With weather forecasts saying that we were in for another summers day I wanted to do something a little bit bolder just in case we plunge into the darkness of winter next.
I elected to ride to the Grenzmuseum Schifflersgrund near Bad Sooden-Allendorf on the Hessian-Thuringian border. This would take me past iconic places that I have visited since my move to Germany including Friedland, Besenhausen Customs House and Berg Hanstein. All are heavily connected to the history of post-World War Two Germany and the Berlin Wall and the Internal Grenz.
This was the longest ride I have done since the VC Roubaix Sportive a number of years ago before I fell ill (all good now) and cut my rides to a minimum.
The route to the Grenze featured good tarmac roads, which were at times exposed to the wind, flowing in nature and testing because although it was great to soar down switchbacks – I also had to go up them. On route I kept seeing signs of the defunct Grenz as I hopped across the internal border as I pleased – some sections require a little knowledge to spot as they have been rubbed out. Some sections are very clear, others for instance when a roads cuts across the border it can be obvious only to disappear on other side.
The ride from Schifflersgrund was brilliant with a great swirling descent down toward Sooden-Allendorf that was long and fast. Then I navigated my way onto a cycle path that flowed through the valley to the timber buildings that make up the village of Walhausen (typically German the cycle path morphed into gravel for two kilometres including single track) before sending me past the Berg Hanstein. The climb up was tough!
Then it was back without much navigation needed.
I did take time to think as I pedalled that although the sunshine had made the high fences and death strip look relatively benign (there were no trees or foliage when operational) a memorial to Heinz-Josef Große helped to define this place for what it was – authoritarian and mean minded like so many enforced borders. Große was killed when East German guards shot him nine times as he tried cross the border and he subsequently bled to death on March 29, 1982 in front of West German guards who were powerless to help him.
Despite the warm sunshine I forced myself to rekindle the sense of menace I felt when I crossed the border in the 1980´s.
Garmin Connect: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/4160351191
The Grenzstein Trophy remembers the border when it holds a non-competitive Bikepacking ride along its length – https://grenzsteintrophy.de/en/
Museum website: https://www.museen-in-hessen.de/de/museen/grenzmuseum_schifflersgrund
The Internal Grenz: https://veloklubhaus.com/2019/06/03/der-internal-grenze/
Viktoria Cross Berlin Wall: https://veloklubhaus.com/2018/03/18/berlin-viktoria-cyclo-cross-und-der-grenze/
Friedland Transit Camp: https://veloklubhaus.com/2019/06/17/friedland-transit-camp-june-15-ride-2019/
Berg Hanstein: https://veloklubhaus.com/castle-hanstein-september-4-2019-road-ride/
The Grenz at Duderstadt: https://veloklubhaus.com/2019/06/25/duderstadt-june-23-ride-2019/
At the border under the Ski Jump: https://veloklubhaus.com/2018/04/17/at-the-grenze-under-the-ski-jump/