The LOOP x Vienna bikepacking event

The bikepacking/gravel event where everyone arrives together, inspired by the fable The Tortoise and the Hare by Aesop.

A race where everyone arrives together? How does that work?

If you ever read the fable “The Tortoise and the Hare” by Aesop you know about the famous race between the two animals. The hare is so confident in beating the tortoise, it takes a nap. The smart and steady tortoise wins the race.
When racing bikepacking events there is usually a huge gap between the sharp end of the race and those who battle to make the time cut.

Riders arriving at the finisher party of the LOOP bikepacking event in Vienna.
Sophienalpe was famous for riders during the LOOP Vienna and providing alpine landscapes.
Participants got the Aesop challenges at the startline. The LOOP a gravel challenge for smart riders.

Therefore finisher parties a lot of times take place without the winners who already left. The first decision was to focus The LOOP around everyone finishing together at 20:30 on Sunday. Participants can plan their own route. As hard, hilly, flat or scenic as they want.
Secondly not everyone is capable or wants to ride through nights without sleep. Therefore we decided to have an Overnighter Loop (27h) and a Long Day Loop (13h) for every taste.
But also we did not want this event to be only about who has the strongest legs, cycling without stopping and sacrificing sleep. Challenges were introduced to balance the chances of our tortoises and hares. 😉

Max Riese explaining the challenges of the LOOP gravel race at the startline.
Pascal Striedner starting his Long Day LOOP bikepacking race.
3rd place Transcontinental Race finisher Tim de Witte at The LOOP Gravel Event in Vienna.

Challenges of the Hare

Hares are fast, they are agile and strong. They do a lot of climbing, ride in rough terrain and reach far places. Hares were able to get bonifications for climbing a lot, reaching the height of Everest Basecamp in Tibet (5150m ASL) or do an Everesting or even do more than 10000 m of climbing.
While more than 30% off-road riding were mandatory, bonus kilometers could be gained by riding up to 80% off-road. Further hares could ride to the real sea for an additional 200 km or reach a point higher than 2000m ASL also for an additional 200km.
To make it short: Those who wanted to ride hard and far were definitely rewarded for it, but it was worth considering the challenges for our tortoises as well…

The Brevet Card of the LOOP gravel event in Vienna.
This picture of 3 Tortoise got Time de Witte 450km bonus during The LOOP Vienna.
Benjamin Mohl decided to ride up and down Sophienalpe in the WIener Wald on his gravel bike all day during the LOOP Vienna.

Challenges of the Tortoise

The tortoise isn’t exactly quick. They are consistent though and we view tortoises as being smart!
Usually the tortoise type of riders never have any chance to win a bikepacking/gravel race. The challenges we created were designed to give them a chance!
“Collecting” countries were one of the bonus kilometers. For up to 6 countries bonuses were to be gained. Smart and creative tortoise could also ride to the “fake sea” (aka a large lake with proof that made it look like the sea 😉) for 50km bonus each. They could also bring country-typical children’s sweets for 10km each! (I might raise the bonus for next year.)
Rivercrossings and Hike-a-bikes also gave bonus kilometers. A real bikepacking adventure goes off the beaten path. 😜

Beaches and touristic appartments greated participants at the Fake Sea at Neusiedler See during The LOOP Gravel Event Vienna.
Eva Mader taking a break at the Fake Sea during the LOOP bikepacking event starting in Vienna.

The Aesop Challenges

While planning and preparation are fun and fundamental for success in any bikepacking/gravel adventure and our event The LOOP, surprises make it all the more exciting.
Therefore riders received brevet cards on the startline with some special challenges they could not prepare for!

No one managed to meet a 100 year old person. Hard, but would have been rewarded with 100 bonus kilometers. Also no one managed to go to the Geographical Center of Europe for an additional 350 km. That one is worth googling. It might be easier, or harder than you think. Depending on which one you choose. 😂

Friedemann Lämmel ate mos ice cream during the LOOP Vienna gravel event!
The LOOP Vienna riders passed through the Austrian landscapes of Lower Austria quickly.
Vienna is surrounded by a network of scenic gravel roads and forrest paths, perfect for gravel bikes!
Pascal Striedner celebrating getting bonus kilometers for crossing a river by ferry.

Friedemann Lämmel ate the most ice cream out of all participants to gain a total of 250 bonus kilometers! Chapeau. He stopped shortly before the finish to munch 3 more ice creams for a total of 6, complaining about an upset stomach. Determination for sure!
50 km per picture were to be gained for taking pictures with hares! A total of 54 pictures of hares have been taken. Some of them showing impressive amounts of hares in one picture, some truly creative! Most hares have been photographed by Pierre Kommer. 25 hares have not been reached by anyone else and brought him to second place among the Long Day Loopers!
Tortoise (I thought) were harder to spot in Austria and brought 150 km per spotted tortoise.

The winning rides

To our surprise 29 tortoises have been spotted! The most by far by the winner of the Long Day Loop riders Tim de Witte (who also finished 3rd in this year's Transcontinental Race). He stopped at the Zoo in Bratislava and found some advertising containing Tortoise for a total of 16!!! Tortoise photographed. Wow.
In fact the tortoise DID decide both races. Eva Mader rode the least kilometers out of the Overnighter Loop starters and took a 12 hour stop in Bratislava to… STOP AT THE ZOO! She photographed 10 tortoises. Congratulations for the win. We couldn’t be happier that actually two smart tortoises grabbed the win by fulfilling a lot of challenges and being creative.

