The 1,000 mile Bikepacking Trans Germany (BTG) runs southwest to northeast and was designed to take in the most beautiful and unknown parts of the German backcountry. The BTG follows fast rolling gravel roads with quite a few technical trails in between to explore the wild and remote parts of Germany with plenty of history along the trail if you take time for it.
- Rhine river as a warm up, the route leads gently uphill along the banks of the Rhine.
- Hell’s Kitchen gorge Just when you got used to easy rolling you will face a section of serious hike-a-bike through a narrow cascading gorge. None of the racers of the first edition wants to miss this section.
- Schwäbische Alb A geological phenomenon of a plateau that drops steeply into the plains below. The route follows the rim for quite a while on technical single track and offers spectacular views over the plains, the most spectacular of them at Zeller Horn with a breathtaking view over Hohenzollern Castle.
- The iron curtain In eastern Germany the route follows the borders between Germany and – back then – Czechoslovakia for a long time and also crosses it for long sections. Be prepared to learn a lesson about the separation of Europe that is still visible.
- Saxonian Switzerland Spectacular limestone formations with some difficult single trail in between and one of the race checkpoints on top of a limestone rock with a view that you will never forget.
- Eastern Germany Be prepared for some sandy passages that make the going tough and for long stretches through deserted countryside where even the wolf has returned to Germany.
- Rügen If you have another day off after finishing the route please take the chance to watch the breathtaking and legendary white limestone cliffs in Jasmund National park, which have been made famous by the German artist Caspar David Friedrich.
- The route is best travelled between April and September Before April and after September snow might be a problem on the route
- Trail etiquette Especially in the Schwäbische Alb you will ride on narrow hiking trails. Please give way to hikers at any time.
- Language You will pass through remote countryside where English will not be spoken. A set of common German phrases will be helpful here.
- Mosquitos Especially in the eastern part of Germany you will be travelling in river valleys with a high density of mosquitos. Make sure to bring a repellent!
- Border crossings In the first part of the ride you will cross into Switzerland, in the middle you will be riding through Czech Republic for significant parts. Both countries are not part of the Euro-zone. Although most of the restaurants accept Euros: Be prepared to carry local currency or plan ahead to avoid spending money within these sections. Passports are not necessary for border crossing.
- Ferries In the northern section there are two ferry-crossings. Ferries have limited operating hours. Check these beforehand and plan your trip accordingly.
- Shop opening hours Especially for American bikers it might be a surprise: Shops in Germany don’t open at Sundays and in rural areas opening times on Saturdays are limited. Check this beforehand. Gas stations are more flexible with their opening hours but don’t rely on them.
- The route is compiled from various sources: Marked hiking trails, short sections of publicly available GPS-tracks and sections that have been scouted by local bikers. It is not marked throughout. You will need to follow our GPS track.
- There will be long, steep and demanding climbs especially in the first half of the route. Some of them (especially in the Schwäbische Alb) are so steep that you’ll need to push your bike.
- There are technical sections along the route but almost all of them are rideable, even with a heavy loaded bike. The only exception is a 2km section through Hell’s Kitchen gorge that you will face on the first day of the ride. This section will require you to carry your bike in some ridiculously steep sections.
- The route can be ridden in both directions. In Switzerland the route can be extended by choosing one of the three Swiss National Mountain Bike Routes. (http://www.mountainbikeland.ch/en/routen/nationale-routen.html)
- Wild camping is forbidden in Germany, at least if you plan to pitch a tent. It is tolerated if you sleep in a sleeping bag and bivy bag. But it’s a good idea to search for a bivy spot that is hidden from view.
- Shelter cabins Throughout the route there are many primitive open shelter cabins. Expect those to have a rainproof roof but nothing else. Sleeping inside these cabins is tolerated.
- Commercial Campgrounds Touristic areas feature a high density of commercial campgrounds along the way. In many larger communities you’ll find one that offers campsites for 10-20€.
- Hotels & Restaurants In rural areas accommodation and food will be affordable but at some places it won’t be available at all because many businesses have closed down, especially in the eastern parts of Germany. If you want to rely on them: Plan ahead!
Food / H2O
- Surface water: Along the route there are lakes and streams inviting to refresh and swim. However, drinking water from streams without treatment (filter, Katadyn etc.) is not recommended!
- Water from natural springs can be trusted but is very sparse along the route.
- Some towns have artificial fountains for decoration purposes. They usually show a ‘no drinking water’ sign and should not be trusted without treatment.
- Cemetaries usually have publicly accessible water taps. Tap water is drinkable and of high quality all across Germany.
- In rural areas most of the people living along the track will be happy to provide tap water if you ask them. This is also the case in all of the shops and gas stations along the route.
- Restaurants are abundant on most parts of the route, except for some remote parts in eastern Germany. Especially in southern Germany you will come across a few tempting beer gardens which might be quite hard to resist.
- Shops and supermarkets are available in almost all towns that you pass through except for remote areas in Eastern Germany and Czech Republic. Discounters like Aldi and Lidl are best for a low budget, supermarkets like Rewe and Edeka carry high quality food, especially as far as fresh food (meat, vegetables, fruits) is concerned.
- Open fire is prohibited almost all over Germany with a few exceptions. Watch out for fire places at campgrounds or barbecue huts.