|Distance in km||131.0|
|Elevation in m||545|
|Amount of newly ridden kms from wandrer.earth||65.1|
This Stage was one I was waiting for the right weather to do as it would mainly follow the S2 – one of the S-Bahn lines that cut through Berlin. A long day in the saddle plus visiting new places in Brandenburg (at the north and south ends of the S2) meant that I would only consider this in optimal conditions. Clear skies, high temperatures and little wind meant that I could put it off no longer!
In preparation, I reduced my basal insulin – I didn’t completely omit it since I was struggling with high blood glucose the past few days – as well as my bolus insulin. I woke up with high blood glucose and decided not to inject any bolus insulin as a correction but injected a higher amount than usual for such a ride for my breakfast of champions (=porridge).
With the insulin preparations complete, I headed towards Walter-Schreiber-Platz to follow the M76 bus route. This bus route is the longer metro bus equivalent to the X76 from Stage 33 but these routes have different end termini in the district of Lichtenrade – the X76 ends at Nahariyastraße while the M76 ends at the Lichtenrade S-Bahn station.
I followed the M76 bus route southwards from the districts of Friedenau and into Mariendorf and finally Lichtenrade which borders Brandenburg. This bus route follows many of the major throughways between Friedenau and Lichtenrade. Thankfully most of these have dedicated bike lanes, although not always the most comfortable to cycle on. The final stop at the Lichtenrade S-Bahn station shows off the impressive Alte Mälzerei (Old Malthouse). This was built directly near the Lichtenrade station to make transporting the malt from train to processing plant easier back when the Alte Mälzerei was operational.
The S-Bahn station of Blankenfelde – just two towns south of Lichtenrade – was next since this is the southern terminus of the S2. A check of my blood glucose showed that it was very high (~250 mg/dL), so I decided to eat a homemade flapjack and inject 2 units of bolus insulin to see if that would help in lowering my blood glucose. Hopefully the combination of carbs, insulin and cycling would combine – but at least I knew why my body was feeling so sluggish till this point!
The S2 services the towns of Blankenfelde and Mahlow in Brandenburg before reaching Berlin, in particular the Lichtenrade station. Before German Reunification, there were no trains between Lichtenrade and Mahlow as Lichtenrade was part of West Berlin and Mahlow was in East Germany. The S-Bahn service between these two stations was resumed in 1992.
The next stretch of the S2 between Lichtenrade and Priesterweg – which is where the S2 tracks join with the S25 and S26 (tackled during Stage 18) tracks – followed some dedicated bike paths parallel to the train tracks. When not on bike paths, the roads closest to the train tracks tended to have huge cobbles! I was very happy to use Flash and the wider tyres that come with using a cyclocross bike rather than the skinny tyres of a road bike.
The next station – Südkreuz – indicated that I was now entering central Berlin, since Südkreuz is on the Ringbahn. I used the fantastic cycle path parallel to the train tracks that also seamlessly leads into the Park am Gleisdreieck (Park at the Rail Triangle) – a fantastic cycle highway! This was also much MUCH nicer than during Stage 18 when I got hailed on during this section.
The trains use the Nord-Süd-Tunnel (North-South Tunnel) that runs underground through central Berlin (between the Anhalter Bahnhof and Humbolthain stations). It was just past midday when I passed through the Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate) and it was incredibly empty! This is good to see since it means that the Berliners are still adhering to the physical distancing measures even though the Covid-19 lockdown guidelines have been slightly loosened.
I reached the Northern intersection between the S2 and the Ringbahn at Gesundbrunnen and continued northwards into the district of Pankow. The S2 stops at the Berlin-Pankow station, which was the starting point for the S85 that I cycled in Stage 31. The S2 continued northwards parallel to the Berlin Autobahn until the stop at Blankenburg station. When cycling on this section, it was a mixture of cobbles and gravel paths – again proving that a Flash was a great choice!
The final two S2 stops in Berlin were at Karow and Buch, here I could use some parts of the Pankeweg which is a cycling route that follows the Panke, a small tributary of the river Spree. The Pankeweg passes through some wonderful landscapes including the Moorlinse (Moor Lentil) which is an important resting and breeding place for many birds.
