It's 1969 and a 17 year old boy lives in Heidelberg with a dream in his pocket. He's a boy like many others who loves spending his days riding his bicycle, enjoying the verdant landscapes offered by the Baden-Württemberg region. He follows the Neckar River or the roads that climb Königstuhl Hill to reach the castle, the symbol of the city. The boy's name is Gerhard Weinert, and he's spent the last bit of time saving every last penny he can. The reason? He would love to buy his first camera, a Reflex, he'll use to capture the landscapes he discovers while pedalling along.
Today, Gerhard is no longer a young boy, but he continues what he started back in 1969. He's here, in fact, to tell us about this passion and how over the years he's added another interest to it: technology. This is how his website www.weinert-eppelheim.de was born through the help of Website X5. It's his portal where he shares his trips with those who, like him, would like to rediscover Germany on bicycle.
Let's start from the beginning! When I say bicycle, what comes to your mind?
Well, I've always been very fond of Heidelberg and its surroundings because it offers perfect cycling trips, both due to its geography and the incredibly well-organised cycling routes.
But if I had to choose one specific memory that still moves me, I'd tell you about what I consider my first success: a round trip from Lake Constance to Heidelberg on a bike with an auxiliary motor. I covered a distance of 270 km in 14 hours and in just one day!
And you have every reason to be proud! Professionally-speaking, where did your path lead you to?
I began my career in 1972, when I first started working as a technician and then as a consultant at what was then multinational IBM. I'm now retired, but as you can imagine, during my career I've experienced many stages of development in the IT industry, from the PC boom to the advent and proliferation of the Internet. I've always adapted to these changes by keeping myself continuously updated with in-house training courses. I was able to learn different programming languages and various operating systems until I received a SAP consultant certificate. I'm extremely grateful to IBM for this.
That must have been very interesting. I know that you've had the opportunity to nurture your interests in the IT field for personal projects as well. In fact, you have a website dedicated to your cycling trips. Where did the need for a website come from?
The weinert-eppelheim.de site was created because I wanted to share my experience. I wanted to show everyone the beauty and charm that a well-organised bike trip can offer. I began by sharing my routes through tools like Komoot, but I wanted something that would allow me to share my trips in more detail, perhaps even with the countless shots I've taken during my travels.
Then I happened to help a friend who was organising workshops that, among other things, talked about nature trails. Initially the text and illustrations that were shown were all done by hand, so I took care of all the digitisation for his project. I learned the basics of layouts and graphics, first only locally and then also exporting them online in HTML, and this was how I created a website for my friend.
So I decided to do the same for myself and put my passion online. In 2011, my first website was born with detailed descriptions, blog articles and lots of pictures. In fact, during my travels, I trace the route via GPS, take notes and take lots of photos, so I'll have a lot of material to choose from when I go to update the site.
Did your website bring you any advantages?
My website mostly reflects a passion, so I can't speak of economic returns, but it certainly allowed me to bring an idea to fruition, to share my experiences with other people. Furthermore, it kept me busy even during the mandatory shutdown. During the pandemic, when I wasn't able to plan any trips, I worked on a lot of material that I had gathered over the years and put together an illustrated cycling guide. I present it for viewing and downloading on our website's blog, so whoever is interested can download the GPS routes of the individual bike tours from the server.
Why did you decide to use WebSite X5 for your website?
It's been so long that I can hardly remember! I know I was looking for a simple and specific website creation tool. I chose WebSite X5 because I was immediately happy with the working environment it offers. It reminded me of some of the tools I used when I worked for IBM. These were tools that were used to generate programs in a visual way by combining modules on a screen. With WebSite X5, I found a similar approach, although obviously more updated. For me, it was the best choice.
I really like the fact that it's well-structured. I find the vertical bar very self-explanatory because it's oriented towards the site development process from the first to the last step. Within each step, the functions are easy to find.
So is this a tool you would recommend?
Yes, absolutely! For how it's organised, for its continuous development and for the many templates it offers. I also really like the way they've decided to handle the responsive feature.
What do you think someone like you should do if he wants to prepare for a long bike trip?
I can tell you how I prepare. Usually, I prefer to focus on well-known bike trails, especially when I'm on trips lasting several days. I make sure to plan the various stages and accommodations for overnight stays in advance. So, if the group I travel with is large enough, we can be sure that we're all together in the same hostel or hotel. I usually manage to ride 60-70 km a day. This leaves time to take some breaks and enjoy the area's scenery and tourist attractions. Another important element is transporting our baggage. It's always better to use waterproof bags. Then all that remains is to hit the road and, once I return, to share it on my website.
And finally, what advice would you give to those thinking about creating a website for the first time?
"Less is more". Keeping this concept in mind will make it easier for visitors to find their way around a website. We don't want to overwhelm them with information; we just want to arouse their curiosity. It's like building a house. First you plan it, then you build it brick by brick, and finally you furnish it. Whoever enters the house should feel comfortable, the same goes for a website.