Written by Will Meyer, Co-Founder of Brother Cycles. Photos by Andrew Leo (UK) and Conny Mirbach (Germany)
The idea for Brother in the Wild began four years ago during a ride in the New Forest, a national park in the south of England famous for its heathland, forest trails, and wild ponies. We were blown away by the scenery and the riding, all within a short train journey from the hustle and bustle of London. How could we encourage people to come and experience this for themselves?
One year later and 120 riders were turning up to the inaugural Brother in the Wild. It was a free event and we provided a couple of routes in the New Forest and a private camping field next to a very active working farm (those who attended these early events will know exactly what we mean!). Other than this, the riders had to be mostly self-sufficient with their own camping kit and ability to navigate the route. These were rides and not races—no marshals, no route markings, and certainly no timed sections. Riders were actively encouraged to get off their bikes and enjoy some of the stunning views, wild swim spots, and pubs along the way.
Brother in The Wild has grown since then. The numbers have doubled, the routes are more advanced, and we provide more camping amenities, such as campfire talks, live music, a bike wash station, craft ales, cocktails, and a load of great food. However, our motives remain the same: we want to provide a relaxed weekend full of great adventures on and off the bike, all in stunning natural surroundings with a group of like-minded people.
Two years ago we were approached by Davo and his team at Guten Biken, a bikepacking focused shop based in the heart of Munich, Germany. They had travelled to Brother in the Wild UK the year before and now wanted us to bring the event to Germany in the form of a two-day gravel ride and campout starting at their shop and heading south towards the Alps. Obviously, we leapt at the opportunity! It was a huge success and this year we decided to run our second event in Munich, partnering again with Davo and his team…
We met along with 70 other excited riders on that Saturday morning to drink coffee and geek out about kit before rolling down to the banks of the Isar River where the weekend ride began. The Isar runs through the heart of Munich and is fed by water rushing down from the Alps. Within minutes of setting off we hit the smooth gravel trails that follow the banks of the river and headed south towards the mountains.
The team at Guten Biken—special mention has to go to Fabian Baum here—are experts on the local trails and this quickly became clear as the route progressed. One minute riders are following the well-trodden river trails and the next they’re darting into the forest to test themselves on more technical singletrack.
Despite a worrying forecast of thunderstorms, the sun was beating down on us for most of the day. Luckily the route followed the river so we could jump in and cool off in the icy mountain water. We made sure to stop at a number of beer houses along the route to refuel with a traditional Bavarian diet of pretzels, bratwurst, and radler—a blend of beer and lemonade which literally translates as “cyclist” due to its origin in the 1920s as a thirst-quenching drink for parched cyclists!
After 45kms (and a dramatic downpour of rain) we reached our basecamp, a private site in the foothills of the mountains, with the dramatic peaks of the Alps just becoming visible in the distance. Riders exchanged stories from the trail over a BBQ dinner and a steady supply of craft beers (thanks Tilmans!) before bedding down for a night under the stars. One of our favourite things about these events is checking out everyone’s camp setup. We had everything from huge family size tents to ultra-light bivvies and even a couple hammocks thrown in the mix.
The following morning we slowly emerged from our tents, brewed coffee, and enjoyed a hearty breakfast before hitting the trails again. Riders were treated to stunning views of the Alps as the loop continued south before eventually turning north and taking us back to Munich… but not before a few more river swims and beer stops.
This event in Munich sums up everything we love about Brother in the Wild: getting out into nature, on our bikes, with an awesome group of people. And by collaborating with our friends in the industry we can take the event around the world, seeing new places and making new friends, all through the simple activity of riding our bikes. We’ve now announced two new international dates, the first taking place in Berlin on the 31st of August and then Bordeaux on the 14th of September. You can see photos from previous events and get tickets for future events at our website.
Hopefully see you all out in the wild soon.
For details on the next two Brother in the Wild events, and other races, workshops, and group rides, check out our events calendar. We’ve been busy adding new listings every day!
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