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Beautiful Daughter is growing to the size where she can ride on the back of the Xtracycle. I’m all for this because although a Bakfiets is an undoubtedly fantastic and classy way to get around, it isn’t especially light, so an Xtracycle means we can go further and see xciting new things.

Last week Beautiful Wife had to go to an seminar in the next town and I was on Small Person duty. I arranged for Beautiful Wife to Take Beautiful Daughter down to the town by bus because although V-Brakes work well, they aren’t really built for stopping two people and the route involves some pretty murderous hills.

We met at the bus stop, and the Tinybug and I went off along the river with a slight detour through the town and another one up a corkscrew ramp to a footbridge because who wouldn’t want to ride up and down a corkscrew ramp?

After an hour we decided to stop for a picnic. Picnic’s being the ultimate adventure as far as Beautiful daughter is concerned. After surveying the landscape for suitable locations she plonked herself down right into the middle of the Feldweg/bridleway to watch the view. I didn’t argue.

On the way back Beautiful Daughter remembered that this is a bike, not a bus, and we could stop on request, such as when she found some interesting place to explore, or a nice house, or a cow or an unusual tree, or another cow, or in this case some nice stones she wanted to make a pattern from.

Of course I agreed to this because it is very good for Beautiful Daughter, and so we could have some shared activities et c. the fact that they generally took place at the top of a steep hill is pure coincidence.

Earlier this year I seemed to rather suddenly lose my motivation for cycling: suddenly the daily commute went from being a highlight of the day to a chore. I think this was because my new workplace has a more direct connection to the local tram stop, so even though riding all the way to the edge of Stuttgart was undoubtedly keeping me youthful, fit and good looking,* it was a bit of a drag after being on my feet all day, especially as I have a 15 minute walk after I get off the tram.

So over summer I have generally got into the habit of abandoning the commuter bike at the local tram stop, which is only about 15 minutes from the village. This wakes me up and also saves about 24€ a month in bus fares.

Anyway, I had a few days of this week and used them up sorting out paperwork and running errands, this being as exciting as life gets these days, and the local parcel company informed me that they couldn’t deliver my package and had therefore abandoned it at a post office 2 towns away. I decided to take the Xtracycle down the scenic route and reminded myself that this isn’t such a bad place to live really. I even found myself wanting to go further when I had planned to turn around and come back, and the parcel that had been the reason for the ride was now a minor concern.

Which was a good thing because it wasn’t at the post office, and nor has it resurfaced since…

*It’s my reality, don’t mess with it…

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.

morelight

On the way back from work, taken at the same place as this picture and possibly a few minutes later in the day, and we now have real daylight. The ground is actually starting to dry off and the geese no longer have to swim to cross the farm yard.

Of course it snowed for several hours a couple of days ago, and there was ice on the window this morning, but at least we can now leave work without crashing into wheelbarrows and stray sheep.

tabeabuse

Yours truly finishing off a painting a couple of months ago; the completed version is on my drawing and painting blog.

I’ve been doing this for myself for a while, but now the local printer has offered to hang my paintings up in his shop. I realise this isn’t a residency at an art gallery or anything, but it is encouraging that someone other than immediate family thinks my work is good enough to be seen in public…

Bridge_BW_01

I’ve discovered a traffic-free route to the next big town. It even includes this bridge over the river so instead of fighting my way down a steep, traffic filled hill or across a multi-lane junction I can now go straight from my preferred route down the hill and onto the cycleway that takes me into the centre of town and hardly have to deal with cars for the whole route.

Black and white photo an attempt to make ‘where I went on my bike’ shot look artsy.

I call it the Bridge of Irony because it was mainly built to link two sections of the huge Mercedes plant in this part of the valley…

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.

Baby_Bak_01

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.

Baby_Bak_02

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.

Baby_Bak_03_alltogether

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.

Baby_Bak_03_entertainment

In flight entertainment was provided. She found the sight of Papa puffing up the hill more entertaining.

Due to some monumentally bad planning on my part, I managed to have four appointments in our local big town on different days last week. The town in question is only a bit over five kilometres away, which comes in at a mere 3.2 miles, but before you serious transport cycling types scoff, it is also almost 200m lower, or a rather more respectable 620 feet, most of which is crammed in a relatively short part of the ride.

The quickest way (down) is the busy, but straight main road.

Nicehill_03

 but if I have the time, it is far more pleasant to use the old road…

Nicehill_04

…which meanders without any urgency through the vineyards…

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…especially as this route is closed to motorised traffic, so I can stop and take pictures.

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This was another one of those mornings when I was reminded there are far worse places to live and ride a bike.

You really aren’t supposed to have this much fun on the way to an appointment, especially when the reason was to pick up my results for my carpentry apprenticeship…

There are days when I ride somewhere because it is the fastest way to get somewhere…

PD_06

…and days when I grit my teeth and tell myself over and over that it is good for me and the environment in the hope my smug green glow somehow has mystical weather-protecting qualities, and get home with a beard full of ice and shoes full of water.

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And there are days when everything comes together and the sun shines and the air is clear, and even though it is a long way to go and the temperatures are below freezing you couldn’t pay me enough to travel any other way…

PD_02
…so if you came here  for the ususal grumpiness, it has been delayed by good weather. Normal service will be resumed. Eventually…

Look: Blue sky...

Much excitement today: not only was the early morning ride actually conducted in daylight, but under blue sky and on a dry road. There were snowdrops, a lack of mud, and a red kite flying overhead.

Of course, as soon as I’d got over this, I remembered that this means the growing season will be upon us soon, and I don’t have the vegetable beds ready, or the seeds ordered, and I need to sort out the compost bin, and…

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