The Thing That Makes All the Good Weather

We´ve had quite a remarkable autumn this year; the weather was fine quite frequently, so I could get a few miles under my belt which I had missed out on during the season proper.XRhof


I haven´t told you yet about the mishap I had while doing a century ride, have I? Early this year I decided that I didn´t want to do all that many miles in the car anymore, so I did a lot of what we call Sternfahrten. This is basically a normal century ride, but the miles spent on the bike en route to the event also count. Of course you meet less people that way, also the fee stays the same but you don´t profit from food stops, but, as I said, it means less driving.

Of course less driving also means less compatibility of flea markets and cycling events. While I´m definitively shrinking my collection of vinyl and shellac discs, I still can´t pass by a fleamarket. In the car – no problem. You just throw the records in and forget about them until you´re back home. On the bike you need to plan your route more diligently to include the car boot sales, and also there´s the problem of carrying, say, 30 discs on a randonneuse. So what to do? I decided to press my Rohloff equipped touring bike into RTF service, because years ago I had found out a quite foolproof way of transporting LPs on it.

For this reason, I take my winter mitts even in 30 deg Centigrade weather, and I always take both of my trusty, by now 30 y-o Agusport panniers.

XRbagsbadgeXRBagsrearXRbagsmittsThe two small Agus make a very trustworthy platform, and the mitts are wrapped around the bag with the records under the spring clip

XRbagsdiscsrearand just aft of the seatcluster,

XRbagsmittsfrontand Bob´s your uncle. I have carried close on 50 LPs in one go this way, and there´s no problem whatsoever. OK, granted, on steep descents the weight makes itself felt in some sort of weird rear end shimmy, but that´s a small price to pay. One Saturday this summer I bought 25 LPs and then went on a 120km ride.

One wonderful side effect is that the cyclists you meet during the small portions of the RTF route that you have to do in order to validate your license entry have a hard time guessing what´s in the yellow bag. One actually made me show him the discs as he wouldn´t believe that I took LPs on a century ride.

Anyway, back to the mishap. On one of these Sternfahrten with a carrier rack full of LPs, and about 35km from home, a pedal axle snapped, just where the adjustable cone starts, at the end of the thread. I was lucky enough to be quite close (10km) from the home of a friend who also is into bikes, so I was able to borrow a pedal, but I do hope that this is the last prank the cheapo stuff on the original chain store cycle has played me. You might remember that I bought the Rohloff used (and the Maguras, and the lighting, and…) hung on a frame which was so cheap as to be nearly unridable.

I then decided to get a decent pair of pedals and bought the heavy version Shimano reversibles.

XRPedflat XRpedspdThey´ve been fine so far. I usually keep single pedals, far too thrifty to throw a good pedal away, but I binned the un-broken one this time.

Another funny thing about my bike is this dead spider

XRheadlspidin the headlamp. It must have crawled in when the first owner of the chain store bike put the machine away after about 50km of use. And, no, neither the spider nor its net makes a shadow on the road.

What else? Oh yes, the Rohloff´s been fine, and I have decided to perform the yearly oil change tomorrow. Well, bi-annual, this time. Sorry, hub. BTW, there´s a great write up of “Rohloff how to and why” on Marten Gerritsen´s m-gineering website (whose third Tubes and Coffee will be on Dec 20th, and unless something horrible happens you bet I´ll be there).

I can´t resist in offering some impressions from this wonderful autumn´s rides, beginning with a marvellously dangerous and rusty steamroller which has been stationary on our neighbourhood playground for decades. Kids can fall off, put their hands in holes, bang their heads on protruding things, cut themselves on sharp edges – they hardly ever do, and they love the machine.

XRSteamrbadge XRSteamrfull2 XRSteamrfull

Here´s one half of a Beetle. Before I chanced upon Volvos I used to be a dyed-in-the-wool Citroen 2CV man, so I guess that this is the best thing you can do with a beetle – cut it in half and use it as a stopgap in the hedge.

XRVWThis is a bike which I happened to see on one of my rides – a real cross frame ladies roadster, more precisely a Utopia Kranich (Heron). As so often in German bikes – good idea, cheapo build; just look at those lugs and the seat stay top.

XRUtseatcl XRUtreardo XRUtheadb XRUtfull XRUtforkcr XRUtcross XRUtbbUtopia started in 1982 and have always used steel frames, which is good, of course, but all Utopia frames I have seen were relatively coarse and, if I´m allowed to say so, priced in a way that I never bothered: A Kranich frameset is now +/- 1.000 Euros.


Photo courtesy Utopia Velo

However, pricey as they may be, they are known for their ruggedness. A former neighbour of ours who is 6´7″ and weighs in accordingly has used a London, the gents´ version, with a Rohloff for more than a decade as his exclusive means of transport without a problem.

The frames are made in the Netherlands at van Raam bike speciality workshop in Varseveld near Doetinchem in the Achterhoek region, funnily enough only about 40km from where I spent my youth. The firm has been going strong for more than 100 years at different locations. If you look closely, the Utopia frame pictured above does look Dutch, too. According to their website, van Raam employs three framebuilders at the moment. Actually, the boxlining on some of the forks is done by Henk Kluver who, at 93 years of age, is the oldest employed person in the Netherlands. He´s been working at van Raam´s for an unbelievable 70 years.

Utopia have also had a strong connection with Rohloff and were presented with a pair of specially engraved Speedhubs for their 25th anniversary.

