Click here to find my current location: Auntie Helen’s Berlin to London track
I was up bright and early this morning, ready for breakfast at 7:30am. I had wondered if I was the only person staying in the Hotel but there was a German couple also at the breakfast table. The lady was wearing cycling gear and, as it turned out, I saw them several times over the course of today as we were riding in the same direction. Anyway, the breakfast was marvellous with a huge choice and even some little pastries. Sadly I didn’t have as much appetite as usual and wasn’t organised enough to take a doggie bag away with me. I had arranged the waterproof bag with my coat, windproof, gloves and buff (i.e. rain gear) and attached it to the trike with my new bungy cord. It works well in this position! Here is Alfie outside the Hotel Fliegerheim ready to roll.
Off I set, following the route in the forest which was excellently asphalted. In fact, up until the last twenty miles of today’s 57 miles, it has been mostly brilliant road surfaces. Of course, when you get into towns you tend to be faced with this, which is perhaps OK on German bikes with full suspension but is a bit uncomfortable and rattly on a rear-suspenion-only trike!
This was the view for almost all this morning – blue skies, sunshine, nice tarmac cycle path with no cars. Beats dodging the traffic in London any day!
Today was a public holiday in Germany (May Day) and it was a bit spooky because not many people seemed to be about. Then once or twice I passed a Biergarten that was absolutely heaving with people and they seemed to have Hog Roasts or something similar and there were hundreds of bicycles and motorcycles outside. At one point this afternoon I was passed by three vintage motorcycles with sidecars in a row so there may have been some motorcycle event on.
I cycled through Neuendorf, Brück, Trebnitz, Baitz, Schwanebeck and then arrived at Belzig. This had been one of my options for overnight last night but I’m glad I stopped off at Borkheide as this seemed like a long way. It was so warm I had to take off my cycling jersey so I just had a vest top on – and this just at 9:30am. I was averaging 12mph as the surfaces were so good. Belzig had a fantastic castle. See those cobbles? I had to cycle over them for at least a mile as there was a diversion in the town centre for bicycles and I didn’t get it quite right. Having my Garmin means I can see roughly where I need to aim for so I’m never concerned I’ll get really lost but it can be annoying finding yourself on more cobbles than strictly necessary!
Belzig was up a bit of a hill but I had the corresponding descent afterwards. I took this photo one-handed whilst cycling at about 25mph!
I was getting a bit peckish and thirsty by now and knew that I had some more climbing to do so decided to stop for a break (I’d cycled for two hours now). Having passed through Grubo I stopped at Raben and had a piece of Apfelkuchen and a pint of tap water.
I then carried on uphill towards Klein Marzehns and on the way saw this wonderfully-named bar:
Just after Klein Marzehns I crossed the border from the county of Brandenburg into Sachsen-Anhalt. There was a little sign saying “Goodbye from Potsdam” and almost instantly the tarmac cycle path turned into:
This was horrendous on a trike – one wheel was in the grass and it was quite a sandy surface anyway. I desperately hoped this was just a short stretch – but it wasn’t, it was 4.2km to Berkau (the next town) and I had to do this bit at 4-6mph to try to protect the trike (and me – I was getting really jiggled about). My back wasn’t 100% this morning, I think the bed was a bit soft, so a jiggly ride wasn’t optimal.
The tarmac road of Berkau was such a relief, but then I followed the sign around a corner and lo and behold it was more track again! I got out my Europa Radweg R1 book and, looking through (and learning its symbols – a dotted line is nasty un-asphalted track) I realised pretty much all the rest of the way to Lutherstadt Wittenberg would be this surface. No way was I doing that!
So, rather unusually for me, I decided to deviate from the track. The map showed that I could do two sides of a triangle to get to Wittenberg all on main roads, so I headed off to Straach. How fab was it to be whizzing along on fast, tarmaced roads. The Germans tend to make their road surfaces smoother than ours so they were really comfortable to ride on and I was averaging 15-18mph and sitting most comfortably in 31st gear most of the time (32nd and 33rd are colossally high gears for downhill only really). Straach arrived really soon (despite being 4km away) and then I turned south towards Wittenberg, going through Reinsdorf. This was, again, a fab bit of road and if more than one car passed me in a minute that was a surprise. The roads around East Germany seem well made and lacking in traffic which is great.
