I am at the Eurobike trade fair for work. Mostly bike fairs involve being plunged into a morass of competing booths and emerging blinking into the light after three or four days in complete exhaustion. Click the “Cycle Shows” tab below to catch a different flavour of the shows I have experienced since taking on my new job.
But Eurobike has a treat in store. By an accident of history Europe’s largest bike show ended up in the town of Friedrichshaven on the shores of Lake Constance, the Bodensee in southern Germany. The industry types who have been coming here for 20 years or more moan and groan about the lack of access and hotels and the traffic jams because the town isn’t set up for a show in this scale.
But – but, but, but. You have to get here. And in many people’s case this means coming via Zurich. Two hours on Swiss Railways, then the ferry across the Bodensee from Ramshorn or Konstanz. As you cross the ferry you can also see the evidence of the booming cycle tourism culture building in the area, each time I come I see more and more cyclists – much better than my first lonely ride as a student visitor in 1984.
And you get to stay out in the small towns of the Allgäu with family run hotels in immaculate settings with restaurants set out on the traffic free market squares.
And demo day? A 30 minute bus ride up into a tiny town in the Allgäu hills where 2000 bike shop owners, business people and hangers-on like me get to try out hundreds of bikes on waymarked trails.
What’s not to like – especially as this year we were treated to roasting hot temperatures. We took two really nice road bikes from Ritchey out onto the road route which gave some lovely images of rolling hills, beautifuly kept farms and very smooth roads. We also tested two of the new range from Tern which were very impressive, and much more relevant to real life in Brussels!
I also noticed that even the smallest settlements had a lot of solar panels – showing just how far ahead of most of the rest of the world this aspect of German life is. All in all a picture of civilised living.
However what is unforgivable is the Australian who conformed to national stereotype and brought only flip-flops to a cycling demo day. (They are called “thongs” to Aussies – please avoid confusion with a piece of string pretending to be underwear, which could in fact be a worse sight on a bike).
Actually an even worse crime was committed here- actually trying to justify the “thongs” by telling the staff on the booth that Cadel Evans dresses like this at the weekend. Sorry – no, Cadel has some class.
I noticed a lot of solar panels when in Wallonia – either on roofs or built in the grounds of the house/school. Unlike the UK who don’t seem to think that its a good idea. Very strange. I’ve got one on the rood of my narrow boat.
All about the Feed In Tariff – give a person a return on investment in under 10 years and even the UK would understand. The big electricity companies are a very powerful lobby in the UK and they stitched up the civil servants in DECC.
In Germany the generous tariff brought in business and consumers and now they lead in this area.