They tell stories of sweat, exertion and fame: Grand tours are more than just a nasty bike ride. They inspire the masses; they produce heroes. They become an annual summer fairytale to look forward to and remember with pleasure. The premier cycling event of the Eastern Bloc was the International Peace Tour for decades. Celebrated, acclaimed and instrumentalized. 66 years ago, the peloton also rolled over the ground of the former GDR for the first time and made the peace journey into a three-country tour, which started in Warsaw in 1952, led to Berlin and celebrated its grand finale in Prague.
In this Collection, we want to take you in search of clues. Join us on a road ride based on the 1952 Peace Trip Route. Discover Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic, enjoy wonderful landscapes, get to know places you have never heard of before and meet quiet witnesses who tell of a glorious time of Eastern European cycling along the route.
Part 1 of our own peace journey consists of seven stages. It starts in Warsaw, where you can easily reach by train or plane and ends shortly before Berlin. The idea of this Tour is not to form an exact image of the route at that time. This is hardly possible and often makes no sense at all, as you won't be riding on closed main roads like the pros did back then. But we follow the rough course. Important stage destinations are integrated as well as striking waypoints, which were already part of the tour at that time. That's why you'll always pass old stadiums and cross bridges over which narrow tires buzzed back then. Nevertheless, the Tour is supposed to be fun, which is why it often deviates from the big roads onto small side roads. In addition, we have divided the stages into sections, which you can complete in a day providing you're in good cycling condition. Of course, you can also split the stages further if you want to take a break or if you want to spend a little more time in a specific location. In all stage destinations, you'll find a nice selection of accommodation and, with a few exceptions, an excellent rail connection, so that you can basically also ride individual stages or shorten the tour.
If you ride through Poland, you will soon notice that cycling is not very popular. There are still not many cycle paths and motorists are not looking out for cyclists. The quality of roads in Poland is often not very good. Sometimes they consist almost exclusively of potholes and sometimes they are so deep that one can start to speak of craters. Be prepared for this by not planning a 30 mm cut, driving with foresight and having enough spare inner tubes with you. A slightly more stable tyre is also recommended. Take a relaxed approach and you will have a great and exciting time and gain many new experiences on the tracks of Eastern European cycling.
Here is the second part of our peace race homage: komoot.de/collection/710/von-berlin-nach-prag-auf-den-spuren-der-friedensfahrt-teil-2
April 30, 1952: 60,000 spectators filled the old stadium Wojska Polskiego and cheered on the heroes of cycling, which met annually in May for the International Peace Race, the Eastern bloc equivalent to the Tour de France. In 1952, the tour was first conducted by three countries: Poland, the GDR and at the end to Prague in the Czech Republic. Stage 1 was the prologue, once out of the Polish capital and back again. The first 100 miles of 2,135 that the pros should race in the next two weeks.Starting gun. Today it is very quiet. You start from the now completely renewed stadium. The place is the same, the mood is different. Nobody will notice you when you roll through Warsaw's Old Town from the stadium, cross the Vistula River and follow Grochowska Street to the east.In the city center, you will find more and more bike paths, but the farther you leave the city, the rougher the ride becomes. Sandy margins and potholes on the road, a combination that leaves little scope and requires some concentration. Welcome to this adventure tour of Poland, welcome to the peace ride!The turning point of the tour is Kołbiel, a small village just outside the capital. From here, it's straight on the European Route 40th Maybe you're lucky and catch flawless east wind, which will allow you to slide back to the capital. A short stopover at the memorial to the massacre in Wawer reminds that around Poland a particularly unattractive piece of history was very present.Back in the capital: Acclaimed by tens of thousands of spectators, the professionals rolled in to be photographed, interviewed and cared for. You have your rest. Use them, enjoy the modern ambience of today's capital cityscape and strengthen you for tomorrow. Stage one is done!
After the first stage, the prologue with start and finish in Warsaw, the day two of the International Peace Race really started. The original route from Warsaw to Łódź was 139 kilometers long, and Czechoslovakian Stanislav Svoboda won the fifth edition in 1952.Stage two starts and ends centrally in Warsaw and Łódź and is therefore a bit longer than the original. From Warsaw, you can certainly feel that the first half of the route was no picnic. The track profile is smooth and the road through the Mazovian lowlands is usually dead straight. And that's exactly what can be pretty grueling on a race in full throttle mode. Fortunately, you have no time pressure. So just take it easy and plan, for example, a break at the birthplace of the composer Frederic Chaupin or take a break in the small town of Sochaczew, where you can strengthen yourself. There is even a bike shop (which in Polish means "Rowery Serwis"), which is not only worth a stop in an emergency.It continues: After Skierniewice finally comes variety in the game. Hills, meadows and here and there a swamp loosen up the landscape and announce the end of the tour, which is finally reached in Łódź. At that time, Łódź was considered the best place to start because it was a real challenge to stage the race spectacularly. In 1956, for example, tulip bouquets dropped out of a biplane and onto the driver's field, their best wishes glued to their stalks in six languages. Although no crowds will greet or cheer you on, in Łódź you can expect a beautifully outfitted inner city with a magnificent boulevard and everything a big city has to offer. In this respect, Łódź is also a real highlight on this tour.
