|Distance in km||154.5|
|Elevation in m||566|
|Amount of newly ridden kms from wandrer.earth||74.2|
After the previous Grand Tour Stage and the first ever NinJa Cycles event, I was ready to take on the Queen Stage of the Grand Tour. Knowing that this would be the hardest Stage, the weather had to be just right – not too hot, not too cold and definitely not too windy! I also wanted to tackle this sooner rather than later so that psychologically I know that the worst is behind me.
I woke up nice and early for a good breakfast. My blood glucose was also pretty stable and within range throughout the night as well – perfect for a long day in the saddle. I slightly reduced my basal and bolus insulin and headed out the door to head towards the S-Bahn station of Westend.
Westend is the start of the S46 S-Bahn line that ends in the town of Königs Wusterhausen in Brandenburg – southeast of Berlin. The first section of the S46 follows the Ringbahn tracks through the Wilmersdorf, Schöneberg and Neukölln districts of Berlin. The S46 then leaves the Ringbahn tracks to service the Köllnische Heide and Baumschulenweg stations before using the Berlin-Görlitz train tracks.
The Berlin-Görlitz tracks run parallel to the straight and long Adlergestell road which is also heavily trafficked but does at least have a (bumpy) dedicated cycle lane. Once I passed the Grünau S-Bahn station, I passed through the Berliner Stadtforst (Berlin City Forest) towards the southeastern border of Berlin and Brandenburg. Cycling through the forest was amazing – it was so green and I didn’t see a single other person. It was also nice to see that a bridge was built enabling people to safely cross over the train tracks that run through the forest.
After the lovely forest stretch, I was now in Brandenburg and the village of Eichwalde (Oak Wood). This was horrible for cycling as the streets were unevenly cobbled – the unpaved forest paths were smoother than these roads! The next village was Zeuthen which thankfully had smoother streets for cycling.
Further south along the Dahme from Zeuthen was the village of Wildau. This village has lots of red-brick houses that were really spectacular. Wildau is also an industrial hub and also has a large technical university as well. The final stretch of the S46 towards Königs Wusterhausen led me across the Nottekanal (Notte Canal) where the inland harbour of Königs Wusterhausen is located. The Königs Wusterhausen train station and the final stop of the S46 was just across the Nottekanal.
It was time for a little food break in front of this lovely train station. My blood sugar was doing pretty well and I ate one of my homemade flapjacks for some carb loading before the next stretch of this Stage.
The next public transport route was the 733 bus route between Königs Wusterhausen and Zeuthen. But this bus route does not head back along the roads that I had just cycled on – it loops around the river Dahme and into the Schmöckwitz district of Berlin before heading through the villages of Eichwalde and finally Zeuthen.
The 733 bus route crosses the river Dahme at the Neue Mühle (New Mill) lock and continues northwards through the towns of Niederlehme and Wernsdorf. The area of Wernsdorf next to the Krossinsee (Krossin Lake) is called Ziegenhals (Goat Neck!), and was apparently a favourite holiday spot of the former East German leader Erich Honecker.
Right before heading into Berlin, my blood glucose was a bit too low so I had an energy gel while admiring the views of the Alter Wernsdorfer See (Old Wernsdorf Lake). The 733 bus route passes on the main road through the forested area in Schmöckwitz before getting to the central tram station that I previously visited during Stage 23 and Stage 33.
Once through central Schmöckwitz, the 733 route passes through Eichwalde – meaning more cobbled roads for me to cycle on – before getting to Zeuthen. I made a quick pit stop to admire the Zeuthener See (Zeuthen Lake) before getting to the S-Bahn station of Zeuthen which was also the final stop of the 733 bus route.
Although my blood glucose was doing better after taking on the energy gel, I decided to eat a Clif bar for further fuelling before starting the next public transport route. The next route would be the S8 S-Bahn train line that runs between Zeuthen and Birkenwerder – a town in Brandenburg to the northeast of Berlin. This makes the S8 the longest single route of this Grand Tour!