XRweatherfull XRweatherbadgeSome kilometers away from our village an automatic weather data gathering station was erected some years ago. Is this responsible for all the good weather?

A Bike for Brum

Some of you may know that my son recently moved to Birmingham/UK because he received a grant/bursary for a year´s worth of study at the University there. The problem about taking a decent bike was twofold: Would he need one, and if so, would there be safe storage? Both questions have by now been answered with a yes, the first one because there is not even a student bus pass included in the unbelievable £9.000 yearly fee. Allow me to be a bit unfair: Our local university manages to include a pass for less than €600 total fee per year.XGJdtransf

Anyway, this gave me the great opportunity to go hunting for a trusty steed. Sadly, the first port of call rendered a magnificent bicycle, of my favourite utility bike brand, from the perfect era and in very good condition. I would have loved to visit more bike shops and look at more small ads, but it just had to be this wonderful, ca 20 y-o Gazelle.

XGJfull XGJfullfrontYou will note right away that it has a somewhat shorter wheelbase than a standard Dutch roadster, which makes it a lot nippier. There actually are light alloy handlebar and seat post. I don´t know how Gazelle engineers could bring themselves to use these parts – they make the bike at least 200 grammes lighter. Horror.

But also the wheels are a little more sporty, if I may use this word in a Dutch roadster environment. Hubs (five speed Pentasport with drum brake) have light alloy shells, and rims are of a Westrick profile. To make good for the other light alloy parts, rims are sturdy stainless. Still, I think they are lighter than the usual Westwoods, so riding the bike in a hilly area (England, not Holland) should be pleasurable.

XGJrearhubXGJrimXGJfronthubnutThe last photo brings me to an explanation why I think that the bike is in such good nick and from such a great era: Just look at the hooded axle nut and the mudguard stay end. OK, admitted, the end goes shabby quickly if you´re not careful with it, but still.

As per usual on Gazelles from that time, the bike abounds with places the brand is mentioned on in picture or word from. I have long coveted the idea of staging a competition: Send in the right number of Gazelle sightings on a 1990s specimen and win the bike, but that would be unfair on readers as it would take ages to figure out.

A certainly non-complete list must start with this,

XGJheadbthe beautiful (screen?) printed metal badge.


There was a plastic guard over the part of the stay protecting the little badge. Those are missing on all bikes I know of.

XGJseatclXGJtubestickerAgain, the last pic brings me to an explanation why the great era of Gazelle framebuilding must have come to an end shortly after this model.

It did have an oversized downtube (sporty, remember),


but look at this:

XGJbbbottomWelded before brazing – ugh.

The old Gazelle “Kogellager”, press fit ball bearing b/b, was still there, however. René Herse, eat your… oh well.

Also look at this:

XGJbrakebridgeplateSo there are the two stainless bolts holding the carrier rack, and just above them there is a little piece of sheet metal just like a tiny recessed display board – which it used to be, because there was the frame number stamped on older Gazelles. On this bike, expensive stamping has been economized away, and strangely enough the frame number is to be found on the sticker just over the b/b shell. I should imagine that nothing is easier to remove or falsify.

Speaking of the carrier rack: It´s so Dutch. The versions for the German market had a sprung baggage holder and looked completely different.

XGJbaggcarrXGJrearreflBut look at that lock. Massive, and with real keys (both of which are still there). The hole facing you is for a cable loop to secure the bike to some tree or lamp post. The cable can be locked with the same key. However, it had to be bought as an extra and is rarely seen. BTW, noted the box lined mudguards? Not a spot of rust on their edges.

XGJaxalockSomething else which is really nice and useful is the brazed on rear light base, a sign of the more expensive Gazelle bikes.

XGJrearlightIf I´m not mistaken there´s an LED insert with a supercap to carry on burning after this

XGJdynhas stopped in front of a red light. Gimme an AXA HR anytime – just as good as a cheap hub generator. Earth cable, large dia cap for slow turning internals – wonderful. And the way it´s fixed on old style Gazelles:

XGJforklegbrazeonsBraze ons everywhere.

And then the track bike fork crown!

XGJfrokcrJoke, there´s no hole because of the bike having drum brakes. Very useful in Dutch (and British) weather.

XGJfronthubleftAlso this brake (is Fichtel &) Sachs and not the usual heavy Sturmey.

XGJtwistshiftTwist shift for the five speed. Much handier that the old thumb shifter.




The two rear d/o end assemblies. The plastic chaincase is remarkably robust and its small rear part comes off very easily for maintenance or repair of the rear wheel. I must say I found the old fabric covered kettingkast still easier to work on, but there you go.


All bolts and nuts are stainless. The lighting cable emerges from the chainstay and vanishes in the mudguard stay after only a few inches. Can be a pita when you´re working on the rear wheel, but is perfect in daily use for anti-snagging purposes. Also look at the Gazelle chain tensioner.

XGJframenostickerDon´t know about royal, but a quality bike it certainly is.

Half a Post

Yes, I´m still here.

After a rather un-satisfying summer, there´s not much to report – I missed nearly all of the interesting meets and rides this year, for reasons of overwork, bad luck with double booked weekends, and also a few instances of sickness.

