Es müsste in der fünften oder sechsten Klasse gewesen sein. 1989 oder 1990. Die halbe Klasse drängte sich ins Jungsklo. Kurz vorher war der Klassenkamerad triumphierend dort herausgestürmt: “Das müsst Ihr Euch angucken! Ich habe ein ‘L’ geschissen.” (Enabling Technology: Flachspüler.)

Inzwischen haben wir 2017. Über 7.000 “Erwachsene” haben im Internet feierlich gelobt, an jedem Tag im April mit dem Fahrrad zu fahren und auf Facebook oder Twitter oder Instagram (oder Facebook und Twitter und Instagram) täglich darüber zu berichten, unter dem Hashtag #30daysofbiking. Aus diesem Grunde (und nicht auf Porzellan, aber ich bin mindestens genauso stolz):

Das müsst Ihr Euch angucken! Ich habe eine ‘4’ gefahren. (Enabling Technology: Smartphone mit GPS.)

#30daysofbiking day 4 again / #myfirst #gpsdrawing #fürblödeideeabendsnochmalraus #hamburgbromptonpower

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Besuch auf der “Reisen Hamburg”

Pics or it didn’t happen! Aber irgendwie war mir einiges wichtiger als Fotos…

Die Familie und ich waren nicht auf der Messe “Reisen Hamburg” in den Hamburger Messehallen. Thema der Messe war Reisen, gegliedert in Reisen mit Wohnwagen oder Wohnmobil, Reisen in andere Länder (also Baltikum, Bayern, Bergedorf, Dänemark, usw.), und Reisen mit dem Fahrrad.

Auch wenn ich mir von dem Thema Fahrrad einiges mehr bzw. anderes versprochen hatte, völlig umsonst war der Besuch der Messe nicht. Zusammenfassen würde ich den Themenbereich “Fahrrad” mit folgender Aufzählung: Klamottenverkauf, Fitnessgeräte (die größtenteils mit “Fahrrad” nicht zu tun haben), Veranstaltungsbühne mit mich ansprechenden Vorträgen (die aber die Geduld meiner Kinder überstrapaziert hätten), E-Bikes, E-Bikes, E-Bikes, und eine ca. Tennisplatz-große Fläche zum Testen von E-Bikes.

Auf der Test-Fläche habe ich dann zwei E-Lastenräder probegefahren. Ein zwei-rädriges Riese & Müller Packster, jeweils mit zwei Kindern in jeder denkbaren Kombination vollbesetzt, und ein dreirädriges Babboe Curve-Elektro, in dem alle drei Kinder gleichzeitig Platz fanden (und Gepäck oder ein viertes Kind hätten auch noch reingepasst).

Die Kinder fanden es großartig. “Schneller!” war eindeutiges Feedback. Auch ich kann beiden Konzepten etwas abgewinnen: ins Babboe Curve passen alle Kinder, während das Fahren mit dem Riese & Müller Packster tatsächlich Spaß macht. Ich lasse das jetzt mal so stehen. Platz zum Parken eines Lastenrades habe ich zur Zeit nicht. Auch sonst ist das kein echter Bedarf. Ob ich die Unterstützung eines Elektromotors brauche sei dahingestellt. Aber es gäbe ggf. ja auch noch Bullitt oder “Babboe nicht Elektro”.

Die sonstigen Highlights der Messe waren dann für uns noch Wüsten-taugliche Wohnmobile auf MAN-Fahrgestellen, ein Hochseilgarten und das Torwandschießen mit Geschwindigkeitsmessung.

#madefor taking our youngest child

About the only thing that never really worked well with the Brompton was taking the kids along. Especially our youngest daughter, who does ride her own bike, but is not very fast nor enduring just yet.

#cycle365 #rideeveryday #lifewithkids #hamburgbromptonpower #meindienstfahrrad

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I’ve tried using the child seat we had, as well as the trailer, but neither was really what I was looking for.

#mybrompton kann alles! #dienstfahrrad #lifewithkids #madeforpulling #hamburgbromptonpower

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Using either option you sacrifice the handiness of the folded Brompton.

