On a bike to Amsterdam – part #2

After a good day of rest in Hamburg it was time to mount the bike again. The goal of this rather cloudy Sunday was Hannover, close to 200 km South of the Hanseatic city at the Elbe river. And the Elbe was my first waypoint.

The old Elbtunnel. Photo: Jesper Pørksen

There are several ways of crossing the Elbe. I chose going under it via the old St. Pauli Elbtunnel. Build in 1911 and with a length of 426.5 meters it connects the city with the extensive harbour area on the other side. Cars are allowed at certain times, but on Sundays it is only accessible on foot or on a bike. It was cool and quiet. Two lifts made going down and up effortless.

From tarmac to sand

Channels, cranes and the new Elbphilharmonie in the background. Photo: Jesper Pørksen

The tarmac jungle of the harbour area makes a cyclist feel rather small. I met a few other recreational cyclists, but most of the time I was surrounded by channels, cranes and concrete.

On top of my handlebar bag a had the ADFC authorised cycle map. It showed both local, regional and national cycle routes. I tried navigating to those going most directly South. In the densely build area of greater Hamburg it was not always easy. But eventually I escaped the tarmac jungle and found my self on the edge of Lüneburger Moorland.

The map showed cycle routes going through the moor and to circumnavigate would mean a rather big detour. I decided to stay on my heading and attack the moor.

Sand on the fork. Photo: Jesper Pørksen

I had only just entered the moor when I got an impression of what would await me further on: Deep sand.  To make things worse for cyclists, the moor seemed to be very popular among horseback riders. The landscape was beautiful but the moor was a struggle. On several stretches cycling was impossible. The 32 mm tires cut deep lines into the sand.

A wooden house in the moor. Photo: Jesper Pørksen

After an hour or so in the moor I was happy to escape the sand. I still had a long way to go, and I looked forward to cover some kilometers again. If I knew what was awaiting me, I would have preferred staying a little longer in the moor.

Cobblestones to Bergen-Belsen

I do not recall how many kilometers I cycled on cobblestones after the moor, but I do recall the feeling of racing down a hill with shaking bones and rattling teeth. Anyway, it got the sand of the bike.

The perfect road. Photo: Jesper Pørksen

And then I rose my head and in front of me the perfect road materialised. It was 4 meters wide and embanked with broad sandy shoulders. It cut its way through the light green forest and was mirrored by a stretch of sky. It reminded me of the old Elbtunnel.

The entrance to Bergen-Belsen. Photo: Jesper Pørksen

The perfect road brought me back on the schedule I did not have. It gave me time enough to visit the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp near Celle. On the vast area with few traces of the original camp it is hard to imagine the cruelties that took place during the Hitler epoch. There is a newly erect museum, which looked very inviting, but I wanted to move on. After all I had a deal with René and Felicitas, two friends in Hannover, who was going to accommodate me for the night.

Read the first part here -> On a bike to Amsterdam – part #1

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