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Deutsche Alleenstrasse & Concussion Autobahn

August 4, 2010

Allee on Rügen (Picture Credit goes to Ralf Heinisch)

Aiming for: Leipzig. University town in Saxony. But until then it is still a bit of a way that leads us via Waren in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern through Brandenburg, Sachsen-Anhalt and finally down to Saxony and Leipzig. We rode it in one day, and large stretches of it on “Deutsche Alleenstraße – nice country roads in other words. With its challenges as we will see, but still extremely nice. Here is a map of the entire “Deutsche Alleenstraße“.

We chose country roads for two reasons. Autobahn was scary – unless you feel comfortable with doing 120 km/h on a race track where everyone apart from the trucks overtakes you at a speed between 140 to close to 200 km/h. No speed limit on German Autobahn, remember? OK, there are sometimes signs asking you to do “only” 120 km/h – which is happily ignored by largely everyone. Interesting for me, since I grew up with that fast speed. I did my driving license in Germany and to me 120 km/h once upon a time were veeeeery slow. And the right lane was the “slow lane”. Nowadays I call it the “sane lane”. In Sweden there are only very few stretches where one is allowed to do 120 km/h at a maximum. And if you get caught speeding at “only” 10 km/h more – man, that ticket hurts.

So we decided for country roads apart from two shorter Autobahn stretches on the way down to Leipzig. More fun with bends and more interesting landscape – even though we did sweat a lot again in the summer heat at any speed below 70 km/h.

Interesting landscape and really different road qualities. Country roads in the federal state of Brandenburg for example were totally OK. But try to ride around the city of Brandenburg and I can guarantee that you get a concussion after an hours drive at the most. On the other hand this was the test ride for my new bulbs with reinforced filaments. And they passed.

On the route we took, you could see quite nicely renovated houses in the more touristy areas, mainly of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern like for example in Waren, where we had lunch. Brandenburg is much less touristy and some places are really in the middle of nowhere. We saw a lot of buildings, mainly in small villages, where surely nothing had been done since WWII. No kidding. Really interesting to see all these differences, and frightening at the same time. Why frightening? Because one wonders what people live of in these areas. There are farms, but not much more else, and nowadays these do not employ many people at all. When you go through these areas of Germany you understand the issue with high unemployment rate and lots of unhappy people that must feel totally useless. No wonder people in these situations look back at the GDR-times with tears in their eyes, simply because they had work, they had a living and they were needed. But to explain all that background is a whole different story in itself.

A small place in the middle of nowhere – Slogan “This is the place to be”. In all fairness, they had quite a decent range of stuff!

Anyway – eventually we made it to Leipzig at around 8pm. After a good stretch of the last 120 km on the “concussion Autobahn”, at least for “slow” riders like us at a speed of 120 km/h (we saw some flying past at 160 km/h plus and they seemed to hobble less). “Concussion Autobahn” we called it because the old stretches are made from concrete plates rather than asphalt. Same road style as in the town of Brandenburg. The connection between the plates especially on older Autobahn is not really smooth and it gives bike and rider a lot of uncomfortable vibration. Tough luck if you already have any back problems. However, as we see later, the road quality increases the further South you get. So it seems road quality is largely dependent on the budget of the individual federal states. Thuringian and Bavarian Autobahn later was in comparison as smooth as – well, as a baby’s bum might be a bit too much as a comment, but something like that. You get the idea.

I had this thought that Germans must feel about their Autobahn like the English do about their railway. They invented it, but it went down the river in their own country in quite a lot of places.

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