It has been more than a week since the Tour de France convoy left Düsseldorf for Liège. A lot has happened in the peloton since then, falls and sprint duels have claimed prominent victims. We ourselves needed some rest after the Grand Départ. Regenerated, we now allow ourselves a look back and a tiny preview ahead. After all, almost all of us hope that the start of the tour will have a positive impact on our hometown.
Tour de France and Dusseldorf. In July 2014, when we opened Chic Hat, those two points were incredibly far apart. Düsseldorf could do a lot, but no bike. And the incumbent local government did not give rise to the suspicion that they wanted to orientate themselves differently in the near future. An election with an unexpected outcome later, things looked different. The news in December 2015 that Düsseldorf would be hosting the Grand Départ caused a storm of enthusiasm among us and many of our friends. Our euphoria was perhaps a little too great for a city like Düsseldorf, which in 1999 was called “Germany’s most car-friendly city” by the press “thanks” to Joachim Erwin’s act of removing the cycle path on Luegallee, but as cyclists we also bring one certain amount of suffering. It became clear that in such a city more than one event is needed to establish a change of direction in people's minds. And for us to claim to participate. With campaigns that not only emphasize the sporting factor, but also make it possible to shift from transport policy to culture and thus spark a broad enthusiasm for cycling.
Our attempt to get involved in Düsseldorf's only remaining race, "Rund um die Kö", to make the event fresher and more contemporary was certainly courageous and right, but we had to learn that the will to completely overhaul the established local cycling sport was little is pronounced. However, independent events such as the Bicycle Film Festival, organized jointly with the Open Source Festival, proved to us that we can make things happen with the right partners. The response from the visitors and the New York founder Brendt Barbur to the almost completely sold-out festival was great and gave us reason to want to bring the BFF to Düsseldorf again in 2018.
In the last year and a half, we have learned how wide the circles the start of the tour in Düsseldorf has had, when countless journalists and bloggers who have been brought to our attention are interested in local history and culture and have accompanied us on tours in the diverse surroundings of Düsseldorf and wrote about it. Whether Clive Pursehouse from the American Peloton Magazines or Sally Newall from the English Independent, their stories about our hometown from completely different perspectives made us a little bit proud too. During the Grand Départ, the team reported from BBC BeSpoke on Tour directly from the yard of the cap, we won't soon forget the video with the discussion about local beer preferences. (BTW: Thanks to the Cycling Club Dusseldorf for the contact!) And Christoph Siemes' article in Die Zeit, " Long distances ahead of the pros ", which anticipates the first stage from the perspective of a culture-loving rider with a view to the special, illuminates many other facets of Düsseldorf and its surroundings beyond cycling, the trip to Liège is fun from the first to the last word.
In addition, Düsseldorf was able to score with creative events. As an example of a successful combination of cycling, transport policy and culture in the run-up to the tour, we definitely have to praise the commitment of the NRW Forum. An action like that with think3000 realized Free Bikes campaign , which is one of the most creative and hopefully most sustainable ideas for the great awakening, plus the great " Mythos Tour de France " exhibition and the Rapha pop-up store on the first floor made the museum one of the hot spots for Visitors before the tour. Rapha's Düsseldorf film, in which we were able to act as ambassadors for Düsseldorf's cycling culture together with Steffen Weigold from the local organization team, was certainly a nice international calling card for cycling in Düsseldorf. And even the locals asked us where all this was filmed because it looks so great.
The response to the series of trips to which we invited together with Rapha was not surprising. More than seventy registrations plus endless waiting lists showed that racing bikes and Düsseldorf go well together and that the surrounding area offers a variety of tours for every ability level. The Tour de France thus became the motor for a scene all about cycling, as desired and partly predicted. Albeit sometimes differently than expected.
But we didn't just ride with Rapha. Together with our partners POC , Wahoo , pOcpac and listnride we invited on the Wednesday before the start of the tour to coffee, cake, question time and then exit towards Willich. We had the pleasure of welcoming Alberto Bettiol, Paddy Bevin, Tom-Jelte Slagter and Tom van Asbroeck from the Cannondale-Drapac team and Chris Tonge from the Tour Against Cancer team.
As a very special guest, we had spontaneous support from the Düsseldorf police on our trip, who accompanied our impressive peloton from the Oberkassel Bridge to the city limits with the warning "Attention animals" with free travel. What an incredible effect such small gestures can have could be observed at our barbecue party well into the evening - the grin was tacked on the faces of all participants of the excursion. Düsseldorf could not have presented itself better as a city of cycling and cycling culture in the circle of professionals and leisure cyclists.
Even if we didn't come out of the cap's courtyard very often on Thursday, it was clear that cycling enthusiasts from all over the world flocked to the city. The team presentation in the evening was well attended, the atmosphere on the Rhine and in the old town, where the Uerige scored with a completely yellow street, was contagious.
The perfect hand-in-hand work of our partners could then be seen in front of our door early on Friday morning. Wahoo computers were put on test bikes by Ridley and Ritchey mounted, the passenger via listnride portal had already reserved in advance. guests like Radsportland -doer-Henning Bommel and his Bahnvierer colleague Nils Schomber rolled out of town with everyone to take our 6-hill tour under the wheels.
At the same time, the preparations for our evening event, the cap festival, started in the cap. Music, beer and pasta salad are known to be a magical combination that almost no cyclist can resist. So it was not surprising that the courtyard was full from 7:00 p.m. and we saw happy faces celebrating with us, full of anticipation for the start of the tour. An evening that was worth all the efforts in advance because the atmosphere was literally radiant. Thanks to all our guests, it was great to celebrate with you. We definitely won't wait until the next tour starts in Düsseldorf to do it again.
As is well known, the weather on Saturday was not at its best, but the streets were packed with spectators long before the start of the time trial. Only the crashes were sad, so the rain-soaked road put an end to Alejandro Valverde's ambitions for a successful tour after a few kilometers. The weather improved in the late afternoon, and the sun shone through the clouds again for the Air and Kraftwerk concert in front of the NRW Forum. Not surprising given the incredibly positive mood that prevailed during the concert. Kraftwerk, which has been the international figurehead of our local music culture since the 1970s, is also the band that has cycling in its vita like no other. Here, with a fat bass and 3D visuals, everything just fitted together, certainly also for the part of the 15,000 visitors who did not know anything positive to associate with cycling until then.
And then came Sunday. Better weather conditions and the big question of how the mood on the streets will be. Answer: perfect. A wonderful, almost unreal calm in the city early in the morning due to the road closures. And then, to the advertising caravan and afterwards, more and more people poured into the streets. Whole households next to each other, curious, fascinated, waiting for the moment when the first professionals roll through town. German and French police motorcycles side by side increased the tension, then four breakaways. And then the field. Two winks, then it was over. Many were looking for a second spot to see the peloton on the second run through our city en route to Liege. And then the streets were empty. Calm. Far. Another highlight for us. To see how much space there is in the city if we do without the car. how quiet it is A side effect that went unnoticed in the reporting afterwards, but which has been positively noticed by many in the discussions since then.
It was important to us from the start to use the tour as an opportunity to talk about the mobility change. We want more quality of life in the city. When we are stuck in traffic, we feel that something needs to be done to prevent the traffic jam. But only we ourselves can do something in which we often do without our car. Ride more. We must work to ensure that children can ride their bikes on our streets. Without us being afraid for them. Now Düsseldorf can show what the start of the Tour de France can be worth. We shouldn't be discussing excessive costs, but rather priceless positive consequences. Dusseldorf has to face the change. Now. There are no excuses. And no alternatives.