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BBBR2021 | John Woodroof's story

Originally published on GRAVELLEURS.COM

Friend of Gravelleurs Jon Woodroof has just been to the Bohemian Border Bash and with kind permission he’s shared his story with us all.

THE BOHEMIAN BORDER BASH RACE — was a fixed route, unsupported, single-stage ultra-endurance on & off-road cycling competition organised by my friend @chimpbars. I was honoured to be one of the 55 starters of this inaugural edition!

The route was an incredible 1300km circumnavigating #Bohemia. Racers crossed back-and-forth along national borders, riding through Germany, Austria, Poland, and the Czech Republic. Considering the history of the region & even recent pandemic border enforcement, cycling across borders perpetually the entire race was a poignant experience for me. So many people have died trying to cross this lines. ????

The starting line seemed to have more 1st time racers than seasoned veterans like @stefanhaehnel, @basrotgans, & @kleinerriese. That’s cool!

The start was at 6am on Sept 4th with a paced group rollout. Faster riders & those keen to push their pace out the gate crept ahead. I settled into my rhythm. Ultimately in the first 25hrs, I reached the first two checkpoints in 389km & climbed 8139 meters. (700 meters shy of Everesting lol)

This cost me a night of sleep, which meant I dragged on day 2 but slept 6 hours that night and reached the 3rd CP a day later on Sept 6 at 8:43am.

I reached CP 4 (in the beautiful town of #ceskykrumlov) same day at 6:45pm, 619km into the race and feeling quite competitive still.

I caught @fitfathers_max & @basrotgans in the night & we arrived at CP 5 around the same time & head a legendary breakfast together @ginoscompany. What a spot!

I let Max & Bas get away as the sleep deprivation approach was slowing me down again. I pushed as far as I could that night and ended up passing out by the river near my friend @marec_lehmannsky & his teammate. I cameo’d in their @focusbikesfilmmaking efforts the next morning but a sharp rock took out my front tire so quick that I lost my tubeless seal.

This day, the 8th of September and my 4th day of racing was marred by a bit of inner tube drama (my Tubolitos tube didn’t initially inflate, regular tube I had had snakebites already and once I tried to patch, it was covered in tubeless sealant, at one point I was convinced my Wahoo wasn’t charging, lost my first of two teeth on my chainring and reconnecting my dynamo was difficult due to creeping finger numbness)

After a bike shop stop, I arrived at CP6 ~3hrs later that I hoped too. A small delay in the grand scheme of the race but it put a dent in my thirst to contend with the faster mid-pack riders.

I climbed toward CP7 and met @nis_broder up there. I chose to snooze for another 6 hrs and when I woke, was passing me. Ultimately, we joined forces for breakfast at the bottom of the mountain in Poland at a very fancy cafe.

Then began a new rivalry between Killian, Daniella and me. They both beat me to CP8 but we all charged ahead. I chose to eat & recharge my electronics in a small village in Poland. I was convinced I’d catch them both on the climb to CP9 along the main ridge of Krkonose to the highest peak, Sněžka / Schneekoppe, the tallest mountain of the Czech Republic (1603m). What a brutal climb!

The route to CP10 started with a cozy breakfast with Killian & Daniella. We separated in the climbing. I didn’t see Killian again but Daniella intermittently. After reaching 10, heading to 11 felt like a homestretch.

It was! Even with a flowy single track trail. It felt sublime. Upon reaching CP 11. I opted not to do the river crossing and had the itch to sprint the final 55km. I was determined to get back to camp before nightfall. Not possible.

The race had one final gnarly hike-a-bike & a million meandering paths & trails in that final 55km. This took me 5 hours or so and meant I arrived at the finish at 11pm on day 6. 161hrs & 38mine after starting.

Clearly, this is a high level recap and the real race experience embodied what always keeps me coming back to races like this. The solitary ‘what is life?’ moments, the magic memories with locals, making many new friends and stronger bonds with old ones. These extended days on the bike strip everything down mentally. For me, I contemplated my life and like last year’s Atlas Mountain Race experience, I landed on an attitude of gratitude.

I’m grateful for this scene of riders that I’m fortunate to call friends, the experience of cycling through so many cultures & countries in one go & to push myself physically & mentally. Feels like a fresh slate. Thank you to Kike for holding down @twotoneams HQ & @workspacesix in my absence.

Extra special thanks to my love @kristyspark for her enduring support of these bizarre endeavours. I love how she also knows and has befriended so many in this circle of extreme cycling and that she understands what keeps drawing me back.

Chapeaux, Ondrej! You nailed it!

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