Text and Interview: Martin Donat
It’s a bit like Advent season, just before Christmas. But instead of sweets there are energy bars and instead of nice candles there is a massiv Gravel-Ride, that stirs up the anticipation for the Gravel-Festival of the year: the VOTEC Gravel Fondo in the Black Forest. The first Gravel Fondo prequel in Heidelberg earlier this year was a big success. And so Gravel-Ride number 2 should bring a ballload of cycling fun.
There still might be folk out there, thinking Ruhrpott means dudes all messed up with oil and dirt, never having white landry and constant traffic on A40. With that in mind, some who started for the Gravel-Ride in the Pott from quite a bit away probably started wondering: “Sure, that I am right here?” A road, not nearly wide enough for a tractor to pass, led straight to the homebase of the Ride, a big farm in the middle of the Elfringhauser Schweiz next to Hattingen. The so called Bergerhof welcomed at around 70 participants, with a friendly and happy looking pack of cows and chickens. The riders were getting ready to set out and enjoying a sip of coffee and fresh country side air.
Gravel Fondo in the Ruhrpott. But first the VOTEC Testbikes had to be prepared.
Slowly but steady the group started on the track – without any time pressure, for sure. And even the local riders were suprised about the trails the guys from Good Times Roll came up with. The Ruhrpott based crew, were responsible for the route and it seemed like they wanted to show everyone what Hattingen and its surroundings have to offer. Finest trails, beautiful grave roads, endless forests and barely any tarred roads. Even if it comes to making altitude meters, there was a lot. As the track went on through an old traintrack inbetween Sprockhövel and Hattingen, everyone was glad about the even part, so one could take a breath. Halfway through, the nutrition stop was waiting and all the hungry riders were highly appreciating it. Close to 50 kilometer later, the Ride came to an end, finishing were it started in the landly farm Bergerhof. Delicious and fresh-baked cake was waiting for the sweaty rider-buddys. It was a nice Ride with the typicall mix of social ride and sporty enthusiasm we all know from the Gravel Fondo.
Gravel à la Ruhrpott!
The Gravel-Fondo-Philosophy: Everyone ride like he can and wants to! Why not in Wheelie-Mode…
By the way: not only the guys from Goor Times Roll, but also VOTEC themselves were at the Ruhrpott Ride. Alex from VOTEC brought Testbikes with him, that were tested to flesh and bone by some of the participants. We grabbed Alex and asked him a bit about Gravel Fondo. Here’s the short Interview.
Gravel Fondo Interview with Alex from VOTEC
Alex, VOTEC’s Gravel Fondo is coming bakc with part 3 this year, as a multiday weekend event. Thats the difference between the Ride in the Pott, that’s only taking place on the saturday – what’s the idea behind all of this?
We already organized the VOTEC Gravel Fondo Ride in Heidelberg, together with the guys from Fahrstil Magazin. All of the participants had so much fun and were finishing the day with a huge smile on their faces, so we knew we had to organize this format in other places as well. The difference between the rides and the main event is, that the rides are more local and more simple, but with the same gravel-action everyone know from the main event. We got an amazing set up with the Blackforest, and the participants expect something special. As it’s still quite a while until the 13./14. of october and not every Gravel-Connaisseure is able to come to the Blackforest, out plan is to bring the feeling and vibes straight to them.
Why excatly the Pott? How did you come up with this idea?
VOTEC is supporting Goodtimes-Roll-Crew for a couple of years already. The guys are super active and going on a lot of adventures on their VRX Gravel Bikes on a regular basis. The Idea came up during a meeting on the Eurobike. The gyus call the greater surroundings of the Ruhrpott their home and know every single part of it like the baclk of their heads. It was obvious to show everyone that even huge cornubations like the Ruhrpott has it’s beautiful parts, that fit for a Gravel Tour. A Couple of weeks later we found the perfect spot with the Bergerhof in Hattingen and were all set to invade the „Elfringhauser Schweiz“.
Did you go on a testride of this track? I could imagine, people not coming from here, wouldn’t think that „Ruhrpott“ and „Gravel“ are a good combination…
Sure I was pretty excitied myself on what was waiting for us, as I was not able to ride the track in advance. Chris from Goodtimesroll, who was scouting the track, sent me one or two pictrues of it, what hyped me even more. When you hear Ruhrpott, first thing that comes to your mind is industy buildings. But what we saw was the complete opposite: a hilly landscape, deep forests and green fields. The participants and I were positively suprised. The route had everything you could wish for, fast gravel passages, challenging trails and only a few tarred roads – defenitely something for everyone. The Ruhrpott delivered for sure, you find a lot of beautiful places, where you can enjoy the nature. Shoutout and big thanks to the Chief-routesetters of GTR.
Last but not least, tell me ,what do you guys have in store for us at this years main event?
This years VOTEC Gravel Fondois going to take place in the northern parts of the Blackforest, close to Triberg, also known for the biggest “Kuckucks-Clock” of the world. On the 13th and 14th of october a beautiful route in a unique place is waiting for all of the participants. With about 80km and 2000m of altitude change everybody can challenge themselves. And if the power doesn’t last, there’s also going to be a 60km version. During the ride some treats are waiting at a couple of nutrition stops. You can recharge your batteries at the get-together BBQ saturday night. An Espresso and croissiant is the perfect sunday morning start to yet another amazing gravel day. We prepared some Track-offers from short hangover-rides to challenging tours. So everyone can go on a ride he feels fit for, with old or new made friends, before departing for home. Chekc out www.gravelfondo.de for more detailed information and some impressions from last years Gravel Fondo. Team VOTEC is looking forward to yet another amazing Gravel Weekend and a fitting end to the season.
THAT’s actually a speciality of the Pott. Back in the Days trainwaggons filled with blackcole were running over the tracks, that are offering a perfect path to ride with your bike. With all the trails this passage on the traintracks between Sprockhövel and Hattingen was a welcoming sight.
Fields, Cows, Trails und Forest! Yes you can find all those close to the Ruhr area.
In case you got really excited about Gravel Fondo – there is still a chance this year! The big main event in the Black Forest is goint to take place on 13./14. October. All information at www.gravelfondo.de.
There is only one more thing left to do: we wish you a happy gravel party!
Your team VOTEC