Follow our tide in real tine...

Follow along on our rides

I use an app on my smartphone called LocaToWeb which uploads our actual GPS ride in real time. If you send me an email I can even add your t...

Friday, May 10, 2019

Arrived in Berlin

OK, this blog has been dormant forever, since I started using Twitter. Going to make an attempt to update it. We’ll see...

So after a long an uncomfortable flight we landed a half hour early in Berlin.  They opened a new window at passport control just as I walked up and soon I was on the airport bus. Luckily when I got to my hotel my room was available so I checked in, plugged in my devices to charge, and being an old fart, promptly took a nap.

Being suitable refreshed I headed out for a beer. Luckily, around the corner from the hotel is Taproom Berlin.

They mostly have Bavarian beers but they’ve always had at least one from Berliner Berg and this time it was their flagship Pale Ale. So I had one.

I hopped on tram and headed for Pankow to visit a new brewery tap.  I realized I would pass right by the Stone Tap Room in Prenzlauer Berg so I hopped off to stop in for a beer.

The had the Berliner Berg Smoke on the Water Smoke Porter on tap so decided to stay on the theme and had one.

I was feeling a bit puckish, so I ordered a Strammer Max — and open faced ham and cheese sandwich with a fried egg on top. It hit the spot.

Suitable fortified, I hopped back on the tram and was soon at the new tap room for Two Fellas Brewing.

They used to be based in the old Castle Pub in Gesundbrunnen and were homeless for a while until they opened this tap room last year. They had two of their beers on tap, I went with the Lake Michigan IPA (one of the owners is from Milwaukee) Nicely hoppy but not overboard. I could have stayed for another but the jet lag was kicking in so I decided to head back towards my hotel.

Not far from my hotel is the Mikkeller Bar Berlin so I headed over to see what was on tap there.

They had two beers from Schönram, the Hell and the Pils. I really like the Hell but after the IPA and with the jet lag I went for the Pils. It was excellent.

I thought about having a second but passed and went back to my hotel.

Posting this, I realized why I stopped updating this blog. The Blogger interface on an iPad is terrible, very painful to use. We’ll see if I can keep this up.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Day 5 Birmingham to Derby

Our hotel was a block away from the main Birmingham train station -- too tempting.  So we took the train to Lichfield and started from there.

This was the best day so far. No mechanical issues, almost all the trails either paved or well conditioned crushed limestone. My main complaint is there were lots of silly gates one had to go thru. Some you had to lift your bike over a wooden beam -- twice. Others were almost like an airlock -- you had to go into one section and close the gate behind you before you could open another gate to back your bike out.

Sometimes we hit them every quarter mile, other times it might be a couple of miles. We couldn't figure out what they were trying to keep out -- livestock would just step over the wood beams. The only thing we could think of was motorcycles -- because even motor scooters/mopeds you could get thru if you wanted. Very frustrating.

We passed Burton-upon-Trent, which is one of the historic brewing towns in England. We had been there for a day trip 7 years ago but didn't really have the time (or energy) to seek out the good pubs we knew, so we settled for a Marston's pub just down from the brewery for lunch and a beer.

As we were getting close to Derby we met a gent standing at one of the gates. He asked us if we had seen a woman in black cycling the other direction. We said we saw a woman but didn't know what she was wearing. He said it was is wife and she hadn't been on a cycle for years and decided to take it up again. The man had his hand in a cast so couldn't go with her. We assured him that she wasn't lying by the side of the trail (at least as of the time we saw her). She was going to be in a bit of a shock coming back, though. The trail there had a slight downhill grade (in her direction) -- probably not enough to really realize you are going doing hill but it enough to feel "boy, I'm doing great," Coming back up the grade would be a bit of a slog -- nothing impossible just tiring. We get the same thing in LA riding along the beach -- a good tailwind and fell you can ride forever -- until you turn around and have to fight the headwind all the way home.

By the way, the section below is supposed to show a map of that specific ride, not a list of all rides. I've sent a message to LocaToWeb support and hopefully will get things fixed...

Day 4: Statford to Birmingham

Finally, and uneventful day!

We cheated a bit and took the train over about 15 miles of hill bits in the middle, but all in all it was a nice day, The route was mostly on country roads and back lanes, almost all paved with just a few sections thru the woods.

