Last weekend was my first attempt to cycle 100km in one day. For cyclists with racing bikes this is no biggie, but it’s something I hadn’t attempted on my city/trekking bike before. I think I once got close to 100km, on the first day of a bike ride in the Alsace. That day was pretty gruelling as there were lots of hills. This weekend’s 100km went surprisingly smoothly, as it was mostly flat.
The route we chose was to take us from Erkner, a town just outside of Berlin (C zone on the S-Bahn), to Kostrzyn nad Odrą on the Polish border. It’s possible to ride from Berlin city centre itself, but that adds on about another 35km and 100km sounded like enough for one day.
Our navigator’s GPS wasn’t working properly, so just before Buckow we went a bit off track and ended up on a sandy trail. There are lots of countryside paths in Brandenburg, and Google maps doesn’t distinguish the road surfaces. For this section we had to push our bikes most of the way, but it was only a few kms and at least the scenery was very pretty.
We stopped for lunch in Buckow, a lovely little town near a lake. Buckow is located in the Märkische Schweiz, a hilly area that is also nice for walking.
At this stage we were only about 35km into our route, so it was a bit of a slow start. However we picked up the pace after lunch. The section after Buckow was very pretty but quite hilly, and we also got distracted by a cluster of mirabelle trees along the path, laden with fruit. I made the mistake of putting a few into my bike basket for later and the forgot about them until I found them squished to my bicycle chain and backpack later on. Picking them off (and then eating them!) ensured sticky handlebars for the last 30km or so.
After the hilly section we ended up on a road for some time, and the good surface allowed us to cover good ground, with our speed reaching 40km/hour at one point. Once back on the bike paths, our speed slowed down to around 20km/hour, which is more or less an average trekking speed. At this speed you can cover good ground without wearing yourself out too much.
We were happy to come across a stork while passing through one of the villages. Many villages in Brandenburg are home to storks. Some of the storks have been tracked, and each autumn they head off to southern Africa, then return to Europe in spring, to the exact same nest. Amazing, isn’t it!
Later in the afternoon, in the area of the Oder river, the wind picked up. Riding against headwind, our speed dropped down to about 15km/hour. It is beautiful in the plains of the Oder river, with wide open spaces all around.
However, because of the headwinds, we were quite glad to finally reach the Polish border and cross the bridge to Kostrzyn. We arrived somewhat coated in sand because of riding in the wind for so long.
The total distance ended up being just under 100km, and I didn’t feel too tired, surprisingly. There is a train from Kostrzyn to Strausberg in Brandenburg, from where you can take the S5 and then the U5 back to Berlin. We cycled about 30 minutes home, and as I reached my door my distance calculator on the bike said we were on 99.5km. As I hadn’t turned it on for the morning ride to the train station, I had managed to hit the 100km mark that day.
Erkner to Kostrzyn is definitely a recommendable tour, with some variety in road surface and nice scenery!