Gravel, gravel, moss and a very special prologue

Schotter, Kies, Moos und ein ganz besonderer Prolog

Tom Ritchey @ Fancy Hat. Gravel ride as a prologue to gravel, gravel & moss. from chic hat on Vimeo .

On September 1st we invited for the second time to a dusty day under the title Schotter, Kies & Moos in the state capital. The day before, a top-class start put a grin from ear to ear on our faces: Tom Ritchey, one of the most exciting personalities in the cycling universe, paid a visit to Düsseldorf. A welcome opportunity for us and some of our guests to get on the wonderful bikes together.

First of all we are sorry. That we couldn't say anything beforehand. But if we had announced that Tom Ritchey would be in Düsseldorf with his wife Martha and some friends and employees to take a short bike ride with us and see the area, the number of passengers would simply have been too large . And therefore not to realize the exit.

Honestly, we would have liked to have taken you all with us.


Our gravel weekend already started on Friday evening with a relaxed dinner at the Olio. Tom and Martha Ritchey, who have just arrived from the USA, long-time Swiss companion Andi, Europe's Ritchey crew Jeff and Njego, plus photographer, filmmaker and long-distance fan Ryan Le Garrec and the team of the cap: an illustrious circle of bicycle enthusiasts, blessed with humor, hunger and thirst. Topic number 1: the sporty bicycle in all its facets and forms of administration. In addition, we all brought sufficient curiosity and desire for local brewery products, so the Uerige stock in the Olio was almost zero at the end of the evening.

After the beer is before the tour, so Saturday morning started with a slightly delayed ride with the Ritchey crew across downtown Düsseldorf to the cap. In the yard, a colorful peloton of invited friends from the cap and/or Ritchey scene were waiting for the start of the exit, but first chats, espresso, and banana bread enticed. And Tom, in a good mood, was happy about interested and competent conversation partners. Subjects? Bicycle in all its facets, gladly in the frame construction department.

#tomsride – gravel I

Detached from the schedule, at some point we rolled from the yard of the cap, Tom and Martha relaxed and easygoing on a prototype of the new Ritchey Breakaway tandem they had brought with them. The little tour we planned was designed to paint a picture of Düsseldorf and its surroundings that reflects the different terrain and topographies. Small hills, gravel, forest paths, single trails between Ratingen and Angermund, easy terrain for Tom even with the tandem. The Rhine was authentically per Ferry between Kaiserswerth and Langst crossed, a welcome opportunity for further conversations, selfies and anecdotes. Arrived on the other side, the path led through sand and gravel via Langst, Kierst and Meerbusch, finally over the knee bridge back to the cap. The sun and the participants were all beaming, almost as if California were to be found on the Rhine...

An afternoon followed with pasta salad, snacks, delicious beer and a good mood. Tom signed specially designed enamel mugs, t-shirts and some of the last legendary TR bobbleheads, gave various interviews and was happy to talk to interested bike aficionados. Everyone who rolled more or less by accident into the courtyard of the cap in the afternoon was amazed to find one of the world's frame building icons relaxedly chatting and talking shop. Enthusiasm for bicycles unites and Tom is one of the most competent and experienced people to talk to in this area. A person who believes in practical use and functionality, far removed from vanity and bling-bling attitude. With every word, with every gesture, you can feel that his passion is for the manual work on the bike, for the practical implementation in all facets. A look at his hands is enough to confirm this.

The relaxed curiosity that Tom brings to the most diverse topics comes from the heart and seems to be the engine of his own constant search for new ideas and solutions. Whether it's social issues or conversations about the meaning of some modern developments in the bicycle industry, Tom is an open-minded, interested and reflective discussion partner and the source of countless stories. Hardly surprising when you consider that when he revolutionized the cycling world at the end of the 70s at the age of 24 together with Joe Breeze, Gary Fisher and a few others with a completely newly developed bike called a mountain bike, he had already soldered countless racing bike frames himself and was also extremely committed and successfully competed in bicycle races in California. A film by his son that is well worth seeing illuminates many of these aspects very clearly.

Tom always pays great tribute to his German-born friend and mentor Jobst Brandt, who died in 2015 and was the son of the German economist Karl Brandt, who fled the Nazi regime in 1933. Tom praises Jobst's epic day trips around Palo-Alto as well as his understanding of engineering, design and mechanics. For Tom, the structured, solution-oriented way in which engineers deal with technical tasks is one of the things that he likes to associate with Germany and our way of thinking and working, keywords German Engineering and Made in Germany.

