Berlin Bike Signage… Trustworthy?
Ignore the political propaganda and check out that bike signage!
I’m sure there are brave/foolish souls who have successfully embarked on long bike adventures without a few practice rides, but when you have a beautiful holiday weekend, bikes and a destination, why put off such important preparation?
With all that in mind, J and I chose a mid-afternoon ride toward the pretty little town of Potsdam (about 28k from home base), figuring we could ride as far as Lake Wannsee and see how we felt at that point.
It was my assumption that practice rides would be good for building bike-ready muscle, but I wasn’t expecting the other, equally important side benefits we discovered.
Note the happy Oreo-patterned pigs in the background.
One of the finest reasons to cycle is the opportunity for serendipitous discovery. Our practice ride passed by countless attractive distractions, including statue-filled city parks, a street fair, an educational farm museum and a bunch of shops and cafes I’d love to go back and explore.
We checked a map before leaving, but we kept it tucked away for the rest of the trip and allowed Berlin’s bike signage to guide our way.
Big success there. The signs are placed in fairly obvious locations and spaced out at reassuring intervals. It’s as if someone who rides a bike was doing the planning.
Giant chess at the Wannsee Strandbad (beach).
On arriving at Wannsee, we felt great and pressed on to Potsdam.
I was pleased to see there are choices in the paths from point to point… you can opt for the quicker, less scenic route, or the meandering forest path. We went for the speedy route to make the most of the light.
By Potsdam, it was clear to J that he needed to investigate a different seat, and my derailleur was acting up. Sensations that are tolerable on city rides become exaggerated after 20k or so.
In Potsdam, we road around town until we found a cute cafe (http://www.cafe-rothenburg.de/) with outdoor seating, which had the dual advantage of celebrating the summer evening while avoiding any olfactory offense to our fellow diners. (Though it turned out that they, too, were a pack of cyclists.)
Schnitzel with White Asparagus in the foreground, Matjes Herring Plate at the rear.
After dinner, it was growing dark, so we took the designated bicycle car on the speedy S-Bahn to get home, and we watched the sunset from the train windows.
I didn’t bring an odometer, but I’ll guess we went between 30-35k, tested the signage, dipped our toes in the sand, enjoyed the scents and smells of a forest-lined path and learned a little about our equipment. A successful practice ride all around!
Just as an aside, I continue to be impressed at the broader range of people I see on bicycles in Germany.
US cyclists tend to be younger, and most often, they’re men, but in Germany, cycling seems to be more common across age and gender. Packs of old people cycle. Families cycle. People cycle with their groceries and garden supplies. It’s all so ordinary, which is wonderful.
Seven weeks until our mighty bike adventure!