Why Germans Work Fewer Hours But Product More

If you work, like me, in a large international company and work with colleagues from many other countries, you are regularly confronted with the prejudice that Germans work so few hours and have so many holidays/vacation days.

Well, some of it is simply wrong (like having many public holidays, but thats a separate article), and then … could it be that this is part of why we are so productive? Because we really work, when we work?

Although this article is already from 2014, I just stumbled across it a few days ago when browsing some of the blogs that I follow:

Why Germans Work Fewer Hours But Produce More: A Study In Culture

Reading this takes you about 10 minutes or so … interestingly, the comments section below takes more than 90% of the web-page… some interesting stuff there also and the usual debate about “what is wrong” and “why its right”… didn’t read too much of it…

As I am German, I am by nature sceptical and do not have a tendency to be overly proud of myself or country. But I do think that some of that may be true… isn’t it?

Track Bike

A few weeks ago I was again on the Track in Öschelbronn, after several months, because it rained that Sunday. As always, I rented a bike there… afterwards I resisted the urge to buy such a bike. You can rent it for only 8€, you would have to ride very, very often for that to make commercial sense.

On the other side, you have to get the bike from the Garage each time, mount the pedals, adjust the saddle height and also the saddle doesn’t really fit to your own “back side”. All not really very good reasons to spend money, for a few training rides of 2 hours each, per year.

After 2 years and 3 days, my resistance was broken. My Cinelli Tipo Pista 🙂

Cinelli Tipo Pista, Bahnstadion in Öschelbronn
Cinelli Tipo Pista, Bahnstadion in Öschelbronn

Rad-Saison 2017 finished

My biking season starts on October 1st and lasts until September 30th, hence today’s Friday is the last day of the season, this coming weekend is part of the new season 2018.

It’s time for a summary of this past season…

The Winter-Saison 2017 started with a long break, from beginning of December until end of January. I don’t remember why I did almost no cycling in the first two weeks of December, but then I left for a 5 week vacation in Patagonia, South America. When I came back in January, it snowed for the first time and I only did a few very short trips, as long as it wasn’t too icy, so until almost mid February.

But then it continued obviously quite well, I can see 420km in February in the statistic. The temperature was not very cold, and at the same time there was a lot of wood harvesting going on so that the tracks in the forest were dirty up to level of destroyed. So I used my All-Road bike mostly on paved side ways and smaller roads and only short pieces of dirt-tracks. I have a second pair of wheels for my All-Road with 28mm road-tyres, so I can change quickly. So basically end of February already the road-bike season had started.

Although the cycling form had gone down a bit, due to the long break, I could train quite well … for Mallorca. As the Easter weekend was very late, we went first time already before Easter, end of March. It was a bit cooler, but quite OK for cycling. We had almost no daytime rain, only in the nights, so that we didn’t “have to” do any breaks.

Well, after so many years, should know better … but that actually meant that I did indeed cycle all 15 days, without a real break. The first planned “recovery day” first had 60 slow kilometers to Petra and back… but as there was the Road-Bike Festival, Peter and I went there, and lent two bikes for a test-ride… so the day ended with 95km finally. Not a real break I’d say. The second break-day then was indeed only 60km Petra and back. When I came home I realized what I had done. The first weekend later, 6 days of doing nothing… my legs still felt like pudding, no power, just tired. It took almost 2 weeks to recover from Mallorca … but the training was still effective, the good form was back afterwards.

The sprint time this year passed without catching a cold, a bit unusual for me, I get it every year, normally. But … being too happy about it… it happened finally in July. I did catch quite a bad cold, which caused a set-back. One week of complete break, and two more weekends going just slowly and short. Then we did one somewhat longer tour into the black forest… and that proved a point: not being fit enough to do the long marathon in Magstadt (the one with 250km and 4000m altitude), but we would do the shorter marathon with 200km and 3000m altitude. Good choice, as this tour was then quite fun!

For the seasons ending, I went for a week into the Allgäu, Nesselwang, as almost every year, this year a bit late, early September. It was already a bit cool, but good enough for 4 really, really nice, but quite touch tours. I really like it there (the blog articles might get translated later, not done yet).

Statistics:

  • Road-bike:
    • 8.284,6 km total, 93 counted tours, avg. 89,1km per tour;
      a few less than last year, but 2016 was the record year
    • Total of 320 hours of cycling time; 26,19km/h overall average speed
    • 83.933 m altitude
    • 58 Tours < 100km (Ø 66,2 km; with 578m alt, 26,63 km/h)
    • 35 Tours > 100km (Ø 127,0 km; with 1441m alt, 25,47 km/h)
  • Mountainbike / All-Road:
    • 21 Tours, mostly All-Road
    • 1.173km total
    • 12.810m altitude
    • approx. 56h cycling time
    • 21,7 km/h average speed overall
  • Tacx Trainer
    • 10 Trainings
    • 333 km
    • 12h cycling time
  • Looking at the long vacation break, that’s still a super year
    • 8.285 km Road-bike
    • 9.458 km “outside” with Road-Bike and All-Road
    • 9.791 km total including indoors on Tacx

Now it’s autumn already. The weather was quite mixed this year, changing almost daily, unfortunately this continues into fall right now. I still hope for a “golden October” … let’s see. In any case, everything from now on counts to season 2018.

Link to my biking page

Terry Pratchett’s hard disk destroyed with steam roller

Terry Prachett, April 2005
Terry Prachett, April 2005

Terry Pratchett is one of my favorite authors. He was not only a great author, but also a “original character” himself.

It seems like one of his last wishes was that nobody should “finish” and publish the books he was still working on. Although he could not use a computer anymore himself, he was dictating texts for several books, as long as he was still able to do that, due to his Alzheimer disease.

Now his last wish was fulfilled. The hard disk of his last computer was crushed with a steam roller.

Terry Pratchett’s unfinished novels crushed by a steamroller

What I really like with this story is that despite these modern commercialized times, this last obligation was indeed fulfilled by one of his closest friends.

Patagonia – Part 1

This year I once again took the time for a longer vacation. Many years ago I had decided to do this every 3-4 years, however the last time was 6 years ago, South-Patagonia was over year-end 2010/2011. This time I went a few hundred kilometers further north to Patagonia.

I worked till Friday and left on a Monday, so I had the weekend for packing and preparation. It was a late / night flight, so I arrived in Buenos Aires on Tuesday. I had one day buffer in BA with Sun and 32°C, quite contrast to cold weather in Germany.

The continuation flight on Wednesday unfortunately had 2 hours delay, so I arrived only late afternoon in Bariloche. I got the rental car at the airport and had only little time to visit the nice and tourist oriented city center of the town… and then to enjoy my first real Argentinian steak!

Lago Nahuel Huapi, Bariloche, Blick vom Zimmer Hotel Tres Reyes
Lago Nahuel Huapi, Bariloche, View from my room in the Hotel Tres Reyes
Bife de Chorizo, Rest. Boliche de Alberto, Bariloche
Bife de Chorizo, Rest. Boliche de Alberto, Bariloche

I’m not here for eating only, and I’m an early starter. So next morning I left for a first trip, in car this time. The quite known “Circuito Chico”, the small tour in car through some of the nice areas around here. If you leave early, there is almost no traffic (which in any case isn’t too heavy here outside town). The only thing is that the cable cars only start around 10am. The trip is only about 2 hours driving, unless you take a side tour via gravel road to Colonia Suiza, so there is lots of time to stop for sightseeing and taking pictures. The road via Colonia Suiza is gravel road… that was my first time. Not as bad as expected, but still you have to get used to it… and I have a couple hundred more kilometers coming, so a little practice doesn’t hurt. As I was too early to begin, I took the cable car up to Cerro Otto at the end, with a small hiking to the highest place outside the station, where there was a fantastic view without other people.

Cerro Otto, Blick zum Lago Nahuel Huapi, Bariloche
Cerro Otto, View to Lago Nahuel Huapi, Bariloche

A slow, leisurely start, but I’m here for hiking… for the next day I planned a trip to Refugio Frey, on the simple route. The driving to Villa Catedral is pretty short, so I started hiking form there around 9am. This tour is technically easy, it is specified as T2 (but only a small part, rest is T1), but with 18-20km there and back it is quite long, and also has 800m of altitude. So quite some training … and really nice landscape to enjoy.

Refugio Frey, Laguna Toncak
Refugio Frey, Laguna Toncak

I had feared muscle ache, but didn’t get any… so on the next day I took directly the next tour, to Refugio Lopez. The tour is shorter, the one-way 4-5km, so ~10km in total, but it is all the time very steep, it has also about 800m altitude. I think it’s a bit more difficult then Refugio Frey, but it is also marked as T2 on the map, probably right. But it’s quite difficult to hike almost all the time on steep rocky/gravel passages, so you need to concentrate, that’s why it may appear more difficult. Ah yes, by the way…  T1-T5(T6) marked on the OSM, are the official classifications of the YDS scale.

Forelle am Heiligabend in Bariloche
Forelle am Heiligabend in Bariloche

This evening was Christmas Eve, so I had trout, just like I normally have at home 😀. The next day is Christmas, and after two days hiking, time to do “nothing” and relax. Well, nothing is really difficult for me, so I did some research and planning for “what’s next”. I wanted to check out the trail “Refugio Frey por el filo”, which is the trail via the ridge of Cerro Catedral to the Refugio Frey. Well, everything is relative, some people wrote it’s really nice and well marked etc., others write that is it T5 and really difficult. And on OpenStreetMap it is also marked as T5, so that means without practice in that kind of terrain, I should not do it. Therefor plan: take the cable car up to Cerro Catedral and check out the view and take some pictures. Can visit the ridge and check out how that looks like. There is one more day in Bariloche, so I have time.

OK, planned, done. Went again to Villa Catedral, bought the ticket for the cable car, nice trip up, first in a gondola then the last part a chairlift to “Diente de Caballo”. Well, this is a skiing area. So although the view is nice, the terrain is all being prepared for winter season, i.e. many machines and not a very natural area. The view to the lake and the mountains on the other side is nice, but nothing to stay long. So I hiked further up to the ridge to take pictures. there were a few other hikers just before me, obviously on their way to take the hiking trip along the ridge. So I followed them. Reaching the ridge there is a splendid view to Monte Tronador, the highest mountain the range near by.

Now I can see a part of that path along the ridge, quite impressive and a little frightening also. I don’t have alpine experience, so I decided to just go along the first few hundred meters across a gravel slope, I can go back any time. After the gravel slope, there are only rocks, no path anymore. Well, I can only try and see how it goes. Can turn back any time. I do have hiking experience and I’m pretty sure-footed also. So I try a little further and take it slowly, checking out very thoroughly the rocks to be sure they are stable. Also need to check if the path can be found. As said, there is no path anymore, just rocks. So they marked rocks with a red dot every few meters, so you can find the safe route. Well, long talking… now that I’m here, why turn back with this fantastic landscape 😃.

Hochgebirgswandern am Grat des Cerro Catedral
Alpine hiking at the ridge of Cerro Catedral
Hochgebirgswandern am Grat des Cerro Catedral
Alpine hiking at the ridge of Cerro Catedral

Although the path doesn’t gain much altitude, the climbing over the rocks is very strenuous, basically you gain and lose altitude every meter. The distance from the start of the ridge at Diente de Caballo until Laguna Toncak has around 6-7km, but that takes 3-4 hours, as per guide information in Bariloche. I wasn’t actually slow, it took me a little over 3 hours. I didn’t need gloves, although this is sometimes recommended, as you have to use hands very often to secure the climbing up and down over sometimes quite high rocks. I saw a few people using hiking sticks… I think in this difficult terrain they wouldn’t help much, but that might be matter of taste, I didn’t have any with me anyway. I must say, I’m quite proud that I made it!

Next day… rest and relax. This time I do have muscle ache. That climbing was really strenuous and at the end I also had to hike down the 1200m of altitude, which I probably took a little too fast. So there is time to read a little in some books, buy y maté, bombilla… tomorrow driving the whole day. And of course write this article…

Part 2 to follow….

(Ah yes, most of the pictures on this article are taking with the smartphone, I don’t have the equipment here to extract the SLR photos… a picture gallery will come later when I’m back home. I might also publish list and exact tracks of the trails I hiked.)

… about all and nothing …