Day 72 of my cycling journey – July 11, 2022
A long day of cycling against the wind saw me pedalling right through the heart of the German capitol, Berlin. Passing all the main sights of the amazing city, I continued beyond the sprawl of its suburbs and cycled through the peaceful countryside. After 119 km, I reached a campground near Rathenow, and I felt quite proud of having cycled so far despite cycling against the wind and through one of the biggest cities in Europe.
The cycling was beautiful and ultimately satisfying on this Monday. I started from my cousin’s house east of Berlin and went for 30 km on side roads, park paths, and residential areas slowly to Berlin. Suddenly I received a call from my cousin with the enquiry where her keys for her house are. A frantic search at the side of the highway did not bring any results and a scorching hot rush overcame me when I realized that I had the keys in my jeans. The same jeans my wife took back with her to Finland. After a short phone call, it became clear that the house keys had made the trip to Myrskylä, Finland, and would have now to be sent back. The machinery was set in motion to send the keys back. These are the dangers of older chaps like me going on a long journey, we forget things. I just hope that the dementia is not progressing too fast so that I can remember in Mongolia where I actually came from. During my preparation phase for the trip, I had been considering and fearing the particular case that Altzheimer’s is taking my memory so fast that I would end up in a constant cycling loop of Mongolia without ever remembering where I entered it and where I had been. It terrified me, but also provided some tranquil feeling. Not a bad way to go, cycling repeatedly around Mongolia and enjoying the beauty of the country each time anew, until you drop off your bike.
Not long after the episode with the keys, my navigation app sent me onto the big east-west traverse in Berlin. I cycled on the Frankfurter Allee with the Berlin Radio Tower firm in my view. Then I crossed the Alexanderplatz to continue through the Brandenburg Gate and onto the western part of the traverse. Cycling through the very heart of the city was a very pleasurable affair, like sitting on an open-air sightseeing bus but less impassive and I could stop where I wanted to take a picture. Soon I left the city behind me and entered the countryside of Brandenburg. I continued along B5 to the west on good cycleways, but some stretches were so bad that they were virtually not cyclable. On one of these stretches I was reminded about the unpleasant behaviour of some German drivers, what I would call “righteous rage”. In this particular instant, I was cycling on the street because the cycleway was such a poor condition that you couldn’t cycle on it. Suddenly a dark limousine slowed beside me, and the side window went down. From inside the car a man with a cigarette dangling between two oversized fingers of his fleshy hand and his gut bulging tsunami style over the lower part of his steering wheel shouted at me to get the F**k of the road and onto the cycleway. I was speechless. In over two month of cycling this was the first time that I encountered such disgusting behaviour.
I continued cycling through the countryside in Brandenburg and enjoyed the landscapes very much. It was very hot, and I drank copious amounts of water and other liquids. I looked for a campground where I could stay the night and take a shower. Cycling in a hot environment not only produces sweat but the sunscreen adds a very unpleasant fat film on your skin which functions as a magnet for grime of all kinds. At the end of such a hot day you feel extremely dirty and unpleasant, and an evening shower is a life saver and ensures a sound sleep. Near Rathenow I found a campground on a lakeside, and after 119 km cycled against the wind, I was able to take a king-sized luxury shower and get into my tent fresh, clean and in a state of pleasant tiredness, which ensured that I fell asleep almost instantaneously.