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Excellent German adventures with Barry Pikey

Barry Mason the Europikey has been touring Europe this summer in a van hitting up various countries and riding spots. Today’s installment comes from Germany:

Take it away Barry.

Germany is one of those places that’s never really excited me, I’ve never before felt the need or want to go there, I mean tourist attractions like the Berlin Wall or concentration camps don’t really conjure up happy fun holiday images for me. It’s not that i dont like history or ought, just i dont really want to spend my holidays looking at brickwork or old pictures of skinny bald people in ovens thankyou very much. And then there’s the things that spring to mind when I think Germany, schnitzel, sausage, bad porn, fat men with moustaches (not of the Hitler variety, turns out the 1940’s period put an end to that one pretty quick), grey skies, dodgy accents that sort of thing; notably none of these things involve bikes! My initial thoughts for this trip scooted through Germany fairly quickly with eager eyes for Austria but in hindsight I’m bloody glad I went.

Winterberg was the first port of call, an easy drive from the French coast (about 7 hours) and not a toll road in site, a welcome relief from the annual slog down to the Portes du Soleil. The bike park in Winterberg is pretty good and has a fairly good mix of stuff to keep you entertained although a couple of days riding here was about right. There’s a slopestyle park; the best I’ve seen with loads of well made and maintained jumps, ladders, boxes, wall rides and all the things the cool kids like. There’s a free ride trail which is basically ladder drops and wall rides but if you’re into that shit then it’s probably ok and there’s a fun ride trail to which is just hairpin berm to tabletop the whole way down. For me the highlight of Winterberg was the downhill (well that and the paprika chips from the sweaty burger van at the entrance) it’s not all that long but its good fun. The track runs pretty fast with a fair amount of rocks and roots to keep it lively and there lots of sneaky lines kicking about so keep your eye out. It’s all in the trees and makes the most of the slope with good fast sections flowing nicely into the tighter more technical sections. There are also a couple of good rock gardens and doubles littering the top half of the track to keep you on your toes. Winterberg also has a 4x and a little beginners jump park but neither of them were anything to shout about really.

A lift pass sets you back 24.50e for the day which aint too bad but one thing I will say is that its not hard to workout where Winterberg got its name from, the place is fucking freezing! On the upside it was dry, the beers were always cold and the riding never got too sweaty. The old dorris at the burger van even said her pipes froze up a few weeks back, I hope she was talking about the van!!

Willengen was meant to be my first stop but after finding out that the only campsite I could find in the area on t’interweb didn’t exist and a long overnight drive I had proper n.f.i and headed straight to Winterberg (it’s only about a 20 minute drive away). When I returned a day later I was told by the liftie (moments after purchasing my lift pass) that; “Ze vorld cup downhill ist closed!” half way through a three day maintenance overhaul! So as you can imagine I wasn’t overly impressed by old Fritz’s news but there wasn’t much I could do. I got the little bike out and spent the day sessioning the flowy turns and jumps on the free ride trail, which to this day is the only freeride trail I’ve ever enjoyed! The super loose turns at the bottom were great for getting your drift on!
The world cup 4x at Willengen would be awesome if it were maintained but the unfortunate fact is it fuckin aint! It’s a bloody mess and a right waste! It’s made of that stony crap that the Euros seem to love so much but the jumps and line choice would make for some interesting riding and racing. So out of three tracks apparently on offer, one was rideable….pretty wank!

I returned on the Saturday to get my fix on ze downhill. The weather wasn’t brilliant with a strong cross wind at the top and increasing levels of drizzle all day! There was also a beer festival at the pub at the top which consequentially meant thousands of pissed up Germans on the hill but apparently this is the norm here and it was all in good spirits, still no good looking chicks though!! The track however is bloody awesome and everything is big! Big jumps, big rocks and big fun! There’s two big doubles at the top which with no crosswind would be well on (yep using the wind as my excuse). The track then heads into the trees and into the rocks, there’s a nice stone faced hip jump which spits you right into a big long rock section which is awesome fun. There are lots of blind drops most of which are pretty straight forward but there’s some that could land you in some trouble so I recommend a steady scouting first run! Once you’ve got your line down the track flows really well and is a lot of fun. The best thing about riding world cup tracks is doing the bits you see all the top boys ripping up in the videos and Willengen has got some good memorable sections with the big rock drop lines then a nice sized road gap towards the bottom. The track carries on down the side of the 4x, it didn’t look too ridden with over grown grass etc but its worth a bash, some nice jumps along it. It’s a pretty short track but for what it lacks in length it makes up for in fun. The lift pass here is E22 per day and if your planning a trip to these parts, I’d recommend a long weekend with a day at Willengen and a day at Winterberg as their so close!

Heading south my next stop was Bad Wildbad. I have one word for this place “Fuckingsicktastic!” The IXS downhill here is probably the most fun track I’ve ridden to date. Full on technical, steep and a mine field of rocks and roots the whole way down. It flows really well and there are loads of sneaky lines about to keep you on your toes. Bring your body armour though, I fucking hate wearing that shit but the second day here was wet and boy was it greasy and there aint nowhere soft to land!

It’s a bit of a strange set up here, firstly the bike park is really badly signposted and I’ts right at the top of a fuck off big hill (the old van didn’t like that too much!!). The guy at the little bike shop at the top was really helpful and spoke good English. Secondly, your first run down the downhill’s is on the house as you buy your uplift ticket from a sweet shop by the station right in the centre of town which is a little strange! This also has fuck all signposts but its just off the main strip in town. Its a funicular railway bringing you back to the top, during the week it only runs every half hour (every 15m weekends) which is pants if you have to stop on the way down or something as it means you got to sit around waiting for an uplift but hey ho its still an uplift, its relatively cheap (11e half day/ 22e full day) and there’s a bar and pizzeria at the bottom for a cheeky cold one and some lunch.

At the top you’ve got the Northwave freeride trail (don’t waste your brake pads like most things labelled “freeride” its proper shit! Basically a fire road with some little badly built kickers), a crappy little north shore section, a fun ride (more hairpin berm to tabletop malarkey) and a really poor excuse for a 4x which looked like it hadn’t seen a bike or spade for years! The lift for this area only runs at the weekends but to be honest if you didn’t already get the picture….ITS BOLLOCKS.

If you’re in Bad Wildbad your there for one thing and that’s downhill. There are two tracks, the IXS and Downhill2. Downhill2 is again real steep and rocky with some tight tricky turns. It doesn’t flow quite as-well as the IXS but it’s a good challenge trying to maintain speed. When I rode it, it was a little moist to say the least, I was laughing to myself the whole way down as I couldn’t believe I was still the right way up! The IXS as I said before is mint, full on aggression and speed, well worth a visit! There’s not enough here to ride for more than a couple of days though which is a shame as it’s a long old drive from the UK, if I were you I’d hook it up with some riding at either Winterberg/ Willengen to the north or Totdnau to the south.

I met a local guy in Bad Wildbad who I shall call Hans (just for names sake like…..its not racist) who was training for ze German masters, he was pretty quick on his V10 (the nicest looking bike i’d seen on German soil, a welcome break from the Votec and Bergamont donkeys they all seem to roll on out here) and when I asked him about Totdnau he almost came in his pants.
Literally; his face lit up “Zis is ze best track in Germany yar, fast fun ooo zo much good. Jumps, drops, high speed all you need for having fun on ze downhill!” so with that in mind, my expectations were pretty high!!

Upon arrival we found a pretty pikey campsite (in Shonau about 10 min drive south) which had an open air pool next door and even the sun decided to greet us so happy days. One thing though, and don’t get me wrong, I’m not condoning this sort of behaviour BUT, they don’t take too many details at German campsites and sometimes they aint much cop and sometimes funds are low and there isn’t too many Gestapo kicking about……you know, that’s all I’m saying!

Anyways Totdnau, two tracks on the hill here the main attraction being the downhill and another shitty disappointment of a “free ride” trail (again not worth the brake pads). On the upside, the downhill is pretty good, not quite as good as old Hans had made it out to be but pretty good all the same. There are some really good sections, fast and flowy, jumps, drops and lots of roots but there are also a couple of really shit sections linking the good bits together, real flat, boring and pedally but never mind there at the top and over fairly quickly. Again another fairly technically challenging track, about half way down in the trees is a particularly fun section with steep flowy turns into roots, into bomb-holes, drops and rocks, good stuff!

There is however a downside to Totdnau in my opinion (other than the shitty freeride trail) and its regarding the lift! Now, in my books any uplift, no matter what form it takes is bang on and means more bike time and less sweaty pushing time. But Totdnau pissed me off. Not only was it 39 fucking Euros, it only gets you 10 uplifts as they don’t do day or half day tickets, you do get like 3 Euros back when you return the pass but fuck me that’s expensive in comparison. The lift is proper slow too, it’s not the biggest hill but bugger me it takes forever and don’t look back at your bike if its windy…scary stuff!
For 39 Euros I wanna be up the top like shit off a shovel and riding on a fucking sofa not sitting on a glorified park bench shivering my tits off shitting my pants that my bike’s gonna hit the deck from 50 feet! Enough bitching, the downhill is good though, if you can accept having your pants pulled down for the privilege!

Initially Germany had a lot of ugliness, ugly birds, ugly bikes and ugly weather but once I scratched the surface, it came out trumps. The dh I rode was all pretty good, there weren’t too many breaking bumps, the trails were relatively quiet, it was mainly dry and most surprisingly of all; the people I encountered were bloody awesome. Everyone was so friendly and helpful, they were straight into embarrassingly good English as soon as they realised I wasn’t German (it didn’t take them long I mean “Achtung!” and “Vere are your papers??” don’t get you very far (thanks Medal of honour).

However, everything other than the downhill I rode was bit of a disappointment. Don’t believe everything you read in the guide books or websites etc because one things for sure, its certainly aint all kosher (soz, I couldn’t talk about Germany for this long without having a Jew joke in there somewhere)! Just because a bike park boasts it has a 4x don’t expect it to be a) any good or b) rideable. And most importantly if a bike park advertises a “freeride” or “fun ride” trail don’t get your hopes up unless your into berm, tabletop, berm, tabletop, berm, tabletop maybe a wall ride or ladder, berm, tabletop…you get the idea! I don’t mean to be negative or piss on anyone’s’ chips but these bike parks aint cheap and some better quality stuff wouldn’t go a miss nor would some more accurate publicity for that matter! Please remember, and its of upmost importance; that this is only my opinion based on my experiences and its aimed to help you plan your trips a bit more successfully so any haters out there can tell someone who gives a shit (that aint me if you didn’t quite get the picture). Just don’t believe the hype that’s all I’m saying!


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I came on this trip to re-invent my love for mountain biking (amongst other things) I’m not gay or ought but just bored of riding the same old spots week in week out you know. Germany certainly has done just that and I’m loving the riding again like fat chicks love cake! I think as a country Germany is still in its infancy of providing lift assisted mountain biking but it seems to be growing which can surely only mean good things for us (once they lose the idea of this bullshit free ride malarkey!)

Austria next, but that was more of a disappointment but I’ll bore you with that another time. Bottom line, German downhill is worth a bash!

All the best,

Barry
(aka The Europikey)

Excellent German adventures with Barry Pikey

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