Rainer Podlesch

"In contrast to former times, there are many bike riders but only few bike racers.“


Rainer's ride

"It has to be a lap around the Havel and Moorlake, approximately 40 km. For many years this was about the only training lap in West Berlin, and the location for many road championships and nationals, too. It featured in a stage of the Tour de France 1987, and the Olympic road race 1936."

Distance: 43.91 km
Elevation: 348 m

Download the gpx route

How did you get into road cycling?
When I was about 14, I started to explore my world on a simple touring bike. Having grown up in Schleswig-Holstein, I would head for the North Sea and the Baltic, Danmark and Hamburg.

As a fishing enthusiast I’d regularly ride to the Kiel Canal that was about 40 km away. This was where the stopwatch came in as I tried to get there faster every time. In 1961, when I was 16, I competed for the first time in an advertising race in Kiel.

Who did you ride with back then, and who inspired you?
I was inspired by Dieter Haushahn, a successful bike racer from Kiel. He built up my first race bike with used parts. From then on, I was all ablaze for cycling.

What makes road cycling unique to you?
Bike racing in almost all disciplines filled the first 30 years of my life, and I competed at the world championships 20 years in a row. After that, 27 years as national coach for derny racing, sometimes still racing, even today. In all those years, there were many cycling tours through many European countries, sometimes with a tandem.

Who is your cycling role model?
For me, Rudy Altig in the 60s is a model athlete, riding spectacularly and successfully.

What advice would you give someone who has just taken up cycling?

  1. Be patient with yourself
  2. Prefer shorter, regular rides to just a few killing ones
  3. Become a good listener, use the advice of more seasoned riders

How does Berlin’s cycling culture evolve?
In contrast to former times, there are many bike riders but only few bike racers. Today there are just a few races left in Berlin.

What makes the city so liveable?
Berlin is a green city in many areas. The surroundings offer many opportunities for riding, in many parts there’s still only little traffic.

What’s the one event from the history of cycling that we should know?
Cycling is so multifarious, there are many perspectives. Can there be the one event?

Coffee ride, paceline, or three-day epic

“Speed play” are the magic words: to integrate all of cycling’s elements into training. Fast, slow, sprints, cadence, big gears (but not too often), honing your riding technique, socialising too… All this has helped me to keep the fire burning to the age of 73.

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