The Anti-Fascist Trail: Day 33, 27 August 2018: Halle to Brachwitz return (29 km; 1645 km in total)

A pause in riding for a week or more, before the last burst. Were the three days to come a footnote to the summer? Or were they an anticipation of next year? I had been studying the D11 Radweg, a ride – from Rostock on the Baltic coast to the Austrian border – that covers some 1600 kilometres. Much of it goes through the eastern parts of Germany, so it has a natural attraction for me.

We were in Halle, on the Saale River. The D11 ran right through the town, so it was too good an opportunity to miss. We were staying in the Neustadt part of town, in a hotel that had originally been built during the DDR era and had recently been refurbished. A grand building it was, retaining the feel of the effort to create a new sense of space under socialism. Indeed, nearly all the buildings around about had also been constructed at the same time.

Much of the town had been destroyed towards the end of the Second World War, as the Red Army came through and was routing the last of the Wehrmacht. Soon after and under Stalin’s leadership and inspiration, the Red Army would defeat Hitler and bring an end to the war.

In places like Halle, they had to start almost from scratch, building modern apartments for workers in the new society. Streetscapes, open spaces, vistas from the nearby farmlands – all of these indicated a distinct effort to produce space anew. Since 1989, they had been ignored and became dilapidated, but in the last few years people had realised how well-built they really were. So some renovation is underway, albeit too little in light of the grim economic situation in the east.

More recently still, the German government has been housing the millions of refugees from Africa and the Middle East in such places. The risk of ghettoes is great, even though the people hereabouts do their best to make a home and create work.

I would see many other parts in my rides out of Halle and back again. On this day, I rode north after negotiating traffic work. Along the Saale I rode, longing to be out of the built-up areas. Eventually I was out in the fields, riding past a mother with a baby in a trailer, and an older woman who seemed to be the grandmother. Slowly they rode, until it was time to feed the baby. I wondered at the story behind these three generations, clearly touring some distance with a small baby.

Too soon did I have to turn back, at the ferry crossing to Brachwitz. Back along the same route, but with a last detour through one of the campuses of the university – also built during DDR times.

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The Anti-Fascist Trail: Day 32, 18 August 2018: Christianfeld, along Route 5, to Kolding and return (65 km; 1616 km in total)

2018 08 18 Christiansfeld along route 5 Jutland (65km)

I was struggling to get back into work. A couple of hours in the morning was all I could manage, before the urge to get out and do something else was irresistible. By now, I had repaired the bicycle case, cleaned out the old garage, and checked over and cleaned the bicycles.

What was left to do? This morning, the kitchen tap broke and parts were needed. The specialist shop was only in the regional centre of Kolding, so I needed little excuse to set out on the bicycle once again. Kolding may be 17 or so kilometres along the road, but I decided to ride east and along the Jutland coast.

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Soon I arrived at Hejlsminde, an old fishing village that had become a holiday destination. Up the coast I went, following ‘Route 5’. Winding farm tracks through villages, dirt paths along the beach, stony tracks where only a few walkers dared to tread. A few Danes were still seeking their last chance of holiday. But autumn was already wanting to arrive, with wind and clouds and the threat of rain. Those on the beach wore jackets rather than swimming costumes.

The tap parts were found in Kolding, on the edge of closing time at the shop. I had hoped that the headwind I experienced all the way would become a tailwind home. It was not to be, as a rider knows all too well. Now it turned, straight in my face all the way home along the direct road. Initially, I had been looking forward to a cup of tea on my return. But after pushing into the wind for an hour or more, I felt more like a beer.

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The Anti-Fascist Trail: Day 31, 15 August 2018: Christiansfeld to Haderslev return (23 km; 1551 km in total)

She may have had enough riding for a while, but I had not. I needed some parts to repair my Brompton’s transport case: one of the small wheels on the base had come loose, with a crack in the case. Since there was no hardware shop in town, I had to ride to Haderslev and back.

The sun may have shone on my departure, and I took my time, savouring the quiet of the fields. By the time I left the shop and mounted the bicycle for my return, the clouds were heavy and dark and the wind was up. I raced the edge of the blackest cloud, with a line of rain just on my back. They caught up with me as I turned the last corner in Christiansfeld, but I was quick enough to fold the bicycle and step inside before the downpour began.