Cycling Makes Me Relaxed and yet Focused
Gerd Holzschlag speaks about his five exceptional bikes and the mutual influence between mobility behaviour and economic development.
You know your way around a bicycle very well. Why did you decide to buy a Look 695 in particular?
As a Francophile, I like the history of the French company Look: always great, racing-oriented riders like Bernard Hinault, Laurent Jalabert, Jens Voigt, Thor Hushovd and Bradley Wiggins, a strong commitment to manufacturing in Europe, and always innovative.
I find the Look 695 to be extremely lively, ridable, study and yet comfortable. I also like the elaborate paint jobs and many innovative details, like the ZED crankset made of carbon fibre and the integrated, adjustable stem. The design with Campagnolo Superrecord, Campa Shamal Mille wheels and Deda handlebars makes for a nice bike with a good cycling history.
How many bikes do you have? Which ones are they and why?
Right now, I own the following bikes: a Look 695 and a Look 585, a Casati Monza, a Specialized Stumpjumper and a BH track Bahnrahmen as a fixie. Why? Because I like to ride bikes and to look at them – because bikes are beautiful!
When do you use which bike?
The Look 695 in good weather, the Look 585 in bad weather and mountain stages, the old iron horse Casati for fun, the BH in the city and Speci for mountain biking.
How often do you go cycling and how many kilometres do you cover per year?
As often as family and work allow it – between 4,000 and 5,000 km per year.
What are your favourite routes?
I prefer to ride from Villach to Vrsic and through the Soca Valley back to Villach. I also love the Nockalm route and the Grossglockner from Bruck/Fusch. In Mallorca, I’m happy to ride on Coll de Soller and the West Coast. Here in Styria, my favourites are the Stübingtal route, Eastern Styria with the Schöckl and Semriach – we live in a real cycling paradise.
What invention do you think could make cycling even better?
None. They should leave it mechanical; the reduction to the essentials has something to be said for it.
Do you repair your bicycles yourself?
No, I trust professionals like Hannes Fuchs of Rad Fuchs or the people from Radsport Vychodil or my friends in Carinthia for that.
Why is cycling such a pleasure? What do you enjoy about cycling?
With my bike, I explore scenic beauty at a reasonable pace, with wide-open senses, relaxed and yet focused, together with friends, but often just by myself.
I also appreciate the mentally clarifying effect of long bike trips, as well as the health effects. Problems that appear major are reduced to an appropriate size while cycling.
The view back from climbed mountain passes makes me aware again and again of how far you can move with your own power.
If I didn’t have a bike, then …?
I would have a problem.
In which city would you like to cycling?
Paris, Bilbao, Madrid.
How can we get more decision makers in politics to support cycling?
I’m surprised at how many there already are. Some of them are really ambitious and passionate! I also believe that the new urban bike culture is attracting young people to cycling.
Is there a connection between your professional activity (Economic Development and Creating Awareness at SFG) and your passion for bikes?
Yes, that goes from promoting the development of new materials and their processing to the support of business in the area of research and development and start-ups. It also has to do with my work in the area of the mobility cluster ACStyria.
What impact do you think mobility behaviour has on economic development?
There’s a lot to say about that! I think there are major connections there; especially in urban areas, of course. Cities like Copenhagen, but also London, show a lot about how bicycles can be used in urban areas, as well as how intelligent solutions can look which improve the functioning of cities and the quality of life of their inhabitants. I’m glad to see the solid growth of the cycling community in Graz – in all forms and ages. The return of the cargo bikes in the city logistics area is something that I’m particularly happy about.