"Spectacle fits well on Königsallee "Normally, cars rule Düsseldorf's Königsallee, gladly the old and beautiful ones, the fast and expensive ones.
On 12. September, however, the state capital is clearing its boulevard for bicycles. And this is not at all new, it is already the 50. The first edition of the "Rund um die Kö" cycling race. And it offers far more than just people who can pedal fast. Manufacturers around the bicycle show their products, there is live music and fancy street food. The organizers include Carsten Wien from Schicke Mütze, a mixture of bike store, workshop and café on Oststraße, and Stephan Hörsken, chairman of the Cycling Club Düsseldorf. In the interview, they tell what awaits the audience and the active.
The Grand Départ of the 2017 Tour de France made headlines around the world. But Düsseldorf also has its own cycling tradition. Take us back in time to the history of "Rund um die Kö" (Around the Kö).
Carsten Wien: Düsseldorf used to have about 20 bike races. It was an every-week story, you could go somewhere and participate in a bike race. The one on the Kö has always been one of the most popular because of its location; at its wedding, it had international appeal, with national teams coming from the Netherlands or Poland. This has been marketed well, even the residents found it interesting. Years ago, the agency g31 dug up an amateur film from the 1970s that shows how charming it was: people were eating ice cream, and then the racing cyclists rode around the corners. "Rund um die Kö" also had a good reputation among professionals. Two years ago I talked with André Greipel, Nils Pollit and Rick Zabel, Erik's son, about how extraordinary the course is; this square that means you always have to turn left and ride really hard in the corners. This is a spectacle, and spectacle fits well on the Königsallee.
At some point, however, the enthusiasm waned..
Vienna: Over the years it has taken different clubs to organize, and cycling clubs are rarely good marketing advisors, the external image has suffered. You still got good sport there, but you didn't get spectators there. In 2015 there were only 32 people in the main field, maybe 50 spectators, I met someone from the cultural field who said, "Actually an awesome event, why is there nothing going on here?" This is the point. You just have to get the people here, then they realize what a great event this is. At some point we were asked to get involved and bring in a breath of fresh air. This is what we have done.
What does it look like? What can the guests look forward to?
Stephan Hörsken: On many different races, but also on the trappings. As in 2019, Michael Scheibenreiter will DJ, a composer and DJ who also provides musical accompaniment to the races. In addition, there are a number of interesting street food stands, for those who want to eat something that is not available in the snack bar around the corner. And then there will be some exhibitors around the bike, a manufacturer of cargo bikes, the Verkehrswacht will be there.
The music is especially important to you?
Hörsken: The sport is important, but the staging, especially on the Kö, is just as important to us; it should be an overall experience with sport and party character.
Vienna: We wrote a concept in 2015 to make the connection between cycling and music that used to exist in Düsseldorf. When I say abroad that I come from Düsseldorf, people immediately say: "Kraftwerk. Tour de France."But when you go to bike races in Germany, you hear Helene Fischer and the Hermes Houseband. We want to show that you can also do this with taste and appropriate to the place. Michael will bring the emotions closer to the audience. At the "Fixed Crit", when the number of tattooed people with the big ear holes is significantly higher, Motörhead sometimes bangs over the Kö, at the children's race he does the Elephant Walk. He has concepts for the individual races, I can't think of any cycling race that has that.
Who is allowed to ride with you except children and tattooed people?? Professionals? Ambitious amateurs? People like you and me?
Hörsken: We deliberately have a wide spread. It goes from kids to five in running wheel races to adults. There are hobby and everyman races, ambitious hobby competitive sports to semi-professionals. They're not on the same level as Greipel or Zabel, but they ride the 1.4-kilometer loop at a 45 or 50-mph pace.
What makes the experience "Rund um die Kö" apart from the top race??
Vienna: For example, the cargo bike race, we find such formats that appeal to anyone and everyone who does not find themselves in the sporting sector, important to simply increase the acceptance of cycling on the Kö and generally in Düsseldorf. Even the residents now understand that the quality of a road is not measured by how many parking spaces you have. And is important that the event attracts not only cycling fans, but that everyone can say: Here's something that sounds exciting. I stand here, look at it, the surrounding is good, from the music to the stands, you get something reasonable to eat and drink. There are sillier things to spend a Sunday afternoon doing than standing on the Kö watching a bike race.
The race "Rund um die Kö" will take place on Sunday 12. September takes place. More about the event can be found here.