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Big Bike Ride

Went on a big ride from the North of Germany all the way back to Berlin

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I'm sure that when you work a regular job, a long weekend is a godsend. So let's try to imagine how a normal person would spend this time; perhaps by relaxing and reading a magazine, swimming a few laps at the pool and then enjoying a movie maybe? Meike at the moment is supposed to be one of those normal people - what did she want to do over the long weekend? Buy a tent, catch a train to the sea side and then ride back to Berlin! In case you're unaware, the closest coast to Berlin is about 200 km away.

Ok so we have a crazy plan. Better get a good night's rest... I wish. The night before, we went to this Asian buffet place in Potsdamer Platz where you pick you raw ingredients and a sauce for them to fry-up for you. Since it was all you can eat for 22€ we stayed there until fairly late. An early morning 4 am start with a heavy stomach to ride on a train for a few hours was not a relaxing start to the long weekend. The connecting train being 45 min late, which was also forced to take a double load of passengers, all with bikes and dogs and prams, pushed us into riding the last part by bike instead. Oh it's just up the road, along the coast. Yes, it was just up the road - 70 km - and it was along the coast - sand - but by then end I was in a very fuck-it-all mood.

The camp site was cheap and easy - showers and shops, holiday things, people wearing thongs - and once we pitched our tent in the sand dunes it became a nice relaxing afternoon. This was the first chance to wear swimmers in months! We changed and walked along the beach, checking out all the droopy boobs and wobbly bums playing soccer and volleyball - why only old people naked, damn it?! Since we were in the East the 'FKK' beaches were all the rage. FKK stands for Frei Körper Kultur (nude beaches) which they used to be very proud of back in the day. And while we're at it, here's some more history: Hitler laid some truly shitty roads all over the place here. I'd not even call them roads really. They were just slabs of cement with enormous gaps. You wanna' try riding over then for an hour with no suspension and a heavy backpack? No, you don't. I hate Hitler and his crappy roads. It was, however, a massive compensation that the roads trailed through some very beautiful forests, whose paths were pierced by rays of light and had deer dancing about here and there.

The first day of riding back to Berlin was easy after resting and relieving myself of a 4-course meal - I felt as light as a feather! We rode along roads with rolling fields of bright yellow bio-ethanol crops spanning off into the distance. This is why the price of food is rising: every-bloody-one is planting the damn things in place of wheat, etc. Pretty though. Luckily as it was Sunday, all the traffic was still moving North so we had a free run on our side. Most of the time the streets were quiet enough to ride two-abreast and take the whole road. However, every time we passed through a village we had issues the cobble stones. There were some amusing place names along the way: Faulenrost was one; it meant fermented rust. But still, every time we checked the map we didn't seem any closer and my lower half was bitching and moaning a lot.

Sam's Knee Ouch! Stop making me move!
Sam's Bottom Stop stop stop stop!
Sam's Feet Numb toes here, in case you didn't notice...
Sam's Leg We're a little tired but we're mostly bothered by all the mozzie bites
Sam's Groin Let me breeeeeaaathe!!! So much pressure!

Here's a tip: take lots of water when riding, not coke. At one stop we made, we bought some coke to get some energy back. Just after that was one long mountain section - 5 km up, 5 km down. Meike cruised the whole down hill part since her bike was heavier, but I had to peddle to keep up. After that there was a long open section of road where you could feel the heat rising form below, so guess what - I dehydrated badly. Dumb-arse me thought it ok to use our spare water bottle for carrying the coke. After we ran out of water all we had was an apple left. The camp site was not too far away but, damn it, it made me feel soft.

After 132 km the second day I just about collapsed on the footpath outside the reception building (I did actually lie down which made some passers by giggle). I was a little sun burnt, even though Meike denied it was possible in Spring, so I sat in the shade. But then I noticed something: shady places had lots of mozzies. I didn't think much of it until later that night when hoards of the bastards came at us. You could actually see them buzzing about at the limits of where the shade fell; they were just like little vampires scarred of sun light. From inside out tent we watched them all sitting on the mesh, wishing they could come in. Oddly enough, after it cooled down they retreated again. I guess it was too cold for them after 10 pm. We had a semi-satisfactory night's sleep; the damn motorbike engines and soccer hooligans kept the place lively until far too late. Can you believe most of them brought satellite dishes with them to watch the soccer?

Ok, so now we're at the fun part: when far-too-energetic Meike admitted she was over it! From our second camping spot in the national park by the lake, we thought it smart to take designated 'bike trails' through to the other side - it was the fastest way after all. Ahem... I think Germany has funny ideas about where bikes can go. The 'bike trails' were all through god-damn sand! Not hard, nice and easy sand - no no no no no! It was soft dig-in-deep sand that even cars were having trouble with. I think I forgot to mention that Meike had bike-mounted carry bags weighing about 30 kg, so how do you think that felt on soft sand? But in my case with a cyclocross bike and only a backpack, I was tearing the place up! It was freaking awesome!! I shot through it all, spraying sand and dirt in every direction, and powered on. I'd finally found the purpose for which my bike was made: rough-road action! Woooooo!!!

After that the road became lame again - flat boring sections, cobble stone sections, Life-Danger! sections, etc. My bike was craving hills to power up (since that was the only place I could catch up to Meike). We had an icecream break - absolutely the best food for riding - and generally took it easy. The roads started to get busier, being Monday and everyone going home again. There was this one bum-face van that drove as fast and as close as he could when passing, trying to teach me a lesson (for being on the road?) - unhappy Sam. It got much worse; the streets narrowed and the traffic increased, along with the speed limits. Now we were faced with a 20 cm gap between the road line and the trees / barriers / rough edges along the roads. You pretty much had to be on the line the whole time to just fit there. There were signs that warned drivers not to hit the trees beside the road; Meike explained at one point people wanted them cut down to save drunk drives hitting them. What kind of ridiculous message does that send? Go drink and drive, it's safe now - or what? Then we came to the really bad part: the last 30 km which was entirely fast roads with constant traffic and no space to ride. I was scarred shittless! One van of drunk soccer hooligans even shouted out their windows at Meike as they passed - she was a little shaken by this. We got them back though - the traffic stopped to a dead halt, hehe! The tables turned as we overtook the lot of 'em! The drunk soccer hooligans even flopped out of their van, cheered and waved flags for us as we passed - victory! Just as the highway changed into an autobahn (no bikes) we arrived back inside Berlin, had maccas, and caught a train home.

Out total distance was 337 km, riding along the Northern coast one day then back to Berlin over two days. Injury summary: very sore but nothing broken or numb, many mozzie bites and a few bruises. Also, I think we discovered the origin of the 'King Fox/Squirrel' graffiti.