Kempen-Usedom-Berlin-Kempen Day 12: Brandenburg an der Havel to Grafhorst

As suspected, the noise of cars on cobbles outside our room last night was a bit loud so we closed the window and then it was OK. Our experience of Brandenburg is that it is a lovely town but really spoiled by all the cars. And cobbles may slow cars down but they are very noisy (and irritating for velomobilists).

Breakfast was a little unusual in this hotel as it was ready-filled rolls, yoghurt and fruit but nothing hot. The landlady had indeed also brought some pastry slices for us, but I missed having my scrambled egg and felt this was not such good value as lots of the buffet breakfasts we had enjoyed.

Various people came in for breakfast who were not hotel residents. This included (as we discovered later) the hotel owner and also a chap dressed super smartly. We wondered if he was the mayor but found out later that the mayor is a woman so obviously not.

There were lots of other cyclists and breakfast and when it was time for us to leave (we were packed and ready to go by 08:00) they all assembled in the Innenhof and watched us manoeuvre the bikes out of the garage, then asking lots of questions.

Here’s Klaus explaining about Velomobiles.

And here is the audience as we talk a bit about Millie.

They wished us safe travels and we eventually got underway at a quarter to nine.

This was our planned route for the day.

The first section was threading our way carefully around the tram tracks in Brandenburg. We were soon outside the town and onto a Bundesstraße (major trunk road) which as usual is not particularly relaxing but does allow us to get up some speed.

As we approached Genthin we saw a sign than the road was closed up ahead and there was a diversion. We didn’t know if the road closure would affect bikes but decided not to risk it so we did the diversion which was actually on rather nicer roads, albeit with a couple of cobbled sections.

We got back onto our route with just 1.5km extra ridden and were ahead of Kevin our Garmin training partner so this was fine.

We were back on a Bundesstraße again which meant being overtaken by HGVs and skip lorries and the like, but the motorists were generally much friendlier than in some other areas of Germany we have experienced.

We went through the town of Jerichow which had the oldest brick building in Germany (I think that was what the plaque said!) which was a beautiful monastery and church. However I was whizzing past at 40km/h so couldn’t get a photo of it sadly. Wikipedia gives more info:

Built in the Late Romanesque style, it is one of the oldest brick buildings in northern Germany and a prime example of the Brandenburg style of brick architecture. 

Here is a photo from the web:

I assumed the name was biblical but Wikipedia says otherwise:

Jerichow is not named after a certain city in the Holy Bible of the Christians. Jerichow was actually an Old Slavic word meaning, “riverside settlement of the dominant one”.

Anyway, we sailed past and continued pedalling on. 

We used the cycle path when it was suitable and it was sometimes rather lovely, set away from the road.

I checked the route and just after 50km was the town of Tangermünde which looked large enough to have a decent bakery. First we crossed the river Elbe on a very tall bridge.

Then we headed into Tangermünde, going off track for a couple of kilometres. But it was definitely worth it!

Tangermünde is a lovely town chock full of old buildings. Here is just one example:

We spotted a coffee shop and decided to stop there. Klaus does love a good coffee!

I ordered tea (of course) and Klaus chose a coffee. 

We also ordered cake, and my slice of chocolate torte turned out to be the tastiest cake I have enjoyed on this trip. It was really fab!!

Whilst we were drinking the cafe owner came over and chatted to us about all things coffee. He explained about his shop, differences in roasting requirements, lots of stuff that Klaus really loved learning about. They import their own coffee beans.

Klaus used to order coffee beans from somewhere in Berlin but bought a small 250g bag from here to try and may switch his allegiance to this Rösterei. He loves these little interludes, meeting random people and chatting to them about different subjects.

It was time to hit the road again so we did the 2km ride out of Tangermünde and rejoined our track, which diverted away from the Bundesstraße and onto quieter roads, but almost immediately we were faced with this:

We had no idea how long this section of road was but it could be quite a long way. The alternative was going back on the Bundesstraße which neither of us fancied so we decided to carry on.

This bit of track turned out to just be about 2km and we were soon back on asphalted roads, although not as smooth as some. We headed through the small villages of Langensalzwedel, Charlottenhof and Bindfelde before joining busier traffic within Stendal where we had to ride twice over a railway (this meant two hills for the railway bridges!) within 1km. Hill climbing from a flat start is not my favourite occupation!

We then joined the Bundesstraße 188 again, crossing the railway again (more hills) and then when we once again returned o the railway the cycle path didn’t take us up over the railway but beside it, leaving the Bundesstraße route. I was a bit worried this was another of those ‘disappearing cycle path with no warning’ experiences but actually it was an improvement as we got to go under the railway through an underpass and had had a blessed 2km away from the Bundesstraße. 

We had stopped for a drink as the day was warming up and we had been going pretty quickly. We decided to stop for lunch (a late one) at Gardelegen which would be at 110km ridden. Because of our detours the route distance had increased to 150km according to the Garmins.

After the railway we were again on side roads. Käthen was very cobble indeed and we tried to ride on the narrow pavements instead (which were brick) but this was not 100% successful as it was bin day and the big wheelie bins were periodically blocking the path. About half my teeth were rattled out by the time we made it onto firmer asphalt.

We rode through the sleepy villages of Klinke, Wollenhagen and then Linstedterhorst where we discovered they were doing road repairs with loose chippings. This made for noisy progress and the thought that we might have sticky tarry stones stuck to our tyres.

