It’s that time again – heavy gray clouds hang over you the whole day, sunshine only exists in distant memories. You can only get out for short, wet and dark rides. A goal has to be found, because with the anticipation, the motivation comes naturally. But that is easier said than done. A brief outline of my finding phase for 2022 – from clicking through events without motivation to exactly the event I’m already looking forward to.
Finding phase and inspiration
Today there are more places to get inspired than ever when it comes to bike tours. I say that in general, but actually we all know which word I’m trying to avoid: bikepacking. It’s gotten so mainstream, I can hardly say it.
My first structured and multi-day bikepacking tour was the 16 Summits Challenge . To travel the 16 highest points of each state. Back then as a patchwork of almost 6 individual tours. In self-catering mode, but mostly with hotels and all the trimmings. A little less adventure than it could be.
Today a Paul Voss (professional racing cyclist) rides the Epic Badlands Bikepacking . Millions of people watch the exceptional Australian athlete Lachlan Morton at the alternative – “Alt Tour” – Tour de France in bikepacking mode . Bikepacking eV will also be founded in 2021 – where today many German tours find a roof (and legal protection). Including the Main Franken Graveler, the Rhön Divide or the Grenzsteintrophy. The names alone speak for themselves.
But what exactly am I looking for? Or what are your cornerstones? How do you actually choose a tour.
- A main event that I primarily want to prepare for, which goes well beyond known limits and is challenging
- 6-10 days travel time
- No MTB trails, rather more easily drivable terrain with gravel
- No long journey (no flight, train journey under one day)
- Self-catering mode, so far I have always done multi-day tours with a fixed roof over my head (at least for one night); this time I want to be completely self-sufficient
This means that many large events are eliminated straight away. I currently have no place in my life for a Transcontinental, Transiberica, Silcroad Mountainrace or any other epic track. I also have too much respect for the format and can’t turn my life upside down for it, keyword: family and children.
The shortlist and inspirators
Typically you stumble across other blog posts, videos or podcasts that have a similar topic. The contributions of Torsten Frank, who writes incredibly detailed posts in “book format” (quite a unique style, you should bring your time) are particularly memorable: 2021 Thoughts on Transcontinental and Orbit360
But Johanna Jahnke also likes to talk about upcoming events with the cyclist in the podcast: Top 10 Gravel Events 2021
There isn’t that much content for 2022, but for example. Here is a good list from Sara Hallbauer: Gravel Events 2022
So I came up with the following shortlist … the focus is on the Main Franconian region (my old home, I am enthusiastic about the nature there and always look forward to being there) and on tours that go across Germany or in other regions are what appeal to me. Or simply because the name of the event sounds funny. A completely gut feeling-driven collection.
Grenzsteintrophy – 1,300km – 20,000hm
The Grenzsteintrophy leads along the border between former East and West Germany. Rough terrain and disturbed steep climbs included. An exciting race report from Bike-BILD editor Mathias Müller can be seen here (a bit lengthy cut but gives the feeling of this tour very well): Grenzsteintrophy 2020 – A bikepacking and gravel adventure
I would very much like to register for this format and it is still a hot candidate. But it is really questionable in which constitution you have to be to pack this route in 7 days, because the terrain and the route look really very demanding. At the same time, I am not completely convinced of the scenic charm of this route, after all, the limit does not assume such conditions.
Main Franken Graveler – 660km – 9,000 meters of altitude
My old home – I share a great love for the steep vineyards and forests of Franconia. A tour along the Main and all the old castles sounds very nice. That’s why it’s pretty high on my shortlist. However, the date falls on my daughter’s birthday and the event is practically canceled.
More information at: https://www.mainfrankengraveller.de/
Rhön Divide – 260km – 6,000 meters above sea level
We stay in Franconia: Rhön Divide not only has a spectacular name but also an outstanding visualization. A real chunk with an altitude factor of 2,300 m over 100 km. A total of 40 peaks. It goes up and down here all day. If you take it sporty and want to tear down the 6,000hm in one day. Sounds very appealing to me because it would also be a sporty challenge. Perfect for a day around the summer solstice.
