The Grenzsteintrophy – A 1,280 km mountain bike ride along Germanyʼs former Iron Curtain.
Packed and ready for the 800 mile journey on the “Kolonnenweg.” Photo by Mila Kusmenko
19 bikes lean ag ainst trees and lam p posts. T he sm all path to the beach is blocked by helm ets, backpacks and g ear. T he host of the sm all restau rant “Priw all-Treff” ju st opens the w indow s. T he cam ping g rou nd nearby is still qu iet and sleepy.A typical holiday m orning .Franky adju sts the straps on his pack.T he slim g u y in his forties checks his g ear – ag ain; in a few m inu tes the “G renzsteintrophy” is g oing to start.
T he letters “G ST ” m ake for the sam e acronym as the “G esellschaft für Sport u nd Technik” a param ilitary you th org anisation of the form er G D R .A nd the rou te g oes along the “Todesstreifen” (“death strip”), a corridor of land next to the inner-G erm an border. To su ccessfu lly cross this corridor for the people of the form er G D R m eant to flee into freedom . A bou t 900 people lost their lives there u ntil1989.
T he “G renzsteintrophy” (G ST ) is a m ou ntain bike ride of 1,280km (800 m iles) w hich 20 years after the fall of the inner-G erm an border takes its riders along side the form er Iron C u rtain from L übeck-Travem ünde to M ittelham m er in the V og tland area.
A pathw ay called “K olonnenw eg ” ran parallelto the border and w as the m ain m ilitary su pport road for the E ast G erm an arm y.It’s m ain character com es from concrete slabs w hich are m ade for tanks and heavy tru cks – for letting rain and snow throu g h them they “consist of” holes of abou t 3” w idth and 8” leng th.T here are alw ays 4 holes next to each other and 7 in a row – a rou te of m an m ade potholes. O nly w ide low -pressu re tires, g ood su spension and enou g h speed m ake this rideable. B eing abandoned for 20 years the old m ilitary road is taken back by natu re,so it is overg row n by g rass and shru bs. U nlike G reat D ivide/Tou r D ivide the G ST initiators did not have an established track to follow or even a road book like the A C A provides. T hanks to volu ntary helpers and local scou ts the G ST track w as created in G PS files.
G ST is not strictly a race,bu t no easy Su nday afternoon ride either. It’s a self-su pported ride w hich m eans: no help from ou tside, no su pport cars, no placing of food bag s etc. E verything the riders need, they have to bring them selves or bu y u nder w ay. T he org anisation team doesn’t u se the term “race” for leg al reasons – bu t there is m ore: “T he G ST is no race. W e w ant friendship and sociability,instead ofcom petition.” explains H .D avid K oßm ann of the org anisation team . T he G ST is not a tou rist event either – 17.000 m eters vertical and an intrig u ing politicaldim ension keep the starter field qu ite sm all. XXC SEASON TWO: ISSUE SIX
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