Last May took place the second edition of Kromvojoj, a cycling event of ultradistance and self-sufficiency, with start and finish in the city of Reus. A total of 40 participants took the start on Saturday, May 13 at 20:00 hours. 34 in individual mode and 6 in pairs, with a local participation of 53%. The route covered a total of 1,400 kilometers with 24,000 meters of positive vertical drop and three checkpoints located in the Monestir de Sant Pere de Rodes, Port de la Bonaigua, and Mont Caro.
In this edition due to the strict weather conditions in the Pyrenees, after the passage of the first riders, we decided to close the parcours through Port de la Bonaigua. Prioritizing the safety of participants and closing the second checkpoint by organizing a direct detour to Pobla de Segur. As a result of this decision, only the first four finalists were able to complete the original proposed route, the rest of the cyclists were forced to cut the total distance by 155 kilometers, resulting in a second list of finalists.
The fastest participant to cover the entire original distance was Toni Calderón, using a total time of 3 days and 10 hours, and 47 minutes. After days of pedaling and closing the second edition, a quarter of the participants had made the decision to abandon, 75% of those who started Kromvojoj completed their adventure, and on average less than 5 days were spent. This gives an average daily distance of between 470 and 290 kilometers.
The endpoint of the adventure culminated in the party held on the seventh day, where we gathered participants, and volunteers, together with friends and family, to tell and summarize what we experienced from the different perspectives along the way.
Below you will find a series of diaries we published each day on the DotWatcher website as the event progressed. The idea was to reflect the situation of the adventure, the position of the riders, some of their experiences and the atmosphere that was perceived.
Kromvojoj 2023 repeats the original route of the previous year and maintains the three Checkpoints: Monestir de Sant Pere de Rodes in the province of Girona, Port de la Bonaigua in the Pyrenees and Cim Mont Caro in the Parc Natural dels Ports. A total of 1.400km with 24.000 m+.
The participation has increased compared to last year and after 48 registrations we expect the departure of 40 participants with 60% local participation and 40% from abroad. Unfortunately the female presence has been reduced compared to 2022 with only two riders who will take the start: Aida de Heras and Victoria Andrés Rubio. For both Kromvojoj means its debut in an adventure of these characteristics and are part of the sponsorship program of our event: Sponsoreco.
About the rest of the entries we are pleased to see up to 5 repeaters from last year: Mia Guardiet, Enric Terricabras, Toni Calderón and the Superacció couple with Lahcen and Zouhair. Experienced riders such as Michel Sutter, veteran of events like Transcontinental, TransAtlaticWay and Hope 1000. 2 Volcano Sprint Riders as Bruno Wicht and Nahuel Passerat, who is also a former professional Trail Running France. Stephen Rew with 66 years is the eldest participant and Lahcen repeats as the youngest rider with 25. Martynas from Lithuania is the one who travels from a greater distance to start this adventure.
We add to the starting line-up a good handful of local riders with experience in local events such as Transpyrenees, Badlands and above all from the local Randonneur / Brevet world with names like Borja Gascón, Josep Maria Cabanas, Jordi Méndez, Isidre Escorihuela, Edgar Grandio and Jose Maria Navarro.
We are especially excited to see that 35% of the participants consider themselves beginners for this type of event and have decided to choose Kromvojoj as the start of their adventure in the world of bikepacking and ultradistance after the positive reception of the first edition of the event.
After this small introduction of participants, we are very aware to the weather evolution since the territory of our journey is subjected to an intense storm with lower temperatures than usual and even snow at altitudes below 2000 meters. So it is likely that the northern crossing of the Pyrenees will be decisive for the development of the race.
The start of Kromvojoj will take place on May 13 in the city of Reus at 8PM. Stay tuned!
After a busy day at the Piscines Municipal of Reus, with check-in of riders, review of mandatory material and bicycles. Portraits of all participants and a detailed briefing, Kromvojoj second edition has started under a heavy rain, tension and nerves.
During the first neutralized kilometers riding in peloton, the group was broken by the continuous stops to find the waterproof garments and try to stay dry in these first hours of adventure.
The leading group has a gap of less than 7 kilometers with five participants with Toni Calderon in the lead, Valentin Robe, Marc Marimón, Bruno Wicht and Nahuel Passerat.
15 riders are spread out, riding at their own pace until we find a busy closing group with more than 40 kilometers from the front. Some riders have decided to stop and catch up on sleep to be fresh tomorrow.
After the first 6 hours Edgar Grandio has decided to scratch due to bad weather and strict temperatures.
