Last weekend the duo of Rad Race events in Berlin took place: the famous Last Wo/Man Standing and the Kolektif Bike Fair. For one reason or another, many individuals, small independent brands along with a few established ones gathered in the German capital, which turned the city into the place to be for any alternative cycling enthusiast.
Don’t expect a grandiose, commercial event though. As we learned ourselves, both the Kolektif and the Rad Race LWMS are characteristic for their bottom-up organization approach based on a strong community. Everyone is involved with passion. “We will be here until 5 AM dismantling the track,” said Jan Sprünken, one of the Rad Race members.
The vision is that anyone can take advantage of the event up to their needs. The atmosphere and casual environment creates an ideal opportunity for brands to find new collaboration possibilities, and for the fans to get into close touch with the brands or simply to meet with their cycling buddies and enjoy the fair and the race.
The Rad Race Last Wo/Man Standing
The events organized by Rad Race have a unique, underground vibe perfectly fitting to the genius loci of Berlin, often coined as the capital of techno music and which has a rich punk history.
Located at the indoor kart track at the normally quiet northeast suburbs of Berlin, we could hear the venue buzzing already from the distance as we were arriving. This year’s race was quickly sold out, showing the excitement of the lucky spectators. Although it was only one of the first rounds of qualifying heats underway once we entered, the atmosphere quickly got us pumped for a spectacular race. The main stand was already fully occupied and so most of the fans surrounded the race track and the insides of barriers, allowing them to cheer on the riders from no distance.
The women’s competition startlist featured around 40 riders and the men’s over 150. The men’s race started with qualifying rounds from which the top four finishers would advance onto the round of 64, and then again the top four advanced to the following round, until the final. Then, as the race’s name says, the elimination race went down to decide the winner, the last wo/man standing.
As the rounds progressed, so did the atmosphere in the crowd. Once the women’s race started with their qualifiers heats, Tim Dineen, who made it to the finals later on, turned on her spoke lights on her wheels, pulled-off a wheelie down the back straight while leading the pack in front of the stands and the crowd went cheering.
The race also attracted the Californian Melissa Martucci, who soon proved to be one of the serious contenders for the victory and found a great support among the spectators. When we asked her about her motivation to come all the way from California, she told us that she won the Red Bull Short Circuit last year and saw the Rad Race as the next, ultimate challenge.
Close racing and third win in a row
Around midnight, it was time for the finals. Starting with the women’s race first, the lights were turned off and the finalists were called up one by one to the starting line, with tension growing up. The race went off, and as Melissa Martucci took the lead after a move two spots up from the third, it was her and the Italian Paola Panzeri who opened a gap from the rest, as the last year’s winner in third place couldn’t follow their pace. The final saw a close race between the two with Martucci leading and defending the whole race, until a mistake and a crash under the pressure in the final lap decided that Paola Panzeri would go on to win.
The men’s final was no less a spectacle with Alec Briggs, winner of the previous two editions, took the lead from the start and kept the first position during the first half of the race, until Sam Harding not only closed the gap, but overtook him, and the two went on to a fierce battle.
The rider from TEKKERZ stayed just behind Sam analyzing his racing line and patiently waiting for the decisive move. Just like last year, it went down to the final lap, with Alec overtaking Sam in the first turn. Alec Briggs was the last man standing for the third time.
A fairy-tale ending to a great night in Berlin. Stefan Schott completed the podium after a breathtaking semifinal race in which he fought back from 6th place to avoid elimination. Since it was probably the last year at the current venue, as we learned from the race organizers, we are curious what new setting the next editions will bring.
The Kolektif bike fair
The bike fair took place from Friday to Sunday, and as we learned, the opening day already attracted a crowd of visitors beyond the expectations of many exhibiting brands.
The first thing the visitors could see when entering the venue was a section of handmade bicycles from distinct frame builders, each presenting one of their flagship models. Among the ones on display was the Repete R2: Reason, works of Dlouhy Cycles or Rhubarb Bikes. An ideal opportunity to talk about directly with the builders as many of them were present by their bikes.
There were two rows of the brands’ booths, including bike brands such as Sour Bicycles or the local 8bar bikes from Berlin. Lot of the booths featured components producers, including saddle brands such as Posedla presenting their 3D printed custom saddle, Selle Marco or established brands of cycling accessories. Apart from talking with the brand representatives at their booths, visitors could also buy the new swag and souvenirs from many independent small brands of both on-bike and off-bike fashion, such as the Gent-based Bonk for instance.
The event was an opportunity for some to launch their brand-new-brand in Berlin like Capsuled, which enters the bike packing gear market with their modular products. Among the other brands from the category of bags, we met the Prague-based brand of backpacks Braasi, which lately introduced their lightweight bikepacking bags.
It wasn’t only about exploring new cycling brands. The fair was accompanied by a supporting program on each day, including a social ride on Saturday or a fun cargo bike race outside the venue, probably to turn the visitors into a racing mood ahead of the serious racing later that day.
We attended a couple of the talks that also took place in parallel with the bike fair. Jiri Duzar from Posedla together with Tim Ahnsorge from BASF discussed the possibilities of usage of 3D printing in cycling and presented Tim’s custom mountain bike by Huhn Cycles which was already displayed at Bespoked and featured several 3D printed components.
The Rad Race team once again proved their ability to host attractive events for the fans of alternative cycling and we are already looking forward to the next edition.