The Ride Report: Taunus Bikepacking No. 5

These are the daily ride reports as posted on during edition No. 5 in the summer of 2022.

Taunus Bikepacking No. 5 – Preview


Taunus Bikepacking is a self-supported bikepacking adventure in the Taunus hills of Germany. The distance is fixed at 1,000 kilometers, though the route gets changed every year. It’s a mixed surface ride on gravel, asphalt, trails and everything in between. The route is undulating and convoluted, taking in all of the hidden gems of the region. The fifth edition features the most challenging route so far. With more than 18,000 meters of climbing, it’s basically all up and down.

Taunus Bikepacking height profile
The course is very scenic

The weather always plays a big part in Taunus. You might not expect it in the middle of Germany, but on every single previous edition, riders had to deal with intense heat (except on No. 3, which was postponed to September). Extreme weather is almost a tradition. When it does rain, the trails can turn muddy very fast. The mixed surface and undulating terrain make the bike choice difficult. Check out The Bikes of Taunus Bikepacking for an insight into how riders are preparing their rigs.

Intense heat makes staying hydrated difficult

The ride starts Sunday morning and the finisher party is on the evening of the following Saturday. To make it to the party, riders have to cover around 150 kilometers a day, which is definitely harder than it might sound. The fastest recorded time so far is by Joseph Thomas with 2d 23h 10m. The field will spread out fast. Most riders are likely to aim for 5 to 6 days. Some will go faster and some will take their time. There’s enough to be seen along the track to make an extended holiday out of this trip, so it will be interesting to see how different riders tackle it.

Joseph Thomas

The start list features 70 riders from 12 countries. Out of these 70, there are 29 veterans, of which 19 are previous finishers. While there is unfinished business for some, others are just back for more fun. There is a tight community around this ride that is growing every year. Next to the athletic efforts, it’s the inspiring stories of camaraderie and adventure that come out of Taunus Bikepacking. There is much more to it than just how fast some people manage to finish.

Class of 2021

The women’s field is only small, but brings a lot of experience and grit to the start line. Miriam Hamscher is the local hero, living and training in Taunus. Elke Gutermann is a finisher of classic and hard rides such as the Grenzsteintrophy, Steppenwolf, Cherusker 500 and Tuscany Trail. Franziska “von den Socken” has extensive bike travel experience. She already visited many countries by bike, including a 8,000 kilometer trip through Europe. The female representation is completed by Sylvia Pietruska and Nina Kollrepp, who calls her own participation “madness” for a lack of bikepacking experience. We love that she is doing it anyway and are sure that her positive attitude will bring her far. After all, every experience has to start somewhere.

Jeanette Schönbein at inscription

Jacob Rozansky is an experienced thru-hiker from Florida and spends most of his life outdoors, but only bought his bike a few weeks ago. A lot of people say getting to the start line of an event is the hardest part. Seeing how he managed to ride his new bike across the Alps from Marseille to Frankfurt to get to Taunus, we’re not worried about Jacob. His youtube channel is worth a follow.

And then there’s the veterans. Fabian Köhler, Knut Faust, Johannes Reining, Jörn Brumm, Daniel Schleh, Benno Möser and Olaf Flechtner are all looking forward to their third start on this event.

Nobody is as experienced as Ken Kölzer and Thomas Metz though. Both riders are back in Taunus for the fifth time, having ridden all of the previous editions. Their experience is reflected in their cap numbers 1 and 2. Ken has 3 finishes under his belt, while Thomas has 2. When it comes to allocating the cap numbers, Taunus Bikepacking rewards experience and consistency over speed – the lower the number, the more starts and finishes that rider has. This means cap 1 through 29 are all veterans.

Femke van Kessel and Faruk Keles

Finally, some of the riders we might see riding at the sharp end – no pressure guys… 😉

Peter Batt rode into the top 10 at last year’s Race through Poland and more recently came in fastest at Rob Gardiner’s Wild West Country in the UK. He is a veteran of Taunus Bikepacking but was forced to scratch last year, so finishing will be his priority. Peter is from the UK but lives in Frankfurt, so he knows the Taunus hills very well.

