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BBBC 2022: A unique event in a mystical location

In case you haven’t heard about the event before, Bohemian Border Bash Camp is a three-day gravel camp taking place in the north of the Czech Republic, bordering Germany. The Bohemian-Sachsen Switzerland National Park is a mystical region of large forests and sandstone rocks, with countless gravel roads intertwining through the woods.

We were really looking forward to sharing the love of cycling with likeminded people, having fun being the main purpose, As the event date was quickly approaching, we had a lot of anticipation about how it has evolved since our last visit, but also whether the recent wildfire that affected the national park would have any consequences on the organization of the camp and primarily on the planned routes.

The arrival at the camp is well-known for being an adventure itself. We took the train from Prague to Decin and then cycled 25 km to the campsite, covering a similar route as the participants arriving from the German side. We even used a ferry to cross the river, a nice highlight down the road. Approaching the campsite through the recently burnt forest in Hrensko really gave us chills. But in the end, it boosted the whole ancient spirit of the location.

International attendance

Undeniably, what really sets this event apart from other cycling events in the country, is its international attendance. Going into the event as a fellow countryman of Ondřej, the organizer, I was curious what the nationality of participants, the atmosphere and the hospitality would be like. After receiving our goodies from Ass Savers, WTB, Sram and other sponsors at the arrival, we finally started to get to know the other participants during a cozy campfire.

It became clear that most of the participants arrived from Germany and other countries, although some even traveled from further afield. For instance, we spoke with a Polish couple who remained loyal to the event even after moving further away from the camp location. “We only missed the first edition. Now we have our friends here who return and we love the atmosphere of the event,” they concluded. Many of the participants arrived from Berlin, saying that the event rose to recognition in the German capital in the last editions.

Friday | Blind Bash

The campsite is not a five-star hotel, but we were looking for a truly rural experience rather than a luxurious stay. A stay in a cabin with only a sleeping bag underlines the whole experience of being outdoors in the heart of a national park. We managed to get a decent sleep and for those who maybe didn’t, specialty coffee from Bohemian Coffee House was served to save the morning.

The Big Bash, a 300 km gravel race, started at 8 o’clock in the morning. Around 25 brave participants set off on the course of this challenge. For the rest of us, a gravel ride with a series of checkpoints with challenges awaited. A nice icebreaker for the participants to get to know each other. Along the way, and during the whole event, Komoot powered us with all the necessary navigation. We also got a chance to taste the recently launched salty energy bars from Chimpanzee Nutrition and the Smiling Butt cream by Posedla.

Although a 70 km ride may not seem like a very exhausting route, with the featured climbs and a total of 1.400 meters of elevation gain in mostly intermediate gravel terrain, we could feel it in our legs in the end. This was our first full day on the saddle of the Verne model by Repete in a proper gravel terrain. The bike felt really agile and provided excellent handling in the downhill gravel sections. The frame is made of Columbus steel. And we were lucky to get our hands on the limited Campagnolo Ekar edition, with the typical Czech hiking signs on the frame. We think this nice touch fitted into the event location perfectly.

Once back in the camp, Sram provided bike service and held a skills clinic to share handy knowledge later in the evening. Dinner followed with roasted meat as an optional second course by the campfire. A rock band and a DJ set up the atmosphere, tasty Czech beer was served and riders gathered to chat and party around the campfire. The first day was done and dusted, and we were all excited about what was on the menu for the following day.

Saturday | The Epic Bash

Saturday was going to be the main riding day. Well, except for the participants of the Big Bash, who were just finishing and recovering from their 300 km exhausting race, with the fastest ones arriving at around 3 AM at night.

We got to choose from various routes with different distances from 50km up to 165 km. The weather forecast wasn’t ideal and rain was expected after lunchtime. The rides started as early as 7:30 AM, depending on the distance of the course. A cold and foggy morning reminded us that summer is definitely over, but the mellow views of the landscape compensated for that.

We started with the goal of riding The Bash, a 115 km course, likewise the majority of participants. But after 50 km we were joined by a group riding the 165 KM long course, so we changed our mind and joined them as the weather looked promising and improved since the morning.

The afternoon section included a long climb up the Decinsky Sneznik mountain, which rewarded us with stunning views of the entire landscape. It must be said that the Verne model from Repete proved as an ideal companion even on a long ride with q lot of climbing, providing enough comfort throughout the whole day.

We then went through several gravel sections in the woods before taking the ferry across the Elbe river back to the Czech side and headed into the last 30 km. From then on it was a gravel rollercoaster with several stingy short steep climbs and downhills and we were just counting down the kilometers left.

Just like the previous night, a DJ and a rock band were prepared to set up the atmosphere for the party. But the highlight of the night was definitely a light show performance which ended with a huge bonfire.

And last but not least, one more important thing came in an announcement. Next year, Border Bash is coming to Aragón, Spain!

Sunday | The No Pressure Club and farewell

With the smell of smoke still smoldering in the morning after the big bonfire of the previous night, we could see that camp was inevitably coming to its end. Many participants had already left since they had a long drive ahead of them. Anyway, about 20 of us decided to enjoy the last bits and took part in the Komoot Hangover Ride. With countless punctures throughout the ride, we ironically labeled our ride as “The No Pressure Club”. We simply enjoyed our time together as long as it lasted, despite the setbacks.

Having spoken with multiple participants throughout the weekend, we learned that several of them were not used to the hilly profile given the characteristics of their rather flat home region. Others would prefer riding through more gravel sections on the Saturday route. Nevertheless, we got a sense that in general most of them had an amazing time, just like we did, and are planning on coming back.

We say thank you to all the organizers for another edition of such a generous event full of great service and hospitality, that created memories that will last for a long time. A special thank you to Repete for the opportunity to test their Verne model.

Translation: Javi Angulo
Photos: Jan Schäfer