A Souvenir

A quick look at a book I brought from Neerkant, now already four weeks ago. Time flies.

SAM_7044It´s called Brik Schotte, I think (there´s no title given anywhere, and it was written by Rik Vanwalleghem (yes, he´s done it again) and published in 2011 (I think) in – well, where, actually? – by Uitgeverij (Editors) Kannibaal. Strange.

But then, when you open the book, you can see that it´s not really yet another bio on Schotte, but more like a private album of this most fascinating of all cycle racers.

SAM_7045This idea strikes you when you discover that the picture on the cover is detachable, again like in a photo album. Nice, and unusual.

SAM_7046What you get is memories by Brik´s sister, scans of his diaries, a scan of the cover of his well-worn French textbook, and a picture of the surface of the moon accompanied by a recipe for Briekbrod, Briek´s bread. Ah, not the moon, but bread. Right.

The book also gives a solution as to why Schotte used both Briek and Brik as his first name: If you have to sign so many picture cards, it makes a difference if there´s one letter less. In print it´s OK to have one more.

All of course written in Flemish, a language which I really like. What´s better than the word overwinningskes to show that a series of victories wasn´t really that important.

What I definitively do not like is this:

SAM_7050Or this:

SAM_7047Namely, large pics I would have liked to savour, printed across two pages of the standard small format softcover which does have stitced binding, but only as far as the layers go. The book itself looks quite fragile,

SAM_7048and I surely do not want to crack its spine. I hate that even more than not being able to look at the pics properly.

So who are those people who make books equipped with good ideas, wonderful archive material but lacking the binding to make it fully enjoyable? They´re the people behind Merckxissimo, the book on Merckx, after which there were several to follow. Guess why they call themselves Kannibaal.

They say that they love sports and books. Founded in 2009, the firm has a very healthy catalogue taking into account the low number of years. The catalogue comprises books on cyclesport, war, car racing, football and lifestyle, to name but a few. The website also reveals the whereabouts of the uitgeverij: It´s in Veurne.

The catalogue also reveals very moderate prices, our Briek book is but €9.95, which I think is a steal, especially as I guess that only a few hundred copies can have run off the press. The lack of a hard cover is now forgiven as one can easily buy two copies: One to read, and one to save. I paid seven Euros for the (perfect) used copy, which goes to show that I assumed it cost much more new.

SAM_7049After three book reviews more or less in a row, I guess it´s about time the new season rendered some cycling posts again. I have promised myself to do more rides on my old bikes – yeah, right, as I did last year, the year before, and the one before that. But, big BUT, I´m going to scour the pages of retrokoers punt nl in a moment. I´d love to go to Holten on May 22, for example, let´s see if they haven´t got more info on this ride now. Keep your fingers crossed it´ll work out.

Herbert Friedrich, Der Tod des Weltmeisters

SAM_7012Again here´s a review of a book which has been published in German only, so my guess is that it´s as well to write the post in German, too.

Herbert Friedrich, Der Tod des Weltmeisters. Velothek Bd. 2. Maxime-Verlag o.O., 2015. 444 Seiten, Hardcover, Fadenheftung, Lesebändchen, €24,95.

 

Es gibt schon komische Vergleiche, keine Frage, aber manchmal drängen sie sich einfach auf. Ein Buch des DDR-Autors Herbert Friedrich und ein Fahrrad vergleichen? OK. Eine klassische Rennmaschine, leicht und schnell zu lesen – Radsaison vielleicht. Mein Haupt-Objekt heute, Der Tod des Weltmeisters, würde ich eher als solide gemachtes, ehrliches, nützliches aber nicht wirklich aufregendes Hollandrad sehen. Habe ich schon erwähnt, dass ich ein großer Fan von Hollandrädern bin?

