Interview Thorben

1. Who are you and when did you discover cycling?

Hi, I’m Thorben, a sustainability and mobility consultant from Berlin and I’ve been riding a road bike since I was six years old. Road riding has always been in my family: my grandfather, father, uncle and two brothers all rode road bikes and still do today.

2. Why do you ride a bike? 

There’s no freer feeling for me than exploring landscapes and nature by bike: at high speed on a road bike, around the streets in a local criterium or in big road races with challenging, great routes. Also, off-road – paradise is sometimes just around the corner. 

3. Why is your VOTEC the perfect bike for you? 

My VOTEC is insanely versatile. I made the decision to have only one bike if possible – I used to have two road bikes, a time trial bike, a cyclocross bike, a winter bike, a roller bike, two fixies and two single-speeds. However, my love for minimalist adventure is greater and nowadays you’ll always find me with my VOTEC.

4. What do you always have with you when cycling? 

Besides the Essential Case with all the necessary tools, I like to bring music and a few snacks with me. A few bars are helpful on longer rides and with a bit of change you can visit the local bakery or cafe.

5. Why should people go for a ride with you? 

I learned about cycling from an early age from my grandfather and father and hope to bring back some of this ‘old wisdom’ to our world of modern cycling. I’m a quieter guy on the bike, I like to enjoy the surroundings or tune into my own pulse, and I like to reserve rambling conversation and jokes for the end of the ride.

6. Is there a cycling experience that’s left a particular mark on you? 

My first real gravel experience at the Toros de Gravel in Mallorca three years ago. As part of the organising team, I got to know the who’s who of the international gravel scene and discovered Mallorca on a 150 km gravel route. The beginnings of such small festivals can be magical, and I still often think about this one. 

7. What are your plans for this season? What are you looking forward to and what are you dreading? 

This season is again dominated by Covid, and it requires flexibility and spontaneity. I’m looking forward to new formats and a diverse racing calendar, as well as exciting bike adventures. The highlight for me is Strade Bianche in September, where I hope to ride the famous white roads in the footsteps of Mathieu van der Poel.

8. If you could change one thing about the cycling world, what would it be and why? 

I founded “Fahrrad Freund:innen Berlin” last year, an organisation based in Berlin that campaigns for gender diversity and inclusion. Cycling is heavily codified and based on role models that need rethinking and revising.

We talk about ‘safe spaces’, safe places that need to exist so all people can discover and enjoy cycling. I encourage everyone to approach this topic and rethink identity for their own sake and the sake of others. 

9. How can we make cycling more accessible to everyone? 

Language is an essential driver for change, so I see gender-inclusive language as a valuable tool that everyone can use to express respect. Differentiated language shows a differentiated mind and that’s what we need to open up society further and make things more equal. If the bicycle is to continue to stand as a symbol of freedom, it’s our task to express these attributes.

10. If you could just cycle for a year without thinking about money or obligations, what would you do?

Martjin Doolaard published a beautiful book called “One Year On A Bike” which beautifully captures his journey from Amsterdam to Singapore. I think doing such a ride would be my way of spending a year on the bike. 

11. Who’s your role model?

I don’t know much about role models, but I like to be inspired. Taylor Phinney is an inspiration – a highly-regarded, talented American pro cyclist and four-time world champion who followed his heart and now lives as an artist and freelance creative. 

12. What role do you see yourself playing in the VOTEC ENDEAVOR PROJECT? 

All the athletes bring their personal strengths to the project, which are primarily based on the fundamental principle of authenticity. In addition to my 30,000 km yearly goal, I hope to be able to contribute well-grounded feedback on the handling and durability of the bikes. In addition, as a conceptual designer and consultant, I always come up with one or two ideas to put the bike in the limelight. Of course, I like to share these with the team.