Ride Report: CTF Mainz – the long-lost German cousin of the Paris-Roubaix

Posted By Gravel Union On 31 March 2021

Our German gravelmeister Timo Rokitta has been out hunting for cobbles. Looks like he struck cobbly-gold too.

Germany. Spring 2021. During the lockdown, which has been in place for months, all cycling events have been cancelled. But, the guys from the Mainz cycling club have come up with a plan and set up the opportunity to ride their CTF as individual riders. The German CTF (cross-country) rides are perfect for gravel bikes. In recent years, the CTF Mainz has been declared an unofficial Spring Classic due to its bumpy pavè (cobblestone) sections. The 2021 route had different characteristics to the old classic CTF and focused on “panoramas”, but still contained six of the route highlights, the old, often rough, pavè sections typical of the Rheinhessen area.

Saturday, March 27th shortly before 8 am.

Mr. Moots was ready and my WTB Byways were inflated to 4 bar (58psi). The weather was typical for a Spring Classic - sun, clouds, strong wind and showers with a maximum temperature forecast of 10 degrees. It was a 45 kms ride for me to get to the starting point in Mainz-Hechtsheim. After 90 minutes of riding I was ready at the starting point. From the first few meters of the first section of cobblestones, I realised that it was going to be an extremely tough day. The headwind from the west was so strong that I could only move forward at 15 km/h. After about 3 kms, the first cobblestone section, the 800 m long Pavè de Hechtsheim, past the wind farm that had been created in recent years, was already waiting.

This was followed by the Pavè de Ebersheim after approximately 8 kms - at 1200 m the longest pavé section in this area. After a steep descent and a short trail in the Lohwäldchen, the Pavè de Eselsborn awaited us. This new pavé section led into a fast descent to Nieder-Olm.

The flexibility of my Moots RSL titanium frame was perfect for these rough routes. Now the route was getting hilly and the first rain shower was falling. After a section with wonderful views, the route went steeply downhill and after a few quick sections past farms, the route arrived at the River Selz. The ascent began at the sports field and headed over an easy-to-ride, new cobblestone section called the Pavè Dorngasse.

It climbed at an average of 10% but with some sections of 16% gradient, most of the gravel bikers were forced to search for an easier gear. Once at the top, only a few meters of altitude still had to be overcome, including the Pavè Muhl, to get to the highest point in the city of Mainz at the former Fort Muhl. I passed the Joachimkreuz observation tower at a fast pace and soon reached the Pavè Steigerhof.

Here there are always beautiful views as far as the Odenwald and the Taunus. Shortly before Hechtsheim, the second rain shower arrived and we also found the last section of pavè - luckily downhill. From the finish line of the event, it was now "only" 50 kilometers with a headwind to get home. A latte macchiato as well as a fatty and sweet raspberry slice at the Scottish fast-food restaurant in Oppenheim gave me more strength for the ride home. After almost 7 hours and 156 kilometers, with an altitude difference of 1,770 meters, I had survived the first Spring Classic.

I'm thinking about organising a Rheinhessen-Roubaix for 2022, one day before Paris-Roubaix. We'll see!

If you fancy trying the CTZ Mainz for yourself, you can find the route here

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