Herbert Friedrich ist heutzutage vielen Leuten wohl kein Begriff mehr, aber in der Sechzigern war er ein bekannter Autor der DDR, wurde international rezipiert. Übersetzungen von Der Tod des Weltmeisters erschienen in mehreren Sprachen (und mancherorts in Deutschland und Europa muss es leider schon wieder als mutig bezeichnet werden, die Neuausgabe veröffentlicht zu haben).

friedrichs3

Foto: Maxime Verlag

Man glaubt es kaum, aber bevor der Ruhm kam, musste Friedrich Der Tod des Weltmeisters als Kinderbuch unterbringen.SAM_7010In der Erstausgabe mit Der Kristall und die Messer betitelt, wurde das Buch 1971 vom Kinderbuchverlag als “Für Leser von 12 Jahren an” bezeichnet. Die sehr erwachsene Sprache und das intellektuell anspruchsvolle Thema des Romans strafen diese Einstufung von Anfang an Lügen.

Ein anderes Werk des Autors, Radsaison,

SAM_7007erschienen fünf Jahre vor Der Tod des Weltmeisters, ist ganz anders drauf: Locker weg geschrieben, teils mit feiner Ironie, für radsportbegeisterte Jugendliche auch heute noch gut geeignet. Friedrich erkennt viele Nöte von Jugendlichen und beschreibt sie spannend. Daran merkt man, wie ein echtes Kinderbuch von Friedrich aussehen kann.

Aber: Radsaison, angesiedelt zeitgenössisch zum Erscheinungsjahr, berührt auch nicht einen der wichtigsten Bestandteile des Gründungsmythos der DDR, den Antifaschismus, und da liegt m.E. der Hase im Pfeffer. Friedrich kann spannend und süffig erzählen, aber das staatstragende Thema von Der Tod des Weltmeisters scheint ihn hin und wieder zu hemmen, zumindest bis zum Wendepunkt der Geschichte.SAM_7009

Natürlich, die Geschichte. Der Protagonist Otto Pagler arbeitet sich als ehrlicher Kölner Arbeitersohn gegen viele Widerstände zum Fliegerkönig hoch, fährt internationale Erfolge ein, ist ein kaum gebrochen netter Kerl, hat fast keine Zeit für eine Freundin, arbeitet zunächst nur schwach, dann immer mehr im Widerstand mit, da er seine unerschütterlich antifaschistischen Überzeugungen zunächst lieber für sich behält, unterstützt aber durchgehend seinen jüdischen Trainer/Manager Simon Krone und wird zu Beginn des Zweiten Weltkriegs umgebracht, als er, der draufgängerische Sprinter, seinen politisch draufgängerischen Bruder eingeholt hat.

Moment, war da nicht was? Hört sich das nicht nach jemandem an, dessen Namen wir kennen, oder ganz sicher kennen sollten? Richtig. Albert Richter, die Ikone des antifaschistischen Radsports, Kölner, Arbeitermilieu, der deutliches Vorbild für Pagler in Friedrichs Schlüsselroman ist. Auch Richter hilft seinem jüdischen Manager, auch er wird ermordet.* Friedrich versieht diesen historischen Kern mit einer Ummantelung aus einer tragischen Liebesgeschichte und einer durchaus gelungenen Neufassung des uralten Topos vom Aufstieg, der mit Freundschaften bezahlt wird.

Friedrich lässt seine Handlung an einem Schicksalspunkt der deutschen Geschichte einsetzen, im Jahr 1932. Er erspart uns glücklicherweise die standardmäßig in Radfahrerbiografien ausgereichten frühen Jugendjahre von berühmten Radsportlern und beginnt, als Pagler den Zenith des politisch unschuldigen Teils seiner Radsport-Karriere bereits erklommen hat. Sein in-medias-res – Start packt die Leserschaft sofort, als Manager Krone Knall auf Fall einen Großempfang für seinen Schützling, den frischgebackenenWeltmeister Pagler, in seiner Heimatstadt organisiert – spannend.

Man merkt aber leider schnell, dass postmoderne Experimente Friedrichs Fall nicht sind – die Erzählweise bleibt, von wenigen flashbacks und Einspielungen historischer Zitate und Fakten abgesehen, chronologisch-traditionell und linear. Gut, auf S. 43 bspw. findet sich ein Anklang an einen Bewusstseinsstrom, aber generell versprüht der Erzählrahmen den bürgerlichen Charme des 19. Jahrhunderts.

