On the way with mountain bike and groundhog

Magazine, 03.09.2018

Martin Franze covers thousands of kilometres every year. Not by car, but by mountain bike. The ERGO employee loves to race down gravel roads from high peaks. Especially when he is accompanied by a groundhog.

Martin Franze on the Schattenberg

Martin Franze is a member of the life unsirance department at the Hamburg location. There, the graduate civil engineer has been part of the Facility Management division for many years, where he heads the Construction Technology and Infrastructural Facility Management Group. In other words, he is primarily responsible for the building fabric of all ERGO buildings in Hamburg. Whether floors, ceilings, walls, facades, outdoor facilities: no matter what, his team makes sure that everything is in order and stays that way. This can range from small repairs to troubleshooting to the management of major conversion projects. 

At the Hamburg location, however, the ERGO employee Franze is not only known for his work, but also for his great passion: cycling. The 53-year-old is the committed leader of the company's mountain bike sports division. What's more, as co-initiator of the Bicycle Action Days in Hamburg, he is dedicated to ensure that ERGO employees switch from cars to bicycles. After work, he regularly gets on his mountain bike. Even if – as he says – he has driven a little less recently, he accomplishes almost 1,000 km on his watch. Every month. In an interview, the Essen-born man explains why he does this, how he is committed to his sport outside the company and what the groundhog is all about.

Mr. Franze, you volunteer your time to lead the company's mountain bike sports division and offer ERGO employees a lot: tours, driving technique training, technical workshops, etc. – why this dedication?

Why? Exercise does you good and is healthy, and that in the great outdoors, is there anything better? And if there is also the possibility of doing this together, with colleagues ... „more is not possible“.

Do you also commit yourself outside the company to „ your“ sport?

I am one of the few mountain bikers organised in the association. Here I coordinate the cooperation with the forestry administration in the Harburger Hills district. In addition to the environmentally friendly practice of the sport, the consideration of the interests of all recreation seekers belongs to it as well: families, riders, dog owners, runners, hikers, mushroom pickers, etc. Of course, the maintenance of trails is also an important part of this cooperation.

At what age did you learn to ride a bicycle? Have you been so closely connected to cycling ever since, or did your special enthusiasm for cycling only begin later?

Learned? That's a good question. In any case well before primary school, it must have been at the age of four or five. I have always enjoyed cycling a lot. During my studies in Munich I was infected by the „ MTB wave“ coming from the USA at the end of the eighties. The idea of riding down gravel paths and over roots from high peaks with a robust bicycle was simply too tempting.

How long do you cycle on average every day?

At the moment I'm on my bike about five days a week, that can only be one hour, on weekends it can be five hours.

Do you actually have a car?

I have, but it won't be more than 5,000 km per year.

Was there a funny experience, a special experience during a tour?

Two years ago I had an interesting encounter with a groundhog on the Hacklberg Trail in Austria. That accompanied me almost 12 km downhill. It is really amazing how fast these four-legged friends can be.

Why mountain bike and not road bike?

To be honest, riding a racing bike is too stressful for me. Because today's road traffic is often dangerous and I wouldn't have any peace and quiet. And in the terrain I can move relatively freely – without exhaust fumes.

Last question: Which were the most beautiful, the most dangerous and the highest routes you have ever driven?

There is only one possible route: the Sentiero 601 at Lake Garda.

Martin Franze at ERGO in Hamburg

About the person

Martin Franze was born in Essen-Werden in 1964. After graduating from high school, he went straight to the Bundeswehr, where he worked in Verden, Hanover, Lübeck and Potsdam, among other cities. During his career as an officer, he completed his studies in civil engineering in Munich. In 1995 Franze joined what was then Hamburg-Mannheimer and worked in the construction department from the outset. Today, he heads the Construction Technology and Infrastructural Facility Management Group at ERGO's Hamburg location. In addition to his varied work, he particularly appreciates the team spirit within his group and the division.

By Sabina Rappold

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