Cargo Bike Racing, Gravel Riding and More: Berlin Bike Week 2016

Berlin Bike Week celebrates all things bike and aims to bring people of all walks together for a week of festivities and fun. To be held in the German capital March 14 - 20, 2016, the week will be filled with events, contests, shows and conclude with the annual Berliner Fahrradschau.

In the true spirit of the week, the organizers are challenging attendees not only to get to the city by bike, but also to take part in what they’re calling the Gravel Road to Berlin. Partnering with Strava and Wahoo Fitness, they’ve set up a bit of a contest to let riders go head-to-head in, well, what else, a contest.

Yes, by employing what are undoubtedly overly complex algorithms to combine heart rate and amassed time in the saddle, riders will be given ‘suffer scores’. People doing other sports tend most often to engage in the activity for the pure pleasure of it, but core cyclists are indeed a unique crowd, and suffering seems often to be the goal. Enjoy!

Maybe your transportation is a little less sporty though, and you intend to find your way on a cargo bike. What’s a cargo bike? Well, if you can imagine something that is part flatbed pickup truck and part utilitarian bicycle, then you’re well on your way to envisioning what these things are all about. More than a simple grocery getter, a cargo bike can be loaded up to haul any amount of weight, provided you can still pedal the thing.

The Berlin Bicycle Week will miss no opportunity to revel in spectacle however, so why not put a cargo bike race on tap? If you can race semi trucks, certainly there’s no barrier to having some good old-fashioned fun on these tractors of the bike world, right? The action probably won’t be really fast, and thrill seekers might scoff at the very notion, but rest assured that the slow-moving suspense and comedic delight will offer their own rewards.

As much as bicyclists enjoy a chance to compete, the week does look to more than a series of races to engage attendees. Berlin is a city with a rich history and part of its storied past has shaped how the political map looks today.

All during the week people can sign up to see a chapter of the city’s past up close, while at the same time experiencing something that will shape both Berlin’s future, and that of cities around the globe. E-Bike ‘The Wall’ is a program to provide guided tours of Berlin’s living history and use e-bikes to get around. Exploring the city and the growing world of e-mobility will be a highlight of the week and should be on everyone’s to-do list.

If you’re entranced by the lively ride of the new e-bikes, maybe you’d like to get together some friends and enter the Derny-style e-bike race. It too combines elements of old and new in this classic format track racing. The e-bike rider may not be working as hard as the person on the pedal-powered bike behind, but he is essential in setting a sustainable pace and getting the team to the finish line. This is also a head-to-head format, so there will be two teams on the track for each race, upping the excitement and adding to the challenge.

Cosmopolitan to the core, Berlin is a culturally diverse city. As much as this week puts the spotlight on bikes, it also draws elements from outside the two-wheeled focus…like break dancing. Well, sort of.

Flatland BMX is alive and well in Germany, and homeland hero Chris Böhm intends to put an unusual show. Mashing up styles showcased in 1980’s cult movies like Rad and Breakin’, Chris is gunning for a new Guinness World Record during his performances. To set the record, he’ll have to roll onto his head while staying attached to the bike…and then spin on his head like a top for thirty revolutions! Whether he makes it, only time will tell, but watching him try it will be amazing regardless.

The week culminates with the Berliner Fahrradschau, a bicycle fair exhibit which showcases elements of modern cycling culture by providing a stage for manufacturers, craftsmen, and artists. It offers a great touch point for the public to get up close to products to touch, see, ask questions and get answers from real people.

As much as anything though, the Berlin Bike Week is a chance to get people together. The bike is the red thread, but the experiences that visitors share during the week of activities give them more common ground and will keep them coming back year after year to this annual springtime gathering.