The Bike and Other Stories
Cycling adventures around London, New York City, and Berlin.
Geoffrey Armes
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Ascension Day
Geoffrey Armes - 2020-05-21 18:58:11+02:00

I did not ride today, but here is a story from this holiday a few years back.

Also known as Church Day, Father's Day, Men's Day, Thursday and a lone public holiday in the middle of the Berlin Working Week although the children remain off school until Monday. Meaning a crowded forest and lake hinterland to the city.

So a couple of us, it was supposed to be three but a colleague swore off citing the pressures of work (ah that wonderfully international internet respects no divinity), took off around lunchtime hoping to get a slightly longer ride in. To mark our gender indicated day. Only as it turned out my ride partner had to get back by 1600 anyway, to meet sundry diverse family obligations. So it goes with families.

A lot of the usual routes were mad crowded. Families, courting couples, Bikies, Sunday Drivers, and large groups of drunk young men swarmed every street of suburban Berlin and the forest. We got down to Wannsee and the crowds thinned considerably at Moorlake as the slopes are just too steep for most. Of course we did get blocked a couple of times by Porsches and the like cruising at a steady 20kmh. Potsdam city centre was car heavy and cyclist/walker poor, the Russian styled village of Alexandrowka the opposite, and then it was time for the rugged bike path mixed with smooth but heavily trafficked road tarmac as we climbed towards Krampnitz. Which is a lovely piece of road once you get there. Flowing and scenic. All busy with bikes but fewer cars.

At this point my ride partner, despite being time constrained suggested that we skip the coming car heavy but direct Kladowerdamm and look for the Mauerweg instead. 'Fine,' I thought, although I had a good idea what the Mauerweg would be like, 'I am not the one time constrained and would be quite glad if we did find a decently quiet alternative'. To bring us to the inevitably busy main road ahead.

A little bit of side street sprinting and asking, and we did find our way to the path, a trail for cycling that marks where the old border stood all those years. It's a mess when it comes to taking a road bike, but ideal family riding. Narrow tarmac alternates with cobbles and genuine pavé, gravel and earth marks out stretches that flow or buckle past playgrounds and ice cafes and at one point it even turns into a beach as a particular house seems to have the rights almost all the way to the water front. We chatted with cheerful people along the way, checking we were on the right route, and cheered with more than tipsy Crusty Goth styled youths as we passed through their serried ranks. All good natured. One memorable descent of decent tarmac winding through trees and blind corners emerging into green vistas looking across towards Teufelsberg and Berlin and then we we hit the main roads again, all too soon. Or not soon enough after the cruddy surfaces and narrow alleys we had just endured as time was starting to press, and we had to hammer out the last kilometres back to the city proper and a parting of ways. I elected to take the slightly longer but more familiar quiet route home as he continued on the highway. I fancied doing a bit more, but felt it was still too crowded out. Time to slouch towards home and a long recovery.