We had a bit of consternation when we reached the outskirts of Birmingham -- the route we had planned (from maps and the Sustrands National Cycle Routes) had us following an old canal into town. But when we got where we'd join the canal there was massive construction going on and the signposts showing our route (NCR 5) went off in a different direction.  We decided to trust the signposts. It took us on a route mostly thru parks and eventually got us to the city center from a different direction and it took us a while to figure out how to get there but we finally made it

Day 3: Oxford on Statford-upon-Avon

On paper this was the longest and hilliest day and it was clear we weren't going to be able to do it in one day. Unfortunately it was also the day with the least train options -- just one town about at the halfway point. So we decided to take the train to Banbury and ride from there.

That went well, but just after leaving the train station I again heard a hiss coming from the rear -- another flat. Something was clearly wrong. Mr Google provide the name of a nearby bike shop that was open and we walked the bikes over there.

Turns out I had a small cut on the tire. The guy (Luke) said it look like it got cut when somebody tried to put the tire on the rim (which was a local bike shop, BTW).

The only tire he had that would fit was a Kenda Kwest 20x1.25, which is pretty narrow (I use 20x1.5). I suggested he move the front tire to the rear and put the narrow on on the front. I also had a broken spoke on the rear wheel, which he fixed (with my spare spoke). And all this time he was dealing with other customers but after just over an hour we were ready to go. Oh, and he had no tubes that small so we used my last spare tube for the front.

The next problem was to find the bike trail, which didn't actually come into to town. After a few false starts we finally found it.

Then we came to the worse trails so far -- in many ways worse than the ones we saw in Eastern Germany 2 years ago. Narrow dirt tracks thru the woods, full of ruts and roots and really had to be walked if not on the level (up or down). One case it was an 8 inch wide dirt track thru a field -- mostly level but you could barely go 3 miles/hour. And another case you could see it had been paved in brick at one time -- still plenty of broke bricks to dodge.

The last 8 miles or so was the "Stratford Greenway" -- which was an abandoned rail line that while it wasn't paved was at least crushed limestone in good condition.

Finally at about 8pm we pulled up to the B&B -- and of course had to wait for the owner to come as he had closed up for the night (he did know we where coming).

Day 2 Maidenhead to Oxford

Day two started off OK -- we had our usual issues getting out of town. The trail surface still wasn't very good once out of town so progress was slow.

Once thru Reading and heading for the countryside this guy on a bike wearing a bright orange shirt rode straight at us. I though he was going to run into us but it turns out it was a friend, Pete, who lives in Reading and checking the status updates he realized we rode by his house. He took off to find us (not knowing the route we'd take).

So he rode with us for a while when I heard a loud hissing from my rear tire. Oh no's a flat!

We pulled over and started the process of putting in a spare tube. We couldn't find anything stuck in the tire and the tube didn't have a major leak so ???. After a struggle to get the tire on and off the rim (the problem with Schwalbe Marathons) we were finally ready to go.

Well, almost. In getting the wheel on and off we knock the derailleur out of adjustment. So I didn't have a low gear and if I shifted to high the chain would go off the sprocket altogether. Not a good thing. So we pulled over and fiddled with it and at least got it so I wouldn't lose the chain, but still no lowest gear.

By this time it was getting late and we realized we wouldn't make Oxford and the next train station in that direction would be a tough bet, so we decided to ride back to the Reading station and take the train there. Pete took us a different route that was much more scenic and almost all paved -- I have no idea why that isn't the official route.

Out adventures weren't over. It turns out do to track repair there is no train service between Didcot and Oxford, only bus service. We got to Didcot and since the passengers seemed to mostly be people heading to Oxford for a Saturday night out there was not much luggage and they let us stash the bikes in the bus luggage compartment.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Day 1: London to Maidenhaid

Well, sort of.

We took the tube from Kings Cross to Earl's Court to Richmond, so we didn't have to ride thru central London. We had to wait for a number of trains until there was room for us and the bikes. But finally just after 11am we we actually riding. The first part was thru Richmond and then Richmond park and it was generally OK.

