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

What happened to the Good Old Sundays?

Back in the days, Sundays used to be my favorite days of the week. It felt like Mondays to Saturdays were just there to prepare yourself for Sunday. Because on Sunday I knew, I’m going to be outside for a ride … and it would be great. It would be great to meet up and chat with other cyclists at my favorite cycling spots as the km counter went from low single digits to high double digits ( yeah, I know … no triple digits for me yet!). It would also be great to ride in a silent environment, because on Sundays, you didn’t hear the highway, the train and the traffic jam during rush hour.

These days seem to be gone. I know, it’s only March and the (fingers crossed) great and awesome main cycling season is only about to start (but when???). However, there have already been like two or three nice sundays, double digit temperatures and a handful of sunrays, where I took the chance and went out for a roadbike ride across town … and absolutely disliked every minute of it.

And here’s why:

Phoenix West, the former coal factory / current recreation centre (including a decent brewery, of course…) and cycling hot spot in Dortmund looked like an anthill from the first minute I showed up. There were cars wherever I looked. Some just drove around like normal cars do, other cars blocked the roads, while looking for a parking space just to hit the gas pedal out of nowhere and drive off and some other cars did seem to care more about the sound of their car horn than about actual traffic rules…

Talking about anthills … where do all the people come from? Most outdoor places, roads and shared pathways look like an indoor cycling fair on a weekend before lunch. Crowded … this word might not be enough anymore to describe the current situation at reacreation areas on a weekend. Back in the days, Sundays used to be great to aim for strava segments you couldn’t aim for midweek (it’s better for everyone’s safety, you know…). Current Sundays are just great for practicing your slalom abilities and reaction skills (also great for everyone’s safety…).

However, I’m not quite sure, if this is the exact truth and harsh reality around here … I think my perception of reality suffered a bit too much through the last weeks and maybe I just want spring to show up already. All of this might affect this description of the current cycling situation in Dortmund a little bit.

In other news …

In case this season is going to start eventually, I’m going to show up on the streets in top condition and super ready thanks to the indoor cycling I did the last couple of weeks. I recently discovered the workout part of Zwift and it’s actually pretty cool to get an inside look at how to raise the personal fitness level the professional way.
Plus … I already ordered some decent brand new tires, that’ll hopefully fit on my Fuji Roubaix so it’s going to look fresh and ready for the outside season, too!
On top of it all, I’m starting a new topic on this website soon. It is going to add more depth in here, but I don’t want to spoil too bad right now…(evil laughing)

Let’s hope the next couple of weeks are going to be as exciting as they sound!

And what about you? Were you able to go out for a decent bicycle ride during the last couple of weeks? Or are you still preparing for the summer season? Tell me all about it in the comments below!

-Dennis

p.s: Did you know I’m on YouTube? Here’s the link to my channel :


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What’s so special about winter? What are people looking forward to when winter time is around the door? Are they excited about the scenic mountain views, they see in the movies? Spending the evening in front of a cozy chimney, drinking hot chocolates and watching some of those scenic mountain view movies?

Being a Dortmund native, I mostly consider winter as the cold, dark, wet and grey time of year. Winter is dirty and ugly. The closest scenic mountain view is 750km away (42hrs on a bicycle and a horrific climb to the finish line, I checked that…). The coziest chimney feeling comes up, whenever someone in the neighborhood decides to burn rotten wood outside in a fire bowl and last but not least, there’s no such thing as snow in Dortmund. There’s just grey and yellow mud. Winter is a nightmare in Dortmund, trust me!

However, I still needed to take some nice winter pictures for the seasonal content page on this website. So, when the weather forecast predicted snowfall in Dortmund a few days ago, I knew I had to come up with a plan to make the most of it. It was supposed to snow in the middle of the night, so the plan was pretty simple. Get…out…of…bed…early. That was it!

And guess what, it worked! I found myself outside, slipping through real, brand new snow in my not so brand new sneakers at around 9 am. It didn’t get any earlier on a sunday morning, but it was early enough. I was pretty much the only person outside. It was just me, my camera and the vehicles of the city road service, dashing through the snow in a hurry.

I knew where I wanted to go, so I fought my way through tons of snow, covering the sidewalks and finally arrived at my destination for the day, the campus of the university. I was lucky to discover some nice spots, took a few shots on my camera and got back home at around twelve. Two hours later everything was gone. Five hours of snow, that is all the winter wonderland Dortmund has to offer. But I still had the pictures on my camera as a prove, that there really was actual snow in Dortmund…

-Dennis

Visit the seasonal content page on my website for more winter pictures from that day:

Seasonal Content on DennisTheCyclist