Peter Batt

Fabian Wurm cannot get enough either. The rider from Siegen loves climbing, having just finished the Mittelgebirge Classique the other week. Similar to Peter, he was riding at the sharp end last year, but suffered from the intense heat of the first day so much that he was out early with symptoms of a heat stroke.

Fabian Wurm at the start of No. 4

Another rider that has already seen the front of this field is Stephan Wagner. Stephan was leading the third edition before eventually coming in third behind Olaf Flechtner and Ina de Visser. He’s most definitely one to watch.

Speaking of Olaf Flechtner – he is back for his third start after coming in first on No. 3 and a DNF on No. 4. Olaf knows how important it is to stay comfortable over long distances and has fine tuned his bike setup accordingly.

Olaf Flechtner

Matthias Fischer might be a rookie to Taunus Bikepacking, but has already proven several times how fast he is. The winner of the Orbit Gravel series and top 10 finisher of the Italy Divide is sure to aim for a top spot in Taunus, too.

These are just a few of the names to look out for during the coming week. There’s plenty of others that will bring the fifth edition to life with their stories and we can’t wait to get to know them better over the next few days.

Dotwatching starts Sunday morning at 8 am CET.

Day 0: Inscription

Day 0: Inscription

Riders have been signing in all day at the Taunus basecamp. With so many veterans of past editions, it’s a bit like a family reunion.

2022 0611 18063600-01

There was live music at the local beer garden and so the crowd got infiltrated by more and more yellow caps over the course of the evening.

Festival vibes

After a few rainy days, the traditional heat has come just in time and promises to stay for the next few days. It looks like it’s going to be another scorcher.

2022 0611 18513700-01

Most riders are now ready to camp down for the night. Some are still sitting by the fire swapping stories.

2022 0611 19115300-01

After an early breakfast, the ride starts tomorrow morning 8 AM CET. Riders are setting off individually in one minute intervals.

2022 0611 18382400-01

Keep an eye on those dots.

2022 0611 17364100-01

Day 1

With the applause and cheers of the locals, riders set off in the morning individually in one minute intervals. After the first pedal stroke from the line, they were already climbing. This year’s course features some very steep climbs in the first fifty kilometers, so the field was reshuffled and spread out pretty fast.

Rosenweg Ruppertshain
Cap 2 Thomas Metz

While temperatures were still pleasant at the start, it quickly began heating up. Soon there were lots of salt-crusted jerseys to be seen and riders kept stopping at any opportunity to cool down, whether it be village fountains or water tabs on cemeteries.


Private organized support is of course prohibited, but there were already several examples of “trail magic”. This being the fifth edition, some locals already know how to support all riders equally by putting out water crates or even organizing feed stops.

Pizza buns

At the pointy end, after some back and forth, it was cap 64 Maarten Vanhaverbeke who established a lead over the course of the afternoon. As the sun was nearing the horizon, he was being chased by several riders including 25 Peter Batt, 9 Benno Möser, 29 Fabian Wurm and 30 Matthias Fischer. We caught up to Maarten at the Roman fort of Pohl. He reported feeling good and wanting to push on until he didn’t anymore, which would be “probably tomorrow”. He also said “If they want to catch me, they will have to work for it.”

Maarten Vanhaverbeke in Pohl

Maarten made it to CP1 first and bagged his stamp at 10.42 PM. He took a two hour break in a shelter between Rauenthal and Kiedrich.

Maarten at CP1
Maarten's rest stop

We saw Peter Batt in Bad Schwalbach last night grabbing a handful of Snickers just before the last shops were closing.