Then we hit the Thames. The bike path there is really the Thames tow path hiking trail. It was rough, often with tree roots and big holes. And full of people walking their dogs who mostly made room for cyclists. A couple of times it was just a dirt rut thru a field.

Needless to say we didn't make very good time. There was also a small diversion to find a bike shop as I had a gear cable that looked, as they say here, "dodgy/" The first bike shop provide by Google wasn't a bike shop but I guy with a van who would come to you, but he was on vacation. The next one was too busy to work on my bike but did sell me a cable.

Anyway it was getting on to 5pm and we still had 20 miles to go on these terrible trails, so we bailed and took a train. That is itself was an adventure., but more on that later.

Friday, August 05, 2016

Follow along on our rides

I use an app on my smartphone called LocaToWeb which uploads our actual GPS ride in real time. If you send me an email I can even add your to an alert list that will email you when we start a ride that day.

ou just have to promise not make fun of our (slow) speed or if we get lost often

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Google Earth Videos of Our Planned Route

Turns out Google Earth will let you do a virtual tour of a GPS track. So I've embedded some videos made from Google Earth...

Day 1: Richmond to Maidenhead

Day 2: Maidenhead to Oxford

Day 3: Oxford to Stratford-upon-Avon

Day 4: Stratford-upon-Avon to Birmingham

Day 5: Birmingham to Darby

Bicycle Tour This August!

With my long time cycling companion Tom, we are doing a ride from London to York. We are not taking the most direct route but will pass thru Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon, Birmingham, Derby and Sheffield. Some good beer to be found along the way!

Here is our planned route...

Day One: London to Maidenhead...

Day Two: Maidenhead to Oxford...

Day Three: Oxford to Stratford-upon-Avon...

Day Four: Stratford to Birmingham...

Day Five: Birmingham to Derby...

Day Six: Derby to Worksop...

Day Seven: Worksop to Sheffield...

Day Eight: Sheffield to Pollington....

Day Nine: Pollington to York...

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Beer Run!

Of course the question you all want to know is: How much beer can a Haul-a-Day carry?

The answer is I don't really know the maximum but I can set a floor.

So I rode over to my nearby beer store. This is what I bought...

It comes to:

  • 8 x 750ml Avec Les Bon Voeux
  • 6 x 12oz Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA
  • 6 x 12oz Ballast Point Sculpin cans
  • 4 x 16oz Golden Roads Wolf in the Weeds IPA
  • 1 x 750ml spoiled grape juice (a/k/a "Wine")
  • 1 x 26oz distilled grain spirits (a/k/a "Booze")
It doesn't look like much in the cart, but it is a a fair amount to transport on a bicycle.

I didn't plan well enough -- I meant to bring some newspaper to wrap the bottles. We have a paper bag law and one use paper bags are 10 cents. I knew that went for grocery stores but didn't realize it was for bottle bags as well. The store gave me some cardboard inserts and using my jacket and a cloth bag I managed to get it all in and wrapped.

This was the first time I had a real load in the front basket and it worked OK. I am usually pretty good at balancing the bike with little or no forward motion  but not with a load. So long as I got a good push off it went fine. The disk brakes stopped with no issues.

It's less than two miles to the store, so it wasn't a distance test, but I am happy with how it worked. With a little better planning I could carry more but I wouldn't want to double the load.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

More Haul-A-Day

So yesterday I rode off to a nearby grocery store that has "reverse vending machines" to get some bottle deposits back. So I loaded up the bike with three garbage bags of (mostly) 2-liter bottles and headed off.

When I got there, the store had removed the vending machines. It turns out the store is closing the end of the month and I guess they didn't wait to get rid of the recycle machines.

The store had big "Inventory Clearance" signs all over -- I figured there wouldn't be much in the way of groceries I wanted to buy, so I headed for another grocery store (actually closer to home but they don't have a recycling center).

I thought about just leaving the bottles at this store, figuring somebody who gathers recyclables for a living would pick them up. If I had seen anybody, I would have given them to them but just leaving them seemed like littering, so I bungie corded then to the top of the rack in the back (plus one in the basket) and took them home. The panniers are full of groceries but you can't really see that.

So I rode home like this. I got some strange looks -- I think some folks thought I was one of those who has all their belongings on their bike (we have a few of those in the neighborhood) but that is their problem, not mine...

