Approximately two months have passed since the BTG 2021 is in the books. After 2020, it was the second edition under the circumstances of a still ongoing pandemic and it was surrounded by uncertainties. As if Covid-19 wasn’t enough, the African swine fever was also an issue in some parts of the track and has led to these parts being re-scouted and re-routed in spring 2021 – without knowing if the BTG could get rolling at all.
But a decision had to be made and we’ve choosen to route the BTG within the German borders only and to replace the Grand Depart with a window of two weeks within riders could tackle the route in ITT mode with a tracker to allow dot-watching for friends, family and fellow riders.
Having the field spread quite a lot, the usual reports fell short during the BTG 2021. To compensate this at least a little, we’ve put together a roundup basically fed by the info and pictures we got from the WhatsApp group and the weekend we spent at the Hoher Randen to welcome some of the riders that started on that very first weekend of July.
First of all, we want to gratulate all of those who managed to finish the track and make it to Cape Arkona despite the often very adverse weather conditions. Rain, cold, mud and thunderstorms and even floodings which transformed trails into creeks or swamps made the track even harder and got the best of some of the riders and their bikes or their components respectively. The list of defects was diverse: plenty of brake issues, at least two ripped off derailleurs, broken spokes and loose bolts of which some got replaced with zip ties.
Also the equipment was taken to the limit and beyond: A sleeping bag got soaked because of the crash into a puddle and had to be dried again.
But it weren’t only the machines who suffered, the riders had to deal with some wear and tear on their bodies, too: From various stomach problems, water and food poisonings (rumors say that a Burger King restaurant along the track was responsible for the latter), a sore Achilles tendon, a whiplash, irritated knees and foot joints to absolute overall powerlessness – the BTG and the weather have taken their toll in various ways.
Besides the bodies the weather also had its effect on the riders’ psyches and their mindsets. Some just couldn’t stand the rain anymore, others couldn’t picture themselves pushing up the climbs with the steep gearing of their gravel bikes and decided to quit.
The weather and the circumstances it brought with it also led to some gallows humor among the riders: The sun was declared as “wanted” along the track – we’re still wondering if someone actually found it and got the bounty?
But now, finally, to something positive or, in the other words: the silver lining of the cloud(s):
Once again, the team spirit among the riders stood out and made up some of the adversities. First and formost we have to mention Christian Biehl, the only finisher from a group of three riders (him, Andreas Christophel and Tobias Bernhard) which got on their bikes before the first weekend of July. After his finish, Christian posted motivating and supportive message into the WhatsApp group to help the others to keep going.
Thank you Christian for bringing a lot of positive vibes to a BTG with circumstances (regarding the weather in particular) that yet have to be matched.
From the peloton (the riders who set out on the first weekend of July) Thomas G., Holger G., the Duo Kevin M. und Jaroslav. H., Andreas W., Jorgie, Bastian J., Endre, Sebastian F., Ralf V., Wybren B., Tim Z., Flo T., Bert P. and Insa K. (who had to tackle the second half on the track without her partner in crime) made it to the finish line.
Congratulations to you all, your effort has been remarkable!
Among the riders that started after the first weekend of July there was no finisher among those who had a tracker, also none of the two Southbound riders made it to the end.
And well, that’s it for 2021 – we keep our fingers crossed for 2022 with a tamer Devil in Hell’s gorge, Franconian swamps to become fields or meadows again and that the muddy trails may dry up well and have a chance to recovery.
A big thanks to everyone of the riders, supporters, scouts and friends of the Bikepacking Trans Germany!
Cheers and always remember: Type-2 fun is fun, too!