Rainer Dörrie and Kamil Wlotzka cycled around 1,000 kilometers to Paris as part of the Rynkeby Team RheinRuhr to raise funds for seriously ill children.
You've been preparing for a long time, and now the tour is behind you. How was it?
Rainer Dörrie: "It was an experience! And well worth the trip. A total of 65 teams with 2,400 participants from all over Europe drove to Paris in a rally. At the end, there was a great party in the Parc de la Villette in the middle of Paris. There we met the participants of the other teams for the first time. For example, I talked to participants from Norway and Denmark about their tour, which was just great.
Kamil Wlotzka: The end in Paris was like a festival. Riders everywhere in yellow jerseys with yellow racing bikes - that really impressed me and was a great feeling. I swapped jerseys with a rider from Denmark. I also met a rider there who has cancer herself and rode along despite it or because of it. Really impressive.
Together, the team also mastered real challenges, such as the legendary Tour de France climb "Wall of Huy" here.
What were the highlights during the tour?
Kamil Wlotzka: You work hard. It's hot, you sweat. Then you pass a group of kindergarten kids, and they just cheer for you - you get goose bumps, despite the heat! The landscape is very beautiful. For example, when we drove through Normandy, we had a great view of the sea. And the team spirit. We didn't race against each other like in a bike race, but with each other. The riders are not all on the same level. If one of them got tired on an ascent, another could come up from behind and give him a little push. That is pure team spirit.
Rainer Dörrie: Our ride coincided with the Tour de France. And you could see the great enthusiasm for cycling in Belgium and France. There was spontaneous applause as we passed through towns, and passers-by cheered us on. And then people wondered about all the yellow jerseys: Who has the yellow jersey? The stages that cycling fans know from the Tour de France were also great. For us, these were the mountain stages Mur de Huy, the wall of Geraardsbergen and the Koppenberg. With crisp, steep climbs. Anyone who wanted to could ride freely and let off steam on these famous routes. That was fun.
Goosebumps at the entrance to Paris.
Team Rynkeby RheinRuhr was on the road for over a week with around 40 athletes. Doesn't sound like a normal bike tour.
Kamil Wlotzka: That's right, there's a lot of organization and logistics involved. There was a support team and a service team. A total of four support vehicles went along, including a 7.5-ton truck. For example, it had mobile bike racks with it: When 40 racing cyclists rush in front of a hotel in the evening, the bikes have to go somewhere. We also received many donations for food and carried them in the truck.
Rainer Dörrie: There were always two motorcycles and a technical car with the convoy. They helped us, for example, to cross intersections or traffic circles - that's not so easy with so many riders. One of the riders was a firefighter and paramedic, who could take care of minor falls or other injuries. Fortunately, we didn't have any significant accidents. It all worked out great. Team Rynkeby RheinRuhr was in its first year, so of course there is still a lot to learn. We organized everything ourselves. We can certainly do a few things better in terms of logistics and catering. In one hotel, the food was not good at all, which doesn't put you in a good mood after a day in the saddle.
Were there any lowlights?
Kamil Wlotzka: The first two days were great. Then came the magical third day. That's when you feel the strain and your psyche suffered. The group first had to find its balance again.
Rainer Dörrie: You could say that the tour was more of a mental challenge than a physical one. The training beforehand also helped with fitness. It was unusual to be part of a group and also the whole business of sponsoring and logistics. In the evening, after a strenuous stage, not everyone feels like taking a photo for a sponsor before taking a shower. But that's also part of it.
Festive atmosphere among the 2,400 participants in the Parc de la Villette in Paris.
How do you motivate yourself when things don't go so well?
Kamil Wlotzka: Each rider applies for the ride with a letter of motivation and has his own idea of what drives him. Of course, we also discussed this. In our team, a father whose child survived lung cancer applied for next year. He happened to see our team and now wants to join us and support the team. That makes it even clearer what you're doing, and it puts your own pain into perspective.
Rainer Dörrie: Riding in a group is more difficult than riding alone. If you're not in the lead, but in the field, you don't see potholes and bumps until late, or you get a warning. You have to concentrate a lot and that's really exhausting on long stages. So I also had a sporting motivation: I didn't want to ride in the broom wagon!
You were part of a charity tour to raise money for the German Childhood Cancer Foundation. Was it worth it?
Kamil Wlotzka: Oh yes! The rally raised a total of 9.5 million euros for the Children's Cancer Foundation. 70,000 euros came from our team, Team RheinRuhr. We are proud of that!
Rainer Dörrie: We are very grateful to everyone who supported us and Team RheinRuhr. That also goes for our sponsor Schunk, of course.
Done! Rainer Dörrie (left) and Kamil Wlotzka (right) in Paris.