Tag Archives: wind

Day 24: An industrious day along the Rhine

It was another lazy start. It was becoming a habit; questionable if good or bad. I headed off into town to use the toilets, but cost 50 cents – a joke. I decided to have a coffee in a small cafe to write up the blog entry a bit further. Afterwards I got talking to a nice couple from Koln (Cologne) – pardon the umlaut. Although they associated me with the rickshaw – initiating the conversation or breaking the ice took a while.

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They asked me where I was going, “Dusseldorf”, I replied. Jokingly he said there was a bit of rivalry between these cities; he laughed to say that the folk from dusseldorf were shrewd businessman, and held their nose high, whilst those from Koln are “down to earth”. I could tell that there was a bit of friendly rivalry between these cities, and it even went down to preference of beer. I also learnt that particular day was a Bank Holiday. Its significanc was for the -re-unification for East and West Germany with the fall of the Berlin wall. Little was celebrated, except in Berlin and it only made my day harder, leaving me with a finite supply of food.

After charging my battery, I paid my dues, filled up on five litres of water and headed off – unbeknownst that was the wisest decision of the day having no water going to bed.

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The start of the day began uphill. Sheltered by the trees, the climb was particularly enjoyable – for once having shelter from the wind. I got some friendly acknolwedgements from the early walkers. The landscape after the crest of the hill was open farmland.

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Already, I felt the presence of the strong easterly wind. I kept going and pushed throughout the day against the wind. I decided to go for the most direct route, trying to avoid the open embankments which would be troublesome in the wind.

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The day was tough. It was difficult to keep concentration and the choice of food was dwindling away quickly. My left leg was feeling an ache progressing; nothing serious but it had taken some strain and later in the afternoon made each pedal stroke difficult especially in the wind.

I kept following the ‘Via Romana’ route towards the Rhine towards Rheinburg. The remaining afternoon was a blur of getting lost in the sprawl surrounding Duisburg. I wanted to avoid the area east of the rhine, as I knew heavy industry lie here. So industrious, that there is even signage for a route that elevates such monstrosities as landmarks to those inclined of interest.

Having followed the Rhine, I got lost and battery life on my tablet was around 8%. This tablet contained all my maps and having lost the adaptor, I’ve been rationing this power tediously, at moments of getting completly and utterly lost.

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Having gone in the wrong direction I headed back towards Duisburg. Eventually I got on track and went over a weathered rail bridge.

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The skyline grew with greater contrast as the sun descended around 4PM. The silhoutte of high rising towers, pipes, containers give an omnious uncomfortable feel having been surrounded by nature for the large part of my trip.

By then I realised there was a possibility of reaching Dusseldorf, where I intended to stay that evening. It was around 15 Miles (25km) away and it was 5PM. Unsure whether I’d make it, I tried to get hold of my friend whom I’d be staying with this weekend. Unfortunatly, no luck. The decision was to continue and get to Kaiserswerth – a small charming town adjacent to the river – around 10km from Dussledorf and stragise my plan that evening. I knew there was good camping there for before. I was torn between a warm comfortable place but having the security of knowing that I’d have predictable camping – compounded with a rickshaw is significant peace of mind.

Following the signs for the Rhein Radweg, I was misleadingly led or ‘diverted’ onto on the many ‘bends’ in the river. Here there was open farmland and consquently exposed to the wind. I sat down on my back seat, fed up and just wanted to call it. Having looked at my tablet – 6% now, I could get to Kaisersworth around 5km away. I kept going and my left leg was not happy, but it kept going to my surprise.

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The signs for Kaiserswerth appeared. I was pleased and from there the little distance left whizzed by. I retired by then, satisfying myself with a fairly detestable concoction of sugar (fructose, maltodextrose) mixed with pea protein powder and salt – if I had a raw egg that would have gone. My stomach readily took it this time without gips. It’s disgusting, but it’s the only guaranteed way for a swifter recovery with no food available.

I have to remind people, this isn’t necessarily a big holiday. I can’t go straight into the nearest restaurant and order a meal – the food was 10 euros minimum and looked neither appetising or subsantial.

I set up the tent near the rhine, and ate the remaining pieces of food and the last trickle of water. It had been a hard day, atleast tomorrow was going to be easy. The wind was a nuisance, and often was cursed throughout the day with overwhelming frustration of travelling 6mph on average.

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Riding the rickshaw

It’s been quite an exciting week having taking the rickshaw out every day over the past couple of days and just building up the needed strength, experience and familiariaty with my method of transport before the grande departure in September.

The longest journey I’ve done so far without passengers is around 13-14 Mile flat circuit in around 2 hours. This is a pretty decent result considering I am only aiming to achieve 30 miles on average per day. Most days I’ve done a 6 mile loop with a one passenger in (both against and with wind) between Eastrington-Howden and Eastrington-Gilberdyke.

I even took my mother on a postage run with parcels to the post office – 3 miles each way and she even had a go for around 3/4 of a mile on the way back. Both her an I were pleasantly suprised of its ease.

Fascination with passers-by

The response from people both in cars and pedestrians on the side of the road has been fantastic. Most people stare quite mystefied at what this rickshaw is doing in a quaint place like this – I don’t particularly blame them. It reminded me of the time on the great bathtub adventure where there was never (excluding London) a face that could be provoked to produce a smile, a laugh or a chuckle of amusement. It’s a great feeling that I’m bringing the essence of un-ordinary into some stranger’s daily routine and even if they think I’m an idiot, hope it just makes them think.

I haven’t yet picked up any passengers and experienced a spontaneous encounter, but I plan on doing this on select events, including the upcoming

  • Sky Ride Hull
  • York Races

Thoughts so far:

As many riders of pedicab rickshaws have pointed out, they are not built as bikes or indeed ride like them. Three points on the ground mean that you don’t lean to turn. Instead you only have to push on the handle bar and it instantly follows the desired course. Such stability is actually quite great that you can take your hands off the bars for a moment.

One of the greatest annoyances I am struggling to get used to is the noticeable camber of the country roads – to remove water since there are no drains. Riding with one person on that side closest to the road verge further attentuates the effect. This is not noticeable on a bicycle with its gyroscopic effect. The tilt the rickshaw produces can be felt on the hip joint and is quite uncomfortable over a long distance. In future when there are no cars, I have decided to stay central on such roads.

The up-right position is taking a lot to get used to; most suprisingly more strain on the arms which are practically horizontal. At points I’ve found I just have to slouch with my arms on the handlebars to give my arms a needed rest. I’m still not happy with the comforta the saddle provides, but I haven’t worn my full padded cycling shorts yet.

Pulling both myself and passengers is not as hard as it looks!

Pulling the rickshaw around 80kg in weight (15kg for an average bike) along with two passengers (70kg each) sounds like an impossible task. It isn’t. There is enough range in the gears to make this comfortable on the flats and even with some wind but as you can expect is more tiresome up hill. The knack of riding a rickshaw is spinning your legs fast as possible and it’s something I’m still getting used to which my knees are less forgiving about.

Wind Power

can be both the enemy or an ally. The canopy acts like a huge sail. With the wind it allows very quick journeys to be accomplished. Against is a struggle, but do-able, but its magnitude of effect diminishes having two passengers in the back.

I will admit, that my legs were aching the day after, but unlike trips in the past didn’t drop completly dead. I don’t think training in the long run is much good other than maintaining and improving fitness and endurance. Riding a rickshaw instantly magnified riding one of these beasts and riding on a normal bike today I could already see differences.

Much more practice is needed but the realisaition that reaching my daily targets is realistically possible (atleast on flats) is very encouraging – atleast till when the mountains appear!