Andererseits, und daher riecht dieses Buch nirgendwo nach Ossi-Mief,  beherrscht der Autor die positiven Seiten des klassischen Romans: Das Unheimliche an der dichten Atmosphäre des Romans ist, dass Pagler keinen wirklich fassbaren Antagonisten an die Seite gestellt bekommt. Fast jeder kann sich zum faschistischen Unhold wandeln; dieser Kunstgriff Friedrichs hat etwas Philosophisches. Auch die Verfolgungsjagd, die sich Krone und einige SA-Schergen S. 149ff. durch Köln liefern, ist gelungen. Sich abwechselnde und perfekt ergänzende Handlungsstränge, backstories, dramatische Ironie, alles passt zusammen und ergibt ein effektives Millieubild – 19. Jahrhundert eben. Das Paradebeispiel ist, dass Pagler bei einem konspirativen Treffen S. 420ff. eine Figur kennenlernt, die er nicht kennt, die Leser schon.

Die Figurenentwicklung ist ebenfalls klassisch – Paglers Wandel vom Mitläufer zum aktiven Widerständler ist handwerklich sauber und geschickt durchgeführt, und die Perspektive, die nicht durchgängig allwissend gehalten ist, erlaubt es, dass eine Nebenfigur wie Keßmeier, der langsam aber sicher als SS-Spitzel geoutet wird, durchgängig interessant bleibt. Keßmeiers Wandel vom vermeintlich väterlichen Freund Paglers bis hin zu seinem Henker ist, finde ich, das eigentlich Spannende am Figureninventar in Der Tod des Weltmeisters, das insgesamt reichlich bemessen ist für einen Roman mit nur einem Haupt- und zwei Neben-Handlungssträngen. Auf den ersten Seiten muss man sich als Leser ganz lustig konzentrieren, um nicht aus der Exposition zu fliegen. Die Sache wird den Lesern aber erleichtert durch einige typenhafte Nebenfiguren (wie Christian, Paglers Bruder), die in ihrer fast sozialistisch-realistischen Eindimensionalität die Figurenvielfalt übersichtlich halten.

SAM_7011

Illustration aus der Erstausgabe

Auch bei der Werkeinteilung kümmert Friedrich sich rührend um seine Leserschaft. Die Einzelteile seines solide gedrechselten Romans sind fein säuberlich numeriert, Kapitel werden mit Überschriften versehen, wenngleich mir die Bezeichnungen der “Bücher”, in die der Autor sein Werk einteilt, schon etwas großspurig daherkommt. “Das Buch Krone” – hm. Und dann stehen da solche Sätze: “Nun erzähl von dem Sturz, Junge. Du machst einem Kummer. Ich zittere schon, wenn du aufs Rad steigst.” (S.199) Begrüßt so eine Mutter ihren verletzten Radsportler-Sohn? Manches ist schon etwas hölzern.

Wenngleich das Verdienst der Verlegerin, eine vom Autor überarbeitete und liebevoll hergestellte Neuausgabe des Romans zu riskieren, nicht unterschätzt werden darf: Eine editorische Macke hat das Buch doch. Schonmal Uhrwerk Orange von Burgess gelesen und die aus dem Russischen stammende Jugendsprache in jenem Roman nicht verstanden? Ich kann mir gut vorstellen, dass Der Tod des Weltmeisters auf Leser, die nicht mit der Terminologie des Bahnrennsports vertraut sind, ähnlich unverständlich wirkt. Beispiel gefällig? “Um die Bahn fegte Kurt Nagel, hinter Samsons Schrittmachermaschine. Sie knallte ohrenbetäubend, manchmal klirrte die Rolle.” (S. 63) Hat es da einen Unfall gegeben? Muss etwas geölt werden? Ein Glossar mit ein paar Begriffserklärungen hätte der Neuauflage sicher zu weiterer Verbreitung verholfen, denn wo die ersten Drucke vor viereinhalb Jahrzehnten noch auf ein allgemeines, wenn auch abnehmendes Interesse am Bahnsport rechnen konnten, muss sich die Neuauflage sagen lassen, Kenntnisse über einen Nischensport beim Leser zur Voraussetzung des kompletten Verständnisses zu machen.