I feel a bit like the cyclist on this record cover:


Yes, there is one. Look at the bottom left hand corner:

SAM_6624The front wheel of his bike is just visible, but he´s been relegated to the rear:

SAM_6622Turning the record over, there he is, looking none to pleased to have been left off the front cover. His bike is quite OK, equipped with what looks like Suntour gear and a Turbo saddle. And look at his Cinelli socks!

Let me add that Eros Ramazotti isn´t exactly the music I usually listen to, but the cycle on the cover affords at least some optical attraction.

As far as I´m concerned, I´m hoping for a better 2016 cycling season. Until then, and unless I can find the time and an occasion, I guess I´ll prolong my blogging break.


Two Steel Framed Rides (Rohloff, RIH)

Here I am again, but only for short report on two interesting rides. Can anyone fill me in on what happened while I wasn´t looking? Weeks with hundreds of visitors although I had not posted anything? I guess I should stop altogether, this seems to net the views.

Anyway, about a month ago, during the first week of school, a colleague fell ill, and I had to stand in for him. Nothing unusual it seems, only I stood in on a cycleride. Year 13 Advanced Level Geography class had to be shepherded by two people, one preferably knowing his way with bikes (and boy, was it needed), so I accompanied the herd together with the colleague who is the class teacher. The idea was to have a closer look at the Ruhr, but for the first day I had a closer look at neglected bikes, it seemed, but as I don´t mind to look over bikes, I was fine.

The idea was to cycle from Dortmund to Duisburg, starting on the Thursday, returning on the Saturday, but I had a family do on Saturday, so I came back the Friday, having been relieved by another colleague. I decided to use my Rohloff equipped KFS (see earlier posts), and in general it was great. We had to carry our luggage, but the bike didn´t mind at all, and, if anything, the ride improved in spite of the big bags I had on the rack.

XLKRadIt became necessary to sprint in order to overtake the group for a couple of times when the people going in front went too fast, but even then there was no problem. The bike behaved fine.

On the Thursday we set out from Bielefeld station, and what a difference it was from the French trains I used just a few weeks earlier. Bicycle tickets to be bought (and not cheap, either), special luggage vans for bikes,

XLKTrainconductors making sure every last paragraph of the rules was adhered to. In France? No rules, no luggage vans, no tickets, no trouble.

Having arrived in Dortmund in two trains (one alone could not take all our bikes), we set off. We took a break at Phoenixsee, an artificial lake dug to give some sort of mediterranean feeling to a newly developed quarter of the city. Also, the first of a number of geographical presentations was given by one of the students.

XLKSeeThe day went by, accoustically accompanied by the merry sound of bursting tyres. I actually had to delve into the biggest cycle superstore I have ever been to to buy a new tyre because the one I had to replace on a student´s bike had worn tread to a degree at which the inner tube was visible.

Phoenixsee is served by a cyclepath which follows the tracks of a disused railway, and even some bridges have been erected to help cycle traffic.


In all the group behaved very well. In Germany, a group of over 15 cyclists (there were 22 of us in all) can cycle two abreast in the carriageway, not using the cyclepath. After some explaining, not even a trial ride was necessary, and we were happy to hold up motorized traffic and be perfectly legal too. At one point we even were thinking of using the motorway, but after some consideration didn´t.

XLKmotorwayJoke aside, some cyclepaths/provisons for cyclists were really substandard and we were lucky to be in a big group.

Mostly we used byways, though, which was as well, because my colleague was able to use several opportunities to get lost in spite of two satnav devices on his bike´s handlebar.


Dortmund for many spells soccer, so there was one sight we couldn´t leave aside.


In the everning we reached Bochum where we spent the night in a Youth Hostel. It is found in the middle of Bermuda-Dreieck, an amusement quarter, and my guess is that the students made good use of this. However, in the morning they were all up, most even had breakfast, and after packing the bikes,


off we went again. A great bunch they are, all in all, and I was happy to be with them.

On the Friday we visited Zollern II/IV colliery which is quite something. The view from the shaft tower is fantastic, and we were blessed with the most amazing weather. 25 deg C, no wind at all – perfect. On both days, would you believe it.


XLKZollernbldgXLKViewMuseum staff were super friendly, facilities are wonderful (there even are little garages for bikes, free to use).

XLKBoxesAfter some more presentations,

XLKDahlhFor me the ride was over in Gelsenkirchen, and I only wish that more stand in periods could be like this one.

Ride two: Last weekend I took the freshly built up RIH for its first longish ride – 100km of RTF. It´s a really nice rider, and the miles flashed past hardly without me noticing. Descending, ascending – no trouble. Rides straight as an arrow, good amout of flex in the frame to make the bike “plane”.


Starting off early in the morning to cycle to the starting point, there still was some fog which soon was cleared by the sun, and then the weather was perfect.

RIHsunOne control post is at a manor house even, and that´s it again.


Paris in the Rain…

… is what I´d fully expected to see, after the show stopping thunderstorms on the way out. Here´s a snap from the motorway in Holland, dry for a change, with what one might consider to be a spontaneous Volvo 7/9 meeting. BTW, my car (guess which one it is) topped the 420.000 km mark during the hols. XVolv

But no, the weather was wonderful all the time, and the friends we visited live in a very picturesque part of Normandy. Cycling was great too.

XnormOn our first day there we took it easy and just went to rather small neighbouring St Germer-en-Fly with its rather big cobbled together church.

XnormSGDurchf XnormStGertourisYou see a great number of cyclists in the region, what with the new London-Paris cycleway having opened, of which more later.

