Zum ersten mal über alle Grenzen: Berlin-Usedom-Berlin ging 2023 als NoBorder-Version nicht nur erstmals über die Grenze nach Polen sondern die Strecke war auch härter als bei jedem BUB zuvor. Und noch etwas war besonders: Noch nie zuvor standen in Deutschland 65 FLINTA* an der Startlinie einer Bikepacking Challenge. Es wurde eine extrem fordernde und gleichzeitig wunderschöne dritte Ausgabe des „großen“ Steppenwolfs durch die sandigen Wälder Polens, die Wege am Stettiner Haff, die Trails auf Wollin und Usedom und allem dazwischen.

Der härteste #BUB bis hierher

Fotos: Nis Broder & Stefan Haehnel


Graveltrack (550 km)

Gefinisht: 53

Amelie L. – Limbach
Ben – BikeBash144 – Potsdam
Bianca – Team Bobbele – Braunschweig
Christina – Berlin
Christoph W. – Bernau
Csaba M. – Budapest (HUN)
David G. – SK Babice – Velké Přílepy (CZ)
Dominik – Bocholt
Dorien – Groningen (NL)
Dorothea B. – Biesenthal
Egor G. – Berlin
Endrik E. – Tallinn (EST)
Félix G.  – Berlin
Franzi – Dresden
Friederike S. – Köln
Gabriella A. – Basel (CH)
Hilke K. – HB – Hamburg
Inga S. – Witten
Insa P. – Hamburg
Jannes – Berlin
Jonathan – Steppenwolf – Berlin
Johanna W. – Berlin
Judith S. – Berlin
Juliane H. – Dresden
Katarzyna S. – Berlin
Katharina S. – Allrounder – Hamburg
Lena T. – Berlin
Lennart – Chemnitz
Mai – Dynamo Dosenbier Radsport – Berlin
Marei M. – Heidelberg
Marie – Köln
Mario K. – Team ExBMO – Berlin
Matthias – Panketal
Matthias B. – Wustermark
Matthias R. – Purple Train – Hamburg
Miguel – Münster
Milan B. – Prag (CZ)
Miriam L. – Bremen
Nathalie H. – Hierden (NL)
Nils – Oldenburg
Patrick S. – Allrounder – Hamburg
Rachel W. – Berlin
Rilana – Kandie Gang – Hamburg
Sandra v.D. – Groningen (NL)
Sarah N. – Frankfurt (a.M.)
Sebastina B. – Hamburg
Selina B. – Wildhood Club – Berlin
Sophia K. – Kandie Gang – Hamburg
Suse – Dynamo Dosenbier Radsport – Berlin
Svea – Kandie Gang – Hamburg
Svenja K. – Berlin
Tiko T. – Zepernick
Tim Z. – Rhenen
Vanessa D. – Bocholt
Vincent – Dynamo Dosenbier Radsport – Berlin
Wiebke H. – Kandie Gang – Hamburg
Wieslaw H. – Berlin


Wildtrack (730 km)

Gefinisht: 28

Albrecht M. – Berlin
Burkhard P. – GravelOst – Berlin
Christian P. – Berlin
Dennis S. – Berlin
Elke G. – Nürnberg
Eric – Berlin
Ernest Pilecki – Pila (POL)
Flo T. – Brutaler Lenkwinkel – Berlin
Henning t.S. – Die Highdesprinter – Celle
Jack – Berlin
Jan H. – Braunschweig
Jascha L. – Darmstat
Leanne B. – Amsterdam (NL)
Marco P. – Aalen
Martin S.
Melina B. – Berlin
Moritz B. – Pirate – Köln
Norman – Berlin
Olaf F. – Braunschweig
Oleg D. – Berlin
Oliver v.M. – Berlin
Patrick E. – Recklinghausen
Samuel K. – Berlin
Stefan H. – Berlin
Thomas T. – Langenwetzendof
Till M. – Potsdam
Tristan L. – Flensburg
Vojtech Sprongl – TSK Praha – Prag (CZ)


Leanne's tough ride on the wildtrack

After taking part in the Atlas Mountain Race in February I was eager to do another ultra soon after, but I needed to find a more affordable option closer to home; Steppenwolf seemed perfect. Founded by brothers Markus and Jonathan and run on donations, Steppenwolf fosters a strong sense of community spirit. The organisers are focused on making the event accessible and diverse and the application process is opened early for women and non-binary people. As a result, there was a 50% gender split at the start line. You can ride solo or as a ‚pack‘ which many people choose to do, making it a great event to take part in if you’re new to the sport, or if you’re looking for a challenging adventure with friends.