It’s also clear from riding around here that pretty much all the work must be in agriculture or tourism. There wasn’t much else evident – just loads of farms, fields of oilseed rape or wheat, butterflies galore and I even managed to avoid running over a slow worm.
It was pretty much downhill to Lutherstadt Wittenberg so I arrived really quickly – I had originally estimated my arrival time at 13:00 and this was before I took the detour which added at least another four miles, but I actually arrived at 12:45. I parked my trike in the market square and stopped for some much-needed lunch – Tomatencremesuppe.
After lunch I put on a bit more sun cream as it was really, really hot. To hot to sit outside anyway – on the trike you get a lovely breeze which makes it more manageable.
As I was in Lutherstadt Wittenberg it was only right to go and say hello to Martin Luther – or at least the church where he nailed his 95 Theses to the door. Wittenberg was a very touristy town with a Luther Museum, a Melanchton Museum (Melanchton was one of his chums) and lots more.
It was pretty easy to find the Schloßkirche (Luther’s church) as it had a huge tower around which was visible in huge writing “ein feste Burg ist…” (a mighty fortress is… our God, presumably, but I couldn’t see round there).
And there on the door were the Theses carved in wood.
I found it unexpectedly moving seeing all this stuff. I’ve always found Luther an interesting character – a man who thought that he was right and the rest of the world (largely) was wrong, and yet I think he was right (speaking as a good Protestant here). If anyone now said they were right and the rest of the world was wrong we’d think they were barmy. Well, I suppose five sixths of the world’s population don’t agree with Luther but I found it good to be visiting the birthplace of Protestantism.
And then it was time to carry on. I had another twenty miles to Oranienbaum – twenty miles of dotted lines on the map (i.e. dodgy surfaces). I wasn’t playing that game again so I had already looked for an alternative route and discovered that taking the main roads was a far, far more direct way and presumably much more trike-friendly. So I stuck a waypoint for Oranienbaum into my Garmin and set off.
The initial part of the journey was on the official R1 cycle route which here is also the Elbe River Cycle Route. Here I am about to cross the Elbe.
And looking back on Luther’s church.
From here on in it was all speedy roads, generally keeping at about 15mph in 31st gear and really enjoying the ride. There were even fewer cars now – maybe one every five minutes. There were also occasional cyclists, presumably mostly locals. I like to see other cyclists as I like to think that if I have a bike disaster I won’t be stuck entirely on my own.
This route was a very significant short cut, reducing the 20 miles of the R1 route to just 14. Consequently I arrived in Oranienbaum before 4pm which gave me time to find the hotel I had googled yesterday (it had WiFi which is a must for me). The Hotel Goldener Fasan (golden pheasant, I think) was very nice and had a huge garage for my trike.
After my shower and washing out my clothes I went downstairs for a much-deserved ice cream.
Despite the sun cream I have taken on a bit of colour. The iPhone has rather exaggerated the red – it’s only very slightly pink in reality and will probably be back to normal by tomorrow morning, but you can see what two days of temperatures around 27 degrees and full sunshine have done!
I have looked at the maps for tomorrow and there are huge swathes of dotted lines. I can see decent diversions for all of these so will do more main road riding I think. This probably won’t work when I get into West Germany where there’s more traffic but I’ve got another two or three days of Sachsen-Anhalt and I have hopes that the next county, Niedersachsen, might do a bit more asphalting of cycle paths!
I am looking forward to my dinner now as I’ve worked up a decent appetite! The weather forecast is for it to be even warmer tomorrow so I’ll try and set off early again to make the most of the cooler morning. And I will wear longer sleeves and more sun cream!
Statistics for today:
Distance travelled: 57.22 miles
Moving time: 5 hours 24 minutes 29 seconds
Maximum speed: 23.1 mph
Average speed: 10.6 mph
Average heart rate: 133
Maximum heart rate: 176
Calorie burn: 2,378 calories