XSGbikes XSGCathSt Germer is a French village in which time seems to have stood still. Don´t know what the inhabitants think of living in a god-forsaken corner of France (our friends´ sons made some remarks in this direction), but I just love it.


Doesn´t this somehow remind one of Champion´s grandmother´s house in Les triplettes de Belville?

XSGafficheThe affiche really was still hanging near the church last week. You can´t say that people are hurried in St Germer. [“No, we´re not taking it down. We want tourists to think that we´re not hurried in St Germer.”]

The next day, we were off to Paris.

XPBiketrainIn French trains, bikes travel free, which was helpful. We boarded at neighbouring Gisors, and after just one and a quarter hours we arrived right in the middle of Paris at St Lazare station. My family wanted to have a detailed look at a certain exhibition in a modern arts museum, but especially on the bright day it was I couldn´t imagine not being on the bike, so I took mine. It fitted right into a corner in the entrance area of the double decker rolling stock, and while this meant that I couldn´t go upstairs, the folding seats quickly were taken by families with prams, and I got talking to a father of a wonderfully active and bright two year old who was fascinated by the red chronometer seconds hand of my watch.

Having arrived at St Lazare, this is the first thing one sees (and hears):

XPKlavThe piano is there for all to use, and it seems that vandalism has stopped short of it so far. Sorry to say that talent also stops short of its many users, excepting this one, but there you go.

Hardly had I left the station, when I saw my first classic bike. When I think of Paris, of course one of the first things that come to mind of a subscriber to Bicycle Quarterly is Wonderful French Bikes.

XPVeloSLThis one was a little less than wonderful, and the picture would stay that way. While I have had the pleasure of seeing one of those Wonderful French Bikes right out in the open about 15 years ago (see post), this time there was no such luck even in Paris. What abounded were users of those rather doubtfully designed Vélibs.


These are found absolutely everywhere in the inner city, and it´s really cheap to use them. An annual subscription starts at 19€, and with the first 30 min of every trip being free of charge, for most short trips this is all it will cost. If you use the bike any longer than that, an hour is a Euro, with rates increasing with the length of time you use it. The rationale behind it might be a high frequency of change, and consequently less bikes necessary.

If you want to use a Vélib`, all you need is your subscription card, which you swipe over the top of the parking pod, a large magnet will let go of the bike, and you´re off.

XPvelibrow XPvelibrearh XPvelibhbars XPvelibfaceHaving just said all you need is your card, I have to correct myself. For me at least, the cost in nerves it takes to cycle in Paris traffic would be far higher than the few Euros Vélib`rent. In theory, there are pistes cyclables everywhere,

XPcyclepbut in a traffic jam, or the normal peak hour madness, life for a cyclist can become very dangerous indeed if he/she insists on using the piste. The problem are not so much parking cars, not even cars in use, but the ubiquitous motor scooters. They don´t care a hoot about anything and will literally push you to the side.

So there I was, in the middle of Paris, with an afternoon off, and of course, where does the beginner visitor go first?

XPetnetouchExactly, to the thing you mustn´t touch. Quite how people are supposed to touch the Eiffel Tower at all remains a mystery, but still.

XPETeb XPetfull XPETfromfarIt´s completely overpoweringly huge, and completely different from what I´d thought it to be. I think this is all it takes to describe the atmosphere:

PETcolaThe cup was given to me by a bench neighbour who had no intention to take it home. He was one of two people I got talking with while feeding on my bananas, the other one being a guard, who professed that he had become quite used to the Tower which now was nothing special for him.

Right, next. Le Jardin des Tuileries.

XPTuilgateQuickly dealt with. Unless, of course, you´re a tourist who wants the extra kick: A sighseeing tour of Paris in a Wehrmacht grey sidecar, starting from in front of the garden.

XPRetrotmotfull XPMotblocWhat precisely the attraction of a min. 25€ tour in a brand new, re-painted Ukrainian motorbike can be escapes me. But then, perhaps, people might think it´s the real thing? Who knows. The website mentioned on the sidecar doesn´t open because it´s regarded as “attacking” by my browser.

Paris and movies – an endless story. Here´s the next chapter.

XPTuillfilmThere´s such a lot of money everywhere in Paris. The cars you see which are there only for the show – unimaginable. What do you do with a Lamborghini or a Ferrari in the middle of a capital city? Or with an Aston Martin Volante Superleggera?


Before not being able to use it for what it was built, you have to have it brought into the city centre on a flatbed. The flatbed man must have discovered an economic niche I wouldn´t have dreamed of being there at all. He said he was very happy being able to work with cars like this. As the owner of the AM, what do you say to him? Don´t drop it?

What do you do if you want a photo like this and if you want to pay hommage to the eternal flame under the Arc de Triomphe? Easy, either take the pedestrian tunnel under the Etoile, or your life into your hands and cycle there. In light mid-day traffic it takes one round of the Etoile to work your way into the middle, or out again.


XParctrbike XParctr

Time for a break. While approaching the somewhat more distant parts of Paris, like Levallois Perret, you will be able to find loads of bakeries selling wonderfully fresh sandwiches based on French bread. While consuming your bread at one of the tables on the sidewalk you might even be asked by some elderly coffee sipping Jewish gentlemen about your bike, and how life is in general, and the pretty saleswoman might also join. And do you know that there´s a cycle shop just around the corner.