At the same time, the Rhön Divi is flexible in terms of time. So the probability of actually getting under my tires in 2022 is very high.
More information: https://www.rhoendivi.de/
Bikepacking Trans Germany – 1,600km – 20,000hm
One of the oldest bikepacking events in Germany (according to my perception – it was simply one of the first films on the subject that I had seen years ago on YT: Bikepacking Trans Germany (2016) . But seriously: this tour is somehow legendary. Unfortunately, there will be no joint start in 2022 .
The organization is difficult for the organizers, as there are distorted perceptions on the part of the participants (keyword expectations) as well as the regional administrations and officials (who think there would be a race through their front yard). At the same time it sounds like a problem that the umbrella organization Bikepacking eV could address (as this also creates a good legal framework).
Be that as it may, the idea sounds incredibly tempting to me. After the 16 Summits Challenge from 2019, this could be a worthy successor for me. There is no time limit. However, the track is not quite to my taste, as it is primarily aimed at mountain bike audiences. This is absolutely legitimate but does not coincide with my idea of moving a little faster. So this crossing is not feasible in my planned time window. So I had to get creative again … more on that in the conclusion.
Dead Ends & Cake – 500km – 8,000hm
A lovely destination in neighboring Switzerland – the Dead Ends & Cake event. It goes to remote corners of the Swiss mountains. Where nobody wants to go, because there are dead ends. But where there is an end there is a cake. That is the rule of this race. Primarily the landscape would appeal to me here.
Since there is a common start, the number of participants is very limited. Understandable, but also less predictable as a result. Also associated with a somewhat longer journey. Sporty but definitely an extreme challenge and therefore very exciting again.
Badlands – 750km – 15,000 meters
A real ultra-cycling challenge. The Badlands Tour has been organized by the Transiberica organizers since 2019. A comparatively “short” lap that a Lachlan Morton can of course drive without sleeping . These eternal YouTube formats are probably also what make the route so attractive for me. The pictures look incredibly beautiful, the landscape is reminiscent of craters on Mars. At the same time, the length is kept relatively fair, you can divide the hard route into several shorter stages and so maneuver your way around. I have a lot of respect for the heat and the desert. Especially when professionals report that they have almost died of thirst (see video at the top by Paul Voss) – that counteracts a naive idea from a distance.
Unfortunately, the registration for Badlands 2022 is already too late, the places on the organized tour are all taken. An individual start would of course always be possible.
More information: https://www.transiberica.cc/
My 2022 bike calendar
So 100% the planning is not complete. But everything that has a fixed registration and a limited list of participants feels impractical, I’m just not made for long-term planning. But I’m all the more attracted to something where I can intervene in the routing myself. And that will be my goal in 2022:
Bikepacking Trans Germany 2022 in creative mode
I will lay a route across Germany. Starting at the southernmost tip (not exactly on the border, but close to it) to Sylt (an island that I have already visited and continues to excite me, at the same time it is the northernmost point of Germany).
With 1,200km and about 10,000hm the route is moderate. I can also choose the paths in such a way that it is not too technical. challenging. But my goal is to do the route completely without hotels and a permanent roof over my head. At the same time, I want to take the route under my wheels in a sporty way, i.e. drive around 200km a day. With a little extra challenge.
At the same time, I would like to focus on another hobby: landscape photography. In order to document the trip, I want to take at least one photo every day, for which I take more time. So stay longer at a location for a picture. Will that work? Up until now, cycling and photography could rarely be combined well. Because both just take time.
This will be the primary event for 2022. All around, I would like to drive several routes through the Main-Franconia region. Very likely the Rhön Divi. But also other ideas, which I also wanted to pursue.
And what are your goals for 2022?