Thursday, 15 October 2015

Things cycling has taught me No.1 ....

....I like sitting down.   Sitting down is ace, and less work than standing.  I generally don't like to stand, and if I am I much prefer to lean onto something but I digress.

Sitting down is far more elegant and civilised, so why wouldn't one want to travel sitting down.  And as far as I can see there are two instances where sitting down would not be favourable.  One, where the mechanism for sitting down is disrepair, (e.g. saddle sores) or two, when ones view is restricted by the act of sitting down.  Pedaling whilst sitting down is an inconvienence I admit, but sitting down with the wind through your hair and the world whizzing by is well worth it.  It's one of the reasons why I like cycling so much.  The sitting down is marvelous.  And who doesn't want a seat?

Sunday, 11 October 2015

A toast to the cosiness...just perhaps don't take the bike.

It's dark.  The rain is falling from the sky like a suicide from a high rise.  I may or may not have had more than my fair share of a cloudy amber substance served in half litre glasses (by my calculation I've had about 8).  And I've nearly lost a shoe, which if left to the Gids would have been a casualty of war if I had not decided to salmon across a wide 8 lane Munchen junction, screetching 'LEAVE NO MAN BEHIND.'*  The way to our hotel, basically a mile long straight line from Theresienwiese (the Oktoberfest park) to Brudermuhlstrabe, is incomprehensible to us and we seem to be locked in a labyrinth of modern shops and ornate Italian style architecture.  Every ten seconds I have to stop, and check the mighty Google.  Every twelve seconds, I hear the awkward clang and thud of a slow fall of shame, and I turn to see the 6 ft 5' Gids and his bike lying prone on the ground hands still clutching the handlebars wondering how I got so tall.  His head is still up right, his eyes locked on mine and his feet still on the pedals.  The dulcet tones of chiseled well meaning Germans fill the air: 'You should walk' they say, 'the police will have issue' they say.  'Nahh, I'm fine...' he says, ' long as we're still moving' he says.  We stop at a corner, my bike is slowly scrapping down my own legs and I'm suddenly not strong enough to hold it up.   Why is this happening??!  Both my feet are planted firmly on the ground, I am standing, and I haven't fallen once!  I turn round. My boyfriend is still by all accounts on his bike, but he's rammed it right into the back of mine and doesn't seem to realise this has stopped him and his position is going achingly slow from vertical to horizontal, dragging my bike down with him.  Indeed he 'winks and smiles' in a cheery manner at me with a joi de vive of someone living his best if slightly intoxicated life, to the sound of metal bike spokes twanging.  For myself, I don't realise I'm intoxicated until the thoughts, 'If I tie up one of the bikes, I'm sure I can drag him by the ankles home'.

Needless to say we're lucky we're both alive, not in the jail, or in therapy. And Munich is an excellent place to visit and cycle.  Just don't go to the Oktoberfest at noon, before lunch, intend to have a quick beer before absconding round to see the sights, but in fact, stay in a cosy little corner sandwiched between other friendly welcoming German couples all laderhosen and drindl, toasting you every 5 minutes for the next 8 hours.

The bike I was riding:

An Electra Townie low rider with a killingly wide seat and fat tyres.Turning a corner was like trying to stuff a half inflated mattress into a bag for life.

We'd got them from Mikes Bike Hire, having the previous day done Mikes Bike Tour round Munich - lead by cheery American Bobby (not Robert), whom for the rest of the holiday caused my boyfriend to shake his head mournfully and murmur 'a degree in Entreprenualship'.

The city itself is like visiting an elegant old aunt - there's no rush in her company as there's a twinkle in her eye and a talent for comfortable hospitality.  The area where we stayed was equally lovely.  Two stops to Marienplatz on the underground and less than ten minutes on the bike.  There was plenty of bakeries for a coffee and a thickly buttered pretzel in the morning, with local pubs and restaurants for dinner at night. Riding by the River Isar we'd be led to The English Garden where local surfers would ride the man made rapids piped into the parks streams, and on hot days the students would dip fully clothed in those streams to be swept along to shallower shores.

Lets hear it for the girls!**
We were there the first weekend of Oktoberfest. Which is the last weekend in September and we appeared to catch the last couple of weeks of the summer (if you're going during June-October time make sure you get a hotel room with an air conditioner, not worth going otherwise) so blistering sunshine with the exception of that night.  Though if you want a concise list of things to do and know here it is now:

  • Do Mikes Bike Tours and hire yourself a bike.  Even if you're not normally a biker it is perfectly safe and easy to cycle, they have designated bike lanes in their busiest of street and you will miss odd little sights going from Underground to Underground (not that that's a knock against their public transport, it is of course, better than ours.)
  • They don't do half pints.  A small is a half litre and a large is a stein.
  • If you're veggie expect cream and a dumpling on everything. 
  • Respect the Oktoberfest.  The area it's held in is surrounded by residential flats so leave quietly, don't park your bike on their garden railings, and for pity's sake know your limits.  If you 'think' you're going to be alright, you're probably not.  Leave the bike behind and use public transport.  The bikes' will be perfectly alright provided they're locked up properly and you can always wander back in the morning.

Just say no, kids.  Just say No!

Do you have any tips for cycling in Munich?  Where would you guys recommend as a good holiday destination?  Leave your cycling holiday tips below!

Wishing you a safer but just as brilliant holiday.


*Which is better than 'Don't Mention the War'.

** Sharing that board she's on with what I assumed may have been her mother (or sister), that little girl didn't always jump far enough forward to catch that permanent wave, but when she did she kicked the arse of most of the blokes out there.   

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