That was preferable to the next stretch of road, between Linstedt and Kassieck, which had been newly surfaced. Somehow the chippings in the asphalt acted like a huge brake, I thought I was either (a) riding through treacle, or (b) suffering from three simultaneous flat tyres. It was like cycling in the UK again, slow road surfaces with a horrendous buzz through the steering which gives you repetitive strain injury.

After Kassieck the road returned to normal and we were soon on the outskirts of Gardelegen. Klaus headed straight for the centre but I didn’t see he had turned off the track and carried on round as I had been planning to go to the centre from north side. I got a phone call to ask where I was and I said I would meet him at the church. Five minutes later we were both waiting at churches – but different ones! With the marvels of phone communication we found ourselves together again outside a restaurant so stopped for lunch.

After lunch I said I wanted to find a bike shop to pump up my tyre and we found one just down the road. They were happy to lend us a track pump and I checked Millie’s from tyres – down to 6 bar both sides. I increase them to 8 bar and then it was time to head off after a friendly chat to the bike shop people who were very surprised to hear we had started this morning in Brandenburg. So far away, and it wasn’t even 3pm yet!

On the way out of Gardelegen I commented to Klaus that Millie felt a bit faster now she had harder tyres. I was right too!

Very soon we were back on the Bundesstraße 188 and we zoomed along. Strava tells us that we did 10km with an average speed of 38 km/h and 5km with an average of 40.2!. We were working hard to keep up the pace as we were sharing the road with heavy lorries again. Also speed is addictive!

We stopped on the cycle path for a drink and a short rest with 10km to go, and then pushed on, finding the track went away from the Bundesstraße at last at Weddendorf. We worked our way northwards through Wassensdorf and then Breitenrode before turning south west and arriving at Grafhorst.

Our hotel was fine and there was a large garage for the bikes.

Here is Klaus’s Strava data for the day. The average of 28.6 is impressive as there were some really slow sections on cobbles. He was 200m short of 150km but my Garmin registered 151.2, so my detour in Gardelegen was significant. 

Here is Klaus’s report for the day:

Der 12. Tag unsere Usedom-Berlin führte uns von Brandenburg an der Havel nach Grafhorst an der Aller, eine kleine Gemeinde an der Grenze von Sachsen-Anhalt zu Niedersachsen. Über 140 Kilometer waren geplant und die sollten vornehmlich über Bundesstraßen führen. Das ist zwar nicht immer malerisch aber gerade mit den Velomobilen kann man gut Strecke machen.

Nach ca. 50Kilometern hatten wir bei Tangermünde die Elbe erreicht. In der Innenstadt haben wir eine kleine Kaffeerösterei ausfindig gemacht. Ich liebe solche kleinen Läden mit ihrem eigenen Charme. Mit dem Besitzer, ein wahrer Kaffee-Enthusiast, habe ich mich länger unterhalten. Mal sehen, ob ich mir hier demnächst meinen Cafe bestellen werde. 

Weiter ging es über Bundesstraßen, aber immer mal wieder unterbrochen durch Abschnitten auf kleineren Strässchen. Nach knapp 100 Kilometern haben wir unsere Mittagspause in Gardelegen eingeplant. Helen hat in einem Fahrradladen den Luftdruck der Vorderreifen kontrolliert. 

Die letzten 40 Kilometer haben wir es richtig fliegen lassen. Helen hat mich über die Strasse gehabt, immer zwischen 35 und 45. Zum Schluss stand dann ein fast 29er Schnitt auf dem Tacho. 150km in etwas mehr als 5 Stunden. Ich hätte nicht gedacht, dass wir ein solches Tempo vorlegen können. Morgen geht’s weiter über Wolfsburg und Hannover ans Steinhuder Meer… diesmal weniger Bundesstraßen.

After showering and washing cycling clothes I decided to go out for a walk to go back to the border crossing just 1.5km from the hotel. We had zoomed through on the final stretch in the bikes but I wanted to have a more considered look again.

This sign is all that is there to remind you of how it was 26 years ago. Grafhorst was in West Germany but the border was less than 50 metres from the village church. And the people the other side in Breitenrode had such a different life.

Grafhorst lies on the small river Aller which was rather pretty.

And here is the little Evangelische Kirche. And spot the stork nest on the chimney of the house beside it.

The best from the other side with a stork’s head just visible.

There were lots of lovely houses in this village.

I thought I would photograph an everyday sight which will be a bit unfamiliar to Brits. This road marker.

These appear regularly on German roads and give you the road number on the left (B244, yes another Bundesstraße but a quiet one!) and the number top right is the distance in metres between two junctions and the arrow shows in which direction it is counting until the next junction. You don’t see things this organised on UK roads every 100 metres!!

After my walk it was time for our evening meal, which we ate at the hotel (there were no other food establishments in Grafhorst, it has only 1000 residents).  The food was good!

Tomorrow is a slightly shorter day, 130km to Steinhude, and has fewer sections on major roads. The weather is forecasted to be much hotter (27 degrees) and with possible thunderstorms late afternoon. It looks like we may get a bit wet on Friday, our penultimate tour day, but we have been incredibly lucky to stay dry so far when riding.

Klaus is already thinking about where to go on next summer’s tour as we’re having such a great time with this one…

One comment

  1. Really enjoying your tour diary, look forward to every instalment! One day I will have a velo…!
    I was interested to read that you crossed the old East/West German border. I wonder if you noticed any difference between the two former countries? Tim Moore in his recent book “The Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold” wrote at length about his perceptions of the differences.

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