|Distance in km||124.6|
|Elevation in m||399|
|Amount of newly ridden kms in Berlin from wandrer.earth||69.0|
The milestone for today’s Stage was reaching the furthest point from my home – the Strausberg Nord station at the end of the S5 line. This meant a long day in the saddle so I prepared in the usual way by reducing both my bolus and basal insulin before heading out. Once I got out the door, it started raining – I was kind of expecting this and knew that it would brighten up later on in the ride.
The first port of call was to get to Westkreuz, the start of the S5 train line that will end in Strausberg Nord. Westkreuz is awkwardly located for cyclists as it’s nestled between a major Autobahn junction and train track crossings. I was trying to find a way to get to the station through one of the many Kleingartenanlage (allotment garden) around Berlin. This was pretty unsuccessful and I only succeeded in going around in circles in the rain, at least no one was there to witness. Once I realised my idea wasn’t going to work, I headed back the way I came and onto Messedamm to cycle through the tunnel that passes under the Autobahn. Finally I had reached Westkreuz and could properly start the S5 route.
The S5 follows the train tracks passing through central Berlin including the major train stations (Zoologischer Garten, Hauptbahnhof, Friedrichstraße, Alexanderplatz and Ostbahnhof). This being a Monday meant there was a lot of traffic on the roads which made for some interesting cycling in the area between Friedrichstraße and Alexanderplatz where there are few dedicated cycle paths. On Dorotheenstraße, which adds tram tracks to the mix, I also had to pay close attention to cars getting out of parking spots as not all were looking out for cyclists! I safely navigated this section and was happy to be separate from the traffic just before Alexanderplatz.
The S5 tracks then follow the Spree river where there is the artistic Holzmarkt (Wood Market), a large creative space for artists, and further down the East Side Gallery. By now the sun was out and I could put away the rain jacket for the rest of the stage. I had now made it to Ostkreuz, the junction for trains opposite from my starting point of Westkreuz.
The S5 passes through the Lichtenberg and Friedrichsfelde districts and heads towards the border of Berlin and Brandenburg in Mahlsdorf. There were some really nice quieter streets to cycle on between the Biesdorf and Mahlsdorf (or Pi-dorf as per Stage 13) S-Bahn stations which was a lot of fun!
The next section of the S5 passes through satellite towns in Brandenburg that through the S5 are well connected to Berlin. These stations all have Park and Ride facilities plus large bicycle parking areas connected to the S-Bahn station so that commuters don’t need to drive all the way into Berlin, they can just park near the S-Bahn station. The roads that I followed between Birkenstein and Strausberg were a mixture of cobbles, bicycle roads and off road paths – most of which was fun.
I was now in Strausberg (literally Ostrich Mountain), this is a large town that has four (!) S-Bahn stations (Strausberg, Hegermühle, Strausberg Stadt and Strausberg Nord). Although I cycled through the residential streets, I could tell that there are a lot of forested areas and many lakes – great for hiking and off-road riding. I will be back here to explore some more. There is also an airfield in the area that I would also like to visit in the future too.
After 65 km, I had reached the end of the S5 at Strausberg Nord. Unsurprisingly, I was pretty hungry and was looking for a spot to have a coffee break. There was no option at the train station so I headed back into Strausberg and found a Döner place where I could safely leave Bolt outside and enjoy a coffee and energy bar. My blood glucose was doing really well during the ride so I only injected 0.5 units of bolus insulin for my energy bar.
The next public transport route was the N5 night bus that starts at Hönow, right on the border of Berlin and Brandenburg in the Hellersdorf district. I decided to maximise my exploration in this new area (to me) and take a longer route on new paths towards Hönow. I circled the Strausberger Wald- und Seegebiet (Strausberg Forest and Lake area) and headed towards Altlandsberg via Buchholz.
The official cycle path between the villages of Buchholz and Wesendahl is not really meant for road bikes. It is a non-paved road for farm vehicles and horses between fields that meant I had to dodge puddles (who knows what’s lurking?!) and large stones to avoid punctures. Once I got to Buchholz puncture-free, there was an amusing sign warning that cars park below a particular stork nest at their own risk. I wonder if that is to do with stork droppings or if there is another “Problem Stork” like the famous Ronny. Read the article here, it’s extremely entertaining!
The final stretch before getting to Hönow was on some amazing bike paths through the forest and fields. These are the type of bike paths that are really great to cycle on regardless of what bicycle you’re on. I was getting a bit hungry so I ate half of a Clif Bar without injecting any insulin to keep my blood glucose stable for the rest of the ride. I was now back on the roads of Hönow and made it back to Berlin at the tram terminus at Riesaer Straße which is the start terminus for the N5 bus route.
The N5 bus route is the night replacement service of the U5 underground train line. The U5 was the only underground line that ran completely in the former East Berlin and was the only underground line that was extended during the time of the GDR. Before Berlin (and Germany) was split, the underground line ran between Alexanderplatz and Friedrichsfelde. It was extended to include the Tierpark underground station – the only subterranean underground station built in East Berlin – in 1973. The final stretch between Biesdorf-Süd and Hönow runs overground and was completed in 1989 a few months before the fall of the Berlin wall.
The N5/U5 route services the Hellersdorf district and connects to the Gärten der Welt (Gardens of the World) where the International Garden Show was held in 2017. The Kienberg station was refurbished and renamed (from Neue Grottkauer Straße) for this show which Nadja and I visited. We also rode on the cable cars that are accessible next to the U-Bahn station. Well worth a visit!
Once the N5/U5 gets to the Magdalenstraße station, it runs in a straight line directly towards its terminus at Alexanderplatz. The final section past Frankfurter Tor passes on Karl-Marx-Allee, one of the most beautiful streets in Berlin. I was so glad that the sun was out so I could take pictures of the symmetrical architecture typical of the east bloc. The fountain at Strausberger Platz – named after Strausberg where I was earlier on in the ride – was not running, probably doesn’t in winter.
I was now approaching Alexanderplatz, the current terminus of the N5/U5. I say current as there are major construction works extending the underground line towards Brandenburger Tor where the U5 will join up with the U55 and the U5 will then terminate at Hauptbahnhof. This extension is due to be completed this year (2020) and include three new U-Bahn stations along Unter den Linden.
Alexanderplatz was also the start point for the final public transport route of today’s Stage – the 100 bus route. This bus route is the most famous one since it passes along the major tourist attractions between Alexanderplatz and Zoologischer Garten. Sightseeing from one of the double decker buses is a nice way to see central Berlin.
The sun was out for the whole of the 100 bus route so I could take pictures of many of the great buildings that this bus stops at. Highlights being the Humboldt University building on Unter den Linden, Brandenburger Tor and Reichstag (Parliament). This is the only bus route that services the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (House of World Cultures), since it has such a long German name it is officially known by its acronym HKW or inofficially as the Die schwangere Auster (The pregnant Oyster). The final stretch of the 100 bus route passes by Schloss Bellevue, the residence of the German president, Siegessäule (Victory Column) and Breitscheidplatz before ending at the bus terminus next to the Zoologischer Garten.
That was it for another great stage that allowed me to explore some areas that I had never been to before. I will definitely head back in warmer weather to explore some more. I was also really happy with my blood glucose levels throughout the ride, it’s great making the right decisions! I also think that my experience of the previous 20 stages have helped inform me in how to deal with my blood glucose during these rides. Now that I say that, I will probably have blood glucose levels that are all over the place during the next Stage 😀 .