You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Cycling’ category.

Recently I’ve been noticing a change in the morning ride to the tram stop. The sky is becoming brighter, and occasionally there is blue visible. On some rather exciting days several people reported seeing the sun for several seconds at a time.

Spring is happening. And about time too.

A proper tree hugging hippy isn’t supposed to worry about things like winter of course, we’re supposed to, as it were, chill. However, a combination of exams and spending days in a concrete fridge in central Stuttgart have left your correspondent with a severe vitamin D deficiency and a strong desire to hibernate, so when we were greeted by the sunrise above on Friday, we went into the weekend ready to welcome Spring.

And then Saturday dawned…

Advertisements

Towards the end of the holiday the weather got bored with being wet and windy, and went to just being cold for a couple of days, leaving your correspondent with the usual dilemma: Should I take advantage of the sudden blue skies to clean wash about three months of accumulated crud off the bikes, or should I just ride a bike?

No contest really.

Having made it through the unfortunate mess that is Stuttgart Airport, I broke out into fields again, and past this monument to a more civilised form of flying. Apparently this is where one of the first Zeppelins made an emergency landing in a field with the great man on himself on board.

After making repairs they took off again and flew to Friedrichshafen. Try that with a 747.

Off to the next village…

And on, through the fields. These hills are the same as those seen from our balcony. I really should stop whining about where I live.


This was my goal: Hardthausen church. Churches in the region are very distinctive so I tend to use them as markers on a ride.

As I approached Stuttgart again things began to unravel. a mix of poor signage and poor guesswork landed me riding uphill on a busy road with drivers honking their horns at me. I’m going to assume they and the motorcyclist who shouted something indistinct and waved a boot in my direction were simply trying to be encouraging.

Then after following the route around the airport for several kilometres, I found this:

There was a small piece of paper taped to this showing a ‘diversion’ that went back along the way I’d come, then through another village and into a valley, using another busy road and adding about 3 hilly miles to the journey.

The other side of the roadworks, the crane is the same one as in the other image.

Sharp eyed viewers will notice that I could have gone around the fence and cycled the hundred yards or so straight through the roadworks, as it was a Sunday and they were empty of construction workers.

Of course, I was very good and didn’t do this.

This isn’t far from our town, just a short ride down into the valley…

And up the Hill Of Doom on the other side, which is the unfortunate end of every ride around here and never gets photographed because that would require me to stand up straight and be able to focus after the climb.

I managed 32km in total. Not much but it wasn’t meant to be a serious ride. Anything more adventurous will have to wait until after exams.

It’s cold and slippery, and as usual I’ve put off fitting the magic snow tyres, and nearly slithered off into a field on the morning commute. The weather report predicts foul conditions and sub zero temperatures for the next week so I’ll have to try and fit the tyres over the weekend.

On past experience this will cause sudden freak warm weather from Monday.

Days have got so short here now that I rarely see the place in daylight, but yesterday I’d decided to skip the scheduled “team building games workshop” as I wasn’t about to spend six hours running about in a smelly room when I could hang out with my daughter on her 3rd birthday. I also had some revision to do.

I felt a bit guilty about this, until the college called to say the workshop was cancelled because the trainer was off sick.

So yesterday was about building presents and building cushion houses instead.

 

 

 

Sunrise a couple of days ago, when the weather report was forecasting wind and rain in industrial quantities.

The rain came later, about five minutes after I set of for college on my bike…

I started my second training placement this week, which has been busy, with lots of new people, new workplace and new responsibilities, so I’m not really in the right state of mind to write a finely honed blog post. Instead, here’s a set of pictures from another ride I went on using my sister in law’s borrowed bike.

Corner shop.

 


Back street.

 


Local shop seen from under a small arcade.

 


Railway station, so small it doesn’t have a ticket barrier, but not so isolated that it lacks a drinks machine.

 


Old house, still inhabited despite appearances.

 


Railway crossing the Miyagawa river

 


Roadside business, Miyagawa village.

 


Rice harvester unloading in the countryside. Passing rice harvesters on the narrow roads was a minor hazard.

 

“Wind Clan”, apparently the place Cadillacs go to die.

 


Tamaru (“Tama-Loo”)  Station complete with hand painted sign over the door.

 


Very optimistic taxi waiting for the next train at Tamaru.

 

Cycle lane. In the manner of cycle lanes the world over it lasted for all of half a kilometre and vanished into a road Island.

Grateful as I was for the use of this bike, it lacked certain things I’m used to, like 25 other gears. I’d cycled about 9km in an hour and it felt like a lot further, so this is as far as I got.

I am not working out schemes with Eldest Son to take bikes with us next time and go on a tour. Not at all.

Just before the start of the summer break, our college group went out on an end of year outing, and some bright spark decided we could go to an art gallery.

It could have been worse: they were talking about an ‘interactive’ tour which I’ve been on before and didn’t very much want to go on again, or some kind of ‘fun and games’ silliness where the extroverts have a great time and the introverts just put up with it. Instead we went to an art gallery, which was showing an ‘exciting new’ exhibition called ‘soul sickness’ by someone who thinks it is cool to be anonymous, “about how our senses work, and how some people (Which may include the artist, or may not, because no-one knows who he is, isn’t this cool?) have trouble relating to seeing the world”.

I’ve worked in theatre so my expectations were pretty damn low, but this still managed to be worse.