So you carry on over the Boulevard Périphérique,


pass by this road sign

XPASLevalPand this one, which suggested to me it couldn´t be far now.

XPASsquareAnd indeed, a couple of metres, and there I was.

XPASfullThe little old house, squeezed right in the middle of many high rise buildings.


Would you say “the little old house where time has stood still”? Oh no, because it hasn´t. Victor´s new bike for instance is equipped with Campag ten speed. The difference to usual cycle stores is that time has stood still where development has reached a peak, as in framebuilding. It definitively has moved on in areas in which there is room for improvement.

XPASbbchrXPASdetbrake XPASdetbrchrXPASrearmugsWhen walking though the door I was greeted in a most friendly way, even although everybody was quite busy, even preparing a PBP bike. I was allowed to lean my Ellis-Briggs bike to the counter, where it was looked over with interest, I then was explained the ins and outs of the shop, shown a second hand randonneur, and the atmosphere in general was relaxed in a way which comes from absolute mastery of one´s metier and the seemingly effortless superiority it gives.

In a way, this old and battered sign, which must be the understatement of the decade,


Bicycles made to measure Made by craftsmen and built up to customers´ specifications

is a good reflexion of the whole shop. It´s not the exterior that counts. To top everything off, I was actually given written instructions on how to find another cycle shop.

It was this one: XPSMschr XPSMfullYou can spend 3.960 Euros on the electrically assisted cycle in the window, and when I asked if I could come in with my bike because I didn´t want to leave it outside in this

XPSMTiquetarea, I was told it was not possible because the shop was busy. Would I mind waiting outside. Is this the difference between the letter written “dealer in beautiful bikes” and the old, battered cardboard sign? You bet.

What else was there in Paris? So much I don´t know where to start.


XPbldgBut then, that´s not what you come to this blog for. Maybe this is:

XPBblondXPBpeug XPBportfull XPBtranspAfter another sandwich bought at a place near the station, more expensive, less nice and eaten without a word from the chic people around me, it was time to return.

Next to where I ate my second sandwich I happened to see a spoon lying in the road. Tending never to let anything useful go to waste, I had nearly picked it up when I noticed that its underside had been blackened by heat, and there was a residue of some white powdery crystals on it.

Back in St Lazare, I had to wait for the train, and looking around I suddenly got an idea where to cycle to the next day:

XLAStlazLes Andelys with its Chateau Gaillard. While my family drove there, I set off early and was rewarded with a wonderful ride through the gently rolling Normand countryside.

XLArougemThis old style road sign shows the way to a WWI memorial, but its design, typeface and colour scheme took me right back to the seventies when I first went to France with my parents.

After about 35km, I arrived at Les Andelys and was greeted by this panorama.

XLAhlm2 XLAhlm1HLM (social housing), it seemed, and hardly worth visiting as I had seen much more impressive specimens the day before, in Paris. But then, it turned out that the town can also be like this:

XLAcastlefrombelowXLAstreetChateau Gaillard is visible in the top photo. Easy – or so it seems.

XLAhairpHaving covered those hairpin bends, one is rewarded with one of the most spectacular views imaginable, which sadly are not rendered well in my snaps.

The chateau dominates the Seine and its chalk cliffs, and looking down one has a feeling rather like flying.

XLAseineXLAlaXLAGaillXLAbikecastleA quick blast back after a meal at a small restaurant, and a great day came to an end in the cozy kitchen of our friends.


Lastly, the London to Paris cycle route, the “Green Avenue”.

XLPoffsign It´s a project shouldered by the départements and Dieppe harbour society on the French side, and Sustrans on the British side. If you don´t know what Sustrans is, look it up on the net – it´s great. The Green Avenue wi(e)nds its way through picturesque Normandy countryside, branching at St Germer, offering two routes to Paris after that village. It seems that the French at least care for the lives of their tourists:


Let´s share the road

Part of one route to Paris is the Trans´Oise (Oise being the name of the local département) bike track on a disused railway line. If you thought that carrying a bike on the train can be boring, try the Trans´Oise track.

XLPtransoisesignFirst, there´s a Stop sign for the cyclists at every crossing with motorized traffic, signalling to cyclists that they´re still not taken serious on an advanced level. Next, there´s a complete absence of any roadsigns, excepting the ones telling you you´re on the track, which you´ve probably known for ages. There´s one or two giving the distance to Beauvais, but if you want to go from Beauvais back to, say, St Germer, you´re stuck, because there are hardly any identification points in the green hell of the nearly straight track and you don´t know where to turn off.

XLPtransoisegreenhellIf you´re training for speed, the perfect surface of the track is great. It´s new, however, and I´d rather not guess what it´ll looke like in ten years´ time.

So you´ve got this slight decline into Beauvais, for 30 km or more, and you zip along at about 40, your cadence only broken by the Stop signs. Of course you´re a tourist, and you´re clueless about the locality, and then the track ends here:

XLPtransoendNo signs whatsoever telling you where to go. So, for those of you who will be in the same situation like myself: Turn left here, follow the road up a slight hill, past the Renault truck dealership, until the next major crossroads (500m, perhaps). Turn right, and you´re pointed towards the cathedral – that´s what you´ve probably come for.

Before this, however, there´s a surreal experience to be made. The tunnel-like green suddenly stops, and St Paul fun park appears. When cycling along the track, I began to hear children screaming through the near-total silence, then mechanical noises, wondering what was wrong with me, and then saw this:

XLPtransoisestpaulI cycled past it to be swallowed by the green tunnel again. Not long until Beauvais now.

