Two years of riding on Shimano PD-M540 pedals and the axles are destroyed. I seem to wear out bike parts like a grinder. And after my entire clipless pedal life being on Shimano, I decided to swap to crankbrothers. Which means I need to re-cleat my shoes. And need new shoes. My bike. Such a vacuum for money. But who cares? Let’s all enjoy the sublime engineering of a yet to be unboxed pair of Candy 3 pedals.
Straße des 17. Juni, Tiergarten and Siegessäule, Potsdamer Straße, Unter den Linden, Alexander Platz and the light of Berlin smudged across my eyes at 1:30am.
London Orbital, Merstham, M23 and A23, Brighton Rd, Coulsdon, Beddington Sewage Treatment Works, Croydon, Thornton Heath, and into London smudged across the horizon.
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.