Berlin is a city torn between two worlds, one in the past and one living today. The two are a vivid contrast to other and often coexist on the same street block. The Berliner Fahrrad Schau was the backdrop for my exposure to this unknown world, seeing first hand how one of the most recognizable cities struggles with its split personalities.
Driving into Berlin is an experience in itself, going past the check point which many people had risked their lives to cross into a 'better' world, now an Autobahn streams right through it with no resistance. The only sign things are changing is that the asphalt turns from the smooth surface that the Autobahn is know for into a rough, unmaintained concrete as you drive in.
The expo was right next to the Deutscher Technical Museum, with an old US bomber that surely participated in the infamous Berlin airlift, shiny and silver, but still showing wear of years past perched atop a glistening new architecture. Around the corner ghosts from the past were whispering out of old run-down builds that time had forgotten. The Station itself where the expo was had not faired all that well over the years, but provided for a still comfortable yet industrial backdrop for the show.
Was set up, Stefano, Marcello and myself went for a quick lunch, hopping on the U-Bahn and getting off one stop later at the Pottsdammer Platz. It might have well of been a trip around the world to any big city USA because exiting we were greeted by taller buildings, Starbucks and a myriad of shopping possibilities. Money was abound and this section of town had obviously escaped the past. The only remanence was a section of the Wall that had run through there with a guy dressed up in old Eastern Block military garb stamping peoples passports as part of a tourist attraction.
Later that evening we went to another section of town for dinner, once again the present and past came together to create a unique blend of culture, buildings with bullet holes from a past war towered over trendy locals while beggars and street workers tried to make ends meet in the evening air. A thick layer of gravel covered the sidewalks and streets, signs of a harsh winter and lack of funds to clean things up, much like the past seen in the face of the many buildings and areas around Berlin.
The show itself was good, not great but good. What it lacked in attendance of both public and exhibitors it made up for in enthusiasm and passion for cycling. There were several very nice unique displays on hand around various aspects of cycling culture from reto-mountainbike collections to urban street cycling. And of course there were some good core companies on hand.
Attendees where largely urban-cycling oriented, but there were also plenty on hand who get the whole handmade/ custom bike thing, which was good for us. People poured over our presentation of bikes with the same detail in which they were made. They acquainted themselves with our brands and indulged us in pleasurable conversations over the cycling, coffee and their city. Our LaMarzocco also saw lots of action, not just from attendees, but other exhibitors. One of my pleasures was that catering for the even was all Organic, well not just organic, but really good food on top of that.
Much like the city, I really enjoyed seeing all of the bikes and culture from the show that represented the past, but also being able to draw a line from that to the present with some bikes that have direct lines to the past. My first visit to Berlin was an eye-opener, much like my past visits to the former eastern part of Germany. The sites and the people there have interesting stories to tell and despite the cold past, is one of the warmest places to go.
More pics from the show Berlin Pics