The day I rode from Leipzig to Berlin in the company of Tave Schur: Twice winner of the the Peace Race and twice Road Race Champion of the World

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This story really starts in 1955 when Alf Buttler was asked to be the mechanic for the English team at the Peace Race. The Friedensfahrt, with its white dove peace symbol, had first been run in 1948. It was to become the single biggest sporting event in East Europe. By 1955, it had grown into a 13 stage race starting in Prague and going via Berlin to Warsaw. Alf Buttler went on to be the mechanic and/or team manager for Great Britain teams through the rest of the 1950's, the 1960's, and into the 1970's. Then he became a race commissare and race organiser.Later in life he suffered quite badly with diabetes. Sadly he died in 2008.

Alf's son, Alan, with encouragement from contacts in Germany, decided that a memorial ride following the route of the 1955 Peace Race and in aid of Diabetes UK Charity would be a fitting tribute to his father. Alan was quickly joined by Geoff Wiles, racer and twice a Peace Race rider who agreed to ride the whole route. Geoff Hodgson also came onboard to do the very valuable job of providing back up and vehicle driving.

As I had the privilege of being with Alf on a GB Team at the 1960 Tour of Tunisia and had also ridden the Peace Race in 1962 I was soon persuaded by my son David that it would be a good idea to ride one stage with Alan and Geoff. My other son, Robert also decided to join us and we were quickly joined by John Woodburn who completed the 1963 edition of the Peace Race.

Friday 4th May Leipzig to Berlin was the chosen stage and it was almost 50 years to the day that I had ridden in the opposite direction on stage 2 of the 1962 Peace Race.

On the Thursday evening we met up with the Tribute Ride team at The Hotel Amadeo to discover that they had been joined by two of Alan's friends, Michael Thompson, and Gwydion Ap Dafydd. This was good news as it would give us older riders a little bit more back wheel on the next day?s ride. We also discovered that the great Tave Schur had ridden with them that day and was also going to do the ride to Berlin.

Soon after 9.00am on Friday morning we set off and once we had cleared the suburbs of Leipzig found ourselves with a tail wind and the sun shining. We were soon bowling along at "evens" and at our first comfort stop someone noted that our average speed was 18.9 MPH. Whilst there were no steep hills there were plenty of long drags and with David Jacob, who rode strongly all day, keeping the pace high the legs were aching ! Tave Schur, now 81 years of age, seemed to have no difficulty holding the pace!

Alan Buttler decided that we would head into Wittenburg (of Martin Luther fame) for our Lunch break. We found a suitable restaurant where we were able to sit outside in the sunshine and refuel on pasta and coffee. Very quickly Tave was recognised and people were coming up to shake his hand and get photographs with him. What a privilege it was for us to ride with him. With many miles still to go we pushed on and whilst we lost our tail wind it was still more a help than a hindrance. Our final comfort stop was in Potsdam and will be remembered for Tave suddenly appearing with a bunch of bananas to share amongst the riders. Being a Friday afternoon we faced a lot of frantic traffic with people rushing off to start their weekends. Eventually we arrived at the Brandenburg Gate and lined up for a team photograph. Again, we saw the reaction of people to the presence of Tave who takes it all in his stride and behaves like a real gentleman. After a short while we set off for our hotel to complete our 110 mile ride or so we thought... The Jung Welt newspaper had arranged a reception for us and they wanted us to ride there in our kit! By the end of the evening this was to add another 7 miles to our days total!

Saturday morning saw us driving to Kleinmuhlingen which is near Magdeburg, to the Peace Race Museum where they were celebrating the 60 year anniversary of The Peace Race using German roads. Alan Butler presented a Peace Race Tribute Ride Jersey to the museum which was greatly appreciated The former Peace Race riders amongst us were required to sign various books and also a huge wall mural featuring the race symbol, the white dove.

More signatures were required when at breakfast time on Sunday morning a deputation arrived from the local Berlin area cycling federation. They were promoting their junior championships that day and wanted a signed jersey to give as a prize.

If anyone would like to make a small donation to the Diabetes UK Charity you can give your contribution to me or you can go to the Just Giving website - Alf Buttler Peace Race Tribute Ride.There is also a link from Alan Buttlers blog. See also Alan Butler's blog.There is also information on the CTC Forum.

Photographs by Robert Jacob

Alan Jacob