SAM_7008

Nein, nicht der nicht-Unfall – eine Illustration aus “Radsaison”.

Also was, insgesamt? Kaufen? Aber sicher. Niht nur, weil das Buch nach dem Wendepunkt der Haupthandlung, S. 296, richtig gut wird; ich hab´s kaum noch aus der Hand gelegt. Pagler kommt auch politisch in Fahrt, die Liebesgeschichte, die für meinen Geschmack bisher arg retardiert wurde, kommt vom Fleck.

Besonders wichtig ist m.E. aber, dass Friedrich es beim letzten Treffen Keßmeier – Pagler versteht, Keßmeier die Logik des Faschismus selbstentlarvend darstellen zu lassen. Pagler erkennt, dass die menschenverachtende Maschinerie der Nazis alles zermalmt, was sich ihr in den Weg stellt, und bezieht gerade daraus die Kraft für seinen Entschluss, im Widerstand aktiv zu werden. Da ist es doch, das glaubhafte Vorbild, von dem wir alle hoffen, es nicht erreichen zu müssen.

_____________________

*Renate Franz´ Sachbuch über Richter, Der vergessene Weltmeister, ist noch erhältlich und sehr empfehlenswert.

Stalen Ros and Fietsenbörse

Fietsenbörse

So I went to visit two bike fairs over the last few days, and both were special in their own ways. Let´s start with Fietsenbörse (Bike Exchange) which took place in Osnabrück on Sunday 13 March. The idea is that in the morning you bring your bike, pay a small retainer fee, go back home, or wherever, and come back in the afternoon to collect your money, minus a hefty percentage. Or your unsold bike.  Good idea, really, but the problem is: Who wants to sell bikes this way? Are there really that many people disgruntled with internet auction sites as Fietsenbörse organizers say?

FReihe

They started with a small fair in Münster some years ago and now want to make Fietsenbörse a regular event all over Northern Germany, so there should be a considerable number of potential sellers.

Admittedly, all which now follows are personal impressions gained on one fair and may not be representative, but what I saw was that the vast majority of bikes were attended by their sellers who had partly brought dozens of them and driven hundreds of kilometers, so you can call these people dealers in bikes. They quite openly said that they were attending many Fietsenbörse fairs. So if you´re a pensioner with tinkering inclinations, you´re on a state pension you can´t live off and want to make some money on the side, fine. However, when your tinkering leads to no usable bike, the buyers have a problem as you´ll be gone to some far flung place the very same day you flogged the bike.

So what bikes did I see? Dozens which had been picked up cheap in neighbouring Holland (to which two of the sellers admitted freely) where used bikes a worth next to nothing, and sold for up to fourfold the money spent on them. Horrible bike boom “racers” which you can pick up in the Netherlands for a song were advertised for up to 250 Euros.

KogaDames

FRoadreiheFKogarotThis Koga was top of the range, relatively speaking.

Then there were items like this el Cheapo, formerly a Dutch roadster, palmed off on the unsuspecting public as a top fashion single speed.

FCheapo FCheaporear FCheapodetFBunteSpcheaphubColourful spokes, but look at the hub.

FBatdet FBatfolderOf course there were some unusual bikes, too, even a rather nice early 60s Gazelle, but prices were what I would term as outrageuos.

Stalen Ros

Oh for the comparative heavens of Stalen Ros. What a difference, and what a relief, even at the greatly reduced state of things compared to what it was years ago.