Pat and I went out riding for lunch today and while it is not the greatest picture, you can see somewhat the relative sizes. Her bike is a New World Tourist that belonged to my father. If you look at some of the pictures from 2007, 2008 and 2010 you can see this same bike next to my NWT

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Farmer's Market Run

Rode over to our nearby farmer's market (Mar Vista Farmers Market). It's about 4.5 miles round trip.

Didn't get a huge amount of veggies but more than I would have on my NWT (with the 5 lbs or oranges).

The ride yesterday was about 5 miles (we call it the "Five Mile Loop"). I haven't been riding recently and so am out of shape. Normally these I wouldn't feel these rides but the 35+ lbs of Haul-A-Day does make a difference. I'm not complaining -- that is more exercise for me -- but I won't be doing any 25+ miles rides on it any time soon.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

New Bike Friday in the House

This is my new Bike Friday Haul-A-Day -- their non-folding cargo bike. Just got it assembled yesterday and took it for it's first ride this morning.

Some details: the rear panniers are similar (though smaller) to what you might find on an Xtra-cycle. They will hold a lot of groceries or whatever. It has a standard 8-speed derailleur and front and rear disk brakes. The front basket is frame mounted so that even loaded it won't effect steering much. It takes some getting used to, though. I got a bit sea-sick as the wheel would move but the basket didn't.

You can't see it here, but the frame actually collapses so that different sized riders can share the same bike (seat and handle height also easily adjusts) so that in theory different family members can share the same bike.

The stock model supposedly can transport 200 lbs of cargo.  I'm a little (yeah right!) over the stock rider limit but this one has some "heavy rider" upgrades so I'm not sure how much cargo I can carry but I doubt I'll do more than 100lbs as the main purpose is grocery shopping.

Our local electronics waste recycling facility is actually just off the beach bike path. As I am slowly trying to get ride of old junk -- anybody need a couple 2 serial, 1 parallel port boards? How about RLL and EDSI disk controllers? -- I look forward riding up there some future Saturday with a load of e-junk.

Added: First grocery run. That is a large canvas bag (foreground is a Trader Joe's) on each side.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Back in Bamberg

We had a very tiring 10 hour, four train ride from Rostock to Bamberg. Because we had the bikes we couldn't take faster (ICE/IC) trains and I to rely on local trains (RE/RB).

We started out with an "oops" moment -- we had everything planned: we were going to ride to the nearby S-Bahn station (which we had scoped out earlier) and get to Rostock Hbf in plenty of time to buy some sandwiches and stuff for the long day.  Except the bike garage was locked and the person who normally opened it was late. Finally, a maintenance man showed up a freed our bikes.

Tuesday, we rode out to Merkendorf to Brauerei Wagner (Hummel is closed Tuesdays) and spent a pleasant afternoon in their biergarten. As Bob said, "A perfect 6 hour bike ride -- 45 minutes riding each way and 4 1/2 hours in the biergarten."

I won't post much for the rest of the week unless there is something unusual. You can get lots of pictures of Bamberg here or at

I will leave you with one picture, of the price list for Belgian beers at the new international beer shop in Bamberg (just down the street from Spezial). They even had a few American beers from Anderson Valley, Anchor Brewing and Flying Dog. It will be interesting to see if they succeed -- it is a large, prime corner location and I think you'd have to sell a lot of beer. The people behind are those behind the St. Erhard beers (brewed in Hallendorf but "from" Bamberg and mostly for export to Asia)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Rostock and Warnemünde

Rostock is actually a bit inland, as good ports often are, so he headed for the beach town of Warnemünde.

Being a really hot Sunday about half of Rostock had the same idea.

I actually was surprised, it was a much nicer beach than I expected. It also was like just about every other beach town I've been to.

We stopped for lunch at cafe that had beers from the Marlow Brauerei (in Marlow) about 35 km east of Rostock.

They had a Dunkel, Pils and Spezial and sadly, except for some extra bitterness in the Pils I am not sure I could tell them apart blindfolded. They were all drinkable, just not too interesting.

We headed back to Rostock and decided walk thru the old town. Below is a panorama of the Neuer Markt

There are two towers remaining of the dozens that existed in the Middle Ages.

There also is a section of the medieval town wall.

