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On the way for a weekend with the family. Picture of the commuter bike in front of one of German Railways class 101 express passenger locomotives, because I like them…

Bike shop badge on an elderly bike at work: the convention seems to have been to bolt a soft steel badge on the bolt holding the headset in place and bend it around the handlebars. According to the badge, Albert Uhl in Offenburg made a living selling bikes and sewing machines.

Naturally this has set me off trying to figure how to make my own version of these…

It isn’t all sunshine and flowers: cleaning the commuter bike in the dark after a wet ride so it will look reasonably respectable going into work the next day…

We’re developing new projects for work. The goal is to make projects that test our clients skills, and give them new skills and meaningful work.

Products we make will hopefully be sold in the shops the organisation runs in the region. This project is to train clients about wood: trees, how green wood shrinks, and some basic woodworking skills.

The only problem is that it needs a microwave to shrink the wood rapidly. For this prototype we got away with using the one in the kitchen but we won’t get away with that much longer…

Commuting to work; sunrise over the Black Forest.

Vapour trails making graffiti over the sky.

A picture from Tinybug of herself with your correspondent in our Bakfiets. The detail in the picture reflects how much time she’s spent in the bike in the last six years.

the busyness at work isn’t going to reduce any time soon and writing a longer post seems beyond me at the moment, so I’m going to try making more frequent, short posts instead. As an added advantage it may reduce the general waffle…

We had a bicycle week at work this week.

We’ve been helping clients to fix their bikes, as most migrants tend to have battered old clunkers which wouldn’t pass an inspection. Meanwhile we had seminars on the vocabulary of bicycles and the rules and regulations in Germany on the road.

Apart from that we’re making Christmas decorations for sale using scrap bicycle chains. Raw materials above

I also managed to visit the in-house bike shop where we send all the stripped down recycled bikes. They will recycle anything, and have boxes of all manner of tiny hard-to find parts, as seen below:

It turns out that the manager is a keen bike builder and is more than happy to weld a set of lugs for levers onto my scrap frame currently hidden at work, on condition I supervise the clients stripping bikes down so he gets more recycled parts for his store.

It’s tough, but somehow I manage.

The week in pictures:*

Travelling to Stuttgart, changing trains at an apparently deserted Karlsruhe.

It was Tinybug’s first official day of school**, so we had to make the traditional Schültüte. Beautiful Wife made the cone, and yours truly had to try and draw a “flying unicorn” as ordered by herself. Fortunately the Unicorn arrived in one piece and we were able to attach it to the cone with hours to spare.

The rest of the weekend was spent doing important stuff like going for bike rides together…

And fixing the family bikes…

Monday I went back to work: this was the first day of The Great Resurfacing: the main road is to be closed for “about three months” while the local authority scrape the top off and put down a new one. This is causing much pain and suffering for motorists who now only have two roads and one Autobahn to choose from.

The cycleway is still open to anyone willing to share it with ambulances et c. It’s the quickest way between the villages now and as a result is getting crowded…

*It’s been very busy and WordPress seems to have eaten this mornings post…

**She’s been attending a Japanees school on Saturdays for a couple of months now, so she can currently write more in Japanese than German…

A rough chain on the Tourer had been diagnosed as it being several links too long; it was so bad that in some gears the chain was rubbing against itself.

This clearly was urgent, so I dithered and tried to ignore it for a week or two.

Yesterday I decided enough was enough, and it was time to fix the chain. To do this I had to unclip the “Missing link”, the little gizmo in the picture above, using a special pair of pliers, shorten the chain with another specialised tool, and then clip the missing link back in. I didn’t have a tool to open the missing link, but I was not worried: I had found several online videos showing that it could be opened by wrapping a used gear cable around the missing link and pulling it with a pair of pliers, and stick it one to the capitalist-consumerist society.

I attempted this method, and it was a valuable experience. For one, it told me that it didn’t work.

I went to get my things together for another rattly commute. On the way, I reflected that I shouldn’t be downhearted: I’d learned from the experience and I would find another way forward. What, for example, would Napoleon have done?

Invade Sardinia, probably. This was not entirely helpful.

Suddenly a light bulb moment: I needed to remove several links from the chain. I had a spare missing link in my tool bag. I could remove the links around the old missing link, and then just clip another missing link in.

This was achieved, with a bit more removed than I was planning. I rode nervously around the car park: silence.

I cycled back from work marvelling at the lack of effort, and happy the bike was no longer clicking loud enough that small children came out to watch.

60km later the chain hasn’t landed on the road in a rather ugly mess: the bike is working, gears change first time; everyone is happy.

The cycleway to work is well used by local people and I’m getting to know the regulars. Mostly these are commuters but there’s a fair crop of teenagers riding to school or activities, and over the last few weeks I’ve exchanged greetings with most of them including four lads on creaky mountain bikes on the way to some activity or another.

When I saw the foursome on Friday the lead rider stuck out his gloved hand. I’m a bit dozy in the morning, and it took a second to realise this wasn’t an turn signal but an invitation to a high five. I stuck my hand out in return and got a 30km/h high five, with a resounding thwack noise and a shock up my arm.

The second of the four was ready with hand too, so thwack… ow, another shock up the arm…

The third and smallest saw what was happening and joined in… thwack, ow…

Obviously number four was ready by this time, thwack, ow…

Which was a pretty nice start to the day, and then another regular commuter was about 50 metres behind them and had seen the preceding events, and as I approached he grinned and stuck out a hand. It would have been rude not to…

Thwack, ow…

Had me smiling for the next few kilometres; you don’t get that commuting by car.

I hope they don’t plan on doing it every day though: my arm can’t take too much of this…

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