2017 – a gallery. Thanks to all readers and followers of Idonotdespair.com, have a great 2018

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This gallery contains 40 photos.

Trying to find a way to summarise 2017 I reminded myself that this year almost every blog post has a unique header photo – some interesting shots, but only used once. So for my personal journey down memory lane, here … Continue reading

Day out in blossom country – Belgium’s beautiful Haspengouw

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This gallery contains 6 photos.

I fulfilled a small Belgian ambition yesterday. Ever since I went cycling in Limburg last summer and discovered the beautiful region of the Haspengouw I have been looking forward to going back in spring to see the blossom season. We … Continue reading

Impressions of Eurobike 2014 – cycling with style

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This gallery contains 11 photos.

Fortunately I am not a cycling writer, at least not one who has to write about bikes and bits for a living. There are over 1300 exhibitors at the world’s biggest bike show so it is hard to get an … Continue reading

Duel at dawn – part deux

A few weeks ago I amused some of you with my post “Duel at Dawn” in which I told the tale of the old sporty cyclist faced by another cyclist on the morning road.

The tale took a new twist this morning.

I was thrashing my way through the hills of the Foret de Soignes at my usual lumbering pace when I suddenly heard the swish of a bike tyre beside me and a cyclist zoomed past up the hill.

Without even looking I knew that I was being passed by some flying roadie in lycra and I was going to have little chance of slipstreaming the passing rider even if I put on a burst.

Except E bike Foret de Soignes

I was being passed by a woman on an upright bike in day clothes.

It took quite a few revolutions before the penny dropped.

E-bike.

The battery pack was the give away which I discovered when I got over the hill not too far behind her and then caught up freewheeling down the other side.

Amazing experience – we followed each other for about 3 km – me pulling ahead on descents and at any busy junctions but she absolutely flew up the climbs effortlessly and on the last one I just expired like a burst balloon and watched the green spot vanish.

It was the first E-bike I have seen in Brussels and you don’t see many of them on the commute in many countries because people are worried about storage at the other end. But we know from Germany and the Netherlands that the E-bike revolution is letting more people ride further, more often, in sensible normal clothes. Great to see it in Belgium.

Just not good for the ego of 50-something roadies. Time to move on.

Cycle touring revolutions – Cycling in Lower Franconia

Franconia Germany

River Main cycle route Germany

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.Franconia 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.

Germany cycling

Gerolzhofen Germany

Cycle touring Germany

Lower Franconia Germany

Cycling Franconia GermanyFrom 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.Germany cyclingGerman cyclists in Volkach 2Cycle touring Germany

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.Cycling bikes Franconia Germany

Franconia Germany

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.

Cycling Franconia Germany

Volkach Franconia Cycling

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.Cycling Franconia

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.SRAM Urban days cycling group

E-bike photo-gallery from the ISPOBike trade cycle show in Munich.

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This gallery contains 10 photos.

It is only since starting work for ECF that I have realised the fixation on electrically assisted bikes in the German bike industry E-bikes or pedelecs got a hold in the Netherlands first but it is the German industry that … Continue reading