Tomorrow at 10 a.m. CP1 opens in Sant Pere de Rodes and we expect the first riders punctually with local rains and heavy wind.
As expected, the first night conditions on the road were pretty tough. Temperatures between 2 and 5 degrees and riders have been soaked for hours by local thunderstorms.
The pace set by Toni Calderon broke the lead of the race early and he was the first participant to stamp the brevet card at CP1. A solid group chased him with Marc Marimón, Bruno Wicht, Nahuel Passerat, and Valentin Robe. As the points advanced, Bruno has been reducing distances with Toni and is now located just 3 kilometers after him. Expectations are placed on a head-to-head between the two, and the game of attrition.
At the end of the day, Borja Gascón joined the chasing group and they are all resting now except Marc Marimón and Nahuel who continue to open the gap and keep a cautious distance with the first two on the head.
Behind, between 50 and 120 kilometers we find a group of 20 cyclists around La Jonquera. Some take the opportunity to sleep in a hotel to recover their body and clothes, bivvying, and others will continue to advance into the night to reduce distances as Isidre Escorihuela.
27 riders have completed the first checkpoint and early tomorrow we expect the remaining five now resting in Port de La Selva, like Aida de Heras and Victoria Andrés, and later in the afternoon the couple with Francisco and Roger staying in Girona.
Michel Sutter was forced to abandon after breaking his derailleur hanger, Damien Pirotais was hit sideways by a vehicle and is on his way to Toulouse to verify the impact of the damage suffered and was assisted by our team to the Hospital of Figueres. Edgar Grandio and Team Superacció scratched at the beginning of the day.
Tomorrow the race will reach the Pyrenees, increasing its hardness in gradient and weather conditions. In addition, the side effects of the first big effort will begin to show, especially between the riders in the middle group.
Before starting the second edition we were aware of the miserable weather conditions participants could suffer in the highest peaks of the route in the Pyrenees, and yesterday is where the story begins.
The day started with an intense wind at CP1, and closed at 10:56 AM after the check-in of Stephen Rew, Victoria Andrés, Aida de Heras, Ricardo de Miguel, Roger Ferré, Francisco Bonachela, and Jesse Zarate. Once they left CP1 behind, they went down to chase the middle group who tried to cycle at a good pace but were constantly stopped due to the strong wind, making it difficult to reach the French border.
The head of the middle group quickly entered the roads of Ripoll to begin the ascent to Collada de Toses and Coll de la Creueta, where a cold wind was blowing again. As they advanced they reached the foothills of Cadi to rest and recover before Port del Cantó.
At the head of the race, during the second night, Toni Calderón struggled to open distance with Bruno, after an intense night of persecutions. Behind, Marc Marimón, Borja Gascón, and Nahuel Passerat offered us an intense dialogue, where stops were more strategic than ever.
Since the beginning of the day, eyes and hearts from the race organization were set on CP2 at Port de la Bonaigua, which offered a harsh landscape with lots of thick clouds, wind, snow, and very low temperatures with a real feel below zero degrees. The CP was declared open at 10:00 but we decided to close it again at 15:10 due to really bad weather conditions. High mountain forecast is hard to predict, and after personally exploring the area we decided to reopen the CP at 17:30. Luckily we had a window of good weather, and after a previous material check and warning of the thermal situation with the riders approaching, we allowed them to complete the parcours. Toni Calderón was the first to cross the colossus, with a difference of fewer than 2 hours over Bruno Wicht, 4 hours over Nahuel Passerat, and 5 hours over Borja Gascón.
Early in the night, we had more rain and at 21:00 hours we closed the parcours again from Esterri d’Àneu, allowing Marc Marimón and Etienne Pousse to rest at the foot of the pass. Meanwhile, Toni Calderón opened distance approaching Tremp with the clear objective to consolidate his first position against his three pursuers.
After the hardship of crossing the top of the Bonaigua, we started the day with movements in the first positions. Toni overcame Tremp with an impressive pace and took advantage of Bruno’s rest to open distance with the Swiss. Borja recovered his strength in Pont de Suert and Nahuel did the same in Vielha. The effort to climb the Bonaigua was intense. At dawn, Toni was already riding through Mollerusa with a solid lead over Bruno, with Borja and Nahuel stalking behind.
Behind, the day began with the summit of the Bonaigua under an intense snowstorm, wind, and low temperatures. At the foot of the pass and on the way to Esterri, the riders were awaiting the opening of the parcours to CP2. After considering the risks and personally exploring the ascent, the organization decided to completely change the future of this year’s race. CP2 was closed for everybody, and all riders had to divert towards La Pobla de Segur.
