Firstly the thoughts of us all are with the friends and family of all those who have suffered from the indiscriminate terrorist attack in Manchester.
What a fantastic feeling to arrive in Karlsruhe last night to an enthusiastic welcome from a large crowd of supporters! Our last day was 50 kms including the 500m crossing of the Rhine into Germany, and that was quite enough!
We succeeded in riding 230 kms from Nancy to Karlsruhe in 5 days as a mark of respect to Baron Karl von Drais, who invented the Draisine in 1817, which was the first man propelled riding machine. The Velocipede followed in the early 1860s, then the Penny Farthing, before the cog and chain enabled the safety bike closer to the ground and the tricycles in the 1880s. From these Karl Benz evolved the first motorcar in 1886 and the age of modern transport was born.
So today has been another fabulous day as we have left the canal towpaths behind and arrived on the banks of the Rhine, with clear skies and no headwinds! And we have set another record on our 200 year old riding machines:
Just a catch up on pics from yesterday:
And our leader, who risks numerous law suits for damage to the Crown Jewels, who took a fall while riding through a ford and needed to receive medical attention from Sabrina
We have 50kms ahead of us tomorrow and plan to arrive at the Castle of Karlsruhe at 18:00 and hope to see you there!
WOW! These machines, invented in 1817, are amazing! They could catch on as the latest method of transport with no pedals, chains, gears or brakes to go wrong, just an uncomfortable saddle to adapt to! Today we rode 54 kms in 5hrs 12 mins so an average of 10.3kmph! Just one technical when Bruno’s rear forks worked loose but Alain managed to fix it with his drill and a few screws.
A magnificent route along both old and working canals with plenty of locks which were mostly in our favour. Great weather, good company, excellent support from our team of followers and a warm welcome at the finish from the Mayor and community of Waltenhein sur Zorn.
I have some good pics and video but the wifi is so slow in our hotel that I haven’t been able to upload them – so hopefully I can add them tomorrow.
So we are well over halfway to Karlsruhe now, and tomorrow’s 46 kms should be achievable. There is an air of confidence amongst the runners despite our increasingly delicate undercarriage!
We are a little frustrated that M Macron has stolen the name of our Draisine club –
I was so keen to get beer and food that I missed some important detail of today’s events.
Firstly, Robert Hummel is riding the oldest Draisine which is normally on display at his Club, and has been lent to him for this ride. His is the only machine with just iron tyres and no rubber to soften the vibrations, but the wood is so old it needs feeding daily with copious quantities of water:
The President of the IVCA was riding strong today enjoying the canal tow paths and wonderful scenery en route.
We knew we were in Alsace when we saw the Storks nesting as we entered Sarrebourg:
Not to embarrass him, but our leader Glen Norclif entertained us with a fall will crossing a ford on his Draisine! We had no warning so cameras were not at the ready, but Sabrina patched him up later on the couch:
There is nervous anticipation in the group tonight because tomorrow is our longest day! Ahead we have 50+kms of route and we hope the last 2 days will have been good training! In reality, we are all feeling slightly tender in certain places and hope that they will withstand the extra pressure and the legs will keep striding forward.
After a tough first day yesterday, today was ONLY 37kms and a fabulous route mainly along canal towpaths with blues skies but some head wind. Our support team prepared a great picnic beside a lake to help recharge our batteries.
Our most senior rider Gary rode much of the route with pride.
We finished the day at the Ibis Hotel in Sarrebourg around 16:30 so time for a soak in the bath, washing some cycling kit and now it is beer time!
So today was the big day when we were to find out whether man and machine were up to riding 45kms in one day? Our official departure, honoured by the presence of an ancestor of Baron von Drais, in the Place Stanislas was magnificent.
Yes! We arrived after 4hrs 32mins on the saddle of our Draisines, with only one accident but with plenty of tired bodies.
It was the best training day for all, and confirms that it is possible to ride these 200 year old machines over long distances, helped by an excellent route with good canal tow paths and good weather.
Our group of Draisine riders from France, Germany, Belgium, Holland, the Czech Republic, Canada, America, Japan, Ireland and me from the UK, arrived in Nancy yesterday ready for our historic ride of 250kms to Karlsruhe, with plenty of nervous anticipation!
We met the in the Place Stanislas, a magnificent square where the Baron von Drais demonstrated his new invention in 1817 – just 200 years ago, and the very start of all cycling!
So just a few hours before we set off on our adventure towards the birthplace of the Baron. Hopefully the training rides on Southampton Common will have prepared me for what lies ahead! At least the weather forecast looks good for us as our machines develop a mind of their own on wet roads.
Thank you to all who have helped prepare both me and my machine, and especially thank you to my generous sponsors for Cancer Research UK. I is not too late if you would like to visit www.justgiving/Stuart-mason-elliott7
Last weekend I rode The Tweed Run in London, which is an event of true English eccentricity with 1000 cyclists dressed in tweed riding old or interesting bikes through Central London on a Saturday midday! Great spectacle and I added to it on my original balance bike and was probably photographed more than Big Ben!
Thanks to some emergency repairs by JW(UK) Ltd of Millbrook, my steering tiller and resting post were made secure and ready for training.
I was been busy last week with improvements to my machine, notably replacing all the leather with a cow hide I purchased. It is much stronger than the previous leather and will cope with the inevitable rain!
On Thursday I took my Draisine back to London for the Pickwick Bicycle Club Presidents luncheon, and rode into the dining hall of 390 members and guests, to much applause.
Today was a serious training ride of 20kms in 1hr 54 mins so averaging just over 10kmph. Both bike and body survived, helped by my favourite undercarriage cream ‘Brave Soldier’! I took Glen’s advice and kept maximum speed to 20kmph, but wore out another pair of shoes! I grow in confidence that we will conquer the challenge ahead!
My tango teacher is also a professional photographer, so thanks to Joe Hudson I can share my new outfits for the important demonstration rides for the press and Mayors in France and Germany. I have spent more time getting costumes sorted to ensure that I look the part! Thanks to Pro Vision Clothing for the outfit and Tina and Martine at Atelier Millinery for the hat!
One outfit will never be enough, so Nancy at 19th Century Tailoring in Bournemouth have made this wonderful tunic and trousers!
So almost ready to roll to France where we meet together on Friday for a demonstration ride in Nancy around the famous Place Stanislas, where the Baron von Drais showed off his new machine in 1817 – 200 years ago!
Thank you to all those who have sponsored my efforts to raise funds for Cancer Research UK. If you would like to join them in making my efforts worthwhile please go to www.justgiving.com/Stuart-Mason-Elliott7
My next adventure is to join in the 200th anniversary celebrations of the invention of the Draisine, draisienne or hobby horse by Baron von Drais in 1817. His ‘running machine’ was the forerunner of the bicycle as the pedal was not invented until almost 50 years later in 1864.
In 1817 the only means of transport on land was riding a horse or being drawn by a horse on a carriage or cart. This new invention had a wooden frame, two wheels in line and a seat between, and the rider propelled his steed like a skater. With most of the riders weight being on the seat, all the force from the legs could be directed into forward motion. The main advantage over riding a horse is that a wooden horse doesn’t need feeding or grooming!
His invention, although short lived, soon took his name in Germany as a draisine, in France as a draisiene, and in England it was given the name Hobby Horse or Dandy Horse as most of the riders were dapper young men with more money than sense! In 1819 the British coachbuilder Denis Johnson produced an improved version, although it was soon banned from the streets due to accidents with pedestrians.
It wasn’t until 1864 that Pierre Michaux added cranks and pedals to the front wheel and together with the Olivier brothers they developed the Michauline or Velocipede in France, which was fondly known as the Boneshaker in England, and the bicycle craze was well under way.
Today it is well recognised that the best way to teach children to cycle is to start them on a hobby horse or glide bike – so the invention of 1817 lives on!
So, to mark the start of the IVCA Rally in Karlsruhe, the birthplace of Baron von Drais, 12 riders from around the World will ride their Draisines 230km from Nancy to Karlsruhe 20th – 24th May 2017. My Draisine has been build for me by a wheelwright in Thiers, France and I am in full training as well as testing out various outfits!
I will be raising sponsorship for Cancer Research UK for my efforts so if you would like to support please visit www.justgiving.com/Stuart-Mason-Elliott7
Just before we tell you about the wonderful temples, there is another worry here – the de-forestation being driven by the demand for timber for furniture and building. We regularly saw trailers of wood coming from rare forests to be cut up in saw mills:
There needs to be a Government policy to replace these trees to avoid Cambodia becoming an even more barren landscape. We tried to start a trend:
And so to the wonders of Angkor Wat! Built by the mighty Khmer Empire, which ruled Indonesia from 9th – 13th Century AD, in Siem Reap their capital which then had a population of one million people. Temples of God were made of brick or stone while all other buildings were built of wood and have long since perished from decay and termites. They were Hindus worshiping Shiva and their passion drove them to create the worlds largest religious building in the 12th Century AD to protect against attacks by the Chams.
They are spectacular as hopefully the following pics show:
Certainly Angkor Wat has been the highlight of our visit to Cambodia, and the town of Siem Reap is buzzing with restaurants and bars with beer at 1$ for 500ml !
Today we visited the Ponheary Ly Foundation (www.theplf.org) which supports education in rural areas where often families are surviving on less than 1$ a day, and they can’t afford to send the children to school. We hope to be able to support them in their good work in the future.
Tomorrow we fly to Kuala Lumpur where we kiss goodbye for a month, and our paths divide. Jocelyne goes to Sri Lanka to the Ulpotha Yoga retreat for 2 weeks followed by 2 weeks travelling round Tamil Nadu in India with her friend Laurence. I fly to Melbourne to visit Peter and Caroline Townsend and my Godson, Timothy and family for 10 days, followed by 2 weeks with Jeremy in South Island New Zealand.
Despite the challenges facing both Laos and Cambodia we have appreciated both Countries and leave with many happy memories of people and places. Until we meet again…