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It’s that time of year when cycling is reduced to the bare minimum, of muck and slush and plans to start dog sledding.Of wrestling with the rain cover because without it Beautiful Daughter would start to lose extremities from the windchill.
And still people say she’s ‘Got it good’ while shovelling kids into their heated cars.
Yesterday the Elder Son and I spent twenty minutes changing the tyres on our shared bike for spikes. He’s discovered a new reason to go the next town and doesn’t want to have to wait for the ice to melt to ge there. I’ll need them next week to commute to college without ending up in a ditch somewhere on the way and many of the cycleways are currently under thick layers of hard packed snow and temperatures are reaching -14°c (Very cold °f).
If last year is anything to go by, expect reports of sudden warm weather in southern Germany for the next few weeks.
The Bakfiets had a puncture. This usually means Saturday will be spent fixing it, as the back wheel is quite tricky to get out of the bike, and more to the point, very fiddly to get back on again, or at least to put it on again so the bike moves in a straight line and the brakes work.
It was therefore very annoying that when I had wrestled the wheel of the bike, repaired the puncture, fought the wheel until it went back onto the bike, and then put the brakes and gears beck together so we could use it, the tyre went down again.
I was planning to replace this tyre at some undefined point in the future as it was worn down from seven years of carrying children, shopping, party supplies, scrap, exam projects, luggage, and furniture, to the point that the tyre was so loose it didn’t even need tyre levers to take it off the wheel any more. I decided to take the drastic step of actually spending money, went online and ordered a puncture proof-ish tyre, a new inner tube and extra wide rim tape, in the hope of sorting out the problem permanently. Then it dawned on me that I also needed to replace the gear shifter, as the bikes eight gears were now down to seven on a good day, and those were not always predictable due to the twist grip shifters habit of shredding cables, so I also ordered a proper trigger shifter, on the basis that I may as well just fight this battle once and deal with both problems at the same time.
All this came to about fifty euros, which is probably the most I’ve spent on the Bakfiets in one go since I bought it.
I also managed to persuade the Elder Son that as he is now riding the bakfiets several times a week, he should learn how to fix it by helping me, and se surprised ourselves by managing the whole repair in an hour and a half. Elder Son says this is his influence.
Annoyingly, he’s is probably right.
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.
Once again, I am aiming for a niche audience here.
A while ago, the boys managed to break Youngest Son’s bed, which caused much consternation at the time, but I did finally manage to make a new side piece to replace the one that was broken. Because the bed uses mortise and tenon Joins, I had to transport the rest of the bed about five hundred metres up to the workshop during this process to fit the new section to the existing joins, then haul the lot down to the apartment.
As usual I spent some time massively over-thinking things before realising that all I needed was climbing ropes, blankets and wood clamps. The whole operation went pretty smoothly, so smoothly on fact that I forgot all about it until last night when I found the picture while desperately seeking a blog subject at the end of a quiet week…
Bakfiets being a skip for the day. One of the jobs I’d been planning to do for some time was clearing out the cellar, in particular the smaller sized bikes which are lurking in every corner. Of course the appearance of Beautiful Daughter means the bikes need to remain in place for a while longer; not that I’m complaining, I hasten to add.
There’s still plenty of other stuff down there of course because as we all know cellars are breeding grounds for random and miscellaneous things with no obvious purpose, so last week I made a start on shifting some of the more obviously useless things like a broken bike frame and two large bags full of papers which have been there so long they may well be considered historical artifacts.
Expatriate life is full of glamour.
In what seems to be becoming an annual event, the Bakfiets was a Fair Trade chocolate shop again over the weekend for a local festival. The people organising asked for a copy of this picture, which I sent them, thinking it would just go on the website.
Later someone recognised the bike from the local newspaper, which was a surprise.
I know there’s a school of thought that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but… most of the local readers are also local drivers, and if the reactions I sometimes get out on the road are anything to go by, then they may have pushed some customers away…
Riding the Bakfiets to the local metro station to pick up the boys* I noticed a cyclist coming towards in full lycra with helmet riding an ancient and rather dusty bike. Nothing unusual there: this time of year the routes over the fields fill with luridly clad riders on bikes which look like they’ve been in a cellar for the last twelve months.
What was odd was that I could hear a tinny voice coming from a large plastic object on his handlebars. I thought this was a cell phone using the hands free facility until he came closer and I realised it was a radio, fastened onto the handlebars and blaring out 80’s hits from the local station.
The end is nigh, I tell you…
And speaking of abominations being where they should not be, my computer seems to have picked up some adware called cheapo-o, which I can’t get rid of. I’ve shut down the add-on but according to several websites there’s still spyware lurking on the hard drive. Of course they all want me to download another programme to get rid of same, but as that’s apparently what caused the problem in the first place I’m not touching them. Can anyone recommend a safe way to remove this rubbish?
*It is downhill coming back: I’m nice but not that nice…
We decided it was time for Beautiful Daughter to come on a bike ride with us. This caused much head scratching while I focused the remaining operable brain cells on a way to keep her baby seat from wobbling about in the Bakfiets.
After massively over thinking things and sketching out wooden frames and other ideas, I remembered that the simplest solution is the best, and that we had a 200kg rated climbing rope that would work just fine. As long as I could still tie knots.
About ten minutes later I had the seat tied down. unfortunately I’d also carefully tied the rope around the steering rod that runs under the bike. This meant that I could ride perfectly well as long as I didn’t have to turn any corners.
With some colorful language, another five minutes untying and retying the rope, and a total expenditure of €0,00 later we had this result. It is remarkable how the seat for smallest member of the family requires almost the entire Bakfiets.
When we go out as a family these days, people notice. Here is the mothership with the satellites waiting outside the shops. The boys often lock their bike to the Bakfiets as it is heavier than the cheap cycle stands provided. The roof was to keep the wind out rather than any rain.
Beautiful daughter was a somewhat bemused at first, and gave the bakfiets a thorough inspection. Her brothers helped her to relax by by riding alongside and pulling faces. Inbetween she played with her cuddly toys before settling off to sleep.
In flight entertainment was provided. She found the sight of Papa puffing up the hill more entertaining.
So last night I was riding the Bakfiets along the main road in the village, in the dark, and noticed I was being followed by something with a lot more lights than I had. Looking back this turned out to be a Big Black Truck.
About a thousand trucks drive through the village every day, which causes much harrumphing from the locals while they wait to pull out from side streets in their 4 x 4’s. This one had just squeezed around the sharp corner at the top of the hill and was rolling about fifty metres behind my back wheel. I looked again to signal for a left turn, to find it was still there, but noted with surprise that he was hanging well back, giving me space and allowing himself a generous braking distance. Gratified that he was doing his best not to glue me to his massive bull bars, I signalled, pulled across the road and waved to acknowledge that I had seen the fifty tonnes of black and chrome just behind me. I was rewarded by a short flash of headlights with enough candlepower to safely guide ships, which projected my shadow on the buildings opposite.
It being rather late, there was no traffic in the opposite direction, so I could pull into our street easily enough. I stopped to wave again and got a quick honk on the horn and a wave from the shadowy figure in the cab as the behemoth rumbled out of the village into the darkness.
Why can’t it be like this more often?
(And let’s not ask why cyclists are sharing space with such massive vehicles on narrow roads in a small village, that’d spoil the story…)