First, we communicated the decision to the riders, offering a planned detour through Komoot to show the route and prevent anyone from following the wrong path. Then we searched for the riders pedaling early in the morning towards Esterri to reduce wasted effort. Etienne Pousse and Marc Marimón had breakfast in Esterri and returned to Sort to get back on track. On the way, Marc Balaña and Lee Roberts were diverted as well.
From Sort, we improvised a checkpoint to make sure that all participants were following the new route, and to strengthen the decision we determined that there would be 2 leaderboards: one for the four participants who were going to complete the original route of 1,400km and another for those who finished with an alternative track.
As the day progressed Toni managed to open a gap with his pursuers and with a steady pace was slowly widening the gap with Bruno. Behind Nahuel and Borja were alternating the top three.
The trickle of riders through Sort was continuous during the day. Most highlighted the goodness of the route and the satisfaction of riding on secondary roads, in addition to a very aggressive wind that put in trouble multiple participants in their descent during the Port del Cantó, frightened by the fragility of the long descent.
The day ended with Toni stamping on CP3 and free of pursuers on his way to Reus. At the end of the day is when the most interesting changes that could affect the final classification were seen. Borja, exhausted, decided to spend the night and rest in Ginestar. Bruno in his determination to consolidate the second position arrived exhausted at CP3 and decided to spend the night to recover his strength. In this rest, Nahuel reached the refuge checkpoint neutralizing any advantage.
We close the day with the first place almost decided for Toni Calderon, but many unknowns to confirm what will be the order of arrival from second to fourth position. In addition to a new struggle that opens to lead the second ranking corresponding to the improvised alternative route.
“No prizes, take your shot for the love of the game” chants Kae Tempest in their latest album, and we immediately thought of this quote when Toni Calderón arrived at Reus after 3 days and 11 hours of pedaling with 1,416 kilometers traveled.
A relentless result that started to take shape the first night on the way to CP1 and was solidly maintained until the end. Neither the cold and snowstorm in the Pyrenees nor the pressure exerted by Bruno Wicht and his continuous attacks between CP1 and CP2 made Toni’s mental strength weaken. Toni made a real exhibition of leadership, perseverance, and self-sufficiency in this Kromvojoj. In the end, there was no prize, just his huge smile holding the brevet card. He made it for the love of this sport he has been practicing for so many years.
While Toni enjoyed his personal success and put an end to his adventure stamping at the finish. The dot watched at CP3 where Bruno, Nahuel, accompanied by Valentin Robe and Marc Marimón had taken a break and after completing the ascent to Mont Caro, they headed straight to cover the last kilometers of the route. The Delta separated them from the city of Reus. Descending the Caro they crossed with Borja, who began his march at 6AM to cover the remaining distance and climb to CP3.
After these first movements of the day, Ricardo de Miguel confirmed his withdrawal with 707 kilometers due to an intense pain in his knee that he had been feeling for the last two days.
As the day progressed the refuge of Mont Caro was receiving visits from different cyclists to complete CP3: Marc Balaña, Martynas Simkus, Etienne Pousse, Lee Roberts, Christopher Jackson, Josep Maria Cabanas. All of them were already in high spirits and thinking about completing the route in the next 24 hours.
Behind, we had several groups in Tremp, Sort, and before the Port del Cantó that started their journey at 6AM. Sort closed as an improvised checkpoint around three in the afternoon with all riders en route to CP3. The Coll d’Ares put the difficulties on the ground surrounded by heavy winds and intense sun. Aida de Heras suffered again mechanical problems when her crank loosened for the second time in this race but she managed to temper her spirits and solve the incident to move forward.
At around 3 p.m. Marc Marimón was the first participant to complete the alternative route with a total of 1,287 kilometers. A real achievement considering that 24 hours earlier he had left Esterri d’Àneu with an intense cold. He was followed by Valentin Robe and finally Bruno and Nahuel closed the second and third place in order of finish. Borja Gascón closes the list of the four participants who were in the right place at the right time to risk and take the chance to complete the full course of this edition. An excellent reward for all the effort and commitment they have shown during these three days of adventure.
In the afternoon we notified the abandonment of Jose Maria Navarro after noticing a crack in the frame of his bike being impossible to finish the 650 kilometers remaining. The day ended with 11 participants completing Kromvojoj in Reus, and still 21 on their way.