As expected, I’m technically ‘unfit for work’ at the moment with bronchitis and other things. From experience the symptoms improve much quicker if I move more and get outside, so I’ve been gingerly trying to ride a little over the last few days.

Taking a camera seemed a good excuse to stop frequently while the coughing goes down.

I followed a similar route on the first few days, to make it easier for search parties. After dropping Beautiful Daughter off at kindergarten, I’d ride up the hill out of the village and stop to cough photograph the view:

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I also took a quick portrait of the Xtracycle, just because.

It’s not looking too bad. A bit tatty after all these years, and in need of some work where things have started to go boink occasionally.

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Pretty much like its owner then.

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I’d keep to the flat land above the village which means going around the end of several small valleys. Normally this would give a view of the hills in the distance which mark the Rhine-Danube watershed, but yesterday there was too much mist so you’ll have to believe me…

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Past the Mystery farm, empty for at least fourteen years because to live there you have to earn money from the land. I keep wondering if the local town would be open to a ‘city farm’ type arrangement with bike cafe and theatre.

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Stopped again at the edge of the forest simply because I like it here.

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Through the forest and down the valley back to our village…

To my surprise this was nearly 10k when I checked on the map. Took me the better part of an hour though.

More mildly adventurous riding to come.

…Eventually.

It’s not my fault I missed the last weeks blog entry: it’s due to the European political situation.

Lets face it, that beats “The dog ate my homework” as an excuse any day.

I seem to have managed to end up with several important official deadlines within a week or so of each other, the main one being getting the paperwork together for the boys naturalisation as German citizens, as the German government has decided that all applications made before the 29th of March by British nationals will be dealt with as applications by EU citizens and therefore eligible for dual nationality.

I also needed to hand in my final project for my Arbeitserzieher/Occupational therapist qualification, ready for my Colloquium next month. As with last year I’m not entirely sure if I wrote something sensible or complete and utter gibberish but my Mentor says it is okay and she wasn’t even laughing so I sent that off last week.

We managed to hand in almost all of the naturalisation paperwork last week as well, and bless them, they allowed us to send the missing items in as a scan two days later, so that’s hopefully sorted.

In theory this means more free time, except that it seems my system had been pushing to keep going while those were unfinished & now I’m done various parts are calling in their accounts. A cold that had been hanging about on the margins has come in with a vengeance, started a party with my asthma, and invited a few friends, so now I’m coughing and sniffing, and likely to be signed off for the week.

Mind you that’s just as well, because I’ve got to deal with the paperwork for the exams, and prepare my final presentation, so I wouldn’t have had time to go to work anyway…

If I’m going to do any of these epic cycle routes I’m promising I need to get more cycling done generally, so my legs are used to the idea. With the snow holding off for now due to the magic power of snow tyres I’ve been investigating a couple of more interesting/challenging routes for the evening commute.

I’d wanted to explore one of these a few days ago but I quickly realised I’d freeze Beautiful daughter, So this week I went off to find the ‘Western Route’ through the forest.

I took the bike into work and rode the tram back up the hill (There’s ‘challenging’ and there’s ‘200metres in about four kilometres’) Notice commuter bike because Xtracycle is sulking with a broken gear shifter.

Tram nerd information: Stuttgart’s tram system is partly dual gauge: the curved line visible is metre gauge, and the trams behind are on standard gauge track. The metre gauge system is limited to a couple of lines for preserved trams from before the gauge change.

So now you know.

You are never more than ten minutes from dense forest in Stuttgart, even in the centre of the city.

This trail is a nice one: a good surface, dead straight and very slightly downhill. There’s an ecology centre just off this trail about halfway down that I’m applying to work at: you never know…

After getting slightly lost I found the exit and emerged onto land belonging to the local agricultural/environmental studies university. Last time I was here I turned to the left and got stuck on a busy road. This time, I was pretty sure turning right would get me on a better route

It did too.

To show I don’t live entirely in a bicycle Utopia, I had to cross this junction to get to our village. Look. Cars.

This trail has been badly damaged by flooding. I hope it gets resurfaced soon but knowing our local council I’m not holding my breath.

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Also: Hills.

In our village, and perpetual building site. I can’t remember one time in the last 15 years when there wasn’t a crane somewhere.

View from balcony after getting back. Just because.

A bare 7km, but now I know I can get through, I can combine it with other routes and make something more challenging.

Elder Son is now a teenager, which amongst other things means that we have to arrange the bike project around his rather complex social life, but we found a couple of hours last Saturday when he was passing through so we could prep and prime the bike frame. We ordered primer, found some masking tape hidden under a sink plunger (don‘t ask me) and had been hoarding big cardboard boxes until the cellar looked like the back of a post office.

In other words, for once we‘d managed to get organised and prepare in advance, so of course it rained.

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Thankfully I work with a local organisation and they allow us to use their facilities, including a creative workshop that has nice big windows that open. We threw everything into the Bakfiets and got thoroughly damp riding over there. Of course the rain stopped as we arrived.

We set everything up, opened the windows and shook the cans thoroughly. We looked smugly at the fresh rain outside

Then all the windows closed.

It turns out the skylight closes automatically when it senses rain. Some genius connected this to the windows so now we were in a small airtight box.

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We decided to be optimistic: there was blue sky out there, so we would wait out the rain and incidentally attack the frame with sandpaper and get rid of anything that was less than absolutely smooth.