When I first found the Pere I quickly ruled it out over the steep price. However during our recent trip to Berlin I convinced the family to stop at Kultrad and got the place’s owner Winfried Heun to let us take his Pere for a test ride.

#lifewithkids #meindienstfahrrad #brompton #hamburgbromptonpower demnächst auch in Hamburg und Wedel #pere

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Now guess what happened! Hint: the next picture was taken in front of our garden shed:

#brompton #pere #meindienstfahrrad #hamburgbromptonpower #lifewithkids #bromptonlife

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And the best thing is: it makes people smile! It makes me smile. It makes my daughter smile. Us smiling (or the wonderful seat?) makes everyone else smile when we pass them on our rides. 😀

Trip “to” Edinburgh

I’m afraid I have to upset some expectations here. I did not ride a bike to Edinburgh. I might, someday; who knows… LEL doesn’t sound entirely unattractive. This time I took an airplane. But since I am dead serious about my #cycle365 mission I had to have a bike…

Why Edinburgh? It’s not that I hadn’t eaten Haggis before, but always wanted to try it. (I ended up having Haggis. Wasn’t a last. This is not a food blog. Let us move on!) The reason is that I’m a die-hard fan of track and cross-country runners Shelby and Taylor Werner. Taylor had been invited to run in the Great Edinburgh XCountry Challenge (#GEXC2017). I hadn’t had a chance to see her run live before. A race in Europe seemed like a perfect opportunity to change just that.

Immediately after booking the flights through easyJet (Friday flight to Scotland, with a return on Sunday) I started checking my options of living up to my new year’s resolution. While I could have an early morning ride in Hamburg on Friday and an evening ride on Sunday, my only option for Saturday was finding a bike I could ride in Edinburgh.

There’s the Brompton folding bike on my fleet, and it’s definitely #madefortravel. But easyJet is a low-budget airline squeezing every penny they can out of their valued customers, charging you extra for checked luggage. Taking the Brompton would have cost me over 50 EUR. On top of that there’s the fact that the folded Brompton per se is not fit to be checked as hold luggage. You’d have to put it in a case of some sort.

Brompton offer the B bag. Add an extra 200 EUR. Add having to carry the bag from the airport to the hotel. Would I use it again, or would it just sit at home collecting dust?

Fellow Bromptoneers have shared other ways of packing the bike on their websites. Various approaches include IKEA Dimpa bags and the like, where you have to remove the saddle and clamps, add padding, etc., all of which takes extra time and effort. Plus, if anything goes wrong you will have the hassle of having to get the bike repaired.

Since I was really looking at 2 days of biking (less than 48 hours) I started checking bike rentals in Edinburgh. As it turns out, Edinburgh has a number of bike shops with bikes for rent. Lucky me: There’s Biketrax, who let you rent their Brompton demo bikes. They charge a reasonable fee (2 days come at less than the easyJet luggage option). They are open Sundays (needed to return the bike). They had a Brompton S-type available for the weekend in question. Booked.

Picking up the bike was simple. I took the bus from the airport into the city center. It was a 10-minute walk from the Shandwick Place bus stop to Biketrax. They were expecting me, with the bike ready by the counter. I paid the rental fee by credit card. They also used my credit card for a 100 GBP safety deposit. Left them with a copy of my ID card. Had some chitchat with the guy behind the counter about Bromptons in general. Bought a battery-powered headlight (more on lights in a later post). And off I was. No intro into folding or anything. I must have made it clear enough that I was a Brompton owner.

The rental bike was a 2016 S2L red demo bike with the standard chain ring and the standard (a.k.a. soft) suspension block.

As I was still carrying my backpack I quickly mounted my Quad lock and had Google maps navigate me to the hotel. To be honest I was almost disappointed that nobody said a word about the bike, which stood by me folded during check-in and which I took up to my room (better than any other anti-theft solution that I am aware of).

I unpacked my bag and took off on the bike again, to check out routes and parking options for the running event the next day. Before dinner, I went on my first of a handful of rides around Arthur’s Seat. Nothing extraordinary, but mostly because I missed a turn in the dark and went on a wider circle with less elevation.

On Saturday morning I had breakfast at the Serenity Café.

