24 Heures Le Schopp

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24 Heures Le Schopp
24 Heures Le Schopp

If you were focussed on the Tour of Yorkshire last weekend, you may have missed the 2015 24 hour Folding Bike race, held this year at the Schopp track near Kaiserslautern in Germany. This 450 metre cycle track was resurfaced 3 years ago and so started in good condition for this unusual race.

The rules include the following: if you don’t have a moustache, you can’t start (though nobody checked to see if the moustache was real or false), and you have to ride a steel folding bike that is at least 30 years old, still able to be folded, and without gears, and have its original handlebars. You can only change a wheel if you have a defect during the race.

Despite the somewhat unusual qualification criteria, 38 teams of 4 took part, with one rider at any one time on the track, and allowed to change as often as they wished. Speeds above 40 km per hour were achieved with average speeds in the upper 30’s.

The race started at 6pm on the 1st May 2015 with riders running to their bikes, old-time Le Mans style. Once darkness fell at 8:30 pm all bikes had to have their lights on. Unfortunately, temperatures were low for this year’s event, falling to 7 degrees, and to make it worse there was quite a bit of rain. This meant that some of the early riders were coated in a dark mixture of sand, asphalt, worn rubber from the tyres, and rain water.

Team Capri-Sonne won this year’s event, completing 1860 laps of the track in the 24 hours, equivalent to a distance of 837 km. After their victory, they revealed one of their secrets: in between stints on the bike, they had a Thai massage to sooth their aching muscles. The combined distance covered by the 152 folding bikes was 26,520 km, covering 58,935 laps. Teams averaged 700 km at a respectable 29 kph speed. The race was started by Olympic medallist Miriam Welte.

This is the 4th time this event has been held, with the previous one in Berlin. At the end of this year’s race, it was not certain whether there would be one next year. However, there is a different folding bike event being held on the 5th September, which is the Kalmit folding bike mountain race.

 

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