Resupply in Bad Schwalbach

They seem to have served him well. Peter pushed through the short night and is now riding in front. As the sun is coming back up again, he’s now tackling the climbs of the Rheingau vineyards. As many veterans know, these southward facing slopes without any shelter from the sun become a furnace in the afternoon sun, so he will be very glad to be tackling this section while it’s still early and cool.

There was one crash early on, caused by a little pug that darted out of a driveway and caught Cap 3 Fabian Köhler by surprise. He was able to push on with a scraped knee and noticed only later that the derailleur hanger was bent. With the help of a friendly stranger, Fabian was able to bend it back. None of this dampened his good spirits.

Cap 3

Cap 1 Ken Kölzer forgot his wallet at base camp. We’re not sure if he is now begging his way through Taunus or just living off the land. The cherry trees along the route are carrying fruit, so he should be just fine. He is not carrying cap 1 for nothing.

Scratch Report

  • Cap 6 Jörn scratched in Idstein with breathing issues.
  • Cap 47 Tobias struggled with his mindset and took the sensible decision to stop.
  • Cap 29 Fabian had issues with spoke tension most of the day, constantly having to stop and retighten them until he deemed the wobble in his wheel too risky and folded.
  • Cap 13 Stephan for yet unknown reasons.

Day 2

On any bikepacking adventure, life quickly boils down to the essentials. And so there were three main topics on everyone’s mind today: Mechanicals, sleep and the big one: food.

Mechanicals This ride is not only taxing on the riders, but their machines as well. Cap 8 Olaf Flechtner has some issues with his front suspension, but that doesn’t stop him from descending like a daredevil. Cap 50 Christoph Götz had to detour to a bike shop in Eltville to get a new rear tyre. This detour meant even more climbing meters for Christoph, as he then had to get back to the spot where he had left the route. Cap 53 Tobias Schulte is sheltering above the Rhein with a broken spoke, hoping to find a bike shop along the track soon.

Tobias Schulte

Sleep All our riders got through the night in different ways. Cap 30 Matthias Fischer simply took power naps whenever necessary.

Matthias Fischer

After some fast food from Idstein messed up his stomach, Cap 69 Michael Press had a tough evening, but eventually found rest at the Hauserbachsee campsite.

Michael Press at CP1

Cap 2 Thomas Metz enjoyed the silence on his cemetery bivy. Cap 42 Miriam Hamscher prefers playgrounds over shelters.

Miriam Hamscher

Cap 41 Patrick Das got cosy in the remains of an ancient Roman fort.

Sleep everywhere

Other riders prefer to nap during the day and ride into the night.

A nap in Presberg

Food Food is always a big topic on long rides. You have to take what you can get.

All the food
TB22 Day2 Nils-Laengner-6400
Hydration is important too

Luckily, the Taunus locals keep supplying riders with generous gifts.

Trail magic
TB22 Day2 Nils-Laengner-6617

As the second night begins, Peter Batt is steadily increasing the gap to his chasers. Only him and Maarten Vanhaverbeke have ticked off CP2 at the time of posting. Behind these two, it’s now Cap 17 Georg Stiebeling riding in third position. The riders are in for a real treat tomorrow as many are approaching the spectacular views of the Upper Middle Rhine valley.

The Rhine at Assmannshausen

Scratch report

  • Cap 58 Frank Wiessner, technical issues.
  • Cap 27 Markus Goetzke, saddle sores.
  • Cap 11 Rob Packham, exhaustion.

Day 3

Day 3

In the early hours of day 3, cap 16 Kristian Buljan was riding strong and constantly making up places near the front when around 4.30 am, he collided with a deer in a high-speed descent. Kristian was taken to hospital. Luckily he suffered only road rash. His broken helmet illustrates that it could have been much worse.

Kristian's helmet

Throughout the day, the bulk of the field was travelling along the stunning Rhine valley, where tough climbs are rewarded with breathtaking views at every corner. Many riders were battling with knee problems, saddle sores, exhaustion and the many difficulties the route throws at them, though the general consensus was that it’s all worth it. The area around Rhine and Wisper valley are very remote, with lots of wildlife and only very few resupply options. In large parts, there is not even phone reception.

