SPRING/SUMMER 2023 // A NEW SEASON
For us, at EVOC it is as much about the feeling on our bike, as it is the feeling in our heart: The drive to explore new destinations, search for amazing trails, go on unforgettable rides with your friends. All this has always been and will always be at the core of our DNA. This is where the ideas and inspirations for our products and designs stem from, and this is why we can’t stop working on improving the ones we’ve already developed
Photos: Baschi Bender
Crew: Uli Plaumann, Achim Schmidt, Hermann Meyer, Jan Sallawitz, Tom Dachroth, Bene Ruf, Baschi Bender
JULY 2nd 2021, 3.45 a.m.
It’s a quarter to four in the morning, cold and dark – and we’re riding in the wrong direction! Today is the day all of us will be sitting in our saddles longer than ever before in our lives. Because today is the day we’re setting out to ride along the entire length of the Isar river.
From its source in Scharnitz to its mouth near Deggendorf – on gravel bikes. In only one day! And because we plan to start at the source which lies in a nature reserve, we have to get there by bike first. This means we ride uphill through the valley for 10 kilometres and then right back down the exact same route!
After a long gravel tour, we are sitting in the Altwirt pub in Lenggries and the second beer is even more delicious than the first one! Fuelled by all the impressions of the day, we get to philosophising about gravel riding again. Being from Munich, we know the Isar for its mountainbike trails and many road bike tours that crisscross the river frequently.
But only since gravel bikes have given us the opportunity
to combine the factors of speed and all-terrain capability,
has the river in its entirety come into perspective for the
Starting point Isar source and finishing point Isar mouth
are quick to type into a route planning app which comes up
with the following facts: River length 279 km, length of the
recommended bike route: 305 km, estimated riding time:
17 hours …
Isn’t that a great weekend bikepacking tour with two 150 km stages? Or isn’t this exactly what a gravel bike could enable us to do in just one day, too? With the last sips of our second beers, we make the decision to ride it as an extreme one-day tour.
To simply gauge the limits of gravel biking – and of course our very own mental and physical limits. We agree that this would require the longest possible day of the year. So a date around the summer solstice or midsummer comes up automatically – and with it the realisation that we will have to be sitting in the saddle as much as possible from now on.
JULY 2nd 2021, 4.20 a.m.
The crack of dawn is beginning to depict the mighty Karwendel ridges on the horizon. We have combined our restocking of water supplies with a refreshing foot bath in the “Isar Source 1” and are swiftly rolling down the Hinterautal valley. The landscape is breath-taking, the weather is looking like it will be ideal and the mood within the group is positively excited. So everything is excellent up to this point!
Just behind Scharnitz, we turn onto the Isar bike path and cross the border into Germany. It is not even half past five and we have already gathered momentum. The little gravel path meanders along the river picturesquely. We have flow and are making good headway. We have to, too, because if we want to reach our destination before sunset, we have to ride at an average speed of 25 kph – throughout the entire day!
On our route: the Kanada-Loipe cross-country skiing trail. We really wanted to include these extra metres of altitude with plenty of steep gravel ramps. No other segment better combines what we consider the perfect gravel riding experience: marvellous landscapes, close proximity to the river and a great variety of trail profiles.
We also planned to ride as much as we can on unpaved paths. Real gravel! We fly along the Sylvenstein reservoir, dive into a dark tunnel into a steep run and race into Lenggries parallel to the road. It is still early in the morning and we feel, this tour is not nearly going to be as tough as we anticipated!
JULY 2nd 2021, 9.20 a.m.
We pass underneath the inner city of Bad Tölz through beautiful bridge arches right along the river bank. There is no time for sightseeing, though – the group is on a roll and we want to save time. Who knows what is in store for us along the way… And so we immediately get lost in the broadening Isar flood plains near Geretsried. With a lot of effort, we have to battle our way back on very technical trails.
A mountainbike would have been the better choice here! Once we are back on solid ground, we realise that our excursion into the thicket has cost us precious time. We decide to crank up the speed and in close formation we pass Wolfratshausen, shoot through the Pupplinger Au flood plains and along the canal dam to the Schäftlarn monastery.
To experience this wonderfully versatile section in a great gravel crew is a very motivating feeling for us all and none of us notice the 120 kilometres we have pumped out so far. When we reach our Munich home trails, we confidently turn into a little single track.
We race around a corner and almost crash into a fallen tree blocking the way. We have no intention of turning around, so we climb and brachiate through the branches and slippery mud. Drat, lost some more time! Especially since there are a couple more trees hindering our progress in much the same way…
JULY 2nd 2021, 13.10 p.m
It just so happens that the Seehaus restaurant with its sunny beer garden in the heart of Munich is our halfway mark. Time for an hearty lunch! As wonderful as the lunchbreak was, our legs feel very heavy for it and so it takes us a while to pick up our pace again.
The riverscape has changed completely. The gravel track now leads dead straight along the smoothly flowing Isar. The fresh mountain air of the morning has made way for a somewhat brackish scent which will accompany us from now on. The only real variety we encounter is in the surfaces which range from light, sandy or dusty to dark, almost reddish loam and offer very different rolling properties.
In some places we glide along almost effortlessly, in others it feels sticky, like all our tire pressures are too low suddenly. So, we pedal along always trying to keep up the pace without tiring too quickly.
The afternoon wears on, we pass many little villages and cities we have never heard of before while our conversations are gradually reduced to the bear minimum. Each of us has to battle the fatigue slowly creeping in.
JULY 2nd 2021, 18.10 p.m
In Landshut we meet up with our support car for the last time and we greedily pounce on the remaining rations of jerky. In light of the “merely” 75 kilometres remaining, some even enjoy a shandy. However, we really have to step on it, if we want to reach the mouth of the river before sunset.
The following kilometres resemble a team time trial, if it weren’t for a few little mishaps that we had successfully avoided throughout the day: flat tires, aching feet and pee breaks (maybe the shandy?).
After almost endless kilometres along a dead straight dam, we can finally anticipate our salvation: a sign with the inscription: “Mouth of the Isar 9.8 km”. The sun is already leaning in to kiss the horizon, yet we could really achieve our goal to jump into the Danube together at sunset… But hold your horses! After a couple of kilometres, our navigation system points out that we are on the wrong side of the river. We have to ride back to the last bridge.
JULY 2nd 2021, 21.25 p.m
We can almost smell the Danube when our path on the dam suddenly ends and splits up into several little tracks. We take the first one and start clambering over fallen trees again, we wade through flooded sections and streams.
The vegetation grows denser and denser and now, the mosquitoes have discovered us, too. None of this seems to matter anymore as we struggle on, because we can already see it: the mouth of the Isar, where it joins the Danube! Not 200 metres away!
But then the path suddenly disappears completely in the thicket. There is no way we can get any further without a machete! This isn’t how we had imagined it.
After a little over 17 hours and 13 hours of riding with an average speed of 24 kph, this is where our tour ends: in the undergrowth. But still, we all feel like kings and queens. We have the Danube right in front of our noses and this means we really managed to ride down the entire Isar!