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With the snow coming down in great lumps I finally gave in and fitted spikes on my main commuting bike. It was snowing so fast that by the time I finished clearing our entranceway and went inside, it was almost impossible to see where I’d started, so it seemed a good idea to be snow ready for the morning commute, especially as the cycle lanes locally aren’t cleared because “That’d mean putting salt on them and salt is bad for the environment.”

As I fully expected, within 24 hours the snow vanished and the roads were back to their normal state of being just damp enough to make everything thoroughly muddy. Since then we’ve had rain with temperatures just above freezing so the roads were wet, or subzero temperatures and dry roads.

This happens every year, without fail.

I’ve kept the snow tyres though, because with exams coming along I’m a bit short of time to change tyres again, and from experience snow clouds will sneak over the horizon and we’ll have about a week of blizzards within hours of me putting semi slicks back on the bike.

I suspect I’ll now spent most of the winter dragging myself to the tram stop and muttering about how I’m definitely going to get a new set of wheels by next winter, and then forget to do anything about it by Spring…



Observant people may have noticed that as well as having more daylight in the previous post, I’m also riding the Xtracycle again, after possibly the longest time out of service since I fitted the ‘Free Radical’ on the back of my Raleigh bike almost ten years ago.

I had got used to the normal sized commuter bike and I was a bit concerned that I’d feel the extra weight of the Xtracycle a bit too much, but it feels like I’m flying. I’m still not sure quite why this is, after all that plank on the back weighs a bit, and then there’s all the junk that accumulated in the luggage carriers that I keep forgetting to take out again -you can see some poking out of the back of the bike in the picture- but there you are. Riding is faster, smoother and more comfortable.

It isn’t perfect yet; the gears are still a bit strange, which is either because I’m still using the 19-year-old original mechanism, or possibly due to the incompetence of the bike wrench. I suspect the latter.

Unfortunately destiny means the Xtracycle and I will be parted for a few more days as I need to go to another seminar in Tübingen, so the commuter will be coming with me again.

Tübingen is known for having pretty good cycle infrastructure, so I’ll try to take pictures to bore you with when I get back.

One of my strange cycling habits is wearing an Australian-styled leather hat, simply because it keeps the rain/snow/hail off my face and neck when riding. I find that riding in he rain is much improved by not getting a face full of rain every time I run into a headwind.

Which makes it all the more of a bummer that said hat is now in a field somewhere between here and the local tram station.

Last night I came home in some of the worst winds I’ve ever known here, and ended up with a choice of holding onto hat and being blown off the bike or putting both hands on my brakes to stop before I was picked up and thrown off into a field. As the Xtracycle was moving diagonally at the time I reflexively braked, and felt the hat lift off my head and vanish into pastures new. Literally.

Frantic searching in a muddy field failed, which is hardly surprising as 1: searching for a brown leather hat in a couple of hectatres of brown mud the dark is unlikely to yield results, and 2: The speed the hat was moving I fully expected it to be a good kilometre distant by the time I was off the bike anyway.

I wish to apologise to any dog walkers within hearing distance who will have heard a considerable amount of vernacular English applied at high volume, but I happen to think it was justified.

By the time I got on the bike, the wind had died down and the rain had gone from ‘monsoon’ to merely ‘torrential’, and today the sun is out and the wind back to nearly nothing. I’ll have a look on the way in to work in the hope the hat hasn’t been blown into the next town or wrecked by the weather, otherwise I’ll have to start trawling Amazon…

Just as I got used to riding on snow with slick tires, the Xtracycle developed the same annoying habit as it usually does in winter: The cable to the rear mech froze solid after I’d been riding for five minutes leaving me riding a singlespeed in whatever ratio I happened to be using at the time. The only solution to this is pulling the cable out and spraying with WD40 or similar, and yes I should have remembered to do this earlier as in south Germany it tends to be cold this time of year (-9°c overnight, thanks for asking), and the Xtracycle freezes up like this every time.

In other news, Stuttgart has been ticked off again because the particle pollution is far and above the legal limit in the centre*, so they’re telling people to ride their bikes in and leave the car at home. Of course this would be far more effective if they actually cleared the snow off the cycle lanes, and hadn’t just taken the bicycle trolley off the only tram that carries bikes around the clock “because it is snowing and people don’t ride bikes when it snows.”

Meanwhile, the winter tires have arrived.

*Remember all those reports in the 1990’s about all the pollution in East Germany, and how the west was held as a shining example of how capitalism allowed growth with out environmental damage? Someone didn’t get that memo…


So yesterday my main concern was avoiding the worst of the puddles on the way to work, so I wouldn’t have to wash the Xtracycle again this week…

Then this happened…


Six hours of snow. mostly horizontal, &  -3°c.

Looks like I’ll be getting those snow tyres…

I cracked: I cleaned the Xtracycle again…


I even took the panniers of the back and removed the accumulated crud of Autumn, thus reducing their weight by about a third.


If last time I did this is anything to go by, expect Christmas in south Germany to feature sustained foul weather and plagues of mud.

Still, I hope that wherever you end up, and whatever the weather in your end of the world, your Christmas will be a happy and peaceful one…


At first glance this may look like yet another random picture of the Xtracycle on its travels, but allow me to draw your attention to the orange bike in the background.


That is a Yuba Mundo, a longbike similar to an Xtracycle, and clearly used as a family transport bike judging by the setup and presence on a tram stop bike rack on a cold and damp October morning, when ‘normal’ people would have used a car.

Despite having a reputation for being a stroppy rebel who goes out of their way to do everything differently to other people, it is very encouraging to know I’m not the only person trying to get around like this…


During school time the Farm is open Tuesday-Saturday, so from this week my weekend starts tomorrow. Normal blogging servce will be resumed then, with tales of cycle commuting, tractors, goats and flying gates.

In the meantime, and in an effort to keep the blog on subject, here is a picture of the Xtracyle fitting into a bus.

“The least fit ten-year-old English child from a class of 30 in 1998 would be one of the five fittest children in the same class tested today.”

From the always interesting No Tech Magazine. link to full article here:

If ony there was a simple and inexpensive way to change that.

The weekend has been rather busy, in the good sense of being with great friends who you don’t see every day, an in some cases only see every couple of years, so there was very little cycling going on, except for the usual transporting lots of cakes and other essentials to where we were meeting, and of course picking up a family-sized pizza for the evening meal, but apart from that, not much cycling took place.

I can however report that apart from other practical uses, a Bakfiets is the perfect solution when we needed to move some small, severely jetlagged children from where they were staying to where we were feeding them.

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