I’m back in my hometown, Dortmund. Back to the old daily job / ride routine and back to good old german summer. Right now, I’m sitting at my desk and I can’t hear anything except of the rain drops hitting the rooftop windows and the wind blowing against the rooftop. That’s basically how the weather has been for the last couple of days. Rain, sun, wind / rain, sun. They said, it’s going to stay like this for the rest of July. Some districts and cities around Dortmund already did have problems with flooding. Luckily, I didn’t run into problems yet, but who knows what’s going to happen in the next days and weeks. I got a small water pump for times like this, that I already set up just to be prepared and be ready for whatever’s going to happen. So, yeah, I’m going to keep my fingers crossed for some nice and dry summer weeks ahead, even though the forecasts predict something different …

On days like this, I’d like to think back to my time at the North Sea coast some weeks ago. What a great time that was!
I was able to ride bicycles on nearly empty roads, meters away from the ocean, just me riding roadbikes and noone else in sight for a huge part of the time … and all of that for dozens of kilometres!
The bike path right along the ocean between Cuxhaven and Otterndorf was a real highlight. I never rode my roadbike straight through herds of sheep and cattle before, that was awesome.
And I’d like to go right back to the benches that were placed metres away from the shore. I could sit there for hours and watch all the cargo ships and fishing boats go by …
There’s a video on my YouTube channel, in which I ride a huge part of the bike path at the ocean. The video should be able to show you what’s so special about this path. So, take a look at it, if you’ve got a spare minute left … or ten!

However, right here, right now in Dortmund, I can’t do anything else than take every chance I get to get out and ride my local route. You gotta be spontaneous these days. Not long anymore until I’m going to be the local legend on nearly every Strava segment that is on my favorite local route. That’s seriously keeping my motivation up at the moment!

So, yeah, that’s it for now … see y’all soon!

-Dennis


The start of June was also the start of my first holidays from work in 2021 and since travelling to certain areas and under certain circumstances has been possible again, I decided to do a much needed one week get away to the North Sea coast. Of course I took my Creme Cycles singlespeed roadbike with me.
There were a dozen places and spots I wanted to check out during that week and the roadbike was the perfect choice for me to get there.

The weather was on my side the whole week long, but of course it’s the North Sea we’re talking about – the weather conditions could change from hour to hour, however I was prepared for whatever awaited me. I always dressed up for cold and wet conditions, so I could pack a rain jersey in my bag, whenever it got too warm. That strategy paid evident!

Cycling at the North – Sea coast is so much different from riding roadbikes in Dortmund. One day I cycled about 50 km and only gained about 50 m of elevation (!) and although the wind really can be a huge factor on at least one way of the ride, the flat terrain at the coast is so chill to ride.
The countryside at the coast is also really quiet, there are no highways, only some bigger roads and the bicycle infrastructure is so much more developed than the one in Dortmund, so riding bicycles can be extra relaxing when you’re coming from a crowded area like I do.

One of my favorite routes during that week has been the bicycle path right along the coast between Otterndorf and Cuxhaven. It’s a ten kilometre long bicycle connection between the two cities, that’s following the coast line as close as it gets. Sometimes the water even swaps over the whole path when the tide is high and some parts of the path are also covered by sand … it’s insane!
Oh, and did I mention, that the coast area is also a pasture? That means, you’re riding ride through cattle and sheeps. The animals are so used to cyclists, that they’re actually walk wherever they want. It’s there property, so you have to watch out for anything that might cross your way … it’s insane!

The bicycle path between Cuxhaven and Otterndorf also hosted my favorite spot at the coast. Two benches right in front of the ocean. I could sit there for hours and watch all the huge cargo ships pass by, let me tell you, that was the best place!

Hopefully, the pictures give a good impression of the area and the places at the coast. All of them were shot on my smartphone, so the resolution might not be the best.
However, there’s one video on my YouTube channel already, that I’m going to share right below this post and I’m already working on a video about the whole bicycle path between Cuxhaven and Otterndorf. Make sure to check that out, if you’re curious to find out more about the area at the North Sea coast!

-Dennis

12th June 1817 – Two hundred and four years ago Karl Drais took the prototype of his two wheeled running machine, later models where called LODA, out for a test ride on Badens best road. This is a very important date, because it’s the first documented ride on a precursor of the bicycle as we know it today.

And Karl Drais delivered some decent numbers right away.
The test ride started at Karl Drais’ home in Mannheim, went along Baden’s best road, that was build for the carriages of the Grand Duke of Baden, to a relais station for horse drawn carriages that was located half way to Schwetzingen and then went all the way back to Mannheim. He managed to ride the distance of round about 14,5 km in more or less than one hour, which would be an average speed of 15 km/h.
This average speed did not only beat the local postal service, it still is the estimated speed and time for this route on Google Maps up to this day.

I tried to mark the route Karl Drais took that day on Google Maps, as shown on the picture below. The relais station doesn’t exist anymore and I wasn’t able to spot the exact location.
However, the spot I marked lies on the street called “Relaisstraße” and it’s close to the former location of the “Stengelhof”, a restaurant that was located on the same property as the relais station and which is a retirement home today. The distance also fits pretty well in my opinion, so even if it may not be scientifically correct, it should give a nice impression of where Karl Drais chose to ride on that specific day.

