rock outcrop accesories.

Where the lions and tigers and bears might be, and the lumberjacks had already been. (Bigger version here)

I have a habit of photographing barns: built as cheaply as possible budget, using simple materials, all ways for the same purpose, ie, a big box to keep stuff in, and yet so often highly individual, and generally ignored.

As you can tell from the title, I intend to inflict my barn habit on you as well.

[Update: sorry to people who found a blank space instead of a picture: does anyone know how to make ImageShack work with WordPress?]

Xtracycles can pull more than people think.

On the way to Tübingen, Andi waiting for yours truly to stop messing about with the camera and decide which route to follow. (bigger picture)

There were a lot of decisions to make this month, but finally things are coming together. Watch this space.

Thanks to Really Useful Bikes I was able to replace the broken clip the Xtracycle sustained when it decided to roll down a set of stairs in December*, just in time for the snow and ice to melt so I can get  bit further afield.

First long(ish) tour of the new year scheduled for Saturday.

*The shop in Germany I contacted -twice- for a replacement still hasn’t got back to me.

The Xtracycle had an accident this week and broke one of the clips on the luggage panniers. It wasn’t the Xtracycle’s fault: I had to go to something the boys were involved with, locked it to a railing and the wind blew it down some steps while I was inside.

I duly emailed the shop who sold us the Xtracycle, and they promised to send me a paypal invoice sharpish and a replacement part as soon as the money hit their account.

That was several days ago and I’ve heard nothing since. I’m still waiting for a part I ordered under guarantee two years ago, so I’m not holding my breath.

As Xtracycles are made in sunny California I imagine parts are a bit easier to come by in the US. Are there any US based readers who could order me a spare clip, and send it on to me here if I pay the postage? It’s a pain to do things this way but I really need the Xtracycle to be back in operation. Any offers of help would be gratefully received.

Update: Thanks to Nigel’s comment, I was able to get some replacement clips from Rob at Really Useful Bikes, and have a great chat with a kindred spirit about Xtraycles and Bakfietsen and things cycling into the bargain.

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