Home > Uncategorized > Rivers and Bridges-Borders and Barriers

Rivers and Bridges-Borders and Barriers

Written 28.6.2010

Today’s ride was wonderful, but I was exhausted by the end of it. I guess 90k in the heat will do that to you. I spent the entire day on the Werratal-Radweg, near the Werra River. According to my guidebook, the Werra is “classified under the lowest water-quality category for bodies of water in Europe” and is maintained at a salt concentration of 2,500 mg/L. It looked as though this could still be true today. The water was brown, algae flourished on its surface, and when the wind blew just right, I could smell the familiar scent of “big, dirty, body of water.” But the Werra was like a good friend today: gentle, consistent, easy to be with, and yeah, a little smelly.

The way was signposted very accurately, although it is a shame that there is currently no ICT signage here. I only took two wrong turns today, both of which were very much my own fault, and a result of it getting late in the day, and me getting tired and not paying attention.

It was interesting to see the river over such an long distance, because in some places, it was the border between East and West Germany, but in many places it was not. I recently learned, thanks to one of Viktor’s films, that rivers, when part of the border, were specially secured with a metal grate that extended from a bridge to the base of a river, making underwater escape attempts impossible. One such barrier existed at Wartha, near Herleshausen, where I am staying tonight.

As I learned when biking along the Elbe, many bridges that once extended over the river were also destroyed because of Germany’s division. I saw the ruins of a railway bridge at Frankenroda, although I’m not sure whether this was a result of the division. However, the bridges along the Werra were much more numerous than those on the Elbe.

FInally, I passed underneath the bridge belonging to the A4 autobahn. Every time I’ve seen the autobahn, I’ve been more impressed. This bridge was astonishing. I’m terrible at estimating vertical distances, but the sheer height of the structure amazed me. It was many, many times the height of the church steeple in Horschel, and dwarfed the entire town, as though it belonged to a kingdom of giants, inaccessible to mortals.

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