XLPBeauvholsten XLPBeauvcath XLPBeauvbikeA gate not unlike Lübeck´s Holstentor, and of course the magnificent cathedral is the reward for having mastered the Trans´Oise track. On the way back you have about 30km´s worth of finding out what a false flat is.

The short holiday had already come to an end, and after a pilgrimage to Vera Brittain´s fiancée´s grave, covered with violets, at Louvencourt,


the Nécropole Nationale de Notre Dame de Lorette,


and Vimy Ridge Memorial


on the way back I have to hope for next year.


This was my twohundredth post. Who´d have thunk it would come to this, and more than 54,000 views too. Thanks. Taking a break now – no idea how long it will be.


The Two-Event-Day

On May 17, I got on a bike, rode in two events, had great fun, and nearly forgot about it. How horrible.

First, there was the RTF/century in neighbouring Stemwede-Levern to where I usually cycle, but this year I took the car because after the 08.00 hrs start for the short route 75km there,



The 1931 Miele standing next to some more likely bikes for a century ride


next to the the first control post (And look at the weather!)


I arrived back by about 11.00hrs, loaded the bike again to drive to Enger, another place not too far away. I just made it in time for the 13.oo hrs start of the veteran ride there. Phew.

In fact, I was a little early and was able to have a look at the location of the start of today´s ride #2. It is the Widukind-Museum, which took part in the national open museum day that day.


EnmusEnsymbWidukind was a Saxon duke who led a resistance movement against Charlemagne between 777 and 785. Subsequently he became a mythical figure in the early 20th century for German nationalists and neo-pagans, being pressed into posthumous service by the fascists as well by being made into a symbol of Germany fighting France in the person of Charlemagne.

The Enger museum originally was a memorial place erected in 1938, and embellished with all sorts of reliefs around the entrance, like the Odal rune (above, under the word “Gedächtnisstätte”, in the sérif version) which is a symbol for inheritance, lineage, possession. When I looked around, I could find no explanation what those embellishments mean and what they were used for in Germany´s darkest era. I think that luckily knowledge of these things has been lost in the vast majority of Germans, but still the absence of any sort of explanatory note left a somewhat stale aftertaste.

Soon, however, a number of fellow veteran bike nuts arrived, and the atmosphere became somewhat less inclined to brooding.



We then set off on a well-chosen trail, mostly following a disused railway line.

EngruppoThere was a major break on the way, of course, during which the bikes could be looked at, old friendships could be renewed and new ones made. That´s life, I´d say.

EnHWMEnOP EnPause2 EnPause

EnDürkWe then arrived at our destination, a veteran car meet in a neighbouring village, lined up our bikes,


and were content with the fact that we were regarded by the motor people as slightly odd, possibly retarded, but definitively to be healed.

Nevertheless, there were some nice vehiclesENautos2 EnAutos1 to be looked at.

Some, however, were not really that nice. There was a 50s Chevy which seemed to consist of nothing but putty, and this VW wasn´t much better, either.

ENVWsidepanelI was sorely tempted to draw an Odal rune onto this thing with a screwdriver. Maybe we should try to convert the owner to the real religion.

After a short stay, I went off on my own, returned to Enger, loaded the Miele and went home. I´ll be back next year, for sure, even if the old car meet is included again.

A High Bicycle

Here´s one more episode from the series “Bikes on Vinyl”.

Found in a fleamarket recently, and sold for a little less than a Euro, this 1971 Czech gatefold sleeve shows a great supposedly Czech ordinary. Czech cycles, aero engines and cars were famous for their quality up until the forties, and even kept some of their originality in communist times (Tatra lorries and limos, for example). So the front sleeve possibly alludes to the great Czech past in producing advanced transportation technology.


Look at the nickeled centre spoking on the small pic, taken from the inside collage.

SAM_6225The rock group “Olympic” who are featured on the disc (yes, there´s something more than the bike) was founded in 1963, seems to have been very popular in Czechoslovakia and is in existence still. The album title “Jedeme, jedeme” I think means “Let´s go”, but I´m not too sure about this. Anyone who is?

Another Tall Bike, and a Puzzle or Two

Some years ago, a decade ago more like, a friend from the Netherlands emailed that he had seen a very tall (65cm c/t) RIH frame in the Dutch equivalent of CL. Did I want it? It came with a number of parts lying in a box, some actually usable, and was to be had at a good price, so given the fact that classic frames in my size aren´t exactly frequent, I got it and collected it some months later. When looking at the frame, I was quite impressed, I remember that.

xrihdoenttransfWhat with having had the frame hang from my study wall for the best part of five years (reason: see below), and RIH having been in the news recently with the passing of owner Mr van der Kaaij last December, the closing of the workshop in Westerstraat 150 in Amsterdam´s Jordaan quarter where the firm had been since 1928, and the moving house to a modern facility, I somehow thought I might want to try out the frame on the road after all.

Slowly, and more precise: Thanks to Marten I have received info not to be found (by me) on the net. I could vaguely remember reading about this on CR, but have not yet found out how to access and search their archives.

First, Wim vd Kaaij´s wife fell ill, and he closed the shop after not finding any new owner. Later he did find successors, even taught them framebuilding in the new venue in the North of Amsterdam, and then died quite unexpectedly, literally overnight.

