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

As you can see, not much is happening here; again. This is partly because I have to move to another apartment within a month or two, so I’m getting ready for that and looking at possibilities.

The view above is on the way back from one such appointment: I organised this a couple of weeks ago, so I’m not sure how I managed to make it during the one half hour of rain we’ve had in the whole week. It wasn’t as if I’d even washed my bike…

When I was offered the opportunity to take over the bike workshop, I was told I would have to drive occasionally.

This is because the bike workshop doesn’t have a massive amount of storage space, so the bikes from the local government recycling centre have to be taken to a building in another town, where a team of clients separates the serviceable bikes from the wrecks, and then dismantles the wrecks for any usable parts.

My part in this highly developed infrastructure of supply is to occasionally drive a van over and collect any usable bikes or parts the team have for me. Thankfully, this a relatively rural area; drivers tend to be more relaxed than I’m used to in Stuttgart, and other vehicles are in any case further apart.

Thus it was that a couple of weeks ago, I tentatively drove a rather battered transit van from the workshop accompanied by a colleague/chaperone/lookout and navigator to make sure I didn’t make the van even more battered, or indeed get lost: a less obvious aspect of living car free is that I can ride between two towns more times than I can remember but still haven’t a clue how the roads connect to each other.

Having achieved the journey both ways without causing my colleague to scream, I’ll be driving there and back every two weeks.

The irony of this situation is not lost on me; I got the job because living car free meant I learned to repair bikes, and now I’m not only driving but getting paid to transport bikes around the countryside…

I’m now officially managing the bike shop, known as “Fair Bike”. I’m debating whether to lobby for a change to “Fair Cycle” or if that would be a pun too far. Besides, I think I may be a bit too busy.

The workshop gets a steady supply of bikes from the public or the local authority waste department; better bikes are refurbished in the shop, while the really broken bikes are cannibalised for parts then sold as scrap. In our case most of the staff are people who have been unemployed for a while, and who are trying to gain skills and confidence so they can get a job.

My department is in a fairly large second hand shop offering various opportunities to about forty people. The shop is partly financed by the Job Centre but it has to raise a lot of the funds itself through sales, so each department has to run like a small business.

Unfortunately, the person previously in charge of the bike department has been ill for a while, and as is often the case this meant people just did their thing and no-one had any overview of the department. The next few weeks will be simply getting to know my clients, building trust, sorting out the stores and trying to find the floor.

I made a start yesterday; after a couple of hours I’d thrown away a lot of broken bike parts, one mirror, two broken radio control cars; and a model dinosaur missing one leg. This meant I found the windowsill, so I could clean the windows…

Small steps…

I moved to the Freiburg region a couple of years ago because I was offered a job working in a protected workshop for people with disabilities. As with many jobs in social care the initial contract was a year with the option of extending long term. At the end of the first year my employer told me that while they could see I cared for my clients and worked well with them, I “Didn’t fit the organisation’s concept.” Having seen the concept I was quite happy with this assessment; I’d have been upset if it was the other way around.

Almost by accident I ended up getting a different job locally working with long term unemployed people. This was good, but it meant I was back in the insecure 1-year “Let’s see how things work out” contract, which was not so good.

This week my current employer decided that I really do fit into their concept and they want me to stay. They added that they know my interest in bicycles, and the current head of the bike department is retiring, so would I be interested in taking over the department? I’d be working full time helping people build up skills and become more confident and capable, while learning how to repair bicycles.

I told them I could live with that.

My employer has found some extra loose change and they’re extending my contract, which means a family move to the Rhine Valley is likely at some point. Exactly when that will happen is another question, given the need to work around schools and other matters.

My work will change slightly and go in a very interesting direction which I can’t really talk about until it’s announced officially, but it’ll be relevant to the blog so should mean slightly more frequent posting.

The flip side is that now I’m going to have to find a new apartment as the owner of this one wants to move in here, which will involve furnishing the future home. Thankfully the new job will be based in the same building as the second hand furniture store…

Commuting is getting easier as the weather improves; sunset on the way back to the apartment.

I’m still here, for now; my contract will technically run out at the end of May and it’s a bit unclear what will happen next. My employer would like to extend my contract and they’re “working out how that will look in practice” which I’ve taken to mean they’re doing the institutional version of looking behind the sofa cushions for loose change. They are working on several ideas, some of which are really quite exciting, and as soon as these are vaguely concrete I’ll be able to blog about them…

It’s Fasching (carnival) time in the traditionally Catholic towns locally. The religious status of the town depends on the historical ruler, and this region was a mass of tiny city states and enclaves which seem to have changed hands every time some royal got married, fell off the imperial perch, or lost a drinking game. So you can have one Catholic town in a protestant region or vice versa.

The village where I work was part of the Austrian Empire (don’t ask me, I just live here) Austria was Catholic, so they the town still follows the Catholic traditions. Things are still rather muted this year because of the pandemic, but they are apparently still permitted to play Oompah music…

It only happened once last week, but it happened. We have also had three dry days in a row.

If things carry on like this I may have to consider cleaning my bike.

It’s February, so the sparkling frosts and pretty sunrises are giving way to rain, sludge, and washing the bike down every night, which is a bit tedious.

On the other hand, the only reason I can take pictures on the way to work is that the daylight is getting longer. Also, there was even some sunshine yesterday, for almost five whole minutes…

Sunrise on the way into work. It’s a bit chilly.

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

Contact me

"]

Archives

Categories