Flying with the field

After taking a direct train from Amsterdam to Berlin, I lined up at the start line of the Steppenwolf 750km wild track at 8 am on Thursday with my friend Jack and his friend Nis. I always love the first few hours of an ultra; the field is still packed with riders, and spirits are high. The route took us through beautiful forests, weaving through tall, skinny pine trees on fast and flowy descents. Steep hike-a-bike sections in the hot afternoon sun kept it challenging and once we crossed the Polish border, the dappled woodland singletrack turned into an expanse of sandy doubletrack, interspersed with relentless stretches of cobblestones.

As the afternoon turned to evening, Nis developed a bad migraine that started to affect his vision. Once we reached the border town of Krajnik Dolny he unfortunately decided to bail out while a train station was nearby, leaving Jack and I to complete the route as a pair.

Stopping at a pizza place, we accidentally ordered two 50cm pizzas between us. When the pizzas arrived they were so huge the waitress had to set them down on a 4 person table next to us. Struggling to finish one of them between us, we stuffed as many slices as we could into zip lock bags and pressed on, following giant metal pipes that snaked around cute little houses, and up into the air at every junction in the road.

We reached CP1 at around 10pm. The checkpoint was 175km into the route and located at a lakeside campsite. When we arrived, the Steppenwolf volunteers were cooking pasta for all the riders coming in. There were also toilets, showers, and loads of space to pitch a tent or bivvy. Steppenwolf is really special in this regard, one of the biggest barriers to signing up for an ultra, particularly as a woman, is the anxiety around personal safety. Having the option to camp at a checkpoint each night makes it a much more accessible event.

As the next 30km would be difficult in the dark, we decided to make the most of the facilities at CP1, setting our alarms for 4am so we could get started as soon as the sun came up. We had 210km to do before we reached CP2 and it was going to be a long day.

As promised the 30km through the forest was technical, with lots of twisting singletrack and super steep downhill sections. Many of the trails had become overgrown and difficult to locate and we spent a lot of time retracing our steps to find the route. Stopping after a couple of hours and feeling pretty depleted already, we tucked into the pizza we’d stashed the night before, congratulating ourselves for over-ordering at the restaurant.

After a quick resupply at the Lidl in Zdroje, the next 90km promised to be pancake flat, hugging the shoreline of Lake Dąbie, one of the largest in Poland. This section of the wild track matched up perfectly with the gravel track and we bumped into quite a few people we hadn’t seen yet, including Jack’s friend Rachel who found us sitting at the side of a gravel path, eating pizza that had been reheated by the sun and fending off a swarm of even hungrier mosquitos. Despite her misgivings about our less-than-perfect lunch spot, she sat down to join us for the first of many snack breaks we’d share together over the coming days.

I found this part of the route quite mentally challenging. While the technical and steep sections of an ultra can be tiring and slow, they keep your mind and body engaged, and time seems to pass quickly, even if the kilometres don’t. It’s the long, straight or flat stretches that I struggle with more – with your mind less focused on obstacles, it wanders to the aches and pains starting to creep in, and I find that I need to dig a little deeper to maintain morale.

Things started to get more interesting as we ventured back into the trees. My Wahoo had a meltdown every time we entered the forest, constantly beeping at me and insisting we were going the wrong way. Since it was only right half the time, I grew distrustful of its complaints, and we ended up going around in circles, trying to find the tire tracks left by previous riders. Eventually, another group caught up with us, and together we managed to locate the trail. After much hike-a-bike, we emerged from the forest to find that the exit had been closed off. In its place was a construction site with a huge mountain of sand that we had to slide down to get to the road. After emptying the sand from our shoes we sped off down the tarmac, it was already 6 pm and we still had 70km to go until the checkpoint.

CP2 was on the island of Usedom and we made our way there along the
beach, heading back into the forest as the sun was setting. With head
torches on full power, we carefully navigated the dark cliff edge
singletrack, the ocean calm and serene below us. Emerging onto farm
tracks, we headed towards the family cottage of the organisers, which
they very kindly opened to a hundred smelly riders. Arriving around
midnight there were already many people asleep in their tents,
pitched up around the garden. We sat in the warm kitchen and had some
food and tea. It was cold near the coast and I wasn’t in a rush to
climb back into my bivvy bag.