After all like after finding out that someone had drilled a massive hole in one of the seat stays to accomodate a chain hook:


No chrome on the screw; can´t be original.

Or like after discovering that the frame has either been built in a hurry or has had a crash already: The undersides of the top and down tubes have very small, but tell-tale ripples just aft of the headlug tips. They are that small that they don´t show in a pic at all, but they can definitively be felt. Luckily steel usually doesn´t break suddenly like light alloy does, so I´ll just give the bike a try.

xrihheadbAnother reason for not doing much with the frame was that its headbadge also was somewhat intriguing, making it look like it had been changed during a respray – possibly after a crash repair. There are three different badges, and mine didn´t really fit in the right category:

– one on which it says Holland, which some, for example on a Dutch old bike forum, say belongs to the other RIH,

– one on which it says Amsterdam, said to have been used by the Westerstraat custom shop, and

– one on which it says neither.

The somewhat unreadable letters in the diamond mean Gebroeders Bustraan , Bustraan brothers, who were the original founders of the shop back in 1921.

The other RIH? Yes, there are two firms, one, Cové in Venlo, which makes off the peg (city) RIHs, and the original firm in Amsterdam which produces the made to measure frames.* The Venlo people nowadays use the “neither” headbadge. Amsterdam RIH, more precise Willem Bustraan, the son of one of the founders, sold the rights to the cheaper half of the RIH name to Cové in 1972. Earlier, there had actually been a detour via the Fongers works in Groningen who made the cheaper RIHs for a while, even using headbadges with “Amsterdam” on them, and stamping their own year letter frame numbers on the frames, but Fongers then got taken over themselves. If you look things up on the Cové website it seems as if there never had been an Amsterdam shop after 1972, but I was there, I know there was one. Here´s a quotation from their site (my translation):

Great racers like Peter Post, Gerrie Knetemann, Leontien van Moorsel, Ingrid Haringa, Gerrit Schulte en Henk Nijdam were their customers. In all,  63 titles, Olympic gold medals, tour etappes en world championships were won “op een RIH.

That was of course mostly before the name was sold.

But now look at this:

RihAmstheadbHere´s another RIH headbadge, with Amsterdam on it, (and the “R” in RIH being of a different design). This one came off a crashed frame with its number under the b/b, and which was very obviously a cheapish, bought-in Italian eighties affair. I´m sorry I don´t have any fotos of it, didn´t think of it at the time. Amsterdam RIHs have their frame numbers (four digit mostly) on the lower headlug, like mine:

xrihframe#So mine definitively is an Amsterdam RIH, and the bike on which it said Amsterdam was not. OK, sold by them, possibly, but not more.

Before the whole thing gets even more complicated, let´s get on with my bike. I was lucky enough to be able to squeeze one more non-date matching Campag Record groupset, a modern Cinelli handlebar and an old and battered Brooks Pro from my Box, so I set to it, and after a few hours the bike was there. When the wheels are already built, Campag and RIH quality combine to make a build very easy and quick.


click pedals show that I really want to put the bike through its paces

So, some more pics of the frame. I said I wouldn´t make things more complicated, but I´m afraid there´s one more puzzle: My frame is a “Model Cock van der Linde”, sold at van Doorn´s bike shop in Beverwijk.

xrihcocktransfDon´t ask me who van der Linde was/is, I was told that he used to run a bike shop, and if you enter van Doorn in a search engine, there is mention of a C. vd Linde/van Doorn cycleshop in Beverwijk/Noord-Holland. They don´t seem to have an email address. So next time I happen to be in Beverwijk…


Here´s the rest of the pics, and no more complicated questions, promised. OK, there´s one, but only after the pics.


fork crown drilled for smaller dia brake bolt – had to cannibalise a cheap Weinmann


transfers on both chain stays

xrihbb xrihcableeye xrihbrakebr


looks like clean brazing

xrihforkcr xrihftdo xrihforktransfxrihseatcl xrihreynolds xrihrearhub xrihreardo xrihlwrheadl

Now for the last puzzle.

I love Campag two bolt seat posts; have been using them for ages, and I find the precision with which one can adjust the saddle unbeatable. Also I find that fitting a saddle is very easy – if I don´t use the Campag tool from the tool kit.

campatoolI have been told repeatedly that this bent contraption is a two bolt stem tool plus Brooks nose bolt spanner, although I can´t really believe it. I must say that for a nose bolt the original Brooks tool is much preferable, but what happens when you use the two bolt stem end is this:

camptoolrearhexYou can´t reach the front bolt. The rear one is OK, admitted.

So what do I do? Simple, I utilize my standard cranked spanner,

camptoolrearcrankand everything is fine. Am I missing something?


* Sorry, not going into the Vienna/Austria RIH here. They´re just too far away, and the only connection is a horse, anyway. Look up the horse yourself on the net, you might not believe me.

Heroes of the Tour de France

Yes, I went, and you know what: It was great. Despite the 210 km distance to be covered in the car, despite the scorching heat, despite everything that can rightfully be criticized about the TdF. Actually, an esteemed Dutch co-member of the CR list, when I asked if we couldn´t meet there, told me that he preferred to keep a sober distance to the whole circus, and nearly made me reconsider, but then my son, a French exchange student he met at university and another esteemed Dutch co-member of the CR list decided to stick with our plans, and so we went. The plan was to meet a friend and to leave the car at a P&R parking about 35km from Utrecht city centre, to cycle there and them to enjoy the games. As there were three of us in the car, we managed perfectly with stowing the bikes, some necessary luggage and ourselves. It´s all been tried and tested, and the by now very nearly 24-year-old Volvo always takes loads like this in its stride.

