Berlin - Bonn 2011

Berlin - Bonn 2011

On 24.7.2011 at 8:00h we started this years tour under the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. At the start were 40 cyclists between 12 and 66 years old. The cast was international. One participant even came from Indonesia to join the tour.

The first 20 km a police escort led us over the Strasse des 17. Juni and then further west out of Berlin. When we crossed the state border into Brandenburg, a strong headwind was waiting for us. It accompanied us for the next 142 km until we reached our beautiful hotel in Barleben near Magdeburg.

Already on the first day it became apparent that the difference in performance between the participants was significant. While the fastest group mastered this first 162 km long stage with breaks in about 8 hours, the last group crossed the finish line about 3.5 hours later at 7:30 pm. This should be repeated on all following stages. All in all, this year's tour was the most athletically demanding of all previous tours. It was about 900 km long and we had to overcome 4,300 meters of altitude. This included the crossing of the Harz Mountains, the Thuringian Forest and the Knüll Mountains (near Bad Hersfeld).

The second stage on 25.7. allowed us a small recovery phase. It was only 85 km long and relatively flat. Therefore we decided to sleep in that morning and to start cycling at 10 am. Unfortunately, three reporters from local newspapers arrived at our hotel at about 8 am, who, according to the press release, had assumed that the tour would start at 8 am. When the first participants arrived for breakfast around 8:30, they were greeted by the journalists' evil looks. The present DPA journalist could not resist some insults. Hastily the few people present lined up to simulate a start photo for the press. This was then published among other things under 869 km cycling for a good cause and 20 minutes Magdeburg on Thursday.

When we finally left, it was raining relatively heavily. Unfortunately, this caused some falls on the slippery tram tracks in the city centre of Magdeburg. Later that day the weather improved more and more. In the afternoon we had the most beautiful summer weather, so that we could enjoy the wonderful city of Quedlinburg to the fullest. We spent the night in the youth hostel.

On the third stage on 26.7. a hard piece of work was waiting for us. From Quedlinburg it went steeply up into the Harz Mountains. On a few kilometers we had to overcome 300 meter difference in altitude and after a short descent we had to climb another 250 meters. Furthermore the stage was quite long with 155 km. It contained long cobblestone streetches. Towards the end of the long stage there were three extremely steep climbs, one of them on cobblestone. We arrived exhausted in the late afternoon or early evening (depending on the group) in our hotel near Erfurt. The weather was very nice all day long. In the evening we met on the hotel terrace and had a very tasty dinner.

The efforts of the previous day continued the next day. On the fourth stage on 27.7. the Thuringian Forest was on the agenda. It went westwards from Erfurt via Gotha and Eisenach to Bad Hersfeld in Hessia. This route was a constant alternation of climbs and descents, so that you never found the right rhythm. Luckily the weather was good and the west wind didn't bother us too much. However, this stage was again 140 km long. Our efforts were rewarded by the beautiful youth hostel in Bad Hersfeld and a dinner in a great Italian restaurant.

The next morning we were ready in time for the press meeting. You can see the result online here "Ride for Reading" Tour 2011. The weather was still very good. But the route profile on the fifth stage on 28.7. didn't allow us a break. From Bad Hersfeld the route goes 220 meters steeply uphill into the Knüll mountains. After a rapid descent, five more climbs of similar difficulty followed, so that you can't rest at all on the first 60 km of the stage. Only when you reach the Lahn Valley near Marburg, i.e. after about 90 km, it did finally become really flat. We could enjoy the last 35-40 km between Marburg and Giessen. Only the ascent to the youth hostel was really steep again. Altogether the stage was 130 km long.

The sixth stage on 29.7. ran 145 km through the narrow Lahn valley from Giessen to Lahnstein. This stage is treacherous. On the one hand, cycling on the narrow, winding cycle paths requires a sharp reduction in speed. Secondly, this stage has some unexpectedly hard climbs. On the one hand this is a 2 km long climb of almost 200 meters altitude near Geilnau and on the other hand a short brutal climb with 16% gradient just behind Obernhof. These pitfalls led us to massively underestimate the time needed for this stage. Two of the three groups therefore arrived in Lahnstein with a long delay. Unfortunately, our joint final dinner with the award ceremony was a bit battered. Moreover, the management of our hotel proved to be extremely uncooperative and the food was miserable. But the annoyance about that was soon forgotten, because there are many great pubs in the beautiful city centre of Lahnstein. After the fourth of the fifth beers we were happy about our sportive performance and that despite numerous falls nothing bad had happened to anyone.

On the last, the seventh stage on 30.7. from Lahnstein to Bonn it rained and it was cold. After a press photo in Lahnstein, we all cycled together at a moderate pace along the right (eastern) side of the Rhine to Bonn. We crossed the Rhine by ferry in Linz. The stage was 80 km long.

In Bonn we met like last year at Bonn International School. From there a small police escort brought us at high speed to the market place in Bonn, where we were welcomed by the deputy mayor Horst Naaß.

The driven routes can be viewed or downloaded here.