Once past Buch, the S2 heads north into Brandenburg for the final stretch until its final stop in the town Bernau bei Berlin. The S2 stops twice within the municipality of Panketal – at the Röntegental and Zepernick stations. The Röntgental area of Panketal is named after Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, the German physicist who discovered X-rays.
The Deutsche Bahn, the German national rail service, is working on many of the track underpasses in the Panketal region. So there were many construction sites that I had to bypass, even whole stretches of roads were unpassable. The final two stops of the S2 are in Bernau – the first is at the Bernau-Friedenstal (Peace Valley) and the main station at Bernau itself. Bernau is a lovely place to visit and is a great starting point for cycle trips to the beautiful lakes in the Wandlitz area, such as the Liepnitzsee.
At this point in the Stage, my blood glucose was still very high so it was a great opportunity to refuel and inject more bolus insulin. Before that though, I wanted to visit the defence walls that were erected in the Middle Ages plus the Memorial for the Victims of the Witch Hunts. This memorial commemorates the 25 women and three men who were persecuted, tortured and executed for alleged witchcraft between 1536 and 1658. I recently listened to a podcast on the witch craze which inspired this visit.
Before continuing on with the Stage, I still needed to refuel and deal with that pesky blood glucose. And since it was pretty warm outside, I decided that it would be a great idea to have a cheeky ice-cream! The first ice-cream of the Grand Tour – beat that pro cyclists taking on other Grand Tours 😀 . I ate my ice-cream, a homemade flapjack and injected another two units of bolus insulin before heading back into Berlin for the next bus route.
I cycled towards the Berlin district of Karow, which is just south of Buch (the district that borders with Brandenburg). This again was a mixture of smooth cycle paths and bumpy cobbles with a smattering of gravel. The bus terminus at Hofzeichendamm (Court Emblem Dam) in the area of Neu-Karow (New-Karow) was my destination. The Neu-Karow area was built in the early 1990s to include new residential housing and relevant amenities (schools, kindergartens, restaurants etc). This contrasts to the older area of Karow that retains a more quaint vibe.
Hofzeichendamm was the start of the 350 bus route. This route only passes through the Neu-Karow area and not the older areas of Karow until it ends at the S-Bahn station of Karow. The route shuttles passengers between the new residential area and the train transport with stops at the large school – that includes primary and secondary classes – plus a large library and a childcare facility that has a very creepy front!
The next and final public transport route of this Stage was the number 50 tram between Guyotstraße in Französisch Buchholz (French Buchholz) and the Virchow Klinikum in Wedding. I cycled from Karow into the neighbouring district of Französisch Buchholz. This area housed many Huguenot families that were religious refugees from France after the 30 Years War. In fact, many of the streets are named after regions of France from which Huguenots came.
The route for tram 50 heads southwards towards the S-Bahn stations of Pankow-Heinersdorf and Pankow that I visited earlier when tracing the S2 route. It then continues southwards until Bornholmer Straße, where the 50 tram heads westwards over the Bösebrücke (Evil Bridge – named after Wilhelm Böse who was a communist resistance fighter against the Nazis). This was the first border crossing between East and West Berlin to open after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
Whilst admiring the bridge and the cherry blossoms, all the insulin I had injected was working a bit too well and my blood glucose was dropping. I had an energy gel to get me through the last kilometres of the Stage. This drop was always going to happen given how much insulin I needed to inject but it was quite shocking that it took this long in the Stage for it to happen! Perhaps a sign for a longer recovery period before continuing with the Grand Tour.
The final section of the tram 50 route was along Osloer Straße which then became Seestraße. The tram 50 then terminates at the Virchow-Klinikum, which is a large hospital in the district of Wedding. It was also the start of the M13 tram from Stage 22, which incidentally was the only other Stage that so far has been to the district of Französisch Buchholz!
I made it home safely and was feeling rather tired after a long day in the saddle. It was great to tick off another of the long S-Bahn routes – still a few more to go though! I will definitely take an extended period off the bike to allow my body to recover. The legs were feeling tired plus the last few days of high blood glucose have really taken a toll on my energy levels. The weather is supposed to take a turn for the worse with some days of rain forecast, making it the perfect opportunity for a break.