For dinner we headed out to near the Zoo to the Trotzenburg brewpub. They had three beers, Pils, Spezial and Hefeweizen. None of us felt up to the Hefeweizen so we just had the Pils and Spezial.

They were a bit too yeasty but that often happens in the summer with brewpubs as they reduce layering times to increase production. But once past the yeastiness they were quite nice and we all had a second. The food was excellent.

Tomorrow we have a 10 hour trek by train back to Bamberg. With the bikes we can only take local trains.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Day 11: Made it to Rostock (Updated)

We were a little worried as the map showed lots of forest in the morning. We've had some nice forest runs and some from hell.

This looked to be a nice one -- up and down a bit more than I like but all paved and well maintained. It was a road (i.e. cars allowed), which probably explains it. Occasionally they had what we've comes to call "Mecklenburg Speed Bumps" -- a short section left as really rough cobblestones. Luckily, over the years bicyclists have carved little bypasses in the dirt shoulders so they weren't too bad so long as you saw them.

Then came one downhill, in a really dark part of the forest when the road suddenly turned cobblestone. We got down the side dirt track but at the bottle (were it was hard to see) was just a gully with a bit of a drop. Needless to say, Bob lost another spoke (as often happens when you lose one, you lose the neighbor as it has more stress).

The bike was still ridable but no fast downhills and no rough surfaces. The nearest bike shop looked to be in Güstrow, about 20 km at this point.

We came out of the forest and were riding along fields of barley. Since I might be drinking this barley sometime in the future, I thought it polite to take a picture.

Off to one side we noticed a depression that had a number of trees planed in a circle, with a big one in the middle. With 12 trees around the circle we figured it was some kind of sundial. Or maybe a Druid shrine.

We came to Güstrow and the first bike show sign was down a cobblestone road, so I left Bob and went to search. They were closed for a holiday until Tuesday but I was told there were two others in town near the church.

Well, there were two old churches but we found the first shop. We took Bobs bike and the guy took one look and said no way did he have that size. But try the guy down the street.

Well, down the street was actually next door (must make things interesting). This shop had none of the glitz of the other. Stuff was piled all over and some looked to have been untouched for years. The owner came out and first said the spokes where just bent but then he acknowledged they were, in fact, broken. He shook his head, went into the back and came out with a gauge. He worked a broken spoke out the wheel, straightened it and measured it. Grumbling under his breath,  he went in the back and soon came out with two spokes and eyeballed them to the wheel. Grunting affirmatively, he took the bike into the back room and much quicker than we expected he wheeled the bike back out and said "All fixed, 10 Euro." As we left, he turned the sign in the door to "Closed." We had gotten in just before his Saturday closing time of noon!

I don't want to make the shop owner seem more sinister that he was -- he was perfectly friendly but he was the kind of guy who looked like he was more interested in bicycles than the idea of selling bicycles. Just the kind of guy you want to fix your unusual sized bike. 

So now it was lunch time and the next town 20 km away so headed thru the town square and found a restaurant with a shaded table.

Soon we were back on the road. We were riding mostly along a canal and the temperature was rising. The weather app on my phone said it was 90 degrees in Güstrow and there was not a cloud in the sky. Bob said that this was a Florida sun, what was it doing this far north?

When we reached Bützow on our way thru town we passed an ice cream cafe. It was time to stop for something cold, so we did.  It was clear that we weren't going to make it the remaining 40km in the heat -- or at least arrive very late. So I checked the train schedules for the next town -- Schicewaan -- and in two hours there was a train to Rostock but then next one was two hours after that.

On a day not so hot we could make the train with no effort, but on a day not so hot we wouldn't need the train. After my experience yesterday I didn't want to push it. Then we realized -- why push our selves to ride 20km to meet a train that left about 2km from where we were sitting. So we ordered another ice cream and took the train from Bürtzow to Rostock. Wimps we were. Or rather, wimp was I as I think the others might have gone for it.

The bike car on the train was packed but we managed to fit the bikes in. But we had to stand. The horrors of standing for 20 minutes in an air-condition rail car versus riding 40km in the hot sun.

Once in Rostock we had about a 3 km ride to the hotel, near the waterfront.