Then I spent half a day watching other people run. Once Taylor had finished her race (awesome performance, placed 8th out of 63 runners), I decided to take the bike for a spin. This time I made the right turn and found myself climbing some 150 meters on the northeast end of Holyrood Park.

I managed to get up there. The road never felt as steep as the Waseberg in Hamburg, which is sort of a reference climb. Nevertheless, I must confess to having cursed the 2-speed most of the way up. (Later, upon return of the bike on Sunday, Biketrax told me they recommend the 6-speed with the -12% option to all their customers.)

You can do anything on a #brompton #bromptonlife #hamburgbromptonpower #teamdemo #cycle365 #rideeveryday

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On the way down, when I got up to speed, the 2-speed was not so bad. It required very high cadence, sure. I honestly think that this is not a bad thing after all. However, something else bugged me. The suspension would start to resonate. Looking at a glass half-full of water that means I made the right choice when I ordered the firm suspension block for my own Brompton. Yeah me.

On my evening ride later that day, I stumbled across the United Kingdom’s National Cycle Network. I ‘accidentally’ hit one of the dedicated bike paths. I was quite impressed. Not so much by the fact that it was a dedicated path, as in: it had on- and off-ramps, and no pedestrian let alone car crossings. More by the fact that the network has its own numbering system, excellent Google Maps support. The icing on the cake were the lights:

Bear in mind that Copenhagen and Amsterdam are still on my list of places to go because of a genuine interest in their cycling infrastructure: These dedicated bike paths in Edinburgh do set a standard that Hamburg will have to live up to on the way of becoming a “Fahrradstadt”.

On Sunday morning, I went up and around Arthur’s Seat again. After packing my bag and then returning the bike I had breakfast at The Forest Cafe, walked to the bus, rode to the airport, and flew back home.

Pre flight breakfast #notag

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I flew to Edinburgh to watch Taylor Werner run. I rented a Brompton from a local shop, because checking my own bike seemed too much of a hassle. I have confirmation that 2-speed Bromptons are not made for me, or that I am not made for 2-speed. Similar experiences with other Brompton features. Edinburgh is worth coming back to.

The company bike (Mein Dienstfahrrad)

It’s a 2016 Brompton S6L Black Edition folding bike.

Why a folding bike, you may ask.

Well: The clients I visit are located in various corners of the greater Hamburg area. Given that I am expected to wear decent, and clean and dry, clothing it is not reasonable to go the full length of all trips on the bike.

Hamburg does have a world class public transportation system (check out hvv.de to find out more). Trains operate on a tight schedule (every 10 minutes or less on most lines) and there is usually a station within a three or four km radius from anywhere. Three or four km are reasonable to cover on a bicycle under almost all circumstances. The system generally allows you take a bike on commuter trains. However, between 6 and 9 am, as well as between 4 and 6 pm, bikes are not permitted, with the exception of folding bikes. As those are my usual commuting hours (they are for most people, hence the ban on bulky bikes) I went for a folding bike.

Would there be any alternatives to commuting by public transport plus the folding bike? For getting from the stations to the clients: Some are within walking distance, some are reachable by bus, but some just are “out in the middle of nowhere” (by big city standards). I could also get a company car. But there’s rush hour traffic. Not going to go into that. On occasion I get a car from the company car pool when I go on long distance trips (when I do I usually pack the bike and ride between the Hotel and the work site).

Why a Brompton?

Seriously: That question shouldn’t need an answer. I’ll try to answer it, anyway.

The Brompton offers a perfect combination of rideability and comfort, weight, folding size, and folding speed. When unfolded it offers the same rider geometry as a regular 28-inch bicycle (that is height, stack, reach, 170mm cranks, etc.). Thanks to the right choice of chain ring, sprockets and a shifting hub it offers the same range (or better) of cadence to riding speed ratios as any regular 5- or 7-speed hub on a 28-inch bike. (I ride over 30 km/h or 20 mph regularly, and I have exceeded 50 km/h on occasion.) It weighs around 12kg which is nice for riding as well as carrying the bike. The folding size is (almost) unmatched (only the Kwiggle bike beats it). I can personally fold it in few enough seconds to board the most packed of trains. Even when I start folding after the train has come to a stop and the doors have opened, I am done before the other passengers are done disembarking.