Back to the TdF. It was so great because the Dutch people made a huge cycling feast out of the whole thing. There were 4.200 volunteers around to help at every corner, literally, with the Dutch actually creating the word tourmaker to make them stand out. They certainly were heroes, if only because of braving the weather.


UbidonThe special feeder bottles were on sale, too, but had sold out, of course, when we asked.

Uhero2The Tourmakers had their own system of supplies being taken round.


Besides, there also were thousands of regular police and paramedics, but they very much kept to the background.

OTOH, Utrecht had been more or less closed down for days, especially at the TdF route, which must have been quite a nuisance for the neighbours, but they didn´t let the fans feel it. More heroes.

UbordUhouse Uhouses

When we arrived the caravane was already in full swing.

Ucaravan1 Ucaravan5 Ucaravan4 Ucaravan3 Ucaravan2

Shortly after, there were some trial rides by a few riders, and then business started in earnest.

UTTfirstEvery racer was heralded by two motorcycle outriders, and my guess is that riding a motorbike in 40 deg cent. in your full uniform can´t be much of a pleasure.

There must be some sort of hierarchy among racing teams, or possibly even single racers of a team, as there were some competitors who were followed by cars with only a one measly spare bike on the roof rack,

UTTonebikesome had two or three,

UTTfullbut others really wanted to show that they didn´t see any necessity in saving bikes.

UTTburstUTTmorebikesUtrialFunnily enough, every rider only rode one bike at a time. Maybe being filmed from a helicpter was a consolation.


In the meantime, there was another hero: An elderly gentleman who actually brought his Ko Zieleman bike, locked it to a signpost, and left. The bike was still there when we decided to return to the car.

UZielembb UZielemtt UZielemseatcl UZielemfull UZielemfrontSadly the frame had been powdercoated at some date, and the coater had not seen any necessity in saving powder.

But to my mind the real heroes of the day were those Utrecht inhabitants who opened their water taps, or even sprayed passers-by with water.


My guess is that they prevented about a dozen heat strokes per hour. I certainly made good use of being showered and to have free feeder bottle refills. (A half liter plastic bottle of cheap mineral water was three Euros on average at the food stalls, and half a liter didn´t last long.)

More heroes: The bicycle orchestra who actually tried to beat the ubiquitous chaos on the cycle paths – first the chaos,

UArrivalUbikeparkUcrowdUDutchcycle1 UDutchcycle4

Uhero5 UDutchcycle2


then the orchestra.


Uorchcell Uorchtandbak Uorchrearhub Uorchfull UorchcellsolarpAll the instruments were either loaded onto or even integral parts of Dutch bakfietsen, transport bikes. The electronic cello is fed electricity by a solar panel on a trailer on the bakfiets.

Back to the cycle racing. On the other side of th eriver from where we stayed, jealously guarding our half tree´s worth of shade, there were hundreds of spectators assembled in a small park. They looked so unbelievably orderly in their neat rows

Uspectorderlywhile trying to catch a glimpse of the time trial taking part on the other side of the river. Cheering rose to quite a noise level, however, whenever a Dutch rider or one of the greats emerged from the tunnel.




Who won? Didn´t care, it was so hot.

Nissan Classic Revival by Oldvelos

On Sunday September 13th 2015, Brendan Hennessy from Ireland will stage the Oldvelos Vintage International Classic.

OldvElliott Event 2013

This event seems to be very a promising and tasty affair, not least because Brendan is one of those thoroughbred classic bike guys. He´s been involved in cycling ever since he was a kid, and remembers making his own SKIL peaked cap at age 11 – that´s something. It more or less goes without saying that he used to work as a cycle mechanic. As such he has the ability to get involved with prestige projects like rebuilding Steven Roche´s TI Raleigh – for a friend, who will hopefully use the bike in the event in September, Brendan says. He himself will be seen on the 1983 Bianchi Super Leggera that he raced as a teenager.

Oldv2013-09-15 09.00.35

He explains that the club “Oldvelos” organizes a number of events each year, and that write ups of those are available on the club´s website. However, this September´s Vintage International Classic will be special in that it´s planned as a Nissan Classic revival. Participants are requested to bring any memorabilia of this race which they might have in their collections.

There should be a number of these as Brendan thinks that the Nissan Classic was a focal point of cycling in Ireland, bringing back many of Ireland´s greats to show their prowess to folks at home. Namesdropping includes Roche, Early, Kimmage, McCormick, and of course Kelly.

Brendan makes possible participants´ mouths water by mentioning the event course: Among others, the Kerry mountains will be on the route sheet, from Killarney through the iconic ‘Gap of Dunloe’,


a winding valley road in the Kerry mountains and on over country roads to some more tough climbing over the legendary Bealach Béime (13% all the way!) Carragh lake will be another salient point in the 75 mile run. I wish I had the time to attend.

The Oldvelos Vintage International Classic takes place in Killarney, Co. Kerry on Sunday September 13th 2015.  Killarney is one hour from Cork Airport and three hours from Dublin.

Photos courtesy Brendan Hennessy


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