Jobst Brandt's importance for the development of the modern bicycle is made clear by his book The Bicycle Wheel, published in 1982, which is still one of the absolute standard works in American bicycle literature. Brandt, who works for Porsche, Hewlett-Packard and the legendary bike brand Avocet, is considered by Tom Ritchey to be one of the absolute forefathers and forerunners of the current gravel trend. Anyone who looks at pictures of Brandt's tours online will understand what Tom means. Even with the Renner, Jobst was not afraid of excessive touring on dirt roads, both in California and on his visits to Europe. ( Curious people click here and wonder about pictures from the 60s with long-haired surfers on steel racers somewhere in the Alps - Kings of Cool )

Tom's own biography, his passion for road racing, his aspiration and courage to solder his own frames, his work with mountain bikes and his endeavor not to limit bicycles to one terrain, but to be able to use them as widely as possible, all of this will be ideally implemented today by a good gravel bike - a kind of Swiss army knife among sporty bikes.

In the early evening Tom and Martha left to spend the rest of the day quietly. We rolled out a big day before the cap and prepared for the second edition of Schotter, Kies & Moos. Meanwhile, some decent gusts of wind passed Düsseldorf almost unnoticed, with results that should significantly increase the size of the challenges for our fellow drivers on Sunday.

Gravel II…

But first we continued on Sunday morning from 7:30 a.m. in the courtyard of the cap with a strong espresso and our breakfast classic banana bread, but also a few drops of rain from a gray overcast sky. Almost 100 riders were formed into teams of two to six Gravelistas to complete one of the two routes. Amid protests from neighbors, the first teams of the 120-kilometer route rolled off the “Hütte” courtyard in a good mood from 8:00 a.m., followed by the drivers of the 70-kilometer route, which was significantly adapted to the level of the long lap compared to the previous year .

After two hours, we received news from many quarters about the damage that the gusts of wind had caused in the Ratinger area. Whole trees were lying across paths, in some cases across entire rail lines and paths, so that alternative routes had to be found. A celebration for all owners of the new Wahoo Roam, who quickly have alternative routes ready. The fact that some suspected us of being responsible for these additional challenges is something we transport without comment and with a smile on our lips to the realm of fables. We do all sorts of things, but we don't uproot trees.

On a tarmac descent on the long route, an ominous mix of rain, dirt and fallen fruit resulted in a slippery section that killed a larger group of riders.

In the late morning the cloud cover loosened up, the roads dried completely and the sun came out more and more. Just right for everyone who drove to our refreshment station not far from Lake Angermund to refill their water and calories.

The routes then led the teams on gravel tracks along the airport to the Rhine, which was crossed by ferry this year. On the western side of the Rhine, the routes divided again - while the 70-kilometer tour pointed relatively directly in the direction of Mütze, the 120-kilometer tour offered a detour to Nierst, Lank, Strümp and the Ilvericher Altrheinschlinge.
Returning teams could look forward to cold Uerige from the barrel and hot pasta with a spicy sauce in the sun-drenched courtyard. Exactly the right ingredients to round off the gravel day in a relaxed atmosphere with eating, drinking, clearing away prizes, chatting and cleaning wheels.

Conclusion: all great. A Saturday out of a picture book, as our cheerful, deeply relaxed guests of honor make every host shine. We are happy to have met two great people in Tom and Martha Ritchey, who we hope to welcome again in Düsseldorf. Your visit is one of the absolute highlights of the hat's five-year history, which is not short of special moments. It's fun to work with a company like Ritchey because the positive spirit runs through the entire company. Here, California's sun shines from the heart.

Our chic cap team received great compliments for their support and professional support of the Saturday round. A statement that we can only agree with, thanks to Tom, Ivo, Andreas, Andreas, Michael and everyone else who helped to make the group trip a relaxed rolling event.

And what was Sunday?

Our route modifications received compliments, as did the organization before, during and after the ride. We ourselves still see little things where there is room for improvement, but it is reassuring when the participants do not notice these points. There was apparently no negative feedback from other passers-by, at least it didn't reach us. An important point for us, simply because we can only hold such an event if tolerance is practiced on all sides.

The only downer was an unfortunate fall, which was not without consequences, but which have now been largely resolved. Something like that happens, but still annoys us. And reminds us all to always be careful when pursuing our favorite hobby. But sometimes you put yourself down.

We were happy about our guests from the Netherlands and Belgium. Compliments for the Sunday round came here from competent experts on the subject.

Thanks to Ritchey, Wahoo, Biehler, and Clif Bar for support. You help make weekends like this possible.

Enjoy reading further:

Clemens Henle summarized his impressions of #tomsride in the Rheinische Post.

Pascal Kurschildgen from was at SKM2019.

Just like Annette from the Radflamingoes!

And what comes now?

The plans for a small Gravel event in October are currently rolling. From the first Sunday in November, the racing bike community is looking forward to our winter slut parade, the Sunday winter round for all weatherproof racing and gravel cyclists.

Together with the Cycling Club Düsseldorf, we are currently taking care of the first edition of the Bombtrack NRW Crosscup in the state capital. It is still necessary to fix the place of events for November 10th in order to miss an appropriate location for the first winter cross race in Düsseldorf. More on that soon...

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