[This text has been machine translated.]
Dear BTG friends,
the questions about the start date of a 2022 edition of the Bikepacking Trans Germany are getting louder – both by email and in the WhatsApp group. We, on the other hand, have been rather quiet since the end of the BTG 2021. Among other things, because we needed time to sort ourselves and our thoughts about the BTG and to let some events sink in before we contact the interested riders. Especially the last two years of the BTG, which, like all areas of life, were strongly influenced by the corona pandemic, made us think. In the following we would like to explain to you what our thoughts mainly revolved around. We would also like to tell you what this means for Bikepacking Trans Germany in its familiar form.
The Bikepacking Trans Germany was launched as a mountain bike route. It is and does not want to be yet another gravel route. This fact results in certain prerequisites for the route and the demands of some sections such as impassable and partly pathless terrain (including sand passages), hike-a-bike sections such as the Teufelsküche, technical descents as well as long, steep climbs, which in turn require suitable material. Accordingly, we take a critical view on the equation “Gravel bike = Bikepacking” or “Bikepacking = Gravel bike” formulated by the industry and its marketing. This equation may be correct for a variety of route profiles on which the gravel bike is a good choice.
For the Bikepacking Trans Germany, on the other hand, the de facto equation of the terms “Bikepacking” and “Gravel bike” mentioned above has mostly led to false expectations and as a result to disappointment and sometimes also frustration, which has been discharged on us through various channels. There were emails complaining about a bad route and complaining that the BTG was too hard – the climbs too steep, some sand passages impassable and the descents sometimes far too dangerous.
The past has shown that the BTG – depending on the claim formulated for yourself – can also be done very well with a gravel bike – assuming appropriate fitness, riding technique, experience and willingness to suffer. However, a deficiency in one of these areas can lead to dangerous situations that can have serious consequences. It is easy to imagine what this can ultimately mean for us as those who launched the route and made it available to the riders.
Of course, there would be the possibility of adapting the routing and defusing it in the course of this. That brings us back to the beginning of this paragraph: The Bikepacking Trans Germany was launched as a mountain bike route and we would like to maintain it as such.
The BTG is and has never been an organized event. We have always been guided by the idea of the self-supported mode, in the spirit of a tour divide or other bikepacking events. It’s about a meeting of like-minded people who want to cover a certain distance independently and without any outside help in the shortest possible time. There was the possibility of a joint start, but everyone is free to take the route under the tires at any other time, the so-called Individual Time Trial (ITT). Bikepacking is therefore always personal responsibility that begins with preparation. Not many events offer a POI list or newsletter service. These things may have given some participants the impression of an all-round service that we cannot and do not want to provide. Quite a few participants ran out of drinking water on the first ascent. Others lost their tracking device and made subsequent riders responsible. Further “episodes” indicate that the approach of the riders before and during the event no longer coincides with our ideas.
And yes, there is the disclaimer. But no lawyer can assure us that we as initiators of a bike tour are freed from any responsibility. There have been a few tragic fatal accidents in the bikepacking scene in recent years. We can’t even imagine what such an event would mean for the BTG. It is very easy to understand why riders want start numbers or even tinker with them themselves, but a resourceful lawyer could deduce an organized race and ask questions.
In the past two years, some regions of Germany have been exposed to strong leisure pressure. No or only very limited travel options have shifted leisure activities and tourism from abroad to inland. This was also noticeable for the BTG: We were repeatedly contacted by nature conservation and similar interest groups and pointed out that this or that section was not accessible for various reasons. Apart from the first shock when discovering such an email in the mailbox, such information could easily be processed to the satisfaction of all parties and the BTG riders hardly noticed anything.
This changed suddenly this year when a local tourism authority contacted us and informed us that the forest authority had been called in because of the organization of an unauthorized MTB race, among other things. Other allegations we were confronted with were wild camping, illegal campfires and ruthlessness towards hikers. Thanks to many soothing e-mails, virtual crisis meetings and a live rerouting of the track, this situation could fortunately be de-escalated, because nobody wants to fight a government agency.
The shock, however, is still deep. We are firmly convinced that the allegations against us as a team behind the BTG and the riders are baseless. But it is also a fact that these were in the room and will be in the room for the foreseeable future. We simply do not want to expose ourselves to the risk of having to stand up with our names for things that are outside of our responsibility and thus our sphere of influence.
So for the time being we won’t be organizing a joint start. But that doesn’t mean that the Bikepacking Trans Germany route no longer exists. We want to continue to work on maintaining the track and maintain our network of scouts and helpers. The route will still be navigable all year round. And for individual tours including tracking, our tracking partner followmychallenge.com will surely find a solution. However, the results will no longer be published on our website. Those of you who have already sent us your contribution towards expenses for the start in 2022 or who have placed a pre-order for a BTG2022 Race-Cap, we will get in touch shortly about the reimbursement of the payments.
We regret that we have deprived you of your hope for a joint start of the BTG and still hope for your understanding.
With sporty greetings,
the BTG team Achim, Thomas and Fabian.