Germany has a strong cycle race scene covering the same territory as the UK with the addition of a good following for cycle football and artistic cycling.
For us in the UK the idea that something is a ‘hobby’ is a bit like being told that something is ‘nice’, such words can be construed as having a nuance of scorn attached.
In Germany in addition to the racing scene and race licence holders there is Jedermann (anyone) racing for ‘hobby’ cyclists. German’s have no problem with this moniker just as much as they don’t seem to be hung up on riding their bikes around towns or renting their homes rather than buying unlike us Brit’s.
Race licence holders in the highest categories are not allowed to take part. Categories cover most ages and gender with entry pitched at about 50 Euro’s. This sum covers entry, pasta party, showers and in the case of Gottingen a fleet of buses that contain your belongings brought from the start to the finish line.
As part of the Jedermann calendar is the ‘Der German Cycling Cup’ – “ist die deutsche Rennserie für Hobbyradsportler” and this is held across Germany and includes an event on the infamous Nurburgring Motor Racing Circuit. I found myself sadly without a suitable bike but was able to enjoy the atmosphere at the Tour d’Energie a round of the series held in Gottingen, in central Germany, April 2018. I was delighted to bump into Sebastian Fischer who rode the event in his London Dynamo kit.
There were two distances on offer at the Tour d’Energie 45 and 100 kilometres following a closed roads and it attracted over three thousand riders (I think). The event is held over two days with races for children included.
Mingling with the crowd and riders it was clear that this was more than a hard faced event and it was interesting to note that young people pedalled alongside older riders and that although there was a competitive edge at the front of the tour, for so many it was more about personal ambitions and the chance to meet at the end with team mates.
I hadn’t planned on attending the Tour d’Energie but I was in town and it would have been pretty sad to have not taken a look. I’m glad I did as it felt like a good pro race with closed roads and had a large police cover plus volunteers. I loved the buzz as riders told each other the story of their individual rides.
Many German cycle promotions such as festivals will also have a Jedermann ‘race’.