wheels_on_wheels

Fresh wheel delivery by Bakfiets

The Elder Son has frozen onto my commuter bike as his preferred form of transport, and was ready to go on a bike tour. This meant moving his saddle over to the commuter and fitting a new wheel with a hub dynamo, something I’ve been meaning to do for ages, but as usual I faffed about and didn’t get on with it.

The wheel intended for the commuter bike was on the Xtracycle, bought as an emergency replacement in January when the original wheel rims finally split after being worn down over twenty years of use. Last week I finally bought a better wheel for the Xtracycle, so now we had to move the wheel on the Xtracycle over to the commuter, after removing the tyre, put the new wheel on the Xtracycle and take the older, dynamo-less wheel off the commuter. this would donate its tyre to the wheel off the Xtracycle before disappearing into the cellar.

Because we can’t do things the normal way, we added another elderly front wheel out of the cellar, and used that to prop each of the bikes in turn as we worked on their wheels. I have no idea why I have so many used bicycle wheels.

There was one interesting moment when I thought the brakes on the commuter were acting up as I couldn’t set them straight, but this was solved by pushing hard on the handlebars, which knocked the wheel in straight and suddenly everything made sense

I then made exactly the same mistake on the Xtracycle, but as we are taught at college, Occupational Therapists don’t make mistakes, we have ‘learning experiences’.

At some point when I’m less embarrassed about it I’ll tell you about the learning experience we had with the brakes and the saddle on the next day…

 

DSC_7626

Beautiful Daughter is now big enough that she doesn’t need a baby seat to travel in the Bakfiets, which means we can carry other things besides the resident small person, and we can go on a ride without Daddy mucking about with a rope for ten minutes to make sure the child seat is properly secured, the Japanese makers having neglected to make it compatible with a Bakfiets for some reason.

The Small One also approves because in her new sitting position she can see what is happening, instead of watching her dad pedaling away. From her point of view, this is a definite improvement.

bigbike

Three months have just vanished. We’ve gone from ‘getting to know you games’ to the first exams, and the first internship is starting after the summer holidays (did I mention that I have full school holidays? Six weeks off? just checking).

Meanwhile Eldest Son, who originally featured in the early days of this blog riding on a bike with stabilisers, is now able to ride on the commuter bike, hence the presence of both bikes at the end of the local tram line.

I feel old…

Sometimes I think I shouldn’t be allowed out alone.

Yesterday we had good cycling weather, so I cycled to the tiny tram stop at the edge of the valley to catch the tram down the hill. I’ve found this is far easier than dealing with the Scary Hill of Doom with impatient motorists first thing in the morning. The tram stop is hidden away in a quiet corner of the city, and comes complete with a convenient railing. I locked the bike to this (a bike rack would be preferred, but you can’t have everything), waited a few minutes, and got on the tram.

Leaving my cotton cap on the bench seat in the tram stop.

It wasn’t until I got off at the bottom of the hill that I noticed a distinct lack of headgear.

Fortunately the locals are too honest, or too wealthy* to be bothered with such things as a grubby hat, and ignored it for the seven hours it took me to come back and find it.

*Judging by the size of the houses, I suspect the latter.

It’s exam season at college, and that means getting the remaining functional brain cells to work trying to learn things.

KL_02_Erträglich

It turns out I’m a visual learner and I don’t remember abstract concepts very well, so to get some of the ideas into my head, I hit on the idea of making posters for them. The process of making the pictures and drawings helps me retain the information, and I have a visual idea to try and recall during the exam.

That’s the theory. And I get to draw stuff in the class, and call it revision.

I’m supposed to remember the word at the back, ‘erträglich’, meaning ‘sustainable’, as in ‘a job doesn’t cause long term health issues’. I’m using a play on words which I’m sure has German speakers rolling on the floor already;  to allow English speakers to join in the hilarity I should explain the German word for ‘carry’ is ‘Tragen’: so he’s carrying something. (Tragen and Erträgen, gettit?) I’m hoping this will help me remember the point.

I’m also hoping they won’t deduct marks for bad puns…

Occasionally people  who know me through the blog ask why I don’t just ‘become self employed’ as a carpenter, instead of faffing about for another three years learning occupational therapy.

Apart from this showing a highly optimistic view of my abilities, in Germany a carpenter/cabinet maker is under the authority of the Carpenters Guild, which decrees that even after a three year apprenticeship, no-one is ‘permitted’ to be self-employed unless they have completed a master carpenters qualification. This takes another two years and you have to practically be an engineer or mathematician to get through it. It also costs 15 to 20 thousand Euros.

Most of which goes to the Carpenters Guild.

The result is that most self-employed carpenters about are (1) mathematicians; (2) in debt, (3) largely keen to keep the status quo going, having invested so much in it, and (4) paying members of the trade guild and therefore able to keep things the way they are*.

And then there’s the startup costs. Carpentry here is machine intensive and machines aren’t cheap: I’d have to take on a frightening amount of extra debt to set up a workshop. I’d then spend 20 years getting stressed out making boring chipboard furniture to pay it all off. Except that the machines will be ‘too old’ and ‘too slow’ in twenty years time, so I’d have to start all over again.

Or I can learn to be an occupational therapist, which frankly sounds a whole lot more fun.

I’ll also be at least twenty thousand Euros better off…

*Quote from one master carpenter on the subject: “I had to pay to get my Masters’ Qualification, so you should too.”

Porteur_01

 

Well, it turns out there’s a lot to be said against using hardwoods for luggage racks. Sure, they’re nice and solid, but it made the bike turn like I’d cable tied a stack of bricks onto the front forks. As the route to college has a number of those ridiculous chicanes made to slow everyone* down when the cycleway crosses a road, it became a decision between taking up weight training just to get the bike around corners, or taking the whole contraption off. The rack also developed the interesting habit of sliding forwards and downwards, something I really should have expected if I’d been paying attention.

I think I could probably sort out most of the problems: I could make the rack lower, and about 8 cm shorter so it didn’t hang over the front of the bike as far, and add another fixing point to the forks so it doesn’t try to keep going whenever I brake, but at the moment what’s left of my brain is mostly engaged in trying to remember enough of my course to survive the first theory tests, so any bike related projects will have to wait for a couple of weeks until there’s spare capacity available.

*Excapt cars of course, because… er…

We are still in exam season.

The subjects people have chosen are varied and interesting: we’ve had Thai kickboxing, origami, fondu making, and some weirdo who decided to sharpen a plane, but after a while interest wanes. Every exam requires 90 minutes including evaluation and there are twenty students, and we all have to do it twice… That’s eighty ‘school hours’, an official German ‘school hour’ being 45 minutes long -don’t ask me I didn’t write the rules- which means ten solid days of tedium. Fortunately the staff are aware of this and are happy for us to read if we want as long as we don’t disturb anyone, but you can only look at so much about Brexit in German before that too begins to lose its excitement. If it had any at the start.

It’s enough to make you long for a week of education theory, which is good, because that’s what is coming up on Monday.

On the other hand, the weather has improved so I can ride my bike through the forest to get to college, and tomorrow I have pottery class; all day.

Sharpen_003
Finally made the practical exam and got a 1,05, which is a pretty good grade, as the system starts at 1.0 and goes down to 6. This is largely due to the kindness of the College in letting me do the exam without the whole class watching (lovely people, to be sure, but doing an exam with 20 pairs of eyes on me was not going to work), and despite my reprinting the report at the last minute and managing to forget an important section, but I was allowed to bring that on Monday. My tutor is clearly still in a good mood having just become a dad…

Now I can relax, until the mid-term theory exams…

I had several ideas for todays post, and was in fact thinking about it when Beautiful Wife came in and reminded me that I was Supposed to collect Middle Son from his school sleepover at ten, and it was half past nine. And Middle Son’s School is two towns away.

So being a dutiful, if slightly forgetful dad, I set off on the Xtracycle to get him. With fifteen minutes to go. The weather was fine, not too hot, but nice and dry, as in fact it has been almost all week.

As I left the driveway, it began to rain. Hard. Which I think is unfair: it isn’t like I cleaned my bike or anything.

Thankfully, I’m British and pessimistic* so I’d grabbed my elderly waxed cotton rain coat on the way out. This coat is the source of much dismay to those more fashion conscious than I -which is to say, everyone else- by virtue of being as old as me and almost as tatty around the edges. But here’s the thing: whenever I use a jacket that passes the fashion police, it tends to have the waterproofing of a sheet of loo roll. When I took this highly unfashionable item off, I was much drier than my more sartorially aware colleagues.

My nice smug feeling almost compensates for the fact it is still raining…

*There’s some redundancy I can’t quite place in that sentence…

 

 

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