Waking up on day 3, cold and damp from condensation, the familiar fatigue of an ultra was beginning to settle in. We only had 154km until the next checkpoint and our plan was to get there a bit earlier than the previous nights and then push on, making a dent in the final 186km before stopping to sleep. The first hour was slow as we made our way along dirt tracks through the fields, our aching bodies gradually loosening up. I hadn’t slept well the previous two nights and coffee was needed. We reached a small town with a supermarket and a cafe and I stuffed my bag full of pretzels, vegan cheese, carrots, and pastries and then dashed across the road for a coffee. Feeling stronger and happier, we pressed on.

We passed through many villages in the afternoon and hoped to find a shop, restaurant, or even someone in their garden to top up our dwindling water supplies. Each village was a ghost town, and we didn’t see a single person for hours. Pulling into the last populated area for a while, we came across a village hall advertising a restaurant inside. Hoping someone would be working, we stopped and tried the front door—it was open. Stepping into the darkness, it became clear that we were alone. We quickly filled up our water bladders in the bathroom and continued down the road.


On our way to CP3 we found a supermarket that was about to close. In a bit of a daze, we raced around it, too tired to properly process what was on the shelves, but on a mission to buy as much food as we could carry. As the next day was a Sunday in Germany, this would be the last supermarket we’d have access to. I stuffed bread, pastries and cookies into every spare corner of my frame bag. Zips buckling under the pressure, I mentally checked my packlist for safety pins.

The checkpoint was located at a beautiful community-run home and for the first time we arrived in daylight. Volunteers had made a huge pot of vegetable curry and some of the riders were enjoying a beer. Although it was really tempting to stay, we needed to crack on if we wanted to finish the following evening.

A kilometer up the road we passed a beautiful sandy lake where some gravel track riders were enjoying a swim as the sun set. Not stopping, we rounded the corner and enjoyed a fast downhill section into the forest. At the bottom of the hill, Jack realised he’d left his phone charging at the checkpoint. Fearing we’d lose momentum if we returned to the paradise of CP3, we decided to press on without it.


Riding deep into the night was exciting, the camaraderie of riding as a pair buffered the creepy sounds of the forest and we made quick progress. Our chosen sleep spot was a large arid field on the edge of the trees that put some distance between us and the bugs. Once again we set our alarms for 4 am and tried to get some sleep.


Waking up to tackle the final 165km, we had some breakfast, packed away our wet sleeping gear, and rolled back into the forest. We knew resupply would be scarce today but we set our sights on the town of Lychen, in the hope we could at least find some caffeine. Rolling into the quiet town, things weren’t looking hopeful as we passed by shuttered shops and cafes. Our luck changed when we stumbled across an open bakery with fresh bread and coffee, moments like these on an ultra feel euphoric.

After the Lychen break, the next goal was Templin for some lunch. After Templin, with no more goals but ‚let’s get this done‘ our moods started to dip. Grinding away on sandy double track, with the finish line still many hours away, the route was starting to kick our butts. We rolled up to a series of disused hangars and found Rachel sitting inside one of them. Although Templin was only an hour behind us we both deeply needed a mental reset, so we joined her in the moody shelter. As Jack scraped the remaining peanut butter from a ziplock bag that had torn at the seams, Rachel bit into an incredibly crisp apple. The hangar amplified the sound to a comedic level and we collapsed laughing. It doesn’t take much to bounce abruptly from one mood to another on an ultra.

With morale topped up we set off on the final 80km, which ticked by faster than the previous few hours. As we approached Berlin the route started to feel more familiar to Jack who often cycles the trails around the city. He picked up pace as he anticipated every twist, turn, and downed tree.


Crossing the finish line at 21.10 we were greeted by Markus who put the final stamp in our brevet cards. 3 days, 13 hours. Out of the 58 wild track starters we were 16th in. With only a handful of riders behind us the wild track had a high scratch rate this year, it had been a tough one.


After Atlas Mountain Race I went into Steppenwolf thinking I’d have a pretty easy time of it, and I was happily surprised to be consistently challenged by the route – Being relatively new to mountain biking I learnt a lot and feel I finished as a more confident rider than I started. Steppenwolf has something to offer everyone, and that’s what makes it such a special event.