The first section of the S8 was along the same route that I used when cycling the S46 route earlier. Meaning I had more cobbles in Eichwalde before the relative smoothness of the forest paths in the Berliner Stadtforst. Then it was back along the Adlergestell road and once I reached the district of Adlershof, my CGM alarm was complaining about my blood glucose being too high after the food stop in Zeuthen. I decided to inject 0.5 units of bolus insulin before continuing on.
Further northwards, while cycling along one of the streets in Baumschulenweg, I discovered a mural of one of my favourite paintings – “The Persistence of Memory” by Salvador Dali. We have a replica of this painted by my sister hanging in our living room!
It is from here that the S46 and S8 paths diverge, since the S8 headed along the eastern part of the Ringbahn tracks while the S46 used the western section of the Ringbahn. The S8 meets the Ringbahn at the Treptower Park station. This area was full of cyclists enjoying the lovely day and I assume trying to find a nice stretch of grass in the popular Treptower Park which has a nice little pier too.
The S8 followed the Ringbahn tracks through the districts of Friedrichshain and Prenzlauer Berg before leaving the Ringbahn to head further north at Bornholmer Straße. Once I reached Bornholmer Straße, I decided for a proper Café stop that allowed me to have a coffee and the nice person at the Café also refilled both of my water bottles. This was much needed as I was drinking regularly to keep properly hydrated on this warm day.
The S8 then uses the same tracks as the S2 from Stage 36 between the Bornholmer Straße and Blankenburg stations. Once the S8 reached the Karower Kreuz (Karow Cross), the route headed towards the northeast while the S2 continued northwesterly towards Bernau. I cycled through some gravel tracks along fields and parallel to the Buchholzer Graben (Buchholz Ditch) which was a lot of fun and perfect for Flash the cyclocross bike!
The final section of the S8 that was still within the Berlin border took me towards the Arkenberge (Arken Mountains). These were part of a natural hill ridge but the elevation was increased since the area was used as a rubble heap for construction waste. So now the Arkenberge is officially the highest point in Berlin – at a whole 120 m of elevation above sea level! There is also a lake with a small bathing area which I visited. There were lots of people around sunbathing, dipping their feet in the water and even a naked man – the proper lakeside experience. I ate my final Clif bar before continuing on towards the final section of the S8 route.
I left the Arkenberge and Berlin to venture into Brandeburg using a sandy singletrail path parallel to the train tracks towards the S-Bahn station at Mühlenbeck-Mönchmühle. The next S-Bahn station at Schönfliess (Pretty Stream) was further eastwards and was in a pretty deserted area – the tracks passed through large fields and the village of Schönfliess is more than a kilometre away from the station.
This stretch of train tracks between Mühlenbeck-Mönchmühle and Bergfelde (Mountain Field) was built in the 1960s when Germany was divided and allowed trains to divert around West Berlin. Quite a blockage that needed avoiding. 😉 Once the train tracks were built, the S-Bahn stations of the S8 line were placed along this section where they helped connect these towns. The Schönfliess station is an anomaly though as it is not really located near any village and is the S-Bahn station with the lowest passenger count.
After Schönfliess, I was back to cycling through the village of Bergfelde before reaching Hohen Neuendorf and next up was the final stop of the S8 at Birkenwerder. Right in front of the Birkenwerder station, there is a memorial to remember the victims of fascism which seemed like very good timing since it was 75 years since VE-Day and the liberation of Germany from the Nazis.
I ate my final homemade flapjack before setting off home, having completed all the public transport routes for this Stage! I cycled back along the B96 which is one of the major roads from Berlin into northern Germany. The section through Frohnau – one of the most northerly districts of Berlin – was through a beautifully forested section. I was then greeted by the big-city bustlings with the large construction sites in Wittenau before getting home. It was great to be back home after such a great Stage just in time for dinner! I was very happy with how I felt during this long Stage, I’m very sure that my blood glucose being well-behaved played a major role.