How does Hollywood plan to continue a blockbuster? We don’t know exactly. But we do have to admit: After the overwhelming feedback on the VOTEC Gravel Fondo debut last fall, we wondered if the sequel would have the same drive. The expectations were high. Concerns were completely unfounded.
Also in the second edition, the unique Gravel event was able to fully convince. Anyone who was at the start of the VOTEC Gravel Fondo in Baiersbronn will be able to smile into himself with the following lines and pictures. If you missed the VOTEC Gravelbike bash in the Northern Black Forest this year, hopefully you will already get in the mood for an episode 3 on gravel roads, roads and flowing trails. In any case, we strongly recommend to join the STRAVA Gravel Fondo-Club and be informed in good time about how, when and where a continuation will take place.
One might think that even on a Friday night, not too much happens in the center of the small community of Baiersbronn. On most weekends this may be true, except for a few late hikers and guests of the local pizzeria. Things are different when the VOTEC Gravel Event is over at the weekend, and suddenly more than 100 Gravelbike fans from close and far away head into the Northern Black Forest.
After an impressive event premiere in 2016 in the extreme south of the Black Forest, just a stone’s throw away from the Feldberg near Freiburg im Breisgau, we made up two large one-day routes around the Hornisgrinde for gravel bike fans this autumn. Organizational hub of the Gravel weekend: the Rosenplatz in Baiersbronn. Already on Friday night the VOTEC Gravel Fondo guys turned the town into unfamiliar activity. The accreditation and start number hand over led numerous participants to the tourist information. Who previously had reserved one of the GPS devices from co-supporters Wahoo, got their navigation tool including pre-installed routes for Saturday and Sunday there. Test-willing Gravel Fondo participants who wanted to put a VOTEC VRX Gravelbike through their paces in the natural habitat on the next two days were also given their pre-arranged bike. In a blink of an eye the rose square switched into a test track.
The first laps with the Gravelbikes were taken and there was a lot of talk in a relaxed mood: a very relaxed start to the weekend with lots of anticipation for the next two days for Gravel Fondo newbies and “oldtimers” who were already at the start last autumn. Only one question hung in the air for all participants and the organization crew: How is the weather really going to be? The official weather forecasts for the next two days sounded more like “epic conditions” and caused plenty of discussion among the drivers. In all likelihood, both the rain jacket and theBrügelmann Ass Guard would be used. But neither Gravel pilots nor their bikes are made of sugar. And a bit of dirt is part of it anyways. The next morning would bring the answer.
Welcome to the Black Forest – as you can see, you see nothing. Saturday morning 9 clock in Baiersbronn: Deep fog is above the town and mixed with fine rain. But the pre-stoked mood could not be broken by the wet and cold Black Forest morning. Responsible for the relaxed atmosphere: Rik Sauser, boss of the organizational partner Sauser Events himself, acted as a moderator and already in the early morning he lighted uo the mood with loose slogans and additional advices for the participants. As was the case last year, there was little to be found about racing hectic – in relaxed mode, starting at 9.30 am, the 86-kilometer round of the day with its impressive 2,100 meters of altitude was started in small groups. If this should be a bit too much for some of the participants in these challenging conditions, a shortened route option with 69 kilometers and about 400 meters of altitude was the alternative route. However, if you wanted to take the scenic route with like-minded people correctly, five specially created STRAVA segments offered plenty of opportunity this Saturday.
You can also get wet on the way bat at least it’s warm while driving. Let’s go on the track. From the valley, the route leads to the Überzwercher hut. From here to the Langenbacher valley and after 17 kilometers in the saddle the first of four Gravel Fondo refreshment points was reached. After a short break, it was in the long climb over Hintergrenzen Bach up to Seibelseckle – the highest point of the first round. While the first STRAVA segment was reached relatively relaxed by most participants, the warm-up was done with this ascent. Meanwhile, the rain has settled. In the following not only the weather getting better – also the pace on the stunned Strava stages increased. At the Seidelseckle, the excellent kiosk coffee also sells the autumn-weather blues from the face and legs. Airing fogs form an atmospheric scenery with the distant view over the Black Forest. Even more “epic states” instead of bad weather. So gravel biking is fun! On fine and large gravel roads, the participants fly on and can always expect a trip to the Ortenaukreis. One would like to return the format to the participants. All the last year here and the new participants show that they are from the balanced and varied route with their crisp key data. #onroadoffroadrepeat is not an advertising slogan of VOTEC. At the Gravel Fondo, this motto is the program, and all parts, of course, according to proper beads of sweat and smiles in the face. Even short sliding passages and meadow inserts do not slow down anyone. On the contrary, everyone agreed that some cyclocross DNA is just one of them.
The last STRAVA segment once again provided an unexpected surprise for most riders. With the arrival at the Glasmännlehütte, 777 meters above sea level, this challenge was overcome. Once there, waving Brügelmann flags marked the finish line. The coffee-bulli from Biosk shortly after was obviously as strong a attraction as the target itself. Many drove directly to the deserved cappuccino served in true to style with Black Forest cake. Only after all the participants were at the finish it started to rain again, which did not spoil the atmosphere at the cozy Glasmännlehütte at all.
After a subsequent hot shower for the participants in the Baiersbronn outdoor pool or in the hotel, they met in the evening for a barbecue at the Glasmännle hut again. The buffet had something for every taste: no matter, whether you were for the beef fillet with hot sauce or one of the vegan options.
After the sky had rained off on Saturday night, Sunday greeted us from the sunny side with the hoped for good weather. For the tired legs of the participants on Sunday morning, the warm-up phase was mostly skipped. Shortly after the start, the muscles were pulled out of sleep by a ramp in Baiersbronn with full force. This first climb set the tone for the entire 60 kilometers and 1,500 vertical meters (50 km with 1,250 hm for the shortened option) of the second Gravel Fondo Day. Not only on the three STRAVA segments of today – the entire Sunday in the saddle was a crisp up and down with a large off-road and Gravel share. About remote gravel passages it went to the first trail section. After the teeth clenching on the first ramp only laughing faces could be seen here again. Some tried to pass through the technical section without taking a footstep, and rumors have also made it possible for individual participants. With plenty of flow, we continued through the forest. The next destination was really refuge, was a small settlement in the middle of the forest and for the Gravel Fondo participants waited there a food station, which invited to pause. Until then, there were still a few climbs to master. It was again nice to see how all participants were relaxed on the way. Group after group shot through the forest, breakdowns were comradely shared, motivated with conditional hangers rather than attacked.
There it is again – the relaxed class trip feeling what made the special charm of last years Gravel Fondo. At the food station, at kilometer 37, no one needed real refuge. Instead, cheerful serenity spread and many liked to stay a bit longer to rest their legs and enjoy the sun. Back in the saddle waited a longer asphalt downhill on a small piste and after subsequent ups and downs the bottom. From there, the route led the participants over the Buhlbachsee back towards Baiersbronn. After 60 km of pure Gravel fun, all riders gradually arrived at Rosenplatz. After the award ceremony for the winners of the Stages and Biosk tasting in the best Gravel Fondo Style, it was time to say goodbye. As late as Sunday afternoon, the last participants left the “Rosenplatz” with their Gravel Bikes. At least we say thank you for a great experience in a Gravelbike dream area.
Cheers and remember #onroadoffroadrepeat
Your Gravel Fondo Team