Text – Alex Bethge
Can good be made even better? After the dust has settled the “gravelvibes” are still echoing in us and we can well answer this question with “yes”. For the fourth edition of the Gravel Fondo, the Pfälzer Wald and the Forsthaus Annweiler presented themselves as the perfect hosts. Best Gravelbike terrain and Palatinate hospitality immediately cast a spell over all gravel fans.
The spacious grounds of the “Schwarzen Fuchses” have been the ideal playground for the first campground in the history of the Gravel Fondo. Already on Friday the big tent construction Tetris began and luckily strained nerves from the tent pole Mikado or beeing stuck in holiday traffic jam could be brought back to relaxed level with some cold drinks . Nothing could stand in the way of a relaxed weekend. Last steps against rattling drivetrains and squeaking brakes were put on by the experienced mechanics of Shimano , while the newest Gravel group could be admired. Our partner Wahoo had prepared the navigation perfectly with the latest GPS computers so that no one could get lost in the shallows of the Palatinate Forest,
No VOTEC Gravel Fondo without good coffee. The one or the other vole inspected the tent floors and the dormitory in the Hermann-Krieg house let summer camp feelings arise. That made the night a bit shorter than usual but our baristas from BlackBird Coffee ironed the wrinkles out of the faces with their wonderful coffee creations and brought the circulation to graveltemperature.
After many rainy days in the preparation phase of the Gravel Fondo, the Gravel gods listened to us and the summer presented itself from its golden side right to the start on Saturday morning. 90 km of the finest gravel was waiting to be taken under the wheels. Flowing trail sections, wide gravel passages and relaxed asphalt pieces were the perfect mix for a Gravel Rodeo par excellence. After a good 2/3 of the way, batteries could be be recharged with tarte flambée and freshly pressed grape juice. Who now had the belly hanging on the top tube could save out the Kalmit and take the short cut.
Strava or it did not happen – in addition to enjoyment on two wheels, a bit of time in the paincave just belongs to every ride. Refreshed after the second feeding stop new records could be set up on the way to the top of the Kalmit. The other Strava segments offered the perfect opportunity to show the friends which side the bread is buttered on !
Just like last year, a little surprise should be waiting on the track shortl before the end. Fortunately, this time it was not a 25% steep wall, which was to be climbed but also in the Palatinate Forest people have a soft spot for a fast internet connection. A few days earlier, unfortunately, the fine gravel was torn open and a handlebar wide ditch ordered the last challenge of the day. Covered with a fine dusty patina and equipped with a big grin, all Gravel pilots made the last turn back to the “Schwarzer Fuchs”. Our original Achim was already waiting with a warm welcome and showed the way directly to the cake buffet.
A cold shower later the cozy part of the day was about to start. Mike Neubrech and his kitchen team had done a great job preparing a cornucopia of regional specialties and awesome salad creations. Satisfied and well-fortified then the second part of the evening program could be heralded. Our guests Torsten Frank and Jon Woodroof shared their experiences from the Transcontinental and Silk Road Race and shared some of their insider tips. Definitely an inspiration to step out of the comfort zone.
Also the Sunday offered again everything what the Palatinate Forest has to deliver in a more compact form . At just 60 km / 40 km, there was the finest trail enjoyment. The sandy, dry ground let the wheels roll quickly and brought great fun! The selection of cakes and the beach chairs at the feeding stop at the Seebach made the onward journey not necessarily easier – but the remaining gravel wanted to be shredded.
Even the best stories come to an end someday. One last cappuccino from BlackBird and wistful the bikes and tents were loaded. Loaded with many impressions, good conversations, majestic views, new friendships, it went back to everyday life. For some, the adventure continued for a few more days. Europe’s biggest bike fair the Eurobike was supposed to connect directly and on Monday the train set off on the #votecgravelroadtoeurobike in the direction of Friedrichshafen.
We would like to thank everyone who rode with us, supported us, took pictures for us, spread good mood, cooked for us, raked up the gravel for us, built the tents for us …
Gravel greetings !
Your team VOTEC Gravel Fondo
"It was the first time I've been on a gravel bike, a clear case - 8000watt test passed, awesome tracks, food was super tasty and the groups always had a nice size, no comparison to the usual mass events, partly i was thinking I'm on another Continent (flora and fauna). " Julien Riganti @8000Watt
"The Brandenburger Sand made us big - we could play that perfectly now on the Palatinate soil!" Gruppetto Berlin
"Fantastic event - great people, great organization & routes, great atmosphere and excellent coffee. I'm looking forward to the next year." Manuel Buck @mach_bar
"Wow - what a gravel festival! The Palatinate Forest welcomed us with open arms and made the fourth edition of the VOTEC Gravel Fondo our highlight of the year. New routes and new set-up with the camp were also very exciting for us and we are happy that this contributed to the good mood, and a broad smile on all corners was the biggest compliment! " Orga Team VOTEC Gravel Fondo