TB22 Day3 Nils-Laengner-7025
TB22 Day3 Nils-Laengner-7071
Views like these
TB22 Day3 Nils-Laengner-6752

There is still a fierce, close battle for the remaining top ten positions as Peter Batt built on his staggering lead. With such a huge gap, Peter was able to finally slow down a little and enjoy a pizza in Brandoberndorf. He then rode into what will be his last night on the track. And what a night for it. Not only is it a full moon over Taunus tonight, it’s a rare “strawberry moon” lighting up the sky. Picture him riding through that scenery, towards the last big climb and behind that, the finish line.

TB22 Day3 Nils-Laengner-7457
TB22 Day3 Nils-Laengner-7538

Scratch report

  • Cap 16 Kristian Buljan, wildlife collision.
  • Cap 66 Sandor Decsy, suspected broken ankle.
  • Cap 42 Miriam Hamscher, lack of motivation.

Day 4

Day 4

The first five finishers have arrived back at base camp over the course of the last twenty-four hours. After what he called a terrible night, cap 25 Peter Batt sealed the deal on his previously unfinished business and crossed the line as the first rider home. Astonishingly fresh, he didn’t look as if he had a terrible night at all though. Peter managed to complete the gruelling course in a time of 3 days and 49 minutes.

TB22 Day3 Nils-Laengner-7699
TB22 Day3 Nils-Laengner-7726

After a beer, breakfast and a shower (in that order), you’d think he would have enjoyed some well deserved rest and sleep. Instead he waited around for the next riders to buy everybody drinks and swap stories by the barbecue until the late evening. Peter finally rushed to get the last train and is already back at work this morning.

TB22 Day3 Nils-Laengner-7772

Cap 17 Georg Stiebeling and cap 64 Maarten Vanhaverbeke had leapfrogged each other for hundreds of kilometers. Maarten caught up to Georg at the beginning of the long climb to Großer Feldberg. This is a nearly twenty kilometer climb to the highest peak of Taunus. The summit lies about twenty-five kilometers from the finish line. As to what happened near the top of the climb, there’s two versions of the story. According to Maarten, Georg put in an attack and accelerated, so Maarten countered and the race was on. Georg states that his gearing simply forced him to push a bit more in order not to come to a standstill on the steep and loose gravel. In any case, the race for the finish line was on. Both riders went all out from here.

TB22 Day3 Nils-Laengner-7784
TB22 Day3 Nils-Laengner-7790

Even though Maarten made it home with a nine minute gap on Georg, the time difference from the staggered start means that Georg is second overall while Maarten takes third. All three riders sat by the fire sharing beers and stories until the sun had gone down and the fourth rider approached.

TB22 Day3 Nils-Laengner-7853
TB22 Day3 Nils-Laengner-7893

On his third attempt, cap 9 Benno Möser became the youngest Taunus Bikepacking finisher ever. The nineteen year old rider had already gotten far on his first attempt, but was stopped within 200 kilometers from the line by saddle sores and painful feet. In the second year, it was the effects of the heat stopping him from completing the course. This third time around, he battled with the heat, mechanicals and stomach issues, but paced himself well and pulled through to take fourth spot in 3 days, 14 hours and 16 minutes.

TB22 Day3 Nils-Laengner-7995
TB22 Day3 Nils-Laengner-8107

The top five is completed by Belgian rider Filip Rousseau, who never even seemed like he was in a hurry and still posted the very impressive time of 3 days, 16 hours and 19 minutes. Chapeau!