Why Black Edition?

All the company cars are black, because the board of directors think that the logo looks best on black. It’s a company bike. It has the logo on it.

Does it have any extra features?

Here’s a list of the extras fitted, and of some missing, and the reasons why:

SON XS hub dynamo and SON Edelux II head light. When I first got the bike it had the IQ2 Eyc, which is a superb headlight. However, on really dark roads I found the beam to be a bit too narrow for high speeds. Brompton Junction in Hamburg gave me the opportunity to test ride one of their bikes with the newer Edelux II for a couple of days and I was sold. For now, that is. I am still looking for the perfect headlight, which needs to be dynamo powered and have a high beam / low beam option. But the low beam must not be any worse than the Edelux II… if such lights exist I am unaware.

Schwalbe Marathon tires for the winter. Schwalbe Kojak in the summer. Schwalbe Marathon Plus are way too heavy for my taste. The treads of the Brompton tires don’t seem fit for snow. Kojak because of the low weight and therefore faster riding. (And yes, they seem to be a bit prone to punctures.)

S-type handle bar with the original grips. I’ve never been a fan of “comfort” grips. Drop bars aren’t a real option. P-type bars seem too clumsy for my taste.

6-speed because I have some climbs on my usual routes, as well as some downhill sections (duh, going the other way round). I have tested a 2-speed, but I have to say that the 6-speed works better for everyday use.

54T chain ring (the “+8%” option) allows me to do most of my day-to-day rides between 2nd and 4th, whereas with the original 50T I found myself using 2nd through 5th, which meant I could not conveniently shift back after having stopped. (1st world problems, really.)

The saddle is a Brompton saddle. Suits me, and the grips on the bottom are actually quite useful.

Firm suspension block. The standard suspension block makes me constantly believe I have low tire pressure.

Standard pedals, with the folding pedal on the left, for the cold and wet season. Wellgo half and half pedals with SPD-compatible clips for the summer.

Quad lock for the iPhone.

Sigma BC 8.12 ATS speedometer. For time of day, and stats. Plus, I have to admit to be looking at the speed while riding.

#mybrompton kann alles! #mdrza #hamburgbromptonpower #nofilter #dienstfahrrad

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Brompton Tool Kit. In case I need to change a tube after a puncture.

My mission, or what this is all about

My name is Martin. I am an IT Consultant from Hamburg, Germany. For roughly one year now (starting on January 4, 2016 to be precise) I have been getting to work and back by means of a company bicycle. Company bicycle as in company car (and paying taxes for the bike in just the same way). Work as in visiting different clients on a daily basis, sometimes multiple locations on the same day. I have ridden “my” bike almost every day, in any weather. Lately I have also started to track my trips using Strava. The total distance on the company bike in 2016 was just over 4,000 km, that’s 2,500 miles.

#meindienstfahrrad Punktlandung am letzten Arbeitstag des Jahres #hamburgbromptonpower

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It was a Facebook post by a friend, posted in December 2016, about the few people who had posted at least one activity to Strava on every single day of 2016 (never mind the statistical inaccuracies here), that set me on a mission: ride every day in 2017, and share the activity on Strava. I plan on using the hashtags #cycle365 and #rideeveryday on at least one of my rides each day, counting the days. And I plan on posting, to this blog, things that I find worthy of posting that are in some way related to the mission.

The activities shared on Strava are going to include some, not all, of the short rides like dropping off my child at the day care (less than 2km round trip) or getting things from the store. Walks or runs (or swims!?) don’t count, although I record some of those as well. But there are also going to be longer rides, rides to work, bike races, etc. I don’t have a policy for sick days, but will come up with something when needed. Weather conditions or holidays will not be an excuse. I hope I won’t ever forget to tap “Record” at least once a day. I will have to see what to do when I do… go on an extra “penalty” ride, maybe?

Being the IT nerd that I am I am going to be fooling around with various APIs, embedding stuff from Strava, or other platforms.

Just to make it clear: I am (at the time of this writing, ha ha) not affiliated with Strava in any way. (Heck, I don’t even have a premium account.)