At first glance, Düsseldorf and Gravelbike certainly sound similar to SUVs and Königsallee to many non-locals: it works, but doesn't make any sense. Despite the dense development, the area around our home town on the Rhine still has numerous routes over unpaved ground that have their charms for two-wheeled gravel friends. The two routes over 75 and 120 kilometers that we have created in the last few months are no competition for the global gravel ride top dogs Dirty Kanza or Grinduro, but they are a great calling card for the landscape that you can cycle around Düsseldorf can enjoy: the small waves, ramps and hills in the east and north-east via Ratingen to Essen-Mintard as well as the flat Rhine landscape in the west, which includes places like Nierst, Lank and Büderich. Forest motorways, gravel roads, beaten paths, climbs with gravel and rocky barricades, descents with horrible subsoil or deep gravel: everything that makes a gravel tour exciting can also be found in the middle of North Rhine-Westphalia.
For us, this gravel, gravel & moss trip was the fourth event on unpaved roads and included some changes compared to the usual trips in a guided group. The distribution of gpx data of the routes in advance, the start in groups of 4 and the binding registrations via presale tickets, all this was completely new territory for us. We were happy about the size of the catchment area even with the limited 80 tickets for the first edition of SK&M. Guests from all over NRW and even from the Gravel-spoiled Netherlands on a trip in the Düsseldorf area.
In the sunshine of the early morning, twenty teams of four rolled from the yard of the cap in the direction of Aaper Wald. There the routes divided, the 75 round remained rather flat and led directly to Ratingen, while the 120 graduates made a detour towards Homberg via Auer Mühle. Both routes met and divided again and again along the way, the short one concentrated on the more relaxed paths, the long one led to further climbs near Essen-Mintard. The route to Düsseldorf Airport led via Duisburg-Rahm and past the lakes in Angermund. The following refreshment station in Lantz'sche Park on the way to the Rhine brought both groups together in front of a grandiose villa in the middle of a great park, garnished with bombastic aircraft noise.
Strengthened, everyone rolled over the airport bridge to the other side of the Rhine, where in the immediate vicinity of the bank single trails, beaten paths, sandy sections and sometimes a little forest required fitness and strength. With a detour via Lank and Strümp, the route then led south on the meadows along the Rhine to the Kniebrücke and back to the Stuhl.
A compliment for everyone involved is that there were no unpleasant contacts with drivers, walkers, hikers and dog owners. We all want to use the ever smaller sections of nature to relax in our free time, so mutual consideration is the top priority. It's nice that common sense and our appeals were successful here and that nobody felt disturbed by the other passers-by. Small groups certainly help and are perceived as more relaxed than fifty riders on our gravel tour as part of Cyclingworld.
We couldn't ride ourselves because of the organization, only Heiner sat on the bike as technical support and rode the long distance. The rest of the hat's team was busy with the aid station, photo shoot and preparations for the return. Therefore, the routine that we have developed over many years on guided trips gave way to tense bustle on Sunday. The most important point for us was that the first excursion organized in this way ended in the late afternoon with exhausted but happy faces in the inner courtyard of the cap.
The response after the ride, both face-to-face and on social media, was great, and the organization and choice of route received countless compliments. Of course, we shouldn't underestimate the weather factor, the trip would have been epic if it had rained continuously, but sitting together in the cap courtyard at long tables under pavilions after returning would not have been so much fun. This successful finale in the sunshine of the afternoon was a worthy and atmospheric end to our trip.
We tried to photograph all starters, some got caught more often, others less often. Have fun looking at the photos of Kerstin, Miriam & Marie.
Hopefully we'll see each other soon in the hat or on the bike on a ride. And the next autumn edition of "Schotter, Kies und Moos" is already scheduled: September 1, 2019.