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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!

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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

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