Gabriel Waringer set out with the goal of riding more than 10000m elevation for the LOOP in the Wiener Wald.
Ferry between Slovakia and Austria during The LOOP Vienna gravel event.
Matthias Baltas taking a break for Austrian pastries during his Lon Day Gravel Loop around Vienna.

2nd place for the Overnight Loop participants went to Martin Granadia. He was the only one who rode all the way through the night only to stop for his sister's birthday party and… took a nap there! What a ride! Check out his video recap of the event here.

Gabriel Waringer took 3rd and actually gained the most bonifications through hare challenges. You could say he was our fastest hare! He struggled in the night and had to stop for some sleep. Therefore he didn’t quite reach his goal of over 10000 m of climbing and also didn’t quite reach the Everesting, still chapeau on an ambitious and “interesting” ride! (He went to Wiener Wald and repeated a loop there until returning to the start/finish at Usus am Wasser.)

Martin Granadia at the finish of The LOOP Vienna bikepacking event.
Martin Granadia ( riding through Bratislava, Slovakia during The LOOP Vienna.
Bratislavas by night. Riders didn't hallucinate as they saw a UFO in the city during The LOOP Vienna bikepacking event.

Pierre Kommer did a nice ride with a lot of varying terrain and landscapes. Smartly fulfilled challenges brought him to 2nd place on the Long Day Loop behind Tim de Witte. He did cross 3 rivers. Same as Matthias Baltas. They therefore had to decide over who gets the 7mesh Copilot rain jacket over a game of Rock, Scissor, Paper which Matthias won. However, no worries Pierre, we will get you sorted with some 7mesh gear for your amazing ride as well. 😉
Friedemann Lämmel was our 3rd place for the Long Day Loop. He was also our Cervélo fastest Bee with a blistering average speed of 24,3 km/h. Just ahead of Tim de Witte. Congrats for winning a Jumbo Visma cap and jersey which will be sent to you. 🙌

Pierre and Matthias played a game of Paper, Scissors, Rocks for the 7mesh Copilot jacket.
Finisher Party of The LOOP at Usus am Wasser in Vienna.
Tim de Witte was already on the way home when we announced him as the winner.

There were two prizes left. Pascal Striedner got a one year voucher for Komoot Premium. He was the only one to go to the Czech Republic and then Slovakia. This “rewarded” him with some hike-a-bike through peanut butter mud. Paired with his positive attitude and smile as we caught up with him afterwards we feel he deserved this prize. 😜
Last but not least we had one last price to give away which was an Ortlieb Saddle Bag. This went to our unluckiest rider Benjamin Mohl. He set out for a small loop up and down Sophienalpe in order to achieve an Everesting. Looping this climb the whole day turned out harder than he thought, not even getting him to a base camp. Still he came with a huge smile and was already talking about next year. Maybe the Ortlieb saddle bag will make you venture a bit further out of Vienna in the next edition? 😜

What’s left to say?

We learned a lot. We nearly suffered more than one breakdown during the organization of this event, we poured our hearts into it and we are happy that it was all worth it.
Thank you to everyone who participated at the event, came to cheer at the start-/finish line, wrote messages or supported in any other way. We are very happy about all the curious questions and general interest about the event format we received and yes, also about all the feedback. We heard it and quite a few things will change next year. 😉

Gabriel Waringer and his gravel bike at the finish of the The LOOP Vienna.
Counting children sweets, hares and tortoises at the end of The LOOP Gravel event in Vienna.
Friedemann had a warm welcome at the finish of the LOOP.

Thanks to our Sponsors and Partners

Thank you to all the brands that supported us! Without Isabel and the support from komoot the event idea would not be possible and our event location would have looked pretty empty. We wouldn’t even have starter bags. 😂
Cervélo and Reserve Wheels were the first to believe in our idea and offered support for making it happen. It is unfortunate that you couldn’t come out to see it actually come to reality, but we truly hope to welcome some of the team next year.
Same applies to Wahoo. One of our longest term partners and real event animals which also meant of course they were already occupied at another event. We hope to see the #wahooligans on location next year!
Ortlieb are also one of our most loyal partners and have been fundamental with Feedback and materials for this event. We take your word for you to be on location next year. Thank you for being the amazing people you are!
The team at 7mesh offered a generous price as a contribution and we hope to see you more involved next year. Thank you for your help and support!
Thank you to James from Squirt Cycling for providing participants liquid chain wax, tubeless sealant and bike cleaner. (Which they gladly took and some was desperately needed. 😂)
Not to forget: we have to thank one of the best characters in the cycling industry:
Iris Slappendel, ex-pro and founder of IRIS cycling clothing brand (and our partner for the LYNX TRAIL BIKEPACKING ROUTE!), provided us with the best looking cycling caps any event ever had. Thank you for being the amazing person you are!


Last but not least

Thank you to Chiara Terraneo for creating the identity and graphic assets for the event, taking pictures and handling the social media madness. This event would not have been possible without you!

See you next year!