As you can see, Google Maps estimates the time on a bicycle for that route on round about 30 minutes, which would be one hour for both ways.
Karl Drais did not only beat the local postal service on the 12th June 1817, he did even match the estimated time for that route more than two hundred years later.
That shows just how well the wooden prototype of Karl Drais two wheeled running machine performed on its first documented test ride.


-Dennis

May has already started and I just realized, that I haven’t wrote a single word about the start of the official outdoor cycling season yet.

So, here we go … What are the most remarkable things about Spring 2021?

Let’s start with the #1 small talk topic of the galaxy:

The Weather – March and April had just a handful of overall nice days in stock and I tried to take advantage of every single second of them. Time flies and the nice times are like a lightning bolt – before you recognize them, they’re gone. That’s why it was important for me to be outside cycling as long as the weather was great.
However, the standard average March and April day went something like this:

Sunshine and no wind when I woke up.
Grey clouds and a light breeze after breakfast.
Rain, hailstorm and a decent headwind, while I had lunch.
Sunshine and no wind before coffeebreak in the afternoon, that made me dressup and get ready for cycling.
Rain, hailstorm and a decent sidewind as soon as I hit the streets on the roadbike.
Sunshine and just a few clouds, that designed a pretty nice sunset, but it’s just a trap, because the sun’s just laughing about the joke that the average spring day in March and April was!

– Dennis The Cyclist, Spring 2021

Let’s move on to the next remarkable thing:

Construction Sites – Phoenix West – the #1 roadbike spot in Dortmund – is officially dead!
The city decided to make this place a shiny flagship project by planning a modern tech centre right there. Currently, there are three or four huge construction sites, which would not be a problem, if they wouldn’t cause the roads to be closed, torn apart and covered with dirt and gravel. Now it’s a problem and it’s absolutely no fun to ride roadbikes there and it probably might never be fun again.
The only cool thing they ever build at Phoenix West is the brewery, which is only opened for take away right now.
So, whenever I do my casual one lap at Phoenix West to make sure noone’s forgetting that this is still a roadbike spot – I also consider on whether or not I should get some beers, so I could have some delicious ice cold after ride beverages … alone in my room, because that’s what you do in spring 2021, you know?

Finally, the most remarkable and greatest thing about spring 2021:

Cherry Blossoms – Not everything was all grey and cloudy in March and April!
Luckily, it’s the cherry blossom time of year, so it was almost too easy to get some great shots of all the colorful trees outside. Taking all these pictures, which I think turned out really cool, made up a lot for all the downsides of 2021 so far!

If you’d like to see more pictures like the header, here’s the link to the seasonal content on this website:

-Dennis

P.S.: There’s a brand new video on my YouTube channel! If you got four and a half spare minutes left, you might just give it a try? It’s right here:

Two Hundred and Sixty Three years ago on this day today Baron Karl Friedrich Christian Ludwig Drais von Sauerbronn (later known as Karl Drais) was born in the town of Karlsruhe.

Wait, who’s that?

Well, no one else than the inventor of the first “bicycle – like” vehicle, the so called “Draisine”. But first things first, let’s start at the beginning:

Karl Drais was born into a family of civil servant nobleman, which means that his family was part of the aristocracy but didn’t own a specific county or property. They had to work for a nobleman of higher rank to generate an income and make a living, in their case the Grand Duke of Baden.

In his student days, Karl didn’t show much interest in learning latin, which would qualify him for jobs as a doctor or lawyer. He was more of the science and mathematics type of students. Because of that, Karl was chosen to become a forester in the county of the Grand Duke of Baden. After he finished his forester education, Karl decided to follow his interests and study mathematics, physics and engineering at the university of Heidelberg.
Karl’s time in Heidelberg got interrupted early, two years after he got there. However, these studies probably helped him a lot, as he brought his various ideas to life.

And Karl had a lot of ideas during his lifetime. The greatest one of them, was the so called “Laufmaschine” (engl. “running machine”) or “Draisine”.
In the 19th century – where horses were people’s #1 choice as a vehicle, but suddenly a not reliable one, because of numerous bad harvests and a gigantic horse dying, that was caused by it – the “Draisine” was Karl Drais’ groundbreaking solution, that made sure to still get people from A to B.

I’ll be writing about Karl’s “Laufmaschine” in other posts, however here’s a short description of it:

The “Draisine” basically looked like a wooden bicycle without pedals. It already did have a steering, was powered by the riders feet and, believe it or not, already had something close to 28″ wheels.

In early 19th century the word “Bicycle” or “Cycling” didn’t even exist, so it’s hard to think about the tons of imagination it took Karl Drais to work out an entirely new mobility system.

So, let’s take a quick moment today, to celebrate Karl Drais’ fantastic invention!

Happy Birthday to you, Karl Drais!
And thanks for inventing bicycles, they’re still the coolest way to get from A to B!

-Dennis