The official name of the Berlin Wall was the Antifaschistischer Schutzwall, or Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart. Physically, it was a monstrous barrier of concrete, barbed wire and anti-vehicle trenches that cut off West Berlin from East Germany from 1961 till it was opened in 1989. Socially, it cut off families, divided a nation and was caused the deaths of many Berliners who tried defecting from East to West.
Its effects are still felt today, over twenty-five years later, and the Polish Podia crew are determined to explore the parts of Europe most closely associated with the legacy of the Wall. They have partnered with Festka on the ‘Riding Behind the Curtain’ project, which will be documented through words, photography, film and this road bike, one of four team bikes which will carry them on that journey.
Four riders will embark on this expedition. “We aren’t just interested in finding the perfect roads,” Podia tells us, “but instead in the scars that remain from a troubled past and how this can inform the future.” It’s a noble vision, and Festka responded with four capable machines from their standard catalog, built from Columbus XCr Modern tubing.
Festka are based in the Czech Republic and are well known for their dazzling paint schemes but more so for their custom carbon, steel and titanium frames. They turned it on again for Podia and the ‘Riding Behind the Curtain’ bikes, dressing them up with a geometric purple, yellow and orange design, touched with silver highlights.
Podia also collaborated with ENVE, who provided the stem, painted to match the rest of the bike, as well as the handlebars, SES 3.4 wheels, and seat post. Sitting atop that post is a very aerodynamic ALM saddle by Fabric, a new brand from Frome, in Somerset, UK. The design isn’t surprising, Fabric worked with engineers from Airbus Group Innovation to create it.
It’s finished with Campagnolo’s superb 2015 Chorus groupset, a modern wonder of performance and engineering, just like all of their components. All together, these bikes will be reliable vehicles for Podia’s journey of commemoration. It will be interesting, and sobering, to read and watch their stories.