Sunday 6 April 2008

The Great Tour of Brandenburg Part 3: Yet More Sand

Sunday, June 13, 1999

Philipp Canzler joined me on Round 3 of the Great Brandenburg Ride. We took the RE4 train to Neustadt (Dosse) and headed off toward Kyritz, looking for the small road that my book said would take us along the little Jäglitz river valley. We turned left on a road that looked promising but eventually it dumped us into the middle of some farm fields. Unwilling to restart, we ended up pushing our bikes through the fields until we came to a passable farm path that headed in the right general direction. There was not too much sand this time, so while we were not making the kind of speed our bicycles were capable of on real roads, we did have a pleasant diversion. It was a beautiful day and we saw some sailplanes flying around the local airport between Holzhausen and Kyritz, so we knew that we were heading the right way.

Just outside of Kyritz on a hard-surfaced road again, we stopped to check the map. Philipp’s computer decided to stop working. This sometimes happens if the unit gets wet or the sensor is out of alignment. Anyway, Philipp is a calm and quiet person normally, but I guess when you take away a German’s capacity for record keeping, things go badly. He became extremely upset and hurled imprecations everywhere. He stopped short of heaving his bicycle into the ditch, but just short. Then the computer began to work again. So, numbers and Philipp restored, we went back to our ride.

We looked around the Marktplatz in Kyritz. The town was found in 1237 and still looks like a little medieval country town. Of course, this being Sunday, absolutely nothing was open. From Kyritz, we headed west through the little towns of Rehfeld, Barenthin and then turned onto a cobbled road from Kötzlin to Bendelin. It was made of enormous, uneven stones, so there was a whole lot of shaking to get us the 2-3 kms to Bendelin. We stopped for a brief rest (and so that the vibrations in our elbows and legs would stop!) and chatted with a local man who seemed surprised to see us. Of course, he said that nobody uses that old road anymore. Both Philipp and I were impressed by the region, which was well kept and prosperous. Its income clearly derived entirely from agriculture and the fields were of an impressive size. The man told us that unemployment was at very high levels.

Going west through Netzow and then north to Söllenthin and Klein Leppin along a beautifully-maintained Landstrasse, or country road, we checked the map which showed a fairly direct route to Bad Wilsnack, our goal for the day, but the route looked like it went over cobblestones for about five kilometers. Between the farm fields and the cobbles we had already done, we agreed that there was nothing wrong with taking a little detour to ensure that we would continue along good roads. We turned left and rode along a regional road, the B-107, for five kilometers, taking turns in a nice drafting formation at 35 km/h since we wanted to minimize our exposure to what is normally a busy road. We turned left onto the B-5, following it for a short distance and then turning off at Kletzke. More cobblestones! But only through the village itself and then a nice, smooth road that brought us to Bad Wilsnack.

Bad Wilsnack, as the name suggests, is a spa town. It received the “Bad” title only in 1927, after a forester had discovered the healing properties of the local mud. The town is quite old, however, and has many lovely half-timbered buildings. It had once been an object of travel for pilgrims after some sort of miracle happened in the local church in the 14th Century. Of course, the Reformation ended all that, and Wilsnack was just an agricultural town until that mud was discovered. As we rode into town, it was clear that things were looking up. There were several hotels that had been recently renovated and there are three clinics in the area.

We stopped for lunch in a big park and discussed what to do while eating our sandwiches. We had ridden about 65 kms and the question was whether to continue or call it a day and take the train back to Berlin. The trains run only every two hours, so we tried to calculate the most logical thing to do. In the end, we voted to go back into town for a beer and take the next train. Once you stop riding, your ambition tends to desert you and we were both feeling a little tired. Wilsnack was on the original 1846 railway line from Berlin to Hamburg and, after our beers, we hopped on the RE4 and returned to the Big City. Philipp had enjoyed the ride very much and we are both looking forward to the next stage.

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