|Distance in km||115.5|
|Elevation in m||525|
|Amount of newly ridden kms in Berlin from wandrer.earth||31.4|
A sunny day, cycling and Potsdam are a great combination and that was on the books for today’s Stage. This Grand Tour doesn’t just include public transport routes confined to Berlin but also some of the nearby towns and cities. Potsdam, the capital of Brandenburg, has its own public transport network some of which are connected to Berlin and this makes it easier to travel between Berlin and Potsdam. I used to work in Potsdam so I’m pretty familiar with some of these routes as well as some of the areas that I visited during today’s Stage.
Before heading out, I reduced both my bolus and basal insulin. I am now back on the Levemir basal insulin after finishing the trial pen of Abasaglar insulin. I didn’t really find this very helpful and prefer the flexibility of twice daily basal injections rather than once a day. Getting the right amount of basal insulin is a fine art at the best of times so if I mistakenly inject too little or too much, it’s better to be able to readjust the amounts sooner rather than later.
In order to get to Potsdam, I used two bus routes: the N10 and 118, that get to Potsdam via Zehlendorf – the closest borough of Berlin to Potsdam. The N10 starts at the main bus terminus of west Berlin, Zoologischer Garten, and ends at Sachtlebenstraße right at the border of Berlin and Brandenburg in Zehlendorf. The N10 route services some of the most affluent areas in west Berlin so naturally it has to start by travelling on Kurfürstendamm. My blood glucose levels were already dropping at this early point of the ride so I had an energy gel for a quick sugar boost!
The N10 bus route continues parallel to the Ringbahn tracks until crossing them at the Hohenzollerndamm station. We then head into fancy Schmargendorf and Dahlem while continuing South on Clayallee. The Allied Museum is on Clayallee with a British plane that was used during the Berlin airlift on display. Right next to the museum is a really nice memorial to the fall of the Berlin Wall called “The Day the Wall Came Down” by Veryl Goodnight. This area was the heart of the American Sector after the Second World War and the second US Embassy in Berlin is also found on Clayallee.
The Zehlendorf district was up next for the last stretch of the N10 bus route, passing through the main high street until reaching the border area to Brandenburg on Sachtlebenstraße. On this street, there is quite a large sports complex including a baseball pitch – definitely was the American Sector! This was the end of the N10 route and I made my way back towards Rathaus (Town Hall) Zehlendorf for the next route.
The 118 bus route starting at Rathaus Zehlendorf and ending at the Am Stern shopping centre in Potsdam was next. Before starting this route, I ate an energy bar in the sun and admired the Pauluskirche. My blood glucose levels were within a safe range but I knew that I needed some slower acting carbs before carrying on. The 118 route heads back up Clayallee towards Argentinische Allee which then becomes Lindenthaler Allee after Mexikoplatz. The bus route does a quick round on Lissabonallee, not really sure why, before continuing on towards Potsdam on the Potsdamer Chaussee.
Potsdamer Chaussee is part of a large Autobahn intersection (Kreuz Zehlendorf) and I have to give a lot of credit to the designers of this intersection as bicycle traffic was certainly included in the design process. Bicycles cross the intersection using two dedicated wide tunnels that separate both bicycles and pedestrians. There are tunnels on both sides of the intersection so cyclists and pedestrians don’t even have to cross the road and worry about cyclists approaching head on! A great example of cycling infrastructure working well for all road users.
The 118 bus route then heads into the Wannsee district and makes its way into Potsdam behind the campus of the Potsdam University around the Griebnitzsee train station. The 118 route follows Bernhard-Beyer-Straße which was built in 1971 to connect the Steinstücken enclave to West Berlin, as Steinstücken was technically part of West Berlin despite it being surrounded by the GDR. Prior to this street, the residents could only get to West Berlin through checkpoints which was no doubt a hindrance so the Allies bargained with the Soviets to build a connecting road to Zehlendorf in West Berlin.
Once out of Steinstücken, I was in Babelsberg, the district of Potsdam famous for its movie studios. Further South is the Stern district of Potsdam and the 118 bus terminates at the large Am Stern shopping centre.
The next bus route was the N14 route that traverses through most of the districts of Potsdam and ends at Golm, the furthest point of today’s stage. Potsdam is famous for its palaces and scientific institutes (it has more than 30 research institutes) and I pass by quite a few during this and the next bus route. Many streets are named after famous scientists and the start of the N14 route is at Galileostraße and the next turn is on Max Born Straße.
The next part of the N14 route was through the residential districts of Drewitz and Kirchsteigfeld where this bus route replaces the tram during the night hours. I crossed the Nuthe river for the first time to head into the industrial area before heading into the Waldstadt (Wood City) district(s). There are two Waldstadt districts: Waldstadt I and Waldstadt II, separated by the Heinrich Mann Straße. Very imaginative naming convention for these two Plattenbau residential areas where Waldstadt I was built before Waldstadt II – but you wouldn’t expect anything less from German naming logic!
