Last Sunday, Neil participated in the 2016 Velothon here in Berlin. A race that sees 11,000 cyclists of all ages, shapes, and sizes ride around a city which has momentarily shut down for the occasion, the Velothon is a yearly event for any enthusiast to either participate in or observe. There are two distance options - the 60km or 120km - and the city reroutes itself so you're welcome to zoom down the center as fast as you can with no consequence.
Whilst Berlin still has a ways to go before reaching the heady cycling heights of Amsterdam or Copenhagen, it is a rider's paradise compared to other similar metropolitan areas, and the support it receives from the community for these events and others (like Critical Mass) is nothing to scoff at. Perhaps the most moving part is seeing the hoards of people standing at the sidelines, relentlessly cheering on the cyclists who come through one after another towards the finish line. When you're flying by and everything seems to be a microsecond blur, the cries of a hundred strangers somehow still slice through.
There were some beautiful displays of partnership that day. A father and son who rode across the finish line with their arms around each other. Teams who spent the last meters cycling side by side. A brave soul who did the entire course on a singlespeed, much to the surprise and encouragement of others. And many who looked up with big smiles on their faces just before they reached the end.
It was a really good day.
PS: Here's the official 2016 Velothon Berlin video.