There was the ‘exciting video installation’ that turned out to be a lot of letters mixed up, ‘representing confusion and difficulty seeing the world’ until the ‘aha moment’ where they all switched off and came on a word at a time forming a single sentence repeated dozens of times. While we were getting over this excitement, we were ushered into another room  with  ‘exciting’ ‘sculptures’ of card that were so badly made I could have knocked one up while waiting for the tour to finish with a knife and steel rule (€35 each, value expected to rise into the upper thousands as long as the artist becomes more famous).

There was also rooms to ‘experience’ things like ‘sensory overload’ which I didn’t go into because I have High Sensory Perception Sensitivity, and spend lot of the time avoiding ‘sensory overload’ so I didn’t need to have lots of noise blasted at me in a dark room thank you very much. As one of my colleagues said on coming out, we could have blown the whole budget for the outing on getting drunk, and the results would have looked about the same.

The main (ie: Biggest) sculpture was an ‘exciting’ installation consisting of several large flat slabs of chipboard with varnish applied in a way that would send my carpentry master into fits, with a bit white lump in the middle.representing a tree of dreams, or possibly an ice floe.  Or possibly a computer game environment.* Either way it was really cool…

This was followed by several hours of small talk around a barbecue on a canoe club launching ramp under a motorway overpass, with loud music. providing another session of sensory overload. But that wasn’t art, so it was free.

*Or possibly, as one person suggested, a giant pillar of Pigeon guano…

Last week I was left to my own devices for an afternoon, so I went exploring up into the hills, an interesting experience on a three speed heavyweight like this which is built to go trundling a couple of kilometres to the shops and back.

After following a couple of promising routes which turned out like this:

 

I managed to get out of the city and into the hills, where the rice harvest hadn’t quite started.

I could have gone further but that meant going downhill, which would have meant coming back uphill, so I turned around and headed back towards the coast.

I passed a couple of these on the way. I thought they were just unfinished buildings, but seen close up they are Tsunami Shelters, built after the massive wave that hit Japan in 2001. This one is 9.5m (31ft) tall. You could fit all the surrounding buildings underneath it. This region wasn’t affected so badly by the Tsunami but they seem to have taken the attitude there’s no point taking chances.

A bit awkward for wheelchair users though.

Writing signs on Japanese roads must be quite a skilled job.

Eventually I found a way to the sea. I don’t speak Japanese so for all I know the sign could say “No bikes beyond this point” but nobody scowled at me when I cycled past it.

There was a school directly behind me when I took this picture which is an example of the basic unfairness of the Universe: all you could see from my school was a slag heap.

The two rocks of Meoto-Iwa which are considered to be ‘Married’ symbolised by he rice rope hanging between them. It occurred to me afterwards that I was probably not supposed to take a bicycle here at all, but no-one seemed to mind. Probably they just assumed that as a stupid foreigner I didn’t know any better.

Honestly, they build half a cycleway and then just stop…

By this time it was getting a bit dark so I headed back, got lost, found the coast road and managed to ride about three times further than I needed to in order to get to my in-laws home, narrowly missing a barrier across the road in the way.

I since discovered that on several occasions I was  just a few kilometres from something interesting. Am dreaming up schemes to take a proper bike with me next time.

 

We’re in Japan again, visiting Beautiful Wife’s family and getting slowly oven baked. Hence the seaside picture, taken while pootling about on a borrowed bike.

Elder Son says it’s a “girl’s bike” but I don’t care.

 

Things are busy again for reasons which will be obvious pretty soon, so I haven’t written much. Instead here’s Beautiful Daughter on our regular road trip, which is far more interesting than I am anyway.

Beautiful daughter generally drags me in the direction of the door by about ten in the morning, insistently saying “Ride to cow farm, Ride to Rabbits… so off we go.

First we ride out to the ‘cow farm’, and then walk to the meadows next door to pick dandelion leaves…

Then we ride to the next farm, and feed the rabbits. Those rabbits have a good thing going I reckon; they’re certainly very fat.

We say hello to the two ponies…

Before going a few more kilometres out into the fields, where there is yet another farm, With even more interesting friendly animals…

…and a Pile Of Sticks. Which have to be tested very carefully.

Eventually we find our way back to the apartment. Via the playground. Unless I remember to avoid it.

We could do this by walking of course. But then it would take all day with the distances involved. Thank goodness for Bakfietsen…

 

I’ve been generally lazy about maintenance over winter, and for several weeks (probably months, but never mind) the back gears on the Xtracycle have been playing up, in particular the middle gears seemed to think clicking the lever was a suggestion, to be given some consideration and possibly followed. Eventually. It was one of those gradual problems that you get used to over time, which was why I’d not bothered about it much.

Then came several weeks when I almost exclusively used the commuter bike. For all its faults this has gears which change when I want them to, and the shock when I went back to the Xtracycle was enough that I finally got around to doing something about it.

That something was to remove the rear mech that came with the original Raleigh bike back in 1997, and which has survived all my mistreatment over the last 20 years, but which I was pretty sure had finally given up. Being me, I’d hoarded several replacements, including one from a ‘scrap’ bike a customer brought into our local bike shop many years ago. It took ten minutes to change it, plus about three days faffing about and putting it off.

This made very little difference, so I did what I should have done at first and cleaned out the outer tubing and replaced the brake cable. This got a result. The gears are still a bit iffy, but they usually change when told. Or within a couple of seconds, at least.

I’m wondering if the main issue is the over enthusiastic use of cable ties on the cable, but naturally now the bike is ridable again I’m ignoring the problem.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Contact me

Archives

Categories

Advertisements