The Schlaatz residential district, this is named after the Slavic word for marsh, was next before I crossed the Nuthe river for the second time. At this point, my blood glucose was heading downwards pretty fast so I took on both an energy gel and an energy bar for the double whammy of fast- and slow-acting carbs.
Now I was in central Babelsberg district on roads that I am very familiar with since I had commuted many times from the Babelsberg train station towards the IASS institute in the Berliner Vorstadt district of Potsdam. One change from my commuting days was the huge construction site where one of the elevated vehicle roads of Nuthestraße was being actively torn down. This site seems to be great entertainment as there were many people, including families, that were just watching the bulldozers at their work.
The N14 bus route crosses the Nuthe again right before the Potsdam central train station and here I travelled past some of the wonderful buildings that make up central Potsdam. I also passed near the Brandenburg Gate of Potsdam (a “bit” smaller than the one in Berlin) before heading on Zeppelinstraße, one of the major roads of Potsdam. The N14 bus leaves Zeppelinstraße on the last possible turn before the Wildpark (Game Park) that separates Potsdam and Geltow.
The N14 then heads north towards the Potsdam University campuses at Schloss Sanssouci and Neues Palais. I had to make a detour to take photos of the impressive Neues Palais (New Palace) built by Frederik the Great just to show off as it was not used for living in. Equally impressive is the Communs building opposite the palace which housed the serventry and nowadays is part of the Potsdam University.
Next up was the Eiche district of Potsdam (not the Eiche town outside of Ahrensfelde from Stage 12) which houses student living, a large police branch and army barracks. The N14 bus route then continues into its final stretches into Golm. Golm hosts many faculties of the Potsdam University as well as many scientific institutes such as a Fraunhofer and a Max Planck institute.
With the N14 bus route complete, it was time for a coffee stop. There aren’t many options in Golm, even its train station is minimalistic, so I had a coffee from a Döner Kiosk just outside the train station. The day was now warming up nicely and I enjoyed the coffee break in the sun before the next bus route.
The X5 route is an express bus route running from the Golm train station up to the Potsdam central station. Its main clientele are the scientists, university staff and students based in Golm and this route only runs during semester time. The X5 route heads back through Eiche and the Neues Palais grounds and stays close to the perimeter of the Sanssouci gardens before heading northbound on Zeppelinstraße. The X5 then takes the main streets through central Potsdam before crossing the Havel opposite the central train station where it then terminates.
With the X5 bus route complete, I could head back into Berlin for the final bus route of the Stage – the 218 bus route from the Pfaueninsel (Peacock Island) until the Messe (Fair Grounds). To get to the start of the 218 bus route at the ferry service to the Pfaueninsel, I passed by the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics which also includes an observatory. There are some great views of the water systems here, which I knew well from my time working in Potsdam.
I think all road cyclists in western Berlin are familiar with the 218 bus route since it passes on the Havelchaussee – THE cycling road in Berlin since it actually has inclines! Occasionally some historic buses service the route and it’s not always pleasant breathing in additional diesel particles when struggling for breath up the Grunewaldturm climb! I’m sure many cyclists can relate to that.
Before starting on this route, I ate my final energy bar since I knew very well the efforts that were needed for the rest of the ride – the 218 must be the hilliest bus route in Berlin. I have no doubt that its elevation gain is minuscule compared to other cities but what that means for us Berlin cyclists is that whenever we see the inclines on this route it means MAXIMUM EFFORT!
In fact, the 218 bus route starts with an incline through the Düppel forest which is a nice and quiet alternative to the Schäferberg incline on Königstraße. Once this incline was conquered, the Pfaueninsel Chaussee meets Königstraße and heads towards the Wannsee train station. Here I joined the many many cyclists that were also enjoying the nice sunny weather on the Kronprinzessinnenweg before getting to the fun stretch of the Havelchaussee.
Earlier on in the ride, I was thinking that I would take it easy on the Havelchaussee but once I got there that plan went out the window. The only difference to the other times that I cycle on this road was that I stopped at the top of the longest incline (1.2 km at 4 % according to Strava) to take a picture of the Grunewald Turm (Grunewald Tower). Right after the descent is a little incline that is always fun for a quick sprint to try to maintain some of the descending speed.
The 218 bus route then takes on the Postfenn climb (1.6 km at 2 %), yet another favourite of the Berlin cyclists, before heading along Heerstraße towards its final destination at the Messe grounds. Heerstraße means recovery time after the efforts of the Havelchaussee and Postfenn for the cyclists but not for the bus! I rolled along up to Theodor Heuss Platz and then on Masurenallee towards the Messe grounds where the preparations for the upcoming ITB, the huge tourism fair, were well underway.
That was the end of the 218 bus route and a really fun way to end a great stage. I managed my blood glucose well throughout the stage and eating so regularly meant I had plenty of energy stores available and enough insulin for my muscles to use those stores. That’s a great combination when it works out that way!