In England when Jutta and I pedal past on our tandem Daisy2, the all-too-common cry from onlookers hoping to be enormously amusing is that “She’s Not Pedalling On The Back!” Ho ho. (It’s not).
It’s indeed such a universal tandem experience that a couple of fellow cyclists used that cry as the website address for their exceptionally good blog about their own 851-day tandem trip around the world nearly 10 years ago. Envious.
Here in Germany, the cry is more often “Die Post ist gekommen” – the postman’s here. Understandable when you see the colour similarity between Daisy and the magnificent e-powered postal delivery bikes used by Deutsche Post, pictured here in Werden on our way from Dusseldorf to Menden.
Once the postman realised our interest in his machine was benign, he gracefully pulled back, and we were on our non-postal way.
(The colours remind us oldies perhaps of that Donovan song, They Call Me Mellow Yellow – now reworded as Calling Me Velo Yellow…)
Werden is just outside Essen at the heart of Germany’s old industrial Rhineland, and does make me smile.
Wir sind in Werden translates into English as, yes simply, we are in Werden, the place.
If you change the in to im, short for in dem (in the), the meaning of Wir sind im Werden becomes, we are in the process of becoming.
Given that we were cycling yesterday along the Ruhr from Werden to Wetter, the latter being the German for weather as well as the place, a good deal of corny jokes were made at the expense of my beloved but now rather rusty German language.
So catching up on two days of wonderful riding, from Wesel on the Rhine via Dusseldorf and Essen to Menden, we’ve sorted the puncture issue (yes, four blowouts all down to perished inner tubes, some of them possibly decades old), switching to quality, yes, German, Schwalbe and riding since Wesel without issue.
Since setting out from Sheringham on the 24th we’ve now done 750km in total over nine days of riding, and the Pendix motor with its two batteries is making the most extraordinary difference – despite its unfortunate name which when evoked in an English sentence (“We have a Pendix”) sounds like a difficult medical condition.
On our way back from Gdansk we’re hoping to visit the factory in old East Germany where these things are made – in the town of Zwickau where in GDR times the rather less technologically advanced Trabant/Trabbi cars were built.
This has been our route for the last two days, and our diversion to Dusseldorf sadly confirmed that my Pixel 7 Pro phone, ridiculously expensive and intended as substitute for my trusty-but-heavy Sony 7 SLR, has terminally failed, and needs to be returned under guarantee to Google.
Thankfully we have a spare Huawei (whisper it quietly, or Beijing will be listening in) which has taken over both photography and emailing (where it’s been reassuringly soothing to note how rapidly the urgency of years of running EMDR Focus and keeping up with clients and news has fallen away – we really are taking a break.)
We’re now stopping over in Menden (no subtle extra meaning there) a couple of nights with old friends from our Berlin days nearly 50 years ago.
On Friday it’s onwards towards another old friend in Bielefeld – this whole trip being something of a wrapping up of decades of living in and loving Germany and Europe, and for Jutta to get to know her homeland comprehensively perhaps for the first time.
One more photo here to illustrate an essential repair that’s salvaged the linkage between Daisy2 and the Bob trailer – something that fellow cycling nerds will understand,
The bouncing of the Ortlieb back panniers pushed the retaining pin right out of the bike frame, and the lug in turn bounced right off the special spindle that attaches it to Daisy.
So for we don’t know quite how long, the trailer was hanging on only one arm, twisting the steel lug enough for me to have to use a hammer (brought to bang in tent pegs when the ground gets hard) to detach the trailer from the bike, and then to bash the lug straight again.
The solution, a plastic tie around the pin to hold it and the trailer in place, meaning, together with our new inner tubes, that technically we are at last pretty much sorted for the continuing journey.
I was going to add a bunch of other photos here about our actual biking, but will tell that story in a sepasraste picture gallery to be published tomorrow Friday morning.
Again, two for the price of one.