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Flughafen Berlin-Tegel TXL: March 31st, 2018 Melbourne to Berlin

My favourite orange hexagonal airport is closing this week, almost a decade after the original date, making way for the highly blah, much delayed, extremely suss new airport south of the old Flughafen Schönefeld which opened in the middle of a pandemic.

Leaving Naarm / Melbourne after a month working with Onyx / S.J Norman on my first trip back to Australia after ten years. Flying back through Hong Kong at night and wishing I could take the bus to Hung Hom, spend a couple of hours in Tsim Sha Tsui then get the train up to Guangzhou for a week. Instead, finding a quiet place and stretching for the couple of hours stopover, then on to Helsinki and from there back down to Berlin, coming to land in lightless damp grey like it was closer to winter than spring.

I realised as I was blogging my favourite TXL flights that this was my last one arriving or departing at Flughafen Berlin-Tegel. Two and an half years ago. I haven’t flown much since then and it’s all been at Flughafen Schönefeld. Which is a crusty old airport no one has love for.

Remembering my favourite airport this week as it comes to a close.

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Flughafen Berlin-Tegel TXL: March 1st, 2018 Berlin to Melbourne

My favourite orange hexagonal airport is closing this week, almost a decade after the original date, making way for the highly blah, much delayed, extremely suss new airport south of the old Flughafen Schönefeld which opened in the middle of a pandemic.

This time flying back to Australia for the first time in ten years to work with Onyx (S.J Norman) at FOLA (all of March 2018 and some of April). Early flight from TXL up to Helsinki, seeing the ocean iced over as we came in to land, me running to make the connection, suitcase and panda not making it. Stopover in Hong Kong and the last half all the way south into late-summer night heat.

Pretty much no snow at all that year, the normal now for Berlin. It was so sunny and blue departing, seeing Berlin and Germany laid out flat below. This, and the return flight were my last departure and arrival at Flughafen Berlin-Tegel.

Remembering my favourite airport this week as it comes to a close.

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Flughafen Berlin-Tegel TXL: Jan 1st, 2014 Berlin to Bologna

My favourite orange hexagonal airport is closing this week, almost a decade after the original date, making way for the highly blah, much delayed, extremely suss new airport south of the old Flughafen Schönefeld which opened in the middle of a pandemic.

These are a few of my favourite flights into and from Flughafen Berlin-Tegel TXL. First flight was to Brussels for the Roméo Castellucci opera Parsifal, and this flight was to Bologna, four years later for the same. This was one of the first winters with not much snow. Four years previously Berlin had been under layers for weeks.

Remembering my favourite airport this week as it comes to a close.

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Flughafen Berlin-Tegel TXL: Dec 23rd, 2010 Berlin to Brussels

My favourite orange hexagonal airport is closing this week, almost a decade after the original date, making way for the highly blah, much delayed, extremely suss new airport south of the old Flughafen Schönefeld which opened in the middle of a pandemic.

Living in Wedding, we could get to the airport in a few minutes by bus — even quicker for the taxi drivers who knew the tree-lined shortcut along the canal. Yeah, it was old and creaky, but drop-off to boarding was the quickest and chillest of any airport I’ve been in. Coming in to land from the east across lakes and city I’d read the ground finding Wedding and Uferhallen as we descended. Even getting to the south of Berlin was lazy easy, bus to Hauptbahnhof and M41 to Kreuzberg and Neukölln.

Before this terminal was built in the ’60s, before it was a military airport and one used during the Berlin Airlift, it was home to the Royal Prussian Airship battalion. And before that, the artillery range when the Exercier Platz der Artillerie got pushed west into the Jungfernheide forest from near what’s now the corner of Seestr. and Iranische Str. (which had a different name back then).

Unlike the beautiful Tempelhofer Feld, which has so far avoided necrocapitalist property seizure and ‘development’ and remains an open field like it’s been for hundreds of years, Flughafen Tegel has had the money class salivating along with the government. And being Berlin and Germany, we know they’ll ruin it like they did Potsdamer Platz or the new Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg. It’s what money does.