TB22 Day3 Nils-Laengner-8165

Scratch report

  • Cap 50 Christoph Götz, achilles problems
  • Cap 68 Andreas Hölderle, hand injury after an earlier crash
  • Cap 33 Jan Beuling, saddle sores
  • Cap 34 Herbert De Nijs, broken rear hub
  • Cap 30 Matthias Fischer, sleep deprivation and exhaustion
  • Cap 5 Johannes Reining, quote: “the amount of hurting body parts is just too high”
TB22 Day3 Nils-Laengner-8056

Day 5

Day 5

This course takes no prisoners. Most riders out there are nursing some kind of injury at this point. Most prevalent are knee issues and saddle sores. The accumulated fatigue of riding consecutive long days in demanding terrain and hot weather also plays a big factor. Many people are talking about going through bad patches. It can be an emotional rollercoaster as much as a physical one.

TB22 Day4 Nils-Laengner-8219

One of the few ones that doesn’t seem to be in pain is Sylvia Pietruska. She’s enjoying the adventure to the fullest.

TB22 Day4 Nils-Laengner-6198
TB22 Day4 Nils-Laengner-6247

When we met him a few days ago, Marc Schnitzius was worried whether his knees would hold up. They did, he is now on the final stretch with his main concern shifting to saddle sores. Marc was spotted in various town fountains cleaning his bib shorts. Tobias Schulte has been riding with a broken spoke for hundreds of kilometers. Cap 69 Michael Press’s Di2 battery ran out eighty kilometers from the finish line and so he tackled the last big climb on a single gear.

After a full day of recovery, cap 42 Miriam Hamscher is back out on the track with her family to support the riders with encouragement and bags of candy.

TB22 Day4 Nils-Laengner-8278

Meanwhile, the finisher list is steadily filling up. Patrick Das took sixth place, adding to the strong Belgian showing.

TB22 Day4 Nils-Laengner-8174

Olaf Flechtner’s suspension fork failed early, which didn’t stop him from riding strong and finishing seventh.


Behind Olaf, a close race developed for the remaining places in the top ten. Artur Reimchen, Alexander Dimopoulus and Ronni Andersen all arrived within one hour, with Lukas Eger missing out on tenth place by an agonisingly close four minutes.


There’s at least ten more finishers expected on Friday to join the weary riders recovering and trading stories at base camp.

TB22 Day4 Nils-Laengner-8195

Scratch report

  • Cap 23 Jonathan Höller crashed, resulting in a broken derailleur hanger.
  • Cap 45 Simon Ermert scratched at CP2. He enjoyed the ride, but simply ran out of time.

Day 6

Day 6

Even though the fight for top ten was decided yesterday, the riders on the course still have plenty of battles to fight. Battles against injury, heat, hills, mechanicals and more often than not, against themselves. Just like anyone, cap 1 Ken Kölzer experienced plenty of highs and lows over the last few days. The one thing that kept him going in the darkest hours was the number of his cap. The number 1 is earned with lots of sweat and awarded to Ken year after year for being the most consistent rider, with the most finishes. So in order to keep it for another year, Ken just had to finish. And he did.

TB22 Day5 Nils-Laengner-6737

While the media team was pulling in a parking lot next to the course in Okarben on the hunt for Ken, a rider was already approaching, so they jumped out of the car, but to their disappointment it was just local pro John Degenkolb out on a training ride.

TB22 Day5 Nils-Laengner-6681

Another rider that proved just how important reaching the finish is for him is cap 61, Jacob Rozansky from Florida. He was hit by a car on Winterstein by a driver who ignored Jacob’s right of way. Jacob smashed into the car window and was lucky to escape with wounds on hands and legs. Yet his only concern was the buckled front wheel which left him unable to ride on. After checking that he was allowed to accept a lift to a bike shop as long as he made it back to the course by bike, Jacob was brought down to the nearest town by the local police. He was able to buy a new front wheel and is now back on track for a finish in time for the party.

TB22 Day5 Nils-Laengner-6696
TB22 Day5 Nils-Laengner-6707
TB22 Day5 Nils-Laengner-6722

The finisher count is up to 30. As more and more weary riders stream into the base camp, random events of the day include cap 65 Barry McWilliams being bitten by a big black dog in the Lahn valley.

