This ride is a perfect alternative to the more obvious routes along the Rhine – a miniature Tour of Flanders bordering Düsseldorf's eastern periphery. The dreamy landscape offers nice views over Düsseldorf as well as mean little climbs that make our legs hurt. The short version of this ride is perfect for a quick evening spin, but it can easily be extended to up to 17 hills. The narrow roads require some attention because there's not much room for oncoming traffic – just like in Flanders.
Distance: 43 km
Duration: 1,5-2 h
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How did you get into road cycling?
The logical consequence after messing with the banana bike. There was support from the family; Grandpa used to have a road bike. And then there was Didi Thurau, stirring up things at the Tour de France. Then a break of 25 years. Commuting. A fresh start with my father’s Raleigh bike of 30 years. L’Eroica – and then more and more cycling.
What makes road cycling unique to you?
I can relax, get everything off my mind, think of nothing, and enjoy nature. Sometimes on my own, sometimes with others.
Who is your cycling role model?
Basically I’ve a “no more heroes” background, but Thaddäus Robl is a person that intrigues me. Almost paralysed as a child, later a famous racer with innumerable victories. Incredible pictures of him swathed in bandages, held up by an aide at the start of a race. And finally the first victim of civil aviation.
How does Düsseldorf’s cycling culture evolve?
It grows as a tender little plant that has to be watered repeatedly and with great care. The turbo fertilizer called Grand Départ will hopefully lead to an appropriate growth. And fuel not only the cycling establishment, but also cycling-related subculture and mobility behaviour.
What makes the city so liveable?
In the early 1980’s music scene, Düsseldorf was one of the most exciting places in Germany, on a par with Hamburg and Berlin, and that’s what attracted me. I have never regretted coming here – Rock’n’Roll and nice people. Also it’s not as posh as it is said to be. Those dressed-up ladies and gentlemen with their weird hats on the “Kö” are from Recklinghausen.
What does the Grand Départ mean to Düsseldorf and German cycling?
Düsseldorf and Germany host the Grand Départ at a moment that could prove to be very important. Simply because it can help generating a passion for road cycling, which in turn helps to bring about the much-needed transition in mobility: more bikes on the roads, a better infrastructure for cyclists, and a widespread acceptance from all other road users.
What’s the one event from the history of cycling that we should know?
Regarding the Tour de France Jan Ullrich’s victory, the Armstrong-Ullrich battles or maybe the final match between Laurent Fignon and Greg LeMond in 1989. Unfortunately, scandals have a much greater significance than sporting successes over here – a problem especially for cycling. Other sports have it much easier in that respect.
Coffee ride, paceline, or three-day epic?
Just ride and have fun.