Four fine days in Berlin – and only other people’s bikes in view

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I like the aero aspects but guess that the weight is an issue. High quality training though, with passengers.

After Sunday’s sportive there was no resting on laurels (indeed there were really very few laurels on which to rest) because we were off to Berlin on Monday, leaving the house at 2.30am for a 6am flight (I know, but it seemed like a good idea at the time).

We were trying Airbnb for the first time and really struck lucky. The apartment was surprisingly large and was warm and comfortable and pretty well equipped. It was in the Mitte district which meant we were able to walk everywhere we wanted to go.

We did the usual stuff including the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, the Reichstag, the Museum area, the Holocaust memorial, Potsdamer Platz and Alexanderplatz, with the Fernsehturm tower. We also stumbled across the Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer (a memorial to the wall) which was just a few hundred meters from where we were staying – and which we might have missed had I not run by it on Wednesday morning.

It was a great trip – despite the rain we loved the city which felt surprisingly ‘British’ (though I’m not sure if that’s an entirely good thing). We were there, by chance, for Unification Day so also got the benefit of some free street party-type entertainment.

More surprisingly, it is a great cycling city. Bikes were everywhere, including rickshaw-type bikes and a Lidl bike (which I guess is like the Boris Bike in London). It all seemed well suited for riding, the traffic was much lighter than we would have expected, the roads are wide and the whole place seems to be remarkably flat. My only reservations would have been the weather and the tram tracks.

The last time I fell off a bike was 3 years ago when I got the front wheel caught in the gap between two slabs of a concrete road surface – and the tram tracks looked a bit like that. I didn’t see anyone suffer the problem, perhaps the tracks are wider and shallower (or the riders more skilful)?

Strangely I didn’t see a single Canyon, Rose, Focus or Cube bike – the main German brands I’m familiar with. The bikes were mostly old racers (usually down-tube shifters and a few fixies) or city bikes – perhaps the more exotic ones are kept for the weekends.

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Commuting by bike seemed very normal. I guess the owner of this one had popped in for a beer on the way home from work. The shaky phone photo does not suggest I had just done the same.

4 thoughts on “Four fine days in Berlin – and only other people’s bikes in view

  1. theandyclark

    I think you instincts about the trams are good. Solvable, but good. Metal rails in cold/wet weather are tricky – very easy to find yourself down in the middle of the road and no idea how you got there. I’m hoping this is common knowledge among the Berliners.

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    1. The Omil Post author

      I’m not sure which would have worried me most – falling off or facing an oncoming tram (thinking about it, falling off into the face of an oncoming tram wouldn’t have been good). One of the few times I was happy not to be on the bike.

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      1. theandyclark

        I haven’t fallen in front of a tram, but I have fallen in a road because of an icy track. Really scary stuff. When I looked at my helmet afterwards I wondered how I escaped a concussion. My pet theory is Adrenalin.

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      2. The Omil Post author

        Glad you survived OK. Rather timely – just got in from a ride where I fell. Adrenaline just wearing off and it’s started to hurt a bit. Front wheel simply slid away on a corner that others had just gone round at the same speed and with no problems. Happily no trams in Berkshire and the car following was not going fast!

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