S.J wrote and talked with us about aftercare for Rest Area. Kali Rose said the snake I ran over on my e-bike was a good omen, and she’s never going to let that go. I arrive in Vienna, cafés I’d aimed for are closed for lunch so I find myself in Café Jelinek, a bit off Mariahilfestr. neighbourhoods I’ve biked through before. A second breakfast, after our all-’80s singing one in Landgasthaus Rodlhof on 3 hours sleep, raked from the work and hungover, is a big mug of coffee, croissant and honey, bowl of fruit and yoghourt, 4 slices bread with cream cheese, chives, tomatoes, all for 9,50 €. On the plane, easyJet to Schönefeld, they offer me two seats, ’cos I’m mad tall. I fall over myself into it. 4 hours later, a half before midnight and the Danube churning in my lungs, I arrive home. Katrin has left dinner on the table for me. Aftercare all the way.
My glorious Fulcrum Racing 5 CX wheels needed the front wheel’s cones tightened. Break out cone spanners and all the usual mess for a hub-gutting. But, no! All I need is a 2.5mm hex key to spin the pre-load ring tighter. Could probably be done without even removing the wheel. Out-farking-standing.
These lyrics. How she sings them. Just my regular reminder to self that after 24 years Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville is still one of the best albums ever.
Once again, after some two hours of riding into Brandenburg, on country roads, cobblestone lanes, gravel farm tracks and single-track trails, just south of the new (and still unopened) airport, I reach the end of the road.
Magic end of road had a little hook through a copse, under a fallen tree, on the narrowest of barely-used paths, through a short spur of forest, spitting me out on the cleanest of new access roads around barbed wire airport fencing. Two more hours of gravel, cobblestone, track, trail, path, road, canalways, towns, fields, forests, to close the loop back in Kreuzberg.
“But were there Nazis, Frances?”
“Yes, Other Frances, there are always Nazis in Brandenburg. These ones rode crappy, old East German scooters with coal scuttle helmets through Zeuthen, and looked secretly ashamed and sad.”
I know my new tires and wheels are mad fast, but kinda doubt I was the fastest thing on Tempelhofer Feld since the airport closed in 2008. Plus I’d have broken numerous Ordnungsamt and Straßenverkehrsbehörde regulations by laying down a solid hour of 217.6km/h — and not a tenth of a km/h faster or slower. Plus that would indeed be a land speed record for non-motor-paced bike on the flat by a huge margin. Then there’s my acceleration: zero to that in 1 second. The Porsche 918 Spyder can barely hit a hundred in twice that time. Takes me 3 seconds to slow to zero though.
Leaving the warm Sunday of Timișoara, into the grey, rain and cold of Münich, heading north, skimming above the clouds as the sun gutters, an inferno radiating across the hemisphere etching the stories and layers, we descend as it does into night in Berlin.
Morning ride in the forest around Flughafen Tegel last weekend, when I was on residency in Isabelle Schad’s studio in Wiesenburg, Wedding. Up by the small lake, “Cripes that’s a massive dog,” at the dark, solid mass running across the track. “That’s no dog!” I think as it pauses and give me the beady eye in profile, “Wild boar! Cripes it’s big!” It potters off on skinny legs into the undergrowth where I can hear it and companion scruffing and foraging. This is right at the narrow end of the forest, houses and backyards just beyond the block of trees.
As usual, I pause on the lake rotunda and enjoy the view and stillness. A woman comes by with a pair of dogs. I say, “Excuse me, are you going left up ahead?”
“Are the wild boars out? There’s more than twenty of them in the forest,” she replies, quite proud of her mob of swine. “We had at least 14 piglets this year!”
Berlin, where I’ve run into a fox by Alexander Platz, saw another hunting a cat at night in the Uferhallen, where the forests in the city are full of wild boars, and there’s rumour of a wolf in Grunewald.
Hit 42km/h on my morning training ride. Feeling well smug. Also well grimy. Rain plus forest mud. Bike & I took a shower when we got back.
Yes, I am back in Wedding. For a month. My first thought was, “Ooo nice! Cyclocross!” In my favourite forest with the peculiar name. (It’s officially Jungfernheide Forst, but everyone thinks Jungfernheide is the park in Charlottenburg-Nord, and it’s on the edge of Tegelersee, but Tegeler Forst is on the north-west side so that’s a name gone also. I call it Tegelerwald or Flughafenwald cos it’s got Flughafensee in it but no one knows what that is until I say, “The forest around Flughafen Tegel.” “Oh! That one.” and I see their eyes glaze over with “I have never been there. It is unlikely I will ever go there.”)
So, off for a ride. First this year in the forest even. And! A while ago, I inherited an iPhone 4s from Katrin. I haven’t had an iPhone or a smartphone even since I got so thoroughly irritated by my original one and was quite uninterested in even using phones for quite some time. It has GPS! Playtime! I had Trails installed on my old iPhone, and messed around with it last night to see if it could do what I want without leaking my data to the internet. Yay German software companies! (Seriously, they have an almost Pavlovian approach to data privacy.)
It rained yesterday, so the ground was nicely slushy, not dusty, fast, about as ideal as you can get without rain, snow, sub-zero temperatures and proper cyclocross conditions. And so very many horizontal trees. There was a massive storm a couple of weeks ago, and with all these newly fallen trees still green, it’s likely they came down then. I stopped as usual at the pavillion at the east end of Flughafensee, continued on, somewhere between automatic having done this route so many times and hyperattentive because I haven’t done it in half a year.
Back home and data fun. All kinds of excellent stuff like speed (average is a pathetic 22km/h, though slightly faster if I removed all the stops for lights, top speed was 37km/h, curiously in a 30 zone where I was going slower than the cars), elevation (334m up and only 330 descent, which means I’m currently hovering in the apartment above), graphs and maps, browser access over local wi-fi… The thing I really wanted though was to see where I actually went in the forest. I had a fairly good idea, but even the best online maps don’t include the smaller trails (and most just have the single access trail that cuts from west to east). And there it is! It’s not as straight as this zoomed-out map shows, but it’s still far straighter than I’d thought on the north-south stretch. Yes, this can be addictive.
A pile of new books; more photos & a podcast from Stockholm; the delightful ‘Straayans Virginia & Francesca of VNS-FUCKING-MATRIX in Berlin; off to Brussels next week for Hans’ premiere … (the terrible, terrible thing that is Mette Ingvartsen’s 69 Positions (I wanna call it 69 Shades of [something offensive]); the almost as-terrible Xeno-Feminism Manifesto Launch (hashtag-haley-joel-osmet-i-see-white-feminists-dot-gif); close brackets) … head==explode!