TB22 Day5 Nils-Laengner-6876

The most punctures were reported by Cap 63 Christoph Erbslöh with the count of six.


In the past few years, there were always a few people searching and cheering for riders on the track, sometimes offering them some food and drink. As long as it’s not exclusive to one rider but available to all, this doesn’t count as organized private support. However, this year the “trail magic” escalated somewhat. The riders reported a large number of dotwatchers along the track trying to flag them down, talk to them, ride along with them, sometimes even offering beds in their houses. While the moral support is always appreciated, some riders were overwhelmed by all the questions and generous offers and felt that some of it cost them more time and energy than it actually helped.

IMG 20220617 210050 (1)

Scratch report



A total of 33 riders made it back to camp in time for the party Saturday evening. The seven finishers of the day had just enough time to take a shower and relax for a few hours, while some of the earlier finishers had already recovered and brought their families. There was a bunch of weary riders sharing their stories while enjoying a barbecue and some beers.

TB22 Day6web Nils-Laengner-7266
TB22 Day6web Nils-Laengner-7261

The base camp at The Eppstein Project had proven to be the ideal start and finish location. Not only were the owners very supportive, many other guests of the campsite had become fans and supporters of the riders throughout the week.

TB22 Day3web Nils-Laengner-7947
TB22 Day6web Nils-Laengner-7003

As is custom on self–supported rides, there are no prizes for the faster finishers. Everybody’s equal. There was a gift for everybody though, as cap 65 Barry McWilliams had illustrated a fantastic map of the route for riders to take home and hang on their walls.

The map

The party lasted until the early Sunday morning. The next day, all attention shifted to the three riders remaining out on the course. They were far from forgotten, as everybody willed on their dots and sent messages of support. Caps 51 and 52 Nina and Thomas Kollrepp resisted the lure of their nearby house, sleeping in the woods instead. They hadn’t even brought a key just so they wouldn’t get any ideas. Sticking to the convoluted course can be mentally tough, especially for locals. While knowing the area certainly has its advantages, they are also constantly confronted with the demoralising detours the route takes. It snakes through the Taunus hills for thousand kilometers while never leaving the region, meaning you are never actually that far from base camp, or your own house if you’re local. This can play tricks with your mind. Thomas and Nina stayed strong though and kept true to the track. A friend of them had bet that they wouldn’t make it round, which was more than enough motivation for them to keep on pushing. The pair finished together on Tuesday afternoon.

Nina and Thomas Kollrepp

The prestigious title of lanterne rouge was claimed by cap 57 Elke Gutermann. The former ultra marathon runner treated the ride as recovery from a recent knee injury. She enjoyed sleeping outdoors, meeting the locals and riding her 26” MTB for eleven days. Elke even topped it off with a bivy on the slopes of Feldberg, the highest peak of the route, just under 30 kilometers from the finish.

Cap 57

Some stats: 70 riders from 12 different countries were registered for Taunus Bikepacking No. 5. 57 made it to the start line. 36 finished. One rider was disqualified for organized private support and 20 abandoned the ride early. There were a few crashes, the most serious ones Kristian Buljan hitting a deer at full speed and Jacob Rozansky being hit by a car. Both got away relatively unharmed, Jacob was even able to finish the ride after detouring to a bike shop for a new front wheel. The only broken bone was the ankle of cap 66 Sandor Decsy after an unlucky fall onto an inconveniently placed rock. He still managed to drive his car home to Hungary with a swollen ankle, where the fracture was confirmed in hospital. Cap 1 Ken Kölzer managed to record his fourth finish in five starts, securing him the prestigious cap number for another year. The fastest rider was cap 25 Peter Batt with 3d0h49m, lanterne rouge Elke Gutermann finished in 11d4h35m.

Taunus Bikepacking No. 6 is expected to start in June 2023. Watch this space.

TB22 Day3web Nils-Laengner-7592