The hotel had a fridge in the lobby and were selling the local mega brew Rostocker for €1.50. So it became our first beer in Rostock.

A forgettable ABImbev product but the brewery is on the same street as our hotel (which we passed on the way in)

Somewhat refreshed, we headed for the waterfront and walked about a kilometer to a place called Zum Alten Fritz. It looked like it may once have been a brewpub but now they served the beers from the Störtebekker brewery in Stralsund (about 70km east of Rostock).

They had 5 beers on draft: Zwickel-Fritz "Kellerbier', Zwickel-Fritz Dunkel (in the font) and a Schwartzbier and two Pils.

All were excellent, with the dark beers being especially roast, The second Pils (Stralsunder Pils) was a little on the bland side but I think that was a feature not a bug since the other was nicely bitter.

For dinner we all had a lamb burger with some kind of soft cheese on it. It too was excellent.

They had a number of bottled beers as well and we picked a few to try.

From left to right, Starkbier ("Strong beer"), Hanse Porter and Atlantik Ale.

The Strong beer was very, very good. Nicely roast and a good malt background. Sort of a "Schwartzbock." The Hanse Porter was bottom fermented to you could rightly call it a "Baltic Porter" but it was a little on the sweet side and at 4% was lacking a bit of oomph. But tastily. The Atlantik Ale was a perfectly fine hoppy American Pale Ale (made with Cascade and Citra among other hops). Certainly the happiest beer I've had in Germany this trip.

They also had a number of wheat beers, which we did not try.

Walking back we had a nice sunset over the harbor...

And we came across a statue that was obviously from "former times"

It was surrounded by a chain link fence and there was no mention anywhere of what it was or was commemorating. Probably will be a McDonalds by the time I visit Rostock again.

Here is a head on view...

Rostock is actually a bit inland (as many good ports are). Tomorrow we are going to the actual coast.

Total distance ridden from Bamberg was just under 700 km

Friday, July 18, 2014

Day 10: Waren to Krakow am See

That's Krakow in Germany.

It was supposed to be a short day, but we got a bit of a late start (had to fix a problem with a client). Then, while riding thru the forest, Tom noticed I had a clicking on my rear wheel. We stopped and checked it out and it turns out my rear tire had a cut in the sidewall and was starting to bulge. So I break our the spare tire and we replace it.

A few kilometers later I notice I can't get into my upper gears, so we stop and check it out but everything seems OK. After a while Bob noticed the cable seems to be pulled just a little out of the derailleur and shoves it back in and I have gears again.

In Bornkrug we stop for lunch and I had a wonderful bowl of "Mexican" Goulash soup. It was a well made goulash soup with some heat from chillis. Oh, and a Lübzer Pils to go with it.

Next my headset was knocking pretty bad so we stopped and tightened it. Then Bob's rear wheel developed a wobble so we stopped to check that out, nut couldn't find anything.

All this time the temp was climbing and the sun was beating down. I think I got a bit overheated so we pulled off into the shade of a tree for a bit. Once we started back up we eventually came to a golf course and stopped for a cold drink -- they actually had ice!

Back on the road, we were soon in Krakow where Bob noticed his wobble was due to a broken spoke.
We had a nice dinner at the hotel (Brathering for me) and a couple of bottles of Lübzer Pils (the draft beer was Warsteiner, of all things)

About two thirds of the trails today were paved. And the unpaved ones were generally in better shape than before but I seriously overestimated the general quality off the bike paths in Eastern Germany and it had made for a much harder trip. It is partly our fault as larger wheels have more cushioning on rough trails, but this is supposed to be a major international bike trail and I don't think it lives up to that.

Tomorrow we reach Rostock and then back to Bamberg.

Distance ridden: 55 km.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Day 9: Fürstenberg to Waren

The first 30 km were beautiful but a killer -- thru the woods, sometimes paved, sometimes not but always up and down.

Luckily, we were at the top

I have to admit, I tried it. 2% and 5.5% grapefruit juice. Not bad if you think of it as Grapefruit Soda.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Day 8: Oranienburg to Fürstenberg

It was only 80 km but felt like 180.
There is no internet at the hotel and my phone barely had enough signal for email, so for you until later.

The view from my hotel room

Köstritzer Schwarzbier in a Wernesgrüner glass