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This will be the 14th edition of the summit and a return to origins of sorts; the ECMC has been bringing together international riders since 1993 when the event kicked off in the formerly divided city.
Hosted by the Berlin Bike Messenger Association, this year's event boasts "what could possibly be the most exciting racecourse ever seen at an international event." That may sound boisterous, but not when the venue is taken into account -- at more than a kilometer in length, the recently closed Tempelhof Airport terminal will offer a stunning backdrop for bike racing.
The largest building in the world at the time of its completion, the Tempelhof building was an icon of Nazi Germany's swelling ambition in the early 1940s; this weekend it and the legendary airfield it guards will fittingly welcome a new breed of brash warrior. The hard-surface course for the 2009 race, "a once-off, staggering, spine-tingling, nerve-jangling, goose-pimpling" amalgamation of both one-way and two-way traffic zones, with a few steps and a short walk thrown in for good measure, will include "steep climbs/descents, hairpin turns, [and] tunnels." Qualifying heats for the main event will take place on Saturday, with second-round qualifying to be held before the finals on Monday.
If straight-up bike races aren't your thing (though, to be fair, a messenger race can hardly be compared to a stuffy crit or countryside tour), spread out throughout the ECMC's program are plenty of social events and fun rides. Case in point is this evening's post-registration meet-and-greet on the IC Berlin roof terrace, followed by a leisurely bike tour. Friday night sees the goofily-named Rockin World Welcome Party at Michelberger Hotel, Saturday and Sunday both have fan-friendly events, DJs, bands, dancing and general party vibes at Festsaal Kreuzberg and TAPE Club, respectively, and Monday night closes out the weekend with the ECMC 2009 Awards Ceremony and Party at Edelweiss.
Also on the ticket for Saturday the Go! Courier Cup team race, which aims to either honor or humiliate (depending on who you ask) dispatchers and messenger operators. The event, which pits teams of riders against each other, will foster an atmosphere of both comradery and frustration: "Points will be deducted for profanity and tantrums." Further wonderment can be had with the Cargo Race, an exposition on wheeled exertion specially designed for the large haulers. "Whether you like it or not, you will feel tired at the end of this race," organizers promise, adding a bit of challenge and potential mystery by pointing out that "the maximum of wheels in use on your conveyance is unlimited." Centipede-Bike, anyone?
And as with any cycling competition, there will be tete-a-tete races of all sorts, with both flatland and uphill sprints outdoors and the decade-old and now classic Goldsprints taking place indoors.
Berlin 2009 promises not only pain, but also plenty of iconic irony as well. With the explosion of hipster track bike culture there are bound to be plenty of tight-pantsed, facially-pierced, over-inked throwdowns for the menu of fixed gear events scheduled for the weekend; skids, trackstands, backward circles and more than a few elephant-leg ballet moves in the "best trick" category await.
"Non-messengers are as always tolerated at this event," says the ECMC website, and two of the weekend's most laid-back events -- Foot Down and Bike Polo -- offer a chance for even the cardiovascular-challenged to get in on the action. Casual riders are advised to plan on a few scrapes and bruises to result from such activities, and are additionally advised to "leave the excessive posing to the professionals, thanks." SEE ALSO: www.ecmc2009.com
Eric J Herboth
Eric J. Herboth is the founder, publisher and Managing Editor of LAS magazine. He is a magazine editor, freelance writer, bike mechanic, commercial pilot, graphic designer, International Scout enthusiast and giver of the benefit of the doubt. He currently lives in rural central Germany with his two best friends, dog Awahni and cat Scout.
See other articles by Eric J Herboth.
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