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Today's stage deviates significantly from the original route of 1952. Because what is not a problem in a big bike race on closed roads, not only annoying on the wider corridor, but also dangerous. That is why we leave the big main road from Łódź as fast as we can and prefer to avoid the quiet hinterland. In line with Belgian spring classics including cobblestones and various "zigzag passages".The route profile is quite varied today. Again and again, rather dreary towns and villages alternate with wide, lush meadows, where cows graze and lead through the small streets with little traffic. A special highlight today is the lignite mine behind Bełchatów. The huge hole is quite impressive and maybe you want to let your gaze wander over the wide panorama from the vantage point for a moment.This stage ends today with a "mountain arrival". Okay, "hill" is better, but the view from the monastery hill in Czestochowa to the city is definitely worth seeing. If you're more technically interested, how about a visit to a former matchmaker production facility? In any case, the city offers you plenty of opportunities to turn up, so you're ready for tomorrow's next stage!
Today the route takes you out of Czestochowa, into an initially picturesque stage through beet fields and meadows, where cows are the spectators of your life. This quiet ride through the Silesian province is not the original peace ride, but it is much quieter and safer.At Wozniki, for the first time you can enjoy what the Frenchman calls "côte": steep ascents, "rib-like" up and down. Such hilly deposits are still common today. Passing the Katowice airport, you will soon reach the Voivodship Culture and Recreation Park and the Silesian Stadium in Chorzów. Here you are again up close in the footsteps of the peace ride, because the stadium was more often stage goal of the tour. Unfortunately, driving through there is not possible, but it does not matter, because the current stadium has nothing to do with anything back then.It continues: It follows a longer urban passage right through Poland's largest metropolitan area, the Upper Silesian industrial district, a kind of Ruhrpott of Poland, also called Górnośląski Okręg Przemysłowy, short GOP. The end of the tour becomes even more picturesque when you approach Opole. The picturesque old town with its "Little Venice" is the picturesque terminus of today's journey.
On the fifth day, about 171 kilometers are waiting for you. Two regular stages of the International Peace Cruise and lots of cobblestones help you to find your way into the world of emotions of the cyclists back then.From Oppeln, there are two signs that you are slowly but surely approaching the German border. On the one hand (more or less useful) bike paths are becoming more common, on the other hand, many traffic signs and signs are bilingual. So you can learn a bit more Polish on the way.Wroclaw is ideal for your lunch break. Before you strengthen yourself, we recommend a short stop at the Olympic Stadium and the ride over the Grundwald Bridge. Although both buildings were renovated, they still look just like the Peace of Peace wedding. Here you can marvel at the original scenery, drive on a piece of real peace ride ground, and then strengthen yourself in the chaotic young city.Today's stage destination is Legnica, also called "Little Moscow", because thousands of Soviet soldiers were stationed there until the 1990s. When you approach the city, the gray prefabricated building skyline seems uninviting at first. In fact, Legnica is a friendly, friendly city and a great destination with many hotels, restaurants and - in case of the case - a train station with connection to Dresden.
The sixth stage of our tour in the footsteps of the peace ride includes a real historical highlight. Because today you cross the border from Poland to Germany. What is nothing special today. In 1952, however, there was a significant innovation in the routing of the tour: For the first time, it also led across East German soil and made the peace ride to a three-country tour of the Eastern Bloc. So on May 4, 1952, 94 riders from 16 countries wrote history when they reached the finish line in Görlitz after 180 kilometers over the bridge of friendship at the end of the fifth stage (the pros were a bit faster).Our stage six is significantly shorter at 119 kilometers. Thus, you can take your time today and take a break in the cities that lie on the route. Especially in Görlitz it is worthwhile to stay a while. Countless sights and a beautiful old town will make for an entertaining stay.The milestone goal today is for the first time as part of the tour on German soil and for the first time outside major cities. In the small village of Kollm on the Quitzdorfer dam you can rest and just let your mind wander.
Today, a stage of contrasts awaits you. But it begins as it ends: in a beautiful idyll. You start in the biosphere reserve Oberlausitzer heath and pond landscape, where you can enjoy the beautiful nature and quiet streets.There is a contrast program around Boxberg, which lies in the Lausitz lignite mining area. The huge opencast mine and the power plant itself leave clear traces here. To the backdrop of the power plant, the following anecdote on the International Peace Road fits: In 1986, the political instrumentalization of the tour reached an unprecedented climax, as athletes of the Eastern Bloc were condemned to shortly after the explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant to travel tour to Kiev only about 100 kilometers away. Among the starters was also the East German cyclist Olaf Ludwig, who reported that she had not really informed anyone about the dangers and that his athletic career would have ended, he would have defied the command of the gymnastics and sports federation. He wanted to set a sign that there was no danger at all. In the end, nine out of 19 nations said yes. Only Finland and France arrived from Western countries.Another excursion into the days of the peace ride you can compete in Cottbus. The bike lane there has already produced so many professional cyclists and Cottbus itself was several times stage goal of the tour, even had a "own" stage winner.Towards the end it becomes contemplative again. Sometimes you roll over the Spreeradweg, partly over dead straight, quiet streets, until you reach your destination on the idyllic Köthener lake. Here is your choice: You can stay overnight here and follow the course of the International Peace Tour to Prague the next day. If you want to end the tour here, it is best to cycle ten kilometers further to Halbe, from there you can take the RB24 to Berlin.