Is it a law of nature that the number of visitors of a fair determines the quality of the goods for sale? The more people the less nice stuff? This time there were no, and I mean no, unusual things, nothing 1930s I saw for sale, but 80 per cent of the goods offered and the bikes displayed were uniform Italian and during the morning the event was so packed that one couldn´t move, literally, in places. Perhaps I was too late as I naively arrived at 10, the advertised opening time, when dozens, if not a hundred visitors had already been admitted.

XNArray XNSaddles XNpeloton  XNMasi3V XNMasi XNdecals XNClothing XNBSA XNBlackCampag XNBitsTrue, there were some really wonderful machines; Masis, some Dutch frames, but the general taste seems to go more and more towards 1970/80s mainstream.

Some unofficial dealing also went on outside, supposedly because the official space available inside had been taken up, but some hard feelings resulted nevertheless.

XNoutsideBut there`s also the social side of Stalen Ros. Of course there were the usual chinwags with stalwarts like John Barron or Hilary Stone who arrived in his great Citroen BX Commercial (wagon), the rarest item in all of the event, two- or four wheeled*. I met people from an unbelievable seven nations: The Netherlands, Belgium, Greece, the US, France, the UK and Germany. BTW, two randonneurs from Germany covered 150 kms to attend. The communal lunch at the chippy/diner on the other side of Neerkant´s main street has become somewhat of a fixture over the last few years. Wonderfully Dutch chips/French fries are munched, plans for the upcoming season exchanged, finds evaluated, missed opportunities cried over silently in a corner. Wonderful.

And back in the community hall of course there was this machine, prominently displayed:

XNSTfullSorry about the snap, but there was no way to shoot this paced speed record tandem any better. The beast was built for/by Schauff in Germany and showcased some interesting features.

XNSTbb XNSTheadb XNSTdoubletube XNSTchainwhchainstay XNSTbrakebrAnd then it was tot volgend jaar again. It will be the tenth time – time flies.

XNVolvo

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*And the only nicer BX imagineable would be the 1988 Heuliez Surelevé prototype.

A Good Read Plus – Ulreich/Wehap Puch Cycle History

I was going to start this book review by saying “It´s a rare occasion”, but I´ll have to rethink this lead-in for two reasons: Firstly, the quality of cycling literature has vastly improved over the last few years, so it´s not a rare occasion any longer to find a well-researched and well-written cycle history book nowadays.

9783705903814_hp

Secondly, it´s a German book I´m reviewing, with captions translated into English, English language quotes and a very informative 15 page English summary in the appendix, but still it´s mainly German language. True, the illustrations are wonderful, full colour where available and worth the money alone, but you miss out on a lot if you can´t read any German and still try to peruse this book. So I´ll carry on in German.

Styria Schwarz Luzern

Es passiert nicht häufig, dass man ein Buch in die Hand nimmt und sofort, ohne es schon durchgelesen zu haben, denkt, dass man auf soetwas gewartet hat, weil es das Ansehen der Fahrrad-Geschichte-Forschung weiterbringt. Nicht nur ist Walter Ulreichs und Wolfgang Wehaps Buch über die Puch-Fahrräder ein respektabler Klotz von 400 Seiten in 23 mal 26 Zentimetern, dazu durchgängig vierfarbig und mit stabiler Fadenheftung im Hardcover, sondern es zeigt auch eine ideale Kombination aus Informationsfülle für Sammler, Entertainment und Wissenschaftlichkeit, die ihresgleichen sucht.

Anton Rath Styria1894

Aber von vorn, oder besser, von hinten. Der Anhang eines großen Standardwerks – ein solches wird die Puch-Geschichte werden, da bin ich mir sicher – ist doch immer das, woran man sofort sehen kann, was Sache ist. Gibt´s ein Literaturverzeichnis? Sieben mikroskopisch eng bedruckte Seiten. Danksagungen? Voll externer Expertise. Einen Index? Auch die Mühe war dem Verlag nicht zu viel. Was hat der Sammler davon? Eine Rahmennummer-/Baujahrliste und ein riesiges Verzeichnis aller von Puch im Inland herausgebrachten Modelle. Und eine Auswahl von Katalogseiten.

