Authors: Vincent Arzenton, PMS
Last Sunday, an unlikely spectacle took place in Switzerland: Children’s eyes sparkling with joy flashing in the middle of thousands of bikers. What sounds somewhat incomprehensible at first has long been a carefully cultivated tradition in Dübendorf. Bikers and motor sport enthusiasts from all over Switzerland and neighboring countries come together to collect donations for the physically handicapped.
Every first weekend in May, the Love Ride opens its doors on the grounds of the military airfield in Dübendorf near Zurich. What began as a biker-only event in 1993 is now also a sought-after event for families. The festival offers a shared ride, live music, and of course food. It’s a way to combine charity with a good dose of fun. For people who are wheelchair-bound, however, this is a special annual highlight. So, for the 31st time, a wide variety of motorcycles, trikets and teams will gather on site at 8 a.m. sharp.
Benefit meets hobby
Even if the supporting program changes every year, the highlight remains the same: the idea to let handicapped people forget the thoughts of their missing mobility for one day. In fact, after the first musical performances, at 11 am the bikers allow them the chance to experience the absolute freedom of the road as a passenger. The Rideout designates a 60km route through the nature of the region blossoming in the green of spring. It succeeds in what is unparalleled nationwide: a unique bridge from social commitment to cool leisure activities.
Triker Bea Berwert describes her motivation: “Ever since I got my trike, I’ve been riding with disabled people on the Love Ride. The happy faces and the joy of the people – unique!” In fact, a ride could be offered to almost all of the numerous people with handicaps who showed up, as Chairman Bruno Leutwyler proudly explains to us.
The musical tailwind was provided by Marc Storace and Marc Amacher, among others. For culinary needs, hot as well as cold dishes are available, at the e-wheelchair field hockey match you can follow the sporting competition despite restrictions, for the little ones there are several bouncy castles and a children’s make-up stand. The singer Jeanette Macchi-Meier skillfully leads through the day’s program, while the comedian and racing driver Michel von Tell mingles rather discreetly with the visitors.
A lot of light and a shadow
Even the weather seems to want to make its contribution, giving the visitors gentle sunshine with moderate temperatures throughout. With the first raindrops, however, it waits dutifully exactly until the farewell on stage.
An unforgettable day in the spirit of social responsibility, which is clouded only by a negative message: A car driver collides with a sidecar during the rideout, 4 people are injured. As chairman, Leutwyler expresses his sympathy: “An accident like the one that happened today is infinitely tragic.
is infinitely tragic and overshadows the event. We sincerely wish the injured a speedy recovery and our thoughts are with them.”
More than 6,000 visitors were welcomed this year. Even if the total amount of donations is still pending, the counters have already exceeded 200,000 francs. In total, the Love Rides have raised more than 8 million francs for charity over the years so far.
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