I first flew from TXL in late-2008, I think, going to London and Whitstable. No photos of that except a grainy one of me returning at night, and I remember hating coming back to face a hard winter and poverty. A year later, Dasniya and I flew early morning to Brussels to work with Roméo Castellucci on the Wagner opera Parsifal. Deep geologic layers of frozen snow and air cold as sharp knives.

Remembering my favourite airport this week as it comes to a close.

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Tempelhofer Feld Rain-Assisted Physical Distancing

I didn’t mean to get soaked. 10/10 had a good time tho. Bike wasn’t so happy during but got a wash and clean out of it at the end.

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Practicing Self-Preservation

In the words of my One True Daddy, Vin Diesel, “I live for this shit.”

Thankfully Tempelhofer Feld wasn’t packed today like an open-air concert as it has been the last couple of days when I went for a ride (and bailed, ’cos fucking Germans not taking shit seriously and making exceptions for themselves the last month is the default, legit scary, and the reason we’re in this mess). I’ve been working the various single tracks on the fields, practicing self-preservation through solitary endurance. I’m a little worried the city is going to go on lockdown, and fuck knows what I’ll do to satisfy my need for high-quality suffering if I can’t ride, also bike is in dire need of new components. Highlights of today though, finding a series of run-ups and drop-offs that I actually went, “Nah, I’m gonna hold on that till I’m more stupid.”

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Youse! Tempelhofer Feld has a Motherfucking Pump Track!

Deserves a swear ’cos it’s that good.

I can’t believe I’ve ridden there for so long and completely missed what I actually knew was there 🤦🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️. I’ve done thousands of laps of Tempelhofer Feld, on the default boring outer loop, on the inner pavé, all over on the single track, and I knew there was this section around where the old DC-3 is, the north inner field directly down from the north gate, that had some good steep ride-ups / run-ups, and something in a bunch of trees I’d never ventured into, and all that time I’ve been missing the forest around Flughafen Tegel, which is proper, fast up and down slippery technical cyclocross, and who’s a stupid intransigent bitch whose neurofuckery makes her do the same thing over and over?

I needed an easier and entertaining ride today, ’cos my week has been two hard rides and strength work that left me sore, and I didn’t want to go round and round, especially when this storm is moving in and 25km/h winds with gusts around 60km/h wouldn’t make for ‘easier’. And I’ve been enjoying the northern pavé (around the circus tents area) where I can work on sharp turns and hard braking / acceleration. So I decided to make a kind of flip-flop back and forth reverse-c shaped loop (which ended up being around 12km per loop) with some exploring of that bit I have no explanation for why I’ve not ridden it until now.

And fucking fuck yes. Fucking pump track! Small one, tight, better on a BMX or Slopestyle type bike than a cyclocross, proved to me I absolutely do not know how to pump, which is dope as fuck ’cos that means I get to learn something new and I am legit excited as shit by that. And there’s all these other trails I did not ride (so many!) and the ones I did, very fast occasionally technical single track, with sharp ride-ups (run-ups when they’re muddy), plenty of technical turns, the type of clay-y sandy mud that gets greasy and slippery, plenty of changes in terrain, there’s excellent loops of 4–8km, and I will be making that one of my weekly rides. Also slightly ridiculous riding it on 33mm cobble / pavé tires with effectively no tread and hella gripless on anything remotely ‘off-road’ but I don’t have the euros for another set of tires and stupid fun is stupid fun.

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Tempelhofer Feld First Ride of the Year

This time last year, I got spat on by that squall moving through. I finished 2019 with a ride yesterday and began 2020 with a ride today. All strangely subdued. No snow, not for the past few years, and not like those first years in Berlin when it’d be -10° or colder. I haven’t worn winter pants for three years or more. Riding in the sun, windy enough to bring the chill below zero, but not the kind of cold I’d have to shower to heat myself up from. I kept it calm today, just doing the laps, no pushing. I came home and watched Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado smash it at Baal cyclocross.

Another Year of Doing the Work

Finishing the year and starting the year doing the work.

