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Europe by Tandem

From Castellon (Spain) to Northern Cape (Norway) by Tandem supporting the fight against cancer.

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Day 21. Berlin- Magdeburg

Posted by admin On Julio - 30 - 2010

156 kilometers. 7 hours and 55 minutes.

JL: We left Berlin after a two-day rest. One rest day had been planned in advanced and the other had been forced off on us under the circumstances. The tandem rear wheel had the same problem we had when cycling in Avila: one of the rear hub cones was loose. So, there was no way out but to pull the entire wheel off the rim, adjust or replace the cones and, assemble the whole thing again. This isn’t something you can do in 30 minutes, let alone in a bike store in Berlin where you have no membership card.

At least we took advantage of these two days to relax our heavily overloaded legs, to eat our fill and to put on some lost weight (some grams that are really necessary when it’s cold and rainy), and to do the laundry. We planted ourselves at the hotel reception wearing our last half clean T-
shirts and said: “Hurry up! These are our last decent garments.”

Berlin has left an indelible mark on us. We feel really bad about leaving but we have to move on; if not, we’ll get used to the good life. Today’s stage started off a bit late because we wanted to snap a series of shots to the remains of the former Berlin Wall. Its outline was simple and without much history, though. We arrived in our destination around 7:30 p.m. We are really looking forward to getting into mountainous areas, and that ain’t no lie. We’re fond of mountains passes. Stages of winding roads are a real legbreaker and which make us go through more muscle pain.

Not only could we see amazing woods again; but also large cereal croplands where machines were harvesting wheat. This is a good harvest season because the weather is dry; otherwise some of the moisture from the harvested grain would have to be removed. We also went by some cherry (in German “kirsche”) production regions. The cherries fell off on the road and formed a sticky paste that mixed with the road dirt, which stuck to the tandem wheels.

We had some qualms about cycling in Germany while our bicycle bag was waving the Spanish flag. As you know, the Spanish soccer team beat Germany in the World Cup semi-final and won the Euro Cup over Germany. In the end, we left our flag on the show. We thought nobody would interpret it as bragging or as if we were waving the bloody shirt.

We are getting closer…

Day 20. Berlin

Posted by admin On Julio - 28 - 2010

IVAN: Today we woke up in Berlin at ease because we knew we didn’t have to pack our stuff in a hurry, because we didn’t have to get a close-up look under the bed to make sure we didn’t leave anything behind because once you leave the place, you never come back. Today we also woke up knowing that we didn’t have to cycle. Total relaxation first thing in the morning, hahaha. The thing is that we went to one of the several bike stores in Berlin so that Paco could get a checkup. Well, the typical thing: to evaluate and balance the spoke tension, to replace the brake pads, and to check the brake fluid. Our intention is to get Paco back first thing tomorrow morning so that we can continue making this curious trip.

Regarding Berlin, its huge and impressive monuments, which are a living link with the glorious past, fully integrate with its people. At first glance, the Berliners look less serious and rigorous than the traditional stereotypical representation of Germans. In fact, the German youth, just because of how they dress and because of the way they get around in the city (most of them ride old junk but useful bikes), seem not to agree entirely on those authoritarian ways, if anything, that are commonplace in the rest of Europe. I know I’m making sweeping assumptions, and it’s also true that I’ve never been to cities like Amsterdam, Oslo or Helsinski. But I’m dead certain that the “brightness” of colors we can spot in these cities is more or less the same we can see in Berlin.

Being in a huge city entails coping with the hustle and bustle of people and the trouble this spells. And to think that, some days ago, we were in the middle of the woods, in quiet solitude… The other day on the ship, while I was contemplating the vastness of the sea, a thought popped into my mind. We were sailing the dark and rough sea and I was resting in a cozy cabin on a gray and rainy day. This telling example illustrates the human race dominance over the planet. Neither the wildest animal nor the biggest oceanic abyss puts us in the shade. In fact, this dominance has enabled world population density to double in the last 50 years. This population survives and works thanks to the global consumption of the raw materials that the Earth offers. If we take into account the two-fold increase of population density in 50 years (50 years don’t mean that much in the history of the planet, do they?) and the definition of the word consumption (the first meaning in the R.A.E. (Real Academia Española) dictionary is “destruction; extinction”)  we can see that this so-called development advertised on public TV is everything but sustainable. To put it simply, it is impossible to sustain a population that doubles every 50 years; however much we divide things into portions. Sooner or later there won’t be a pie to cut up.

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