The tour begins…
It was time to fold Alfie up as small as possible so that I could actually fit some luggage in the car as well. I removed the mirrors, bottle cage, slid the boom in as far as possible and twisted it on its side so that the chainrings were protected. You’d have to have strange legs to be able to pedal this beastie!
I put him in the boot of the S-Max, ensuring there was plenty of padding cardboard and bubble wrap to prevent him getting damaged.
And then Ken and Kenny, my co-drivers, arrived and put their very modest amount of luggage in the boot and on the floor of the back seats.
We set off earlier than originally planned which meant we reached the Channel Tunnel 3 hours before our scheduled crossing. However, they let us straight on and we were in fact the first car onto the train, and there only seemed to be a couple of dozen on that train in total.
Ken (the minister from my church, another big Berlin fan) had driven the section from Colchester to the tunnel. Kenny (Ken’s friend from Scotland, also a Berlin fan) then drove the next bit… to the first filling station to pump up one of the front tyres which looked rather low. It was down to 1.35 bar (should have been 2.4) so we’re glad we checked. Kenny carried on driving after that, and after a couple of hours I took over. We had driven through France, Belgium, Holland and had finally reached Germany. The SatNav warned us we had 400 miles to go on this road, which was a bit boring.
I had had enough of driving by 12:30am German time and decided to hand back over to Ken. At this point I installed myself across the back seats with a blanket and a pillow to try to get some sleep. I did manage some sleep, off and on, as did Kenny in the front. The other two did all the rest of the driving, which got easier as the night wore on and the traffic thinned.
At about 5am we stopped at a motorway service station for a cup of tea. There were a surprising number of people there but I wasn’t at my best being so tired so drank my tea and kept quiet.
We carried on, having realised that we were way ahead of schedule (having left early) and that this meant that we would probably arrive at our respective accommodations rather early.
This was indeed the case. Although the last hour into Berlin in their rush-hour was a bit more stop-start, our whole journey of 690 miles was pretty easy and we were parked outside Ken & Kenny’s apartment (they have stayed there several times before) at 7:30am.
We texted our respective landlords/landladies. Mine said I could go to my apartment to collect the key at 10:30am, Ken couldn’t get hold of his. I decided to walk over to my apartment (a mile away) and get the lie of the land. It turned out to be a very nice looking apartment block next to an Aldi and a REWE (two supermarkets).
Eventually 10:30 came round and I met a very nice chap who showed me round, including the impressive bicycle garage, told me where we could put the car to unload, and relieved me of the balance of the payment for this flat. It was excellent value.
Once Alfie was unloaded and my things carried up to my room, Ken and Kenny went off to their flat, having finally made contact with their landlord.
After a cup of tea (I had to go and buy a decent mug, and some milk of course) I finished off rebuilding Alfie and decided to go over to visit Ken and Kenny as I’d left some paperwork, including my passport, in the car (which was being parked at their flat as the parking there is free).
I rescued Alfie from the Fahrradgarage which is very spacious but rather choc-a-bloc with bikes.
I headed off to Ken & Kenny’s apartment which was on the 13th floor of a high-rise on the edge of the Tiergarten. What an amazing view of the Siegesäule, Potsdamer Platz, the Fernsehturm and more, although I discovered a hitherto-previously-unknown dislike of standing on their balcony which I felt was a bit spindly.
After collecting my missing paperwork, and after straightening up Alfie’s boom which had definitely been listing to starboard on my mile’s ride, I headed off. Having looked down at the Tiergarten from the lofty heights I decided to cycle through it to the Brandenburg Gate, somewhere I like to visit.
The main road (Straße der 17 Juni) is wonderfully wide and has an excellent cycle path along both sides. You can see the Brandenburger Tor and the Fernsehturm (TV tower) in this pic.
I also saw this trailer which seems to be advertising a cleaning technician whose name seems rather familiar to many of those who cycle around London/Kent:
I then asked a rickshaw driver to take a couple of pics of me in front of the Brandenburg Gate, so here they are:
Then I cycled through to the other side, Pariser Platz, which is a lovely pedestrian area. There were hundreds of bikes, loads of people, horses and carts, rickshaws, beer bicycles, you name it./ Oh, and a recumbent trike was there too:
Now it was my chance to cycle down Unter den Linden, a street I have walked down countless times. It’s much quicker by bike – there were good cycle paths (shared bus lanes) most of the way. I very quickly arrived at Alexanderplatz and attempted to get a photo of trike at the bottom of the Fernsehturm (but without too much success):
After cycling around the pedestrian area at Alexanderplatz (and chatting to various Germans who asked me about the trike) I headed off to Friedrichstraße, another well-known German road. It has a very good book shop, Hügendübel, from which I bought a book about cycling from Berlin to Britain (my plan for next April/May).
I cycled back past the Hauptbahnhof, a very impressive, relatively new, station.
Fairly near to my apartment I crossed over the Spree river looking rather peaceful.
I was back home after doing about 12 miles. It was fantastic to visit so many familiar places but from a new perspective – lounging on a deckchair in the road.
Here are some pics of my apartment so you can see how pleasant it is:
And after a very long day (with only a couple of hours’ sleep last night) I thought I deserved something sweet to go with my cup of tea so picked up an Apfeltasche from the supermarket next door. I am beginning to think having a bakery so close might not be such a good thing…
Statistics for this ride:
Distance – 12.06 miles
Time – 1 hour 12 minutes
Average heart rate – 105
Max heart rate – 145
Maximum speed – 21.46
Calories burned – 175