Bad Wildbad is a small spa town in the Karleruhe region of Germany. The town in the valley bottom is a blue rinse paradise, where many oldies come to try and turn back the years in the luxury baths and spas. So it’s fair to say that this is no clubbers paradise, the closest you’ll get to a party here is a gentle waltz along the high street with the elderly tourists. The architecture in the town is typical chocolate box style, excluding a couple of 1960 and 70’s architectural disasters, but on the whole it is a pleasant place. The bike park runs from a funicular in the centre of the town to the top of the hill. The parking for the trails is up at the top where you will also find the Bikers Paradise bike shop.
The Bikepark in total contains two downhill trails, two freeride runs, a 4X track, a dual course, some dirt jumps and a short northshore run. That sounds pretty packed, but before you all jump for your freeride bikes and book the next flight, here’s the low–down. There is only one reason to head to Bad Wildbad, and that is the downhill tracks, they are pretty special and unique. We’ll come back to them in a minute, but first the ‘freeride routes’. Well I have ridden some disappointing trails before, but this one may take the winner’s prize, it really is not worth getting out of bed for and I felt a little cheated after essentially riding down a bridleway from top to bottom with a couple of lumps of mud placed here and there…Avoid! That’s that out of the way, the Bikepark area fairs better, with an easy but quite fun 4X, dual and short northshore route all fed by a drag lift which tests
your balance and arm strength as it pulls you up a short steep incline.
Now I don’t think that anyone in their right mind would travel exclusively to this area for these routes, but when you are with your mates, the 4X and dual tracks are a good craic racing each other and more than likely taking each other out. So to the business end of the area, the downhills. As mentioned before, this is THE reason to visit the hill, as these are ‘some of’, if not ‘the’ rockiest and most technical downhills I’ve ever ridden. For a UK comparison, think of Mynydd Du on steroids, Dunkeld is probably the closest thing to this on home shores. Fortunately the hill is not too steep, so it means riders of most abilities can pick their way down the runs and we saw many local riders bundling through, though I’m not sure how much fun it could be in comparison to a nice flowing beginner trail?!? We saw local ‘Pro’ rider Marcus Klausmann ripping up the hill with all his lines dialled.
Me and Ralph (Jones, Dirt team rider) were loving the two trails and spent a while sussing out some of the lines as there are lots to look at…with endless rocks you only need to be the wrong side of one and it screws you up through a whole section. The soil is very sandy so this place runs best after it has rained as it drains very quickly, and provides grip. The two trails are named the IXS Downhill (after the German race series), and the imaginatively named Downhill 2. They are in the three to three and a halfminute area, and the IXS is the straighter, faster run, you hit the rocks and endless drop off’s with a bit of pace and can smash your way through; I have to say this was my favourite.
The Downhill 2 run is a bit slower with tighter turns and steep sections linked by flatter runs, it is just as relentless with its rocks and roots and you have to be even more precise with your line to maintain speed. Riding the downhills is quite an intense experience, as you have to focus on the lines all the way down. A few days riding these trails can be very hard on the bikes and body, there is nowhere soft to fall so it is important to ride within your abilities and with protection. You need to watch rear mechs and rotors on the rocks, and you should bring a spare dropout with you.
One final thing to watch are the wooden bridges (there are three of them) at the end of the course. The downslopes to them are short and very steep so it is easy to overcook them and land to flat from about 8ft up…not smooth! So cruise these, you’ll be tired from the rocks by then anyway. They are planning to rebuild these to suit through the winter.
WHERE TO SLEEP
Gasthouse Schmid is found at the top of the Funicular near the start of the downhill track. It is basic accommodation, but perfect for riders, they have a secure shed for bikes and the owners are very bike friendly. You can get the funicular up and down into town until 9.15pm.
WHERE TO EAT
In town head for the Cafe Ambad, famed by Peter of Solid Bikes as the best rump steak anywhere. There are a couple of restaurants on the main street by the tram line which serve nice food, try the Bad Wildbader Hof, a rustic restaurant with good, local food and quite reasonable. A nice Italian restaurant can be found in the spa gardens. During the day when riding there is a kebab and pizza shop by the funicular station.
Head to the small and rustic bar ‘Kupferkanne’, but remember, Bad Wildbad has no night life.
The bike shop is found at the top of the trails near the car park, it is called Bikers Paradise and is where Solid Bikes all began. They have all the bits and bobs you may need to keep your bike on the trail.
The uplift in Bad Wildbad is an old funicular that quickly takes you to the top of the trails, it departs every 15 minutes.
A daily Bikepark pass costs 24 euros.