2018, I wore a heart rate monitor for all my training, riding, climbing, yoga, whatever. It felt a bit much. 2019, I stuck to riding only. All of which I keep notes of in a training diary in my calendar, ’cos I’m like that. So, 121 rides last year, and 150+ ‘yoga’ (core, strength, stretching, body work type, as well as actual yoga). Less riding than 2018, fewer long rides, virtually no climbing, and other year without doing a ballet or any kind of dance class in a studio, in front of a mirror.

Interesting stuff: The month of May, with almost no going into the red, and plenty of green and blue zones, that was Ramadan. The hole with nothing in it, June and July, that was me having my face peeled off in Spain. The first big ride, in October, was the Women’s 100, and the second was riding the Berliner Mauerweg on Tag der Deutschen Einheit. In retrospect, I can already see in my gappy training that chronic fatigue from a year of over-intensity and stress (surgery was only a part of it) was getting to me, November and half of December is that burnout.

Bike is currently in need of complete rebuild and new components, most of my cycling gear is similarly needing to be retired, but whatever. I keep riding. Every ride has had something in it for me, and it’s been so, so good for my mental and emotional health, as well as keeping my physicality ticking over. And it’s winter, a broken, very much not cold and snowless winter, barely ever below zero, but even that, riding in the cold, wet, dark grot makes me smile.

“I fell in love with you, watching you cycle.”

Off for my afternoon training ride, picking through traffic on Reuterstraße, crossing Sonnenallee and there’s a big unit of 4WD behind me. I was feeling sharp after my last ride, first proper interval sprint training since before Ramadan, using the traffic lights turning green as out-of-saddle starts, keeping the pace tight. Heading up towards Flughafenstraße, that turbo diesel behind me, I’m indicating as I pull around double-parked cars, two-finger pointing flicks of my wrists, and just past the pedestrian crossing at Erlanger Str. I hear it gun and pull along side me. I’m thinking, “A’right, here we go, bruv in his whip is flexing ’cos he thinks I’m in his lane.” It’s a pristine glossy white bimmer, X5 kinda thing, and he’s got his passenger window down. I’m all about to pull screwface but he doesn’t give me a chance, looks across at me, beautiful black guy with the biggest smile like he’s experienced the most joyful thing, and shouts over.

“I fell in love with you, watching you cycle!”

True, I look hectic sikk, I know.

Of course I smiled back, smiled with, of course, y’know, sometimes this stuff is just real. Sometimes it’s like my serious nah not really but nah kinda yeah fantasy actually pulls up next to me in his whip and gives me a look and compliment that is so completely honest and committed, and truth, I am holding everyone else to his high standards, and my heart filled up like the entire theatre, stalls, balconies and all, went off when Kano joined Giggs at the Roundhouse. Real truth, that.

And as I was doing laps of Tempelhofer Feld in the afternoon sun, thinking of all that, thinking, “Yeah perhaps he read me as a bro?” ’cos I’m tall and kinda slender, and people make a habit of reading taller and more physical as ‘male’, and I have this constant questioning around physicality and masculinity, like all women do, but then I thought, “Okay, if he did, then I’m still taking the compliment,” I’m taking it even if — especially if — he read me as trans, ’cos being able to genuinely express joy and emotion and attraction the way he did, flexing his queer self loudly reading me as masc or straight self into trans chicks, fuck yes, I am here for that. I want and need much more of that unequivocal desire and speaking that desire. And I’ve been talking a lot with my grans lately, Aisha and Iwa, and felt very much this was Allah and the universe reading me, seeing me, seeing me.

I know also some of you reading this, some of you cis women and afab people are gonna wanna tell me how this is objectifying and tell me shit like I don’t already know this, like I haven’t lived this since my early teens, like I would only think and write this if what? I’m seeking validation in misogyny? ’Cos I’m trans? And you think you need to educate me? What can you tell me about anything of what this means, in itself or to me?

A compliment. A compliment is sometimes just a compliment, just reciprocating the joy someone else causes in you, and when I’m receiving it from a source way too an accurate read of what I vibe strongly with, yeah, that’s part of it. Maybe I was that for him too, lighting up the streets of Neukölln, deep in my physicality, and we both looked at each other and laughed in recognising that too perfect moment. Remember that. Remember that beauty. Remember that truth in all what he said.

“I fell in love with you, watching you cycle!”