Kat1896-29

Das ist es eben – der Standard, den ein Werk braucht, um zu zeigen: Ja, auch wir nicht-universitären Geschichtler können das.* Wir machen den Schritt raus aus der nebligen Ecke der nur-populären Buntbücher mit angreifbaren Texten wegen nicht überprüfbarer Inhalte hin zu glasklarer, nachvollziehbarer, aber doch spannender Literatur, die erkennbar von Experten (wie Walter Ulreich, der “Steyr Waffenrad”-Autor, einer ist) geschrieben ist.

Und von Wolfgang Wehap – Radler, Journalist und früherer Leiter eines Regionalbüros einer großen Presseagentur. Das Buch liest sich wie ein Krimi, was natürlich jeder Aufstiegsbericht eines Industriellen vom Schlage eines Johann Puch vom Tellerwäscher/Mechanikergesellen zum Millionär ist. Das Puch-Buch möchte man gar nicht loslassen, trotz oder gerade weil auch unangenehme Züge der Puch-Geschichte wie die Ausbeutung von Zwangsarbeitern während des Zweiten Weltkriegs (S. 165) oder der robuste Umgang mit Arbeiterrechten im ausgehenden 19. Jhdt. (S. 75) nicht ausgeblendet werden.

Endfertigung 70igerFlammlötungSkringer EL

Begleitet werden die eigentlichen Puch-Texte nicht nur von hunderten von Fußnoten; unaufdringlich untergebracht, aber doch präsent, wenn die Leser sie brauchen; sondern auch von Exkursen, die Zeitgeschehen, Menschen, technische Entwicklungen aus dem Fluss des Haupttextes heraushalten. Grün unterlegt sind diese Exkurse sofort kenntlich, leicht auffindbar und überhaupt eigentlich schon ein kleines Buch an sich. Beispiele: Der Exkurs zur Verwendungsgeschichte des Aluminiums. Interessant zu wissen, aber eben nur als Hintergrund für Puch wichtig, oder die fünfseitige Kurzbiografie des Rennfahrers Franz Gerger.

Styria Schwarz Luzern

Insgesamt quillt die Puch-Geschichte über von Information, die sich bei Walter Ulreich in 20 Jahren Arbeit an diesem Themenkreis angesammelt hat. Abweichend von der anfänglich chronologischen Herangehensweise gibt es beispielsweise ein Kapitel über Rennräder von Puch. (Das finde ich natürlich besonders spannend.) Bergmeister, Superleicht, Inter 10, Vent Noir, Ultima – Kindheitsträume, über die man endlich harte Fakten findet, wenngleich es hier einige Unklarheiten geradezuziehen gibt. Zunächst ist da die populäre Verwendung der Bezeichnung “Rennrad”. Auf S. 255 wird sie benutzt für ein Fahrrad, das deutlich kein Rennrad im engeren Sinne ist: “Dynamo mit Sportscheinwerfer und Kotblech-Rücklicht” zieren im Regelfall ein Sportrad. Die Ausstattung dieses Modells mit Allvit ist für 1963 auch eher in dieser Richtung zu verorten. Leider wird zwei Seiten später auch die von Berto schon vor Jahren widerlegte Legende von der 1973er Ölkrise als Auslöserin des Bike Booms in den Staaten bemüht.

Mistral Ultima 1981

Insgesamt jedoch ist die Geschichte der Puch-Fahrräder ein Buch, an dessen Qualität sich nachfolgende Projekte zur Radhistorie orientieren müssen.

Walter Ulreich, Wolfgang Wehap, Die Geschichte der Puch-Fahrräder, Weishaupt Verlag, Gnas, 2016, ISBN 978-3-7059-0381-4, €46.70.

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*Sicher, das Puch-Buch ist nicht das erste, das diesen Weg einschlägt, aber es ist doch dasjenige, das ihn m.E. bislang am konsequentesten geht.

