Travel Guides: GERMANY-TODTNAU
Hitting the bike parks and trails in Germany you have two options, you’re either going to be trