Monday, May 30, 2011

For Father`s Day: Brompton mounted on a Hercules W 2000 motor bike with sidecar - then cycling down from Margaretenhöhe to the Rhine in the Nature Park Siebengebirge at Königswinter near Bonn

A Herkules W 2000 with sidecar -
 Brompton bike folded behind the back seat of the motor bike
Men are boys, especially on Father`s Day.  Here is my corresponding  tour suggestion:

I have long been fascinated by motorbikes with a sidecar.  The other day I hit a web-site dedicated to retro-vehicles,  and there I saw  a custom made sidecar for a bicycle, right next to the sturdy Russian built Ural – based on an old BMW used by the German Wehrmacht – a vehicle that I had seen driven by the police in China back in the 1980s when  I lived and worked there for a couple of years.  But don`t let me get lost in my memories.   I am supposed to tell you of  my  cycling experiences.   So, some more clicks away I learnt that some fans have even succeeded in mounting a sidecar to a Brompton folding bike.   That gave us the inspiration to do something similar but different at the same time:  Let us take the Brompton folding bike and put it on a motor bike with sidecar!

It happens that my neighbor Martin owns a very special kind of motorcycle with sidecar:  a Herkules W 2000 which he combined with  an MZ sidecar of former East German production. 

Herkules W 2000 (27 hp rotary engine) with MZ sidecar 

He invited me for a ride in the sidecar while carrying my Brompton folding bike along. Only readers aware of and with a heart for retro vehicles will know that Martin`s Hercules W 2000 is a very special bike which deserves a few words of appreciation because it is motorized with a 27 horsepower  Wankel  engine.  The Herkules W 2000 motorcycle, built in 1976 by NSU in Germany, was the first commercially built motor bike with a rotary engine, a bike of which probably only about 400 machines are left in the hands of happy owners in Germany.  The rotary engine had been invented by the German engineer Felix Wankel who also developed a prototype of the Herkules in 1957 at the NSU Motorenwerke AG. Today the Japanese car maker Mazda uses a Wankel engine for its sports car. (For more briefing on the Wankel engine, got to Wikipedia.)

At first we tried to put the folded bike into the sidecar,  but together with me it did not fit.

Martin tries to fit the folding bike into the side car - in vain.
So we mounted it behind the back seat of the Herkules on the luggage rack. Some spider straps kept it in place and off we went, outside the city, through a couple of villages, along a country road winding its way to the nature park Siebengebirge at Königswinter near Bonn.  While the engine was roaring Martin concentrated hard on the driving and I had the task to keep an eye on my Brompton on the luggage rack.  A bike with a sidecar - and loaded at that - needs a lot more concentration and skill to ride than the average spectator would believe.  Martin did a fine job and we  both enjoyed a marvellous ride up to Margaretenhöhe, one of the highest elevations of the Siebengebirge mountains at Königswinter near Bonn.

There I got off and unfolded my bicycle, 

right in front of a  beer garden and at the beginning of a smashing downhill trail through the woods  tthe city of Königswinter on the river Rhine.

This stone shows which direction to take.

 At this trail crossing shown in the picture above there are two remarkable ways to take:  high up to the Dragon`s rock (Drachenfels) overlooking the Rhine valley or steep down through the dark woods of the Nightingale`s Valley to Königswinter on the Rhine. 
A glimpse at Drachenburg castle from inside the  valley of the Nightingale`s trail

On the trail Nightingale`s  Valley in the Siebengebirge

The trail through the Nightingale`s Valley is a daring experience for a Brompton folding bike rider because you are going down a trail that is steep and bumpy and which requires you to put the brakes on all the time.  Only if you are without your children, only if you are ready for a very rough ride that normally mountain bikers would love, can I advise you to do it.  As a compensation for your endeavors, this ride takes you through the most romantic trail in the whole region.  There is a little brook meandering and you get some exciting sights of rocks and old trees.
After a while you leave the cool breeze of the "Nachtigallental" and you reach the river Rhine.  

The hiking and bicycle lane along the Rhine is quite popular and most enjoyable:  the ships, the mountains, the city of Bonn beyond.
We went this way and stopped at Oberkassel at the fine bistro and restaurant Rohmühle in a nicely restored  historic building, adapted to modern use, that once was the heart of a cement factory.  There is an attractive children`s playground of very modern and unusual design.

Restaurant and cafe Rohmüle with playground in Oberkassel

Right next to this place you will find another cafe on a terrace overlooking the river, that of the Hotel Kameha Grand, Bonn`s only five star luxury hotel.

I have put this picture at the end of today`s trip description
because on the coffe and ice bar of the luxury hotel it reads:

                           Life is Grand.

I wonder whether their marketing people can imagine that
life is even "grander" as long as you can enjoy such inexpensive
and ecological outings as the one I have just described.

At  Ramersdorf  bus station I folded my bike and put it into the trunk of a taxi that was doing the public bus service on Sunday - a new way of saving by the city`s public transport system when there are only small numbers of passengers.  After ten minutes I was back at home where I found Martin sitting in the front garden and enjoying the early evening.  Thank you Martin for this great experience!

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