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Illustrations in this review, courtesy of Ulreich/Wehap and Weishaupt-Verlag, are taken from Die Geschichte der Puch-Fahrräder.

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Disclosure: I have received a free copy of Die Geschichte der Puch-Fahrräder for review purposes.

Yeah. Fame at last.

Wood and Coffee

At Marten´s open day on Dec 20, there was one bike which I found highly fascinating although its human powered two wheels were about all with which it qualified to be an exhibit at the event: A late thirties Vianzone wood framed bike.

This one seems to be fully original, including both mudguards, a wood handlebar and a wood seatpin.

I can´t imagine the bike having been ridden overly much, not only because of the wonderfully preserved transfers and lining, but also because of the rather shaky looking bottom bracket, being bolted to the frame with only four none too beefy bolts. I shudder imagining the consequences of only one of their nuts shaking loose.

Also the fork legs being fixed to the crown by only two bolts each isn´t a design feature I´d voluntarily entrust my life to on a tour of the Alps.

Having said that, the bike is a thing of rare beauty, and that´s something.

 

 

tc3viabb tc3viabbbottom tc3viabbside tc3viachainguard tc3viadownttransf tc3viaforkcr tc3viafull tc3viahandlebar tc3viaheadlamp tc3viaheadtubetransf tc3vialiningtransfer tc3viamudguardtransf tc3viarearbrake tc3viareardo tc3viareartransfer tc3viaseatcl tc3viaseatpin tc3viaseatttransf tc3viasteeringhead tceviafrokcrrear

Tubes and Coffee 2015

Today saw the third open day at Marten Gerritsen´s workshop, and, as always, it was an event worthwhile visiting even if it meant driving about 370 km.

So the four of us, two friends plus my son plus myself, climbed aboard the trusty Volvo (now showing roughly 427.500 kms) and set off. After leaving the motorway the extremely flat countryside provoked the age old jokes we love so well (see on Thursday who´ll be visiting on Saturday…). We carried on through Stadskanaal displaying its lintbebouwing, ribbon structure

TC3StadskanaalLintwith its monotony interrupted by a jeep.

TC3jeeproof

Having arrived at M-Gineering, we found to our pleasure that Marten had again prepared his wonderfully tasty vegetable soup and apple crumble, which visitors tucked into without hesitation, but definitively with repetition.

tc3tableThere was the saucepan on the stove, filled with the soup, so

tc3stovetalks about bikes and cycling were well fuelled. They carried on the in “museum” part, where visitors were able to see among others a Barra alloy frame from Marten´s growing collection of classic bikes.

So we had lots of tubes to see, but he coffee wasn´t neglected, either.

tc3coffee

Contrary to us, a number of guests had arrived on their bikes, some of them made by Marten. Kogas were also well represented in the herd that was assembling in Marten´s yard.

tc3guestbikes

tc3orangeheadb tc3orangefull tc3orangefronthub tc3orangeforkcrInside the warm and cozy workshop people were able to marvel at wonderful bikes, old and new, and their components.

tc3rohlsilver tc3repair tc3kirkprectc3bluefullThe frame of a 29er single speed

tc3bluetoplug tc3bluereardo tc3bluechainstay tc3bluebridge tc3bilamnaked

Thank you, Marten, for a super day, and I´ll definitively try and be there next year, as anyone interested in handmade bikes should be.

I have taken a number of photos of some more great bikes, but, being hard pressed for time at the moment, I´ll post them later.

 

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

XRfullsunfl

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.

Kranich_gruen

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.

XGJbrakeleverXGJelasticXGJextensXGJforkleggazXGJheadlampXGJhandlebarXGJmudflXGJmudgmascotXGJrearstaymudg

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),

XGJbb:fatdt

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.

XGJreardeassy

 

XGJkettingkrear

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.

XGJkettingk

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:

SAM_6623

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.

SLKBridge

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.

XLKGroup

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

XLKBVB

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,

XLKBOJH

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.

XLKZollernXLKFörderturm

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”.

RIHfull

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.

RIHmanor

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