Day 14: Gudow to Dömitz

Distance: 138 km

Elevation: 282 m

Did I talk about “zis-luck” already? These are instances were zis-scholars experience unexpected and unlikely help by total strangers in difficult situations. Today was my big day of zis-luck.

The day started with some necessary bike maintenance. Especially the chain drive needed some love.

Then I headed off to find the “green ribbon trail”, i.e. the former inner German border. That wasn’t so easy to find and it took me some time.

Some younger locals who I asked had never heard of it. Matter of fact, the former border is invisible in some places, especially in towns.

Then I found the first landmarks in a forest: A memorial site for Michael Gartenschläger who had been shot in 1976 by GDR border police when he was trying to dismantle an automated gun that should keep GDR citizens from fleeing.

About 60,000 of these devices were installed alongside the border. The funnel was filled with TNT and metal shrapnels. It was triggered by a wire when somebody tried to climb over the five meter high fence. GDR officials always denied the existence of this weapons. Only after Gartenschläger had brought one as evidence, the officials had to confess their existence. Pretty shocking

At Boizenburg I was supposed to meet the river Elbe again. I had cycled the beautiful Elbe already earlier on this tour in Meissen and Dresden. I cycled up a hill when my chain drive suddenly made “crrrk ” and was ruptured. I chatted with Peter, my mechanic at home. We found out that I was missing the necessary tool to fix it. Meanwhile I had reached “Checkpoint Harry”, a former border crossing.

I asked two locals who were waiting for their meal in a nearby restaurant if they knew of a tool shop nearby. Mike, who works for Sensient Food Colors, immediately picked up his phone and called the owner of a bike shop he knew. He said “get your bike in the car, I will drive you over”. Within ten minutes, we were at the bike shop and my chain drive was taken care off. A great example of zis-luck.

Then, I followed the Elbe and met Paul, a young guy from Dortmund who was cycling up the Elbe. He wanted to know about zis and we started chatting.

We had amazing tailwind and despite the time lost because of my glitch I was still able to do 138 km.

At Dömitz, I did grocery shopping and was still able to make it onto the camping site.

Over “dinner”, I met Sabine and Detlef. Sabine had been politically active in East Berlin while Detlef was from West Berlin. They had fallen in love despite of the border in between. Both were observed, imprisoned and bullied by the Stasi (GDR secret service) before and even after Sabine’s Emigration 1984 to West Germany. They told me their heartbreaking story and it got really late.

What a day!

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