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Brainchild of German MEP traces "from Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic" - and a little more...

If you fancy a little historical interest with your cycling, you may want to plan your next riding holiday around the 7,000 Iron Curtain trail, following the route of the symbolic division between East and West.

The partition, which lasted 40 years and was dismantled just a quarter of a century ago, is being revived as a cycle path, from, as Winston Churchill famously put it in 1936 "from Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent," - and a little further.

Beginning in the Norwegian town of Kirkenes, close to the Barents Sea, the trail passes through more than 20 countries, heading down the old border of East and West Germany and finishing on the Black Sea coast in northern Turkey.

It was the creation of a German Green Party MEP, Michael Cramer, who was inspired by a similar project in Berlin which follows the path of the former Wall. He first proposed it nearly ten years ago in the European Parliament.

"If 23 years ago I'd have proposed the creation of a cycle path along the Iron Curtain, people would have said 'this guy is crazy!'" Cramer told the St Petersburg Times.

The route has now been fully prepared with only signposting remaining.

Cramer added: “There are parts of the track, particularly on the Russian-Finnish border, where you won't see a car for several days, but then all of a sudden a herd of reindeer will appear!"

On the whole, the route is relatively flat. But most important to Cramer is the symbolic meaning, and the historical details, like plaques along the former border in Germany where people attempting to flee the East were shot dead by border police.

"The trail is not purely a scheme created for sustainable tourism. It preserves the memory of what the Iron Curtain once stood for.

“By leaving these historical features in, it is as though one is riding through an open air museum," said Cramer.
"The situation [now] is not as grave as it was at the height of the Cold War," said Cramer. "Russia needs the EU far more than the EU needs Russia. It is imperative that we stand together."

"He who masters the past," Cramer said, "is the master of the future."

See www.ironcurtaintrail.eu for more about the trail.

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

9 comments

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RedfishUK [130 posts] 1 year ago
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Winston Churchill famously put it in 1936

sorry to be a pedant but he waited until 1946 ...

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Leviathan [1978 posts] 1 year ago
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I get the German bit, but isn't the rest the actual borders between countries? Not very many shops along the way and no paving, um no thanks. Probably for the sort of person who has panniers.

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Blackhound [439 posts] 1 year ago
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How long till the first race over the distance?

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truffy [653 posts] 1 year ago
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RedfishUK wrote:

Winston Churchill famously put it in 1936

sorry to be a pedant but he waited until 1946 ...

I was puzzling over how he made that statement 3 years before the '39-'45 war even started.

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pwake [376 posts] 1 year ago
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Blackhound wrote:

How long till the first race over the distance?

There's probably a Strava segment already if you want to go for a KOM.

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jarredscycling [456 posts] 1 year ago
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Would make for a pretty intimidating race name

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Gkam84 [9086 posts] 1 year ago
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If I thought I could find a sponsor, covering my food needs, I'd do it on my trike.

I reckon it is a months worth of cycling, maybe 5 weeks if I have a rest day here and there.

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nwardill [24 posts] 1 year ago
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just nipping out for pint of milk love, see you err next year !

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ratherbeintobago [29 posts] 1 year ago
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Blackhound wrote:

How long till the first race over the distance?

There's already an (MTB) race along the inner German border: Grenzstein Trophy - this year's took place on 17 Jun.