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To my rather great astonishment the sun came out half an hour later, and after repeated prodding of the switch the windows opened and Elder Son got to work.

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Now he‘ s thoroughly enthusiastic about spray painting, and we‘ re arguing about which colour the finish should be…

Snow_2019_01_25.JPGThe Commuter is currently the main workhorse by virtue of being the only bike with spiked tyres. Today it was a trip to the local government office as part of the rush to get our boys naturalised as German citizens before March the 29th.

Snow spikes work so well I can cycle over surfaces where pedestrians were skittering about all over the place: I give them a lot of space to fall over.

I have since discovered one disadvantage: when swapping over to a Bakfiets with semi slick tyres you have to remember not to try turning on snow…

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If I’m honest, not a lot of cycling happened this year: I didn’t even take any particularly long rides, which is a bit disappointing. In my defence I was finishing my theory exams, starting work at my internship, and working on all kinds of Brexit- related officialdom, but still…

Worse, 2019 looks just as busy with the final project due in a couple of months, then a presentation to an examination panel the month after, followed probably by a new job and possibly a house move after that.

On the other hand, one goal I’ve been consistently setting myself every year and then completely failing to achieve is an imperial century: 100 miles or 160k I came close a couple of years back with a couple of 120k runs but that’s a mere 74 miles, so I’ve a way to go yet.

In the unlikely event of me actually achieving this, and you’ll notice, before actually riding anywhere, I’ve got all ambitious and decided I’ll make a ‘stretch’ goal of 200k/124 miles, possibly as an unofficial randonnée /audax ride, just because.

On this subject, Elder Son and I will hopefully complete the randonnée bike this year and make some tours on the same. As this is currently a frame on our balcony there’s some work to do there as well, but we’re making slow progress. He’s even said he may -possibly- even come with me on a few rides…

I’d also like to do some more drawing again, make some more spoons…

What is the one thing you don’t want to happen when, for example, you need to write a final project for a three year course (deadline: Soon) and incidentally send a stack of applications to possible employers?

Probably, the computer breaking down, on a week when there were no shops open so no possibility of getting it fixed or replaced in a hurry.

So guess what happened just after Christmas?

The all important project was already stored on a stick; external hard drive; my computer at work; and the work network, but I could have done without the extra complications*.

I can fix bikes and furniture but computers need more subtle approaches than whacking them with hammers, so after a technically minded friend declared death two weeks ago I started looking for a replacement. I now have a slightly newer ex-lease laptop, so I can at least write blogs again.

I mean, work on my project… I can work on my project again. That’s what I meant.

Normal service will be restored as soon as possible.

*Much more seriously, the proxy server at work has started blocking WordPress. I can’t think why.

The plan was for a 20k ride with Beautiful Daughter on the back, towards Stuttgart and then through a forest to a rather attractive castle. From there we’d follow a road through the valleys out into the countryside and wiggle back up through the hills to our village. The roads were dry and the wind had died down, so what could possibly go wrong?

Well, as we went past the local chemist their thermometer was displaying a temperature of -1°c. This wasn’t too much bother for me as I would warm up quickly hauling Beautiful Daughter up the hill, but it occurred to me that after 20km I’d probably have to chip my passenger off the back seat.

Then the Xtracycle gears decided was too cold and started playing up.

So we cycled around the local villages and followed the tram line for a bit then coasted back over the fields, and spent the next hour under a blanket drinking hot chocolate instead.

There’s always next time…


(Attempt at artistic photo utterly fails to show essential details.)


Most available brain capacity for the last few week has been taken up working out how to get the now cleaned frame, someone capable of welding and the Romanian braze-ons in the same place at the same time. There is such a person where I work, but getting the frame to him required some rather complex logistics arrangement involving Eldest Son, the commuter bike, several buses and a couple of trams.

After that it was a matter of saying what I wanted and not jumping through the door every five minutes to see if he’d finished.

By the time the bike was ready to come back I’d concluded that this sort of thing is what Xtracycles are for, so on my next Saturday shift -doing lighting and some stage management for an English speaking Panto group- I cycled down into the city and loaded up for the return.

I cheated for some of the way and took the tram on the worst of the hill.

Judging by the looks from other passengers people transporting freshly welded bicycle frames on a longtail are not a regular sight in suburban Stuttgart.

Life has been getting busy. Again. Mostly this is because I work in a theatre and we’re having the annual Christmas silly session but also because I’m supposed to be writing a report/dissertation for my final year. However, we are making some progress, and interesting things have been arriving at the Ingermany household.

The first is this package from Romania, which is apparently the only place in Europe where you can get old school braze-ons for traditional gear levers. This is the result of far too much thinking and a lot of online questioning after discovering the normal solution for fixing gear levers to the bottom bar -a collar clamp- wouldn’t be possible because the bar is about 1mm too thick.

You don’t have to braze bits on the bike. You can drill a hole through the frame and bolt the gear levers onto that, but I’m a bit jumpy about messing about with the integrity of the frame.

Having finally found how to fix levers onto the bike, we ordered a set of levers from Elder Son’s employer, who themselves ordered them from the Shimano EU distributor, who it turns out are five minutes down the road.

To my rather great surprise these fit the braze ons perfectly.

Now I have to work out how to get the frame and Braze-ons down to work for our resident metalworker to fit them together.

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