MAY 31st, 2024
The Trans Balkan Race is the ultimate off-road unsupported bikepacking race across the Balkans. Get ready for a captivating race in a region still percieved as remote and inaccessible. The TBR will deliver an unforgettable journey across karstic landscapes and thick forests through the history of ex-Yugoslavia.
The Trans Balkan Race presents unique challenges such as extreme temperature ranges, rough riding surfaces, scarce water availability, and distant resupply points, offering one of the toughest races worldwise.
Prepare to embrace the wild side of the Balkans!
The TBR is an off-road race, and although there are no excessive technical difficulties, riding an MTB will allow you to enjoy it fully! You’ll ride through isolated mountain regions into some of the last untouched wilderness areas in Europe. Get ready to embrace the very challenge of this race: little to no human presence also means fewer chances of resupplying.
Route description (2024)
The first third of the route follows the ridge of the Dinaric Alps close to the Kvarner Gulf. From Sežana (start), you will ride southeast to enter first the misty region of Čićarja, and then the flourishing forests of mt. Snežnik. You will then pass the border between Slovenia and Croatia and enter Risnjak National Park. The latter is home to the lynx, after which the Risnjak massif is named.
From Risnjak you will enter the Velebit Nature Park, which is the largest single protected reach of land in Croatia. Smooth kilometers of white gravel roads will lead you from the highlands to Gospić (the hometown of Nikola Tesla). After a long cross into the hinterlands, you will border the National Park Una and ride along the Via Dinarica route to reach the Nature Park Dinara (after Knin on the map).
You will cross the border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and descend into the Protected Area of Livanjsko Polje. From Livno, you will ride into the Cincar highlands, the region home to the last wild horses of Europe, and reach Blidinje Nature Park. You’re now out of the roughest trails of the route.
Mostar will be next on the course, a glimpse of civilization before heading back into the wilderness. This will be the lowest (and warmer) point of the route (60 m a.s.l.). Try to make the most of the visit, since you’re about to enter the most challenging part of the route.
Karst plateau after karst plateau, you will enter the muddy forests of Sutjeska National Park and cross the border between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. After a big climb into the Rainforest Perućica Reserve, the view will open on lake Piva with the Piva canyon.
Montenegro will amaze you with its unexpected shifts in landscapes. From the Piva canyon, you will climb to the Durmitor National Park, the highest point of the track (1800 m a.s.l.). Then, a series of challenging climbs through the countryside and windmills fields will link the highlands between Žabljak and Kolašin. One last glimpse of karstic plateaus and you’ll forever carry a piece of Montenegro in your heart. You’ll reach Nikšić, and finally the breathtaking view above Kotor Bay (finish).
the ultimate adventure
Bikepacking is the exaltation of freedom: a cycling movement centered on self-sufficiency and big-day rides. Hence, which better destination than the Balkans? In the common imagination, the simultaneous proximity and distance of the Balkans depict an unfamiliar “other” Europe. This race proposes a fascinating adventure in a region that is still perceived as remote and inaccessible. It’s an unforgettable journey across karstic landscapes and flourishing forests through the history of ex-Yugoslavia.
We designed the race to follow the most logical way from Slovenia to Montenegro while reducing concrete segments to the minimum. However, we wanted to avoid pointless hike-a-bike sections: we like to ride as much as you do! The result is a route that doesn’t display excessive technical difficulties. The real challenge consists of the environment and the climbing. Do not underestimate potential dehydration where resupplies are spaced out.
The climbing data says it loud and clear: the ideal bike for this race is an MTB with large tires and light mountain bike gearing. The route does not display excessive technical difficulties, however, in a number of sections the terrain is rough, and some short climbs can get quite steep. Overall, an MTB would definitely spare you some hike-a-bike (and saddle sore…).
This race develops across the Dinaric Alps through some of the most remarkable National Parks in Europe. The karstic environment is prevalent along the route, creating a lunar landscape where temperatures can range from 20 ºC in just a couple of hours. Here, also water availability is a serious concern, as the permeable terrain channels the rain to underground cavities – leaving the surface dry and rocky. These moonscapes are discontinued by flourishing forests, where paths are often muddy and slippery. Briefly, the Balkan nature doesn’t do half-measures.
variety of context
The race crosses tourist and rural areas. Keep in mind that these Countries experienced the Yugoslav Wars not so long ago. Some regions still show the scars of the conflicts, both in the infrastructure and in the population’s hearts. Yet, people will warmly welcome you anywhere on the route, even when the linguistic barrier limits communication. You will race through isolated rural and mountain regions too. Here the population is mainly constituted of mountain goats and golden jackals. Also, bears and wolves visit these territories. Livestock is usually watched by shepherd dogs. They’re all fluff and fur until they’re not.
APPLICATIONS ARE NOW OPEN!
100 places are available (first come first served).
Your Application for the Trans Balkan Race 2024 consists of two main sections:
- Get-to-know-you questions
- Background and motivation
We decided to add an application process before entering the race with the double purpose of having a chance to “meet” our riders and making sure you understand what you’re signing up for. Filling out this Application shouldn’t be a boring assignment. Think of it as an opportunity for us to get to know you better! Why would you like to be part of the Trans Balkan Race 2024?
Entry Fee and Tracking
Rules of fair play
Let’s be straightforward: nobody really likes rules. The bikepacking community is driven by the pure desire for exploration and holds to core values such as honesty and fairness. In this context, rules look like unnecessary boundaries to absolute freedom. We sincerely believe that all riders joining the Trans Balkan Race are driven by the wish of competing at their best while exploring a fascinating and remote territory. However, good fences make good neighbors and we convened on 8 golden rules to maintain fair play. This rulebook is rather short but we’re extremely diligent in its application, as the race record proves.
Cover by bike the entire distance of the route provided by the TBR Organization and validate the Brevet Card at the 2 Checkpoints (within the cut-offs). If leaving the route for any reason (e.g. resupply, or sleeping), resume the race from the same point. If leaving the route for external inconveniences (e.g. roadworks, blocked paths), resume at the closest point. Shortcuts are not allowed.
Complete the race in total self-sufficiency: foods, beverages, equipment, and spares must be carried from the start, or purchased in available stores. No third-party support allowed.
Begin and finish the race under the same race category – solo or pair. You’re allowed to ride a maximum of 10% of the race length with another participant (members of a pair act as a whole).
Each rider must carry the mandatory equipment during the whole length of the race.
Maintain evidence of your ride. We might require to check the GPX of your ride in case of disputes or missing dots.
Observe local general and traffic laws. Ride safely and do not take unnecessary risks. All roads will be open to traffic during the race, and most of the unpaved/off-roads are passable by car and normally used by 4WD.
Leave no trace
Each rider must adopt environmentally ethical behaviors: dispose of waste properly, minimize the campsite impacts, respect wildlife, and leave no trace.
These rules cannot possibly foresee every situation. If necessary, we’ll evaluate the circumstances and make our decision. Every decision of the Race Director will be final.