Disclaimer: I have to write this journal entry in english because it is meant for the worldwide cycling community and not just my german speaking customers and supporters. I am not doing it because I am a pretentious tit (which some might think I am anyway).
In 2017 I came across this wonderful movement founded by Patrick Stephenson. It is intended as a global social initiative to promote cycling as a means of transportation and a source of joy. You basically pledge to ride every day for a month in April. In the northern hemisphere April is the ideal month to kickstart the cycling season, coming out of winter hibernation. The initiative has sparked many fundraising efforts over the course of it’s existence and I myself raised over € 1.500 twice for World Bicycle Relief in 2017 and 2018.
This year will be no different: i will cycle every day and meanwhile I will see what fundraising or donations I can find that seem most important this year. Below you can get a short video explanation of what 30 Days Of Biking is about. Any distance, any type of riding, everything counts. #30daysofbiking
While I was mentally preparing to write this article I had to reflect about my own history of cycling and while doing so I realized how far back it goes and that maybe some people might be interested in hearing about it.
I remember my first bike that I received aged 5 or 6 like it was today. It was a silver steel frame bike shaped like an adult bike but basically just small. Kind of like a road bike with flatbar and one gear only. You could say it was a singlespeed. I rode it for a few years until I broke the frame trying to jump on BMX tracks. Unfortunately I have no pics of it or any of my early bikes but I tried to research as best as I could to paint a picture.
My next bike was a legendary Saltafoss type full suspension bike. It was a spin off brand of the more expensive Saltafoss models and didn’t have mechanical disc brakes and composite rims but it had 3 gears and drum-brakes and I loved it to pieces. It was very similar to the one pictured above, also red. I now realize that probably might be the bike that spawned my everlasting love for tan-wall tires.
Despite looking the part and coming across like a motocross bike, technically it was garbage, completely unsuited for anything else than cruising and I broke it pretty soon. I snapped the frame doing stupid shit. Again.
After that came a MBK (ex Motobecane) BMX with a gold chrome frame and gold parts. It looked absolutely sick but I cannot find any pics of it online. The one pictured above has the same vibe minus the BMX pro number plate.
That bike also had to endure quite a beating. I broke the seatpost clamping part because I was getting too tall for it and wanted a higher saddle. Being only 13-14 I ignored the minimum insertion warning and it snapped. The local bikeshop tried welding but it broke again.
The next step was a Peugeot MTB which was given to me by my dad as a gift for having finished middle school and entered high school. It was instant love but also a rather short-lived affair as I only owned it for about 48 hrs. A junkie stole it right in front of my eyes while I was swimming in a canal with my buddies, I foolishly had left it on shore unlocked because I thought we are a bunch of people and have our bikes in plain sight. I ran after him and confronted him but he threatened to pull a knife, reaching for his pocket. Even though i didn’t see the knife I knew the guy from fame. He was a local drug addict, known to be HIV positive. I simply chickened out and ran. I was 15 and he was a grown man. The police didn’t do anything because he was protected by the local catholic nuns who felt pity for him (welcome to Italy in the 1980s).
You can imagine how I felt after having lost my first MTB that had 27 gears and all the bells and whistles. Devastated, ashamed and angry. Little did I now that it was just the first of my many stolen bikes.
Then I spent a few years without a bike. I had relocated to Germany to attend a boarding school and then to Sydney for my audio engineering studies. During that phase I was more interested in death metal, studio equipment and recreational substances rather than bikes.
When I moved back to Germany, specifically to Berlin, I bought a Bianchi MTB which I dearly loved and used to commute from my apartment to the recording studio I had just built with the money from my first publishing contract.
I had reduced my commuting time to 18 minutes from Monumentenstrasse in Kreuzberg to Einsteinufer in Charlottenburg. It was my first pre-Strava PR. My riding style wasn’t exactly law abiding but I mostly pushed this hard at night as studiotime usually meant long hours. There were also fewer cars around at that time in Berlin.
It was similar to the Osprey pictured above but dark green and it was a rocket. It only lasted a few years though. First they stole my brakes, which I replaced with Tektros that i liked better anyway, then they stole the whole bike. Again. I hate bike thieves so much.
My next bike was one from a small frame manufacturer in Brandenburg. It was spectacular yet I have no pics – social media didn’t exist yet and we were not as vain as today. It was a steel frame MTB with black chrome finish and Shimano XT group set. An absolute beauty. It also only lasted 48 hrs and was stolen from inside my building, right in front of my apartment door. Devastating shit. I was inconsolable.
My girlfriend at the time took pity and gave me a Bianchi Ragno frame that she had found in a scrapyard and I turned that one into a singlespeed city bike with slicks. It was my trusted ride for almost 15 years and I still have it. I used it heavily all year round, in the rain and snow, on cobblestones, tarmac, gravel and trails. It was a true work horse and I absolutely loved it. It was ugly enough to be left outside clubs overnight without risking theft but technically good enough to be a great ride. The perfect beater.
It has now a new life as a refurbished vintage beauty and my wife owns it (and never rides it). It’s possibly the bike I have owned the longest and still going strong. Love it to pieces. My goto “let’s go get ice cream with the kids” steed.
Then came a pivotal moment in my life. In 2013 my friend Jelto gave me a 1963 Motobecane steelframe roadbike that he had bought on eBay but had no use for. It had tubular tires and he punctured twice while riding. Being a MTB guy he didn’t see the point in bothering with it so he gave it to me as a fixer-upper.
I immediately fell in love with the stunning frame: slinky steel tubes, brazed lugs, Campagnolo patent dropouts and chrome socks. Somebody had given it a custom paint job in yellow and Kawasaki green. I simply adored it. It took me a few weeks to rebuild it and in the process I got infected with the bike tinkering virus. A purist’s nightmare: Campagnolo Record crank from the 90s (the most beautiful crank there is), Suntour Supreme and Cyclone mix, Tektro brakes, Mavic tubular rims from the 70s paired to Normandy hubs and the master centerpiece – a Phil Wood bottom bracket with French threading adapters. Very functional but also beautiful albeit period incorrect. As a kid I already had dabbled in mechanics territory, doing more damage than good. Now I was making progress and even laced my own wheels and all. Thx to youtube university I was becoming a bike mechanic.
Another milestone was 2016 when I purchased my Felt DD 70 fat tire bike, I never had spend so much money on a bike before – also instant love – an alien of a bike capable of eating any kind of terrain. A true ATB. I wanted a bike I could ride with my dogs, behind my house. I live right next to the former no man´s land of the Berlin Wall and it’s very sandy. A normal bike tends to sink in unless you plough through it like MVDP on his CX bike. Ain’t nobody got watts like that! Over the course of 4 years it received a Wren suspension fork, dropper post and decent XT brakes until the frame broke (chainstay snapped at the bottom bracket).
The rest is kind of history. I discovered Strava, 30 DOB, Velominati, internet forums full of retrogrouches and my life simply took a turn for the better. #bikelife was there all the time, I just didn’t see it.
I now run my own bike brand and cycling is one of the things that still makes me happiest in life, aside from my family and friends, amazing music, inspiring art (hence my love for museums) and great food.
Thank you to all the bikes I have owned and fuck you to all the bike thieves of the world.
Ride on. #30dob #30daysofcycling