This is a perfect route for a Rapha Women’s 100 ride. We pass through Ratingen and come close to the river Ruhr at Kettwig, tackling a few climbs - among them the infamous ‘Esel’ (donkey) - and rolling scenic terrain. We cross Lintorfer Mark and Grindsmark, a large forest area, and reach the Rhine close to Wittlaer. Halfway into the ride we cross the river at Uerdingen, and the remaining kilometres lead us through the plains of the Lower Rhine. Shortly before reaching Düsseldorf and the Schicke Mütze we cross the river once more.
This route mainly consists of asphalted farm roads with almost no traffic and is ideal for beginners wanting to do a big loop.
Duration: 4-5 h
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How did you get into road cycling?
After mountain biking and triathlon I took up motorcycling. It was the “Klassikerausfahrt” on historic steel bikes that brought me back to road cycling. Simply being able to enjoy riding was important to me – neither competition nor carbon cult, no obsession with self-optimization and training. These guys on their old steel bicycles were different from all I had known before.
What makes road cycling unique to you?
Basically there’s nothing you can do with a road bike except going fast. Making yourself small in the headwind and carrying as little weight as possible on the climbs. You can wonderfully economise on your strength and endurance, for each climb you are rewarded with a fast descent. And the descents are what I like best – especially the technical ones. Racing downhill on L’Eroica’s gravel roads on an old steel bike, with so-so brakes and 25 mm tires, that’s what I like.
How does Düsseldorf’s cycling culture evolve?
Yes, it does evolve. Now that the Tour is coming people talk, debate – sometimes controversially. But that’s what gets things started. Because people start thinking. The “Freebikes” are a good example: old bicycles reworked for free use within the city, with creative people behind the project. This could be a big thing and Düsseldorf is the first city to do it.
What makes the city so liveable?
For me that’s mainly the tightly knit group of people with whom I share my life here. Then there are those parts of the city that have retained something like nature: the meadows and beaches of the Rhine right in the middle of the city. And there’s also the interesting places such as the academy of arts, the museums, restaurants like Olio and Sennhütte, the old industrial charm, and a thousand things I can’t think of right now.
What does the Grand Départ mean to Düsseldorf and German cycling?
Well, I guess the Olympics would be rather bigger, but the Tour de France is quite something when it comes to getting some attention. For cycling it will be a huge boost, but also a challenge: it takes just one doping affair and the whole thing will be crushed in no time. Which is why you should not need role models to get motivated – it’s your own enjoyment that counts. And road cycling is not the centre of the world, but only a small facet of the world of cycling.
What’s the one event from the history of cycling that we should know?
No event. But the story of Albert Richter.
Coffee ride, paceline, or three-day epic?
My dream is a cycling journey on my own, to a place where there are almost no cars.