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Travel Guide: GERMANY-WINTERBERG


WINTERBERG
Photos:Victor Lucas
Winterberg is perhaps the best known of the German parks, and of the places we visited is the only one that I would call a true Bikepark – that is, the only one where freeride actually meant some nice feature packed trails rather than riding down a forest road! It is also the smallest hill of the three, but they have used what they have so well and it really cries out to me as a model for what we should be seeing here in the UK – a short hill packed with downhill and freeride features with a direct chairlift to the top. For now though we will have to take the drive from Calais to enjoy all this.

THE TRAILS
The trails have been built by the same team who brought us the Willengen World Cup downhill track which most of you will have seen on the Earthed DVD’s. The downhill here is of a similar man made style with large rock gardens created, big berms and jumps, it actually suits the smaller hill well and there are still plenty of lines there to practise and dial in.

Unlike the other two venues though, downhill is not the sole or main reason to come and ride Winterberg. No, it is more about the playtime and the airtime in Winterberg, with some great freeride runs snaking their way down the hill. These freeride trails have countless berms switchbacking with rollers along the straights. Then you have the 4X track and the excellent slopestyle area, easily the best of its kind currently in Europe, it features satellite dish step–in step–out jumps, drops, gaps and loads of really high northshore. On the hill there are road gaps, doubles, tables, wallrides, ladder drops – the lot, it really is flat out in Winterberg.

So with all gravity aspects of the sport so well covered it is no big surprise that they hold an event here, with downhill, 4X and slopestyle competitions. It is called the IXS Masters and has been growing exponentially to become Europe’s largest bike race event and expo with some 700–800 entries to the downhill!

SLEEPING
The Central Hotel does exactly what is says on the tin, accommodation in the town centre and right near the Bikepark.

EATING
Relax at the Ruhrquellenhutte mountain restaurant, not far from the trails. This is a great place to unwind at the end of the day. If you want a little break away from the park to try some local specialities then head for the Haus Herrloch Restaurant located beneath the St Georges Ski Jump.

BARS
There’s a choice of three clubs, Tenne with its three floors, Alpenrausch and the Raidon. Between them they serve over 100 beers! Or for a drop of the black stuff, try the Black
Water Irish bar.

BIKE SHOPS
There is a small bike shop and rental place in the park with a workshop for repairs.

UPLIFT
There is an old two man chairlift which does the job of taking you to the top in next to no time. It can get busy at weekends, so there may be some queuing.

PRICES
Day bike pass is 24.50 euros.

CLIMATE
The Climate in Germany is generally pretty pleasant to ride in through the summer months, it stays very green and there is usually some rainfall each week keeping the trails in good condition. The temperatures usually lie between 20 and 30 degrees.

GETTING THERE
I would recommend driving to these resorts, as Winterberg is just 5 ½ hrs from the ferry, Bad Wildbad is 3 ½ hrs south from Winterberg, and Todtnau is 2 hours south of Bad Wildbad. Load up your van with your mates and road trip it, it’s a good weeks riding. Dortmund is the closest airport to Winterberg and Stuttgart is the nearest large airport to Todtnau.

WHICH BIKE?
This is a tricky one. If you love downhill then take the downhill bike, as you can ride it at all three. If you are more into the freeride side of the sport then a smaller bike will be better on the slopestyle, trails and 4X in Winterberg, but you’d have to be insane to try and ride the downhill at Bad Wildbad on a hardtail! Perhaps another argument for taking a van over is you can take two bikes if you have them.

WHO’S SUITED TO THIS TRIP
Germany is an easy country to reach, not too far away, it means you can do this trip on the cheap either as a week or a long weekend. Winterberg is well suited to all abilities, from beginner to expert. Totdnau suits intermediate to advanced riders, and Bad Wildbad’s downhill only really suit advanced riders or people who want to push themselves hard on technical terrain. So I would say if you like riding downhill and enjoy the technical challenges then take the downhill bike for a week between the three but if you prefer just cruising nice flowy trails with smooth berms and jumps then take a weekend break to Winterberg and with little or no snow season at all three resorts you can ride most of the year round here.

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