Saturday 6 September 2014
A week ago I received an email from cycling chum Hartmut asking if I wanted to come on the Ruhrpott Tour. I didn’t know anything about it but he sent me a link to their website – http://www.ruhrpott-tour.de/ – which gave more information.
This is a charity event to raise money for children in India but I would be going along as an Ordner – sort-of cycling marshall – so didn’t need to arrange sponsorship. Which was a relief!
Hartmut said Jochen was also coming along so we arranged to meet in St Hubert at 8:30am on Saturday morning to cycle to Rheinhausen (where the ride started) together.
The weather forecast was fab for the day – and quite warm so I decided it was a ride for Alfie rather than Penelope. I duly met up with Hartmut and Jochen and we headed off eastwards at a fair pace to get to Rheinhausen.
I still haven’t quite trained Hartmut and Jochen to only take me on asphalted roads as we had a few gravelly tracks as well.
In due course we arrived in Rheinhausen, rather early. We filled in the entry forms (for insurance purposes), had drinks and generally chatted. I also took the opportunity to record Jochen reading the Met Office Shipping Forecast (for something I will do in the blog at the end of this month).
This was clearly an extremely well-organised event. Including lots of bananas!
Here are Hartmut and Jochen waiting by Alfie as people begin to arrive.
And more and more arrived – the bikes were all placed in neat rows and the chap organising it got a bit annoyed with my bike not being the right shape!
This was a trailer which was the Broom Wagon as well. Over the course of the ride several people had to stop and their bikes were put in this trailer and they went in the minibus towing it. This vehicle was following the ride all the time it was on proper roads and it was nice to know the noisy diesel behind me wasn’t going to run me over for a change!
Here we are, with our yellow jackets (to show we are Ordner). before we set off – Hartmut, Jochen and me.
I spotted this Trice Q in black just before we set off.
The silver flask where the water bottle normally is isn’t full of tea…
It’s the battery for the electric assist in the rear wheel!
I had a chance later on the ride to chat to the owner (and also to have a short tow from him by hanging onto the rack).
Before the ride headed off the organisers gave everyone general instructions.
The Ordner or helpers were given walkie talkies. Here is mine attached to my bottle cage.
And we set off – a long, long stream of cyclists, with marshalls to stop traffic at junctions. And because there were more than 15 of us we are allowed, as a group, to ride through red traffic lights if the first people go through when it’s green.
And there were really rather a lot of us – the message came through on the walkie talkies: 281 cyclists! The age range was huge (there were some children who looked about 8), several dogs in trailers… a real mixed selection!
The photos are a bit small but if you click on the pic below you can see this enormous snake of cyclists.
This was the route that we took.
Our lunch stop was at the Stadtwaldhaus Krefeld. As the tour was called Ruhrpott I decided it was only right to eat the standard food of the Ruhrpott – Currywurst und Pommes mit Mayo.
281 people seemed to be fed surprisingly quickly although the queue for the ladies toilet was a bit long. But we soon headed off again, through Krefeld past Burg Linn and then to Uerdingen, some paths I have cycled before.
The long ribbon of cyclists was a very impressive sight!
My job was as back marker, making sure that if anyone had a puncture the Broom Wagon knew about it, and trying to keep people together. I was joined at the back by the Trice Q rider – on a recumbent trike in a pack of upright bikes it can be a bit tricky to avoid crashes. It’s safest at the back (or front!)
I had a good chat with this chap – he lives in Duisburg so had a 10km ride to the start. I didn’t think I’d seen him before.
Our average speed for the group ride crept just over 12.1km/h so as you can see it was very slow. This was partly because there were so many people, also because there were lots of children (who were doing amazingly well to cycle 44.5km). What I didn’t see that many of were older people, the sort that I often see out and about on the bikes. This was a young person’s charity, I think, and there were lots of volunteers helping with food and handing out t-shirts and stuff so the demographic was a bit different to normal.
Hartmut had to leave the ride early as he needed to be elsewhere at 6pm so he said goodbye and rode off – Jochen and I continued the final 7km to the end. It got slower at this point as some of the children were tired and more bikes were getting punctures and popped into the Broom Wagon.
But finally we were back! Jochen and I handed in the walkie talkies and then it was time to head off – after a short bit of faffing by me (with my Garmin) and the obligatory photo.
Our ride back was notably quicker – an average of 19.2km/h rather than the 12 that the group part of the ride had been. Jochen headed off to Krefeld and I rode the last 7km on my own, bumping into my dog out for a walk with Lars and Gudula when I got near to home.
This was an enjoyable ride, excellently organised and with a really impressive number of participants (281!!!) I also now have a t-shirt as a memento. Well done everyone!