After the week is over, time to get a coffee and cake at the legendary Cafe Landtmann.
And what a cake. Chocolate coated wafer filled with strawberry mouse, cream, sponge and fresh fruit.
The holiday starts here.
Almost time to finish, but all the delegates seem to agree that they saw a new Vienna this week. Bike culture on the streets, but even the historic urban architecture was looking particularly spruce.
It was for me! Last time I was here we were swaddled up against late spring cold, now we saw an outdoor city, a lively city, stunning weather after the rain of the early week.
She captured hundreds of shots which will take some sorting, but suffice to say we had a ball. Over 1000 delegates were joined by nearly 4000 local riders for a great evening out, part festival, part bike ride.
Hard to believe it is almost over for another year, but there will be a rich repository of blog material for the next few weeks! (And lots, lots more on Twitter, follow me on @maynekevin and #VC13 for the Velo-city coverage)
Everywhere I go at the moment it seems to start raining.
Stockholm was no different. A sunny evening turned into a very soggy morning.
However I had an absolutely delightful breakfast coffee to look forward to at a rather special café on the Stockholm scene,
The Bianchi café.
Italian café, Italian staff, fantastic cappuccino and celeste blue bicycles displayed almost as art. Pictures of some of the great Bianchi riders rotating on an electronic screen in the window.
The breakfast coffee was all the better because I had it in the company of Tony Gimaldi whose family owns the Bianchi brand. He told me the great story of how his family’s Swedish industrial conglomerate got into the bike business in Sweden but some years later after a number of acquisitions got the chance to buy the struggling Bianchi business.
When he went to Italy to start integrating the business into their other bike businesses Tony not only found his Italian family roots it was very, very clear from his passion that he fell hook, line and sinker for the Bianchi legend. He was great company and I suspect we could have talked for hours had time allowed, especially in that setting.
Any bike nuts going to Stockholm – this is your place.
I was in Schweinfurt visiting the German training and development centre for SRAM recently.
My main reason for being there was to talk about cycling advocacy to SRAM’s urban cycling event. However at the end of the two day event we had a few hours before I had to get my train back to Belgium so we were offered a social test ride for a couple of hours. As the weather was delightful and spring-like it would be rude not to, wouldn’t it? So this was an opportunity to take in another region I knew nothing about – Lower Franconia, almost in the centre of Germany.
My recent cycle touring in Germany has been limited to a few sessions around the Bodensee (Lake Constance) where I had seen the evidence of the boom in leisure cycling in Germany. But here I saw other dimensions of that boom that had been less apparent in the summer holiday throngs in the south.
We were taken a short distance out of Schweinfurt into the countryside to a delightful area around Gerolzhofen and the popular rural area of the Steigerwald which has attractive villages and delightful countryside.
From there we were able to sample the impressive network of segregated cycle tracks and minor roads for a couple of hours until we ended up crossing the River Main by ferry and enjoying a snack in a terrace café overlooking the river and its busy cycle route in Obereisenheim.
I was hugely impressed by the number of cycle tourists I saw and the facilities we used but on a working day the people who were out were almost universally older (let’s say seniors to be polite). I had heard about Germany’s grey cycling revolution but I had never seen it personified, it was extraordinary that a busy cycle route could be 90% one demographic.
And the next revolution was what they were riding. I have blogged before about the way E-bikes have taken over at the German trade shows and I know that in the last couple of years they have taken a huge slice of the market, but I hadn’t seen where they were being used. Now I could see it writ large – nearly 50% of the bikes we saw were E-bikes, often in pairs. And the lovely little town of Volkach had adopted it so much they had put an ugly E-bike charging station in the middle of their attractive town square.
It seemed a bit incongruous, a glorified luggage locker in a medieval square, but it further reinforced the point that if you want elderly German cycle tourists that means catering for the new E-bike phenomenon.
In fact the café we ended up at down on the River Main only had one customer type the whole time we were there. Cyclists. I know numerous studies have been done showing the economic value of cycle tourists in rural areas but if we could count the percentage of turnover for the Gasthof zum Schiff in Obereisenheim it would indeed be impressive.
All in all an excellent afternoon out, great scenery, nice company and the chance to see a number of cycling trends all brought to life in one place. There is little wonder that cycling is growing solidly in Germany, they really have so many positive things happening they all seem to complement each other.
I am in Schweinfurt, just about as close to the centre of Germany as it gets visiting the European education and product development centre for SRAM.
As it is my first time here I before I came briefly asked a couple of German friends about the place and took a quick look on line.
SRAM are here because this is the home of the Sachs bicycle parts business that they bought some years ago, and in turn Sachs is here because this is the absolute heart of German ball bearing manufacturing. A proud industrial heritage, a real engineering based city.
For those of us who are used to old industrial areas being indistinguishable from words like “grim”, “grimy” and “rust-belt” it comes as something of a delight to bike from the hotel to the SRAM site along beautiful water meadows beside the River Main, completely car free almost all the way including the access roads with good cycle paths.
Yes the factories are there, but commuters are mixing with groups of cycle tourists also passing through on longer excursions in a great environment.
There is much here to learn for the industrial towns of many other countries. It is little surprise that German cycling levels continue to rise year on year if even the most unexpected towns can be small slices of cycling delight.
I am assured by ECF board member Frans who delivered a Brompton by trailor to Almere station for me to use today that things are “quiet” because the whole of the Netherlands is on holiday or celebrating to welcome the coronation of the new King.
But it is all a bit scary – I even saw empty cycle parking at a station.
Do not despair gentle reader - here is what we expect – Dutch people being exceptionally normal on bikes on fantastic infrastructure. Enjoy.
Failed the challenge, but a really pretty dreadful start to the cycling week did get better and better.
Day 10 consisted of an hour of pretty unsuccessful bike fixing in the morning and much more disastrous hour sitting in an immobile car in the evening. Time when I should have been riding. So @30daysofbiking is going to be @29daysofbiking even if I have many days when there has been more than ride. Do you think the hour spent working on the bikes counts? I did sit on one and wiggle the handlebars?
For the state of dignity I will continue to the month end – here is the rest of this week’s diary which did have an excellent end. Day 7 was already covered – not the best start here
Day 8 – the “ouch that could have hurt” ride.
Snapped crank as I left the station. One of those incidents which could have pitched me onto the ground, but it was only a wobble.
Forced to catch a ride home. 10 minutes.
Out for an hour on the mountain bike with the dog, only to discover that one of our local farmers has ploughed up the path I chose creating a surface almost unrideably lumpy and I fell off once. Murphy liked it, with his 4 wheel drive he was looking back and laughing.
Day 10 – bummer. “Sit on saddle in shed” not ride
This isn’t a good week. Just from the station 25 minutes.
Day 12. “Paris – oh Paris”
Thank goodness, I needed a lift. See the full post here
Day 13. “The eccentrics of Ceroux” ride
Today I had two rides. I spent an hour with my wife and the dog gently taking in our local lanes. We went over to the village of Ceroux which I have photographed several times before.
However this time because we were going slower we noticed a street of houses that seem to be eccentrics corner. A giant stainless steel windmill that seemed to be made out of car wing mirrors, a dragon chimney pot and close proximity social housing for birds.
After we got back I gave myself a special treat and got out my new road bike for a thrash on dry, clean roads. I have hardly ridden it since I was given it as a leaving present by my colleagues at CTC, now I really was able to enjoy it. No photos, sorry – too busy enjoying myself.
It is a Genesis Equilibrium compact road by the way, steel all the way.
150 minutes and a great way to end the week.