Click here to find my current location: Auntie Helen’s Berlin to London track
Today is the start of my tour proper!
I arranged to meet my friend Ines in Starbucks by Friedrichstraße station. Ines was cycling to meet me and was a bit late so I had a text from her at one point which said “I am already Zoo” (which I understood to mean she was at the Zoo station so I could expect her in 5-10 minutes).
She duly arrived and we had a cup of tea together and I had a breakfast panini and then a choc chip cookie to give me energy for the ride.
She then led the way to the Brandenburg Gate, all of half a mile from Starbucks, and she took lots and lots of photographs of me. Of course I am remarkably unphotogenic, and there were lots of random people wandering into shot, but I think we managed one or two passable ones.
I said goodbye to Ines, set my GPS tracker and off I went.
If you’d like to follow my progress the link is here: Auntie Helen’s Berlin to London track
I headed off through Tiergarten along very familiar cycle paths which I used daily when I was in Berlin last September. It’s wonderful that you can cycle from the very centre of a city right to its outskirts on decent cycle paths – London, take note! (Although of course Berlin has the huge advantage of very wide roads which have plenty of rooms for paths).
I began to see the first signs for the European Cycle Route R1 – this was a large sign, generally they have been tiny and very hard to see from my low-down recumbent cycling position!
So I headed westward out of Berlin enjoying the beautiful sunshine. I stopped after a couple of miles to put on some sun cream as it was nearly twenty degrees and with a bright blue sky.
As I went past the Olympiastadion the route turned left into the Grunewald. I did a lot of cycling round here last September and every time found mosquitos attacking me if I fell below about 8mph. I had hoped that April would be a bit early for mossies but I did see a few but fortunately managed to avoid being bitten.
I passed the Grunewaldturm and took a quick pic again.
The next ten miles or so involved hugging the various lakes/rivers of western Berlin which all feed into each other. There was the Havel, the Großer Wannsee, the Tiefer See, the Templiner See and the Shwielowsee. There were lots of people out sailing – it was a wonderful day for it with a decent amount of wind.
The paths around the lakes were mostly asphalted although there were some less good tracks of compacted gravel and earth.
I reached Potsdam and crossed the Glienicker Brücke which was one of the border crossings of the old Berlin Wall era. The Brandenburg Gate was in the old East but 50 metres west of it was the site of the Wall and so I had spent two hours (20 miles) cycling across West Berlin and had reached the former East again. It is interesting to realise how small West Berlin was.
I got a glimpse across near Pfaueninsel of the Sacrower Heilandskirche which was a church for sailors. When the Wall was up the area behind it was East Berlin but the little spit of land the church sits on was West Berlin so the only access to it was by boat. It was a church for seafarers and is beautiful inside (I visited it last September). There was a boat sailing by at the same time I took this photograph!
I have visited Potsdam before briefly but couldn’t remember much about it – possibly because they were doing a lot of building work at the centre. I couldn’t follow the GPS track on my Garmin as there were various building works but it was fairly easy to spot where I should go. I passed this posh building:
and then found myself at this bike shop. I had decided to stop if I saw a bike shop to see if I could get a replacement bungy for the one I left on the train yesterday. My panniers are a bit overfilled with my raincoat inside them – the plan was to bungy it in a waterproof bag to the back of my seat. The shop sold me a black bungy for 3 Euros and also let me use their track pump. The ride had felt a bit more spongy than normal but the tyres were at the correct pressure so I expect it’s just that I’m not used to carting around so much weight on the back!
I stopped at a bakery a mile after this and bought a baguette for lunch and also an Amerikaner (an iced doughnut) for later. I had an amusing game of ‘find the WCs’ in the shopping centre as they weren’t very well signposted and I had to keep asking people. I changed from my sleeveless vest top to a short-sleeved cycling jersey, mindful of the sun on my shoulders.
I carried on from Potsdam to Geltow on paths which were more frequently unasphalted.
The route from Geltow to Petzow and then on to Borkheide was made up of different ‘Fahrradstraße’ – bicycle streets. These are for bikes only and were almost all at least five metres wide and decently asphalted. The unasphalted bits were a bit grotty for my trike and it and I were covered in dust and sand by the time we reached Petzow. When crossing a bridge I bumped into two people on recumbent trikes – matching red HP Velotechnik Skorpions. I had a quick chat with them but as we had stopped by a busy road I wanted to carry on fairly quickly.
I loved this bit of Europa Radweg signage!
By now it was 3:30pm and I was feeling pretty tired, what with the hot day and the variable road surfaces. Alfie the trike wasn’t feeling quite himself either and seemed to be squeaking and creaking a bit with all the weight of my panniers and I think my seat had slipped slightly off-centre so I will check that tomorrow morning. The Alfine hub skipped a gear now and again but improved after I cleaned some of the dust off the cable as it winds around the hub.
And then I rounded a corner and saw another ICE trike coming towards me! This was an ICE Adventure which is the slightly-higher-off-the-ground version and I had a chat with its owner who was trying to find his mobile phone which he’d dropped somewhere underway.
We had a chat for a bit but I wanted to get on to Borkheide as I was keen to have a shower and a cup of tea!
I had looked up a few hotels before leaving the UK and decided that, if I stopped in Borkheide, I would go to the Hotel Fliegerheim. By the time I drew up outside it I was feeling really pooped – and with horror I saw building materials and boarded up windows. Oh no!
But there was a sign out for the restaurant on the pavement so I went in and asked if they had rooms – yes, they did, and she showed me to a very pleasant room and also allowed me to store Alfie in their locked covered garage-of-all-things area.
They were exceptionally helpful and when I requested a cup of tea they gave me a huge two litre insulated jug of hot water, a mug and lots of milk. Here it is next to my pot of 75 teabags (I have some additional teabags in a plastic bag).
After my shower and washing out my clothes I allowed myself to eat the Amerikaner – which was VERY good!
Plan for tomorrow is to cycle to Lutherstadt Wittenberg and to see some of the sights there, including the Schlosskirche where Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door. Hotels are fairly expensive there so if I have a bit more energy I may carry on a bit further to somewhere cheaper, but I think there’s a lot to see in Wittenberg so I may carry on.
Statistics for today:
Distance travelled: 43.35 miles
Moving time: 4 hours 23 minutes 43 seconds
Maximum speed: 30.2 mph
Average speed: 9.9 mph
Average heart rate: 123
Maximum heart rate: 181
Calorie burn: 1,993 calories
My current fundraising total for Help For Heroes is a fantastic £1,413.35 plus some Gift Aid recoveries which will increase that figure. If you’re reading this and feel like supporting my sponsored ride, please visit my fundraising page here: Auntie Helen’s Fundraising Page