Eurobike 2017 gallery – or the storm and the calm

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This gallery contains 11 photos.

It has been one long, intensive and ultimately very satisfying week at the global cycling show Eurobike in Germany. Podiums, politics, presentations, workshops, rides – we increased our programme again this year and got great feedback from the bicycle industry … Continue reading

Five years of “I do not despair” – revisiting our favourite posts

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On January 1st 2012 I published the first, tentative post on Idonotdespair.com To celebrate my fifth anniversary I have gathered together a small collection of favourite posts. Firstly your top 5 – the posts that have gathered the most visitors,some … Continue reading

The unprepared tourist – a morning cycle ride in Friedrichshafen

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I love bike hire, indeed any bike whatsoever if it gives me the chance of an unplanned ride in a new city. That shows up in “The unprepared tourist”, the title of one of the most visited posts on this … Continue reading

The chilly cycle tourist – a short winter cycle tour of Munich

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This was the cycling excursion that was never going to happen. It was the result of a three day process that went from “no way”, through “maybe” and “what the heck” and ended up as “that was good”. A chilly … Continue reading

When asked “what’s hot in sport?” never for one moment did I imagine the answer to be “bobble hats”. Makes sense really.

A small diversion away from cycling on my travels, and a tribute to my Nan’s knitwear output.

I have written numerous times about my visits to bike shows around the world, but this week I have taken a detour to one of to one of the world’s most important sporting goods shows, ISPO Sport in Munich.

I am actually here to attend meetings and events on the side of the show that have been extremely useful for learning about trends in health and physical activity and the business climate in which the global bike industry is working.

But of course I went for a walk around the show. It was enormous, bigger than all the bike shows except maybe Eurobike. There were no specific bike exhibits but lots of familiar outdoor brands and many of the companies that make outdoor and sports gear also cross over into cycling.

Photo by Kevin Mayne Photo by Kevin Mayne

But inevitably my eye is drawn to the unexpected. This is especially true of trade fairs where the major purpose of the show is to convince manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers to take a particular range, not really to reach the individual consumers.

Photo by Kevin MayneWhen I first went to Taipei Cycle Show I was drawn to the booths that just exhibited a single item like bells, or a huge display of carefully colour coded bolts, there so that assemblers could order just the right part to match their bicycle designs. No reason why they should not be there, but the care and attention to detail put in to displaying the humble washer just caught my imagination.

So what was it at ISPO?

Bobble hats.

Photo by Kevin Mayne

Walls of bobble hats.

Photo by Kevin Mayne

Fields of bobble hats.

Photo by Kevin Mayne

 

Colour coordinated bobble hats.Photo by Kevin Mayne

The biggest bobble hat I have ever seen.Photo by Kevin Mayne

Who knew? If you want to convince the winter sports buying community that your product is the height of technical achievement you top off your display….with a bobble hat, lovingly designed and created by people who have invested a great deal of craft in their product.

Maybe it’s because I don’t come from a winter sports country, but somehow I was highly amused by the status given to the sort of clothing that represented the height of uncool in England because it was knitted by your grandmother in strange shapes and colours. The only exception was your football supporter’s hat that you wore on a Saturday.

Good luck to them all, if colour coded bolts matter to someone then why not bobble hats? My Nan would have seen it as a challenge to turn out another batch from her extraordinary selection of leftover wool.

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

My Eurobike hotel room – in Weingarten Abbey, Church and Shrine of the Holy Blood, Weingarten, Germany

One of the great pleasures of travel is when you are given a totally unexpected treat.

I have just spent the week at Eurobike, the great bike industry frenzy at Friedrichshafen on the banks of Lake Constance. That in itself is a bike lover’s indulgence of which there will be more later. But this year I got a bonus.

As far as I knew our German colleagues had booked us into some sort of college near Ravensburg which was offering a good package for the week. I thought no more of it, and I had certainly not checked anything other than the directions when I arrived at Ravensburg train station.

When the taxi driver pulled up on the forecourt of a huge church complex overlooking the neighbouring town of Weingarten I was quite convinced I must have misread something, until I was warmly welcomed at the Conference Centre in the Benedictine Abbey and Basilica of Weingarten, the largest Baroque church north of the Alps and an important religious site for over a thousand years.

Photo Kevin Mayne

One wing of the former Abbey is now a training centre and conference suite for the Diocese. So that is why I found myself throwing open my room window to discover I had a view over a courtyard and the great dome of the Basilica, nicknamed “Swabia’s St Peter’s”. It may have been a bit cloudy and gloomy but the setting lifted me up after ten hours of train travel.

Photo Kevin Mayne

The next evening after work I was able to wander the grounds and discover more about where I had ended up, especially with the help of a little guide book I bought in the Basilica.

Photo Kevin Mayne

It was hard to step back far enough to get a clear view of the buildings because they were constructed on a huge scale and the Basilica itself was flanked by two large wings, each around a courtyard which would have formed the cloisters of the abbey when it was at its peak. From ground level this inner perspective was of one of somewhat severe and austere walls, probably not what it was like before its final phase of building in the 18th Century.

Photo Kevin Mayne

Photo Kevin MayneThe only way to see its original style and scale properly was looking up from the town below. Unfortunately ugly restoration work and grey weather deprived me of that view this time so I had to rely on the image from the guide book to help me imagine it.

Looking out from that viewpoint at the front of the church I did have an excellent view down over the town itself, looking from a terrace that has been planted with vines to recognise the town’s name – “Wine garden” in English. At dusk groups of young people gathered here to chill out, have a beer and watch the sun set.

Photo Kevin Mayne

Photo Kevin Mayne

Inside the Basilica there is a totally different perspective. Firstly I could really sense the scale which I had found it hard to identify from outside. Apparently it is over 100 metres long and the dome goes up over 60 metres.

Photo Kevin Mayne

And there was certainly nothing plain about the inside, the white masonry made it seem light and bright and contrasted with the splashes of gilding and paint in all the alcoves and up onto the ceiling.

Photo Kevin Mayne

I have no particular religious affinity with any of the churches and temples I visit when I am travelling but particularly in Europe these buildings are a vital part of our landscape and heritage, it was a rare treat to be able to say I was staying in the “spare room” at the Weingarten Abbey.

There is however a footnote to my tale.

One of the nice features of my first night was to see the courtyard in front of my room being used as an outdoor cinema for the town, a great setting with a nice atmosphere, towers above and bats flitting around. It is apparently a summer season feature of Weingarten and a nice symbol of the multi-functional use of the complex by the regional government who now own it.

Photo Kevin Mayne

But the volume was incredibly high and I did wonder to myself just how long they might be going on when I wanted to go to bed. It was nice when it stopped, but only then did I appreciate that the cinema sound had to overcome the church bells which rang out every 15 minutes. We had a discussion later amongst our group whether they actually continued all night; the lighter sleepers were convinced they did. From the third floor, not so far from the bell tower itself I can categorically say they chimed 12 times at midnight and for sure they were going again at 5.30am.

I think we have to assume that the bells are part of the setting. Personally I am not complaining, but I am not so sure about some of the others!

Further post-script – last year’s accommodation wasn’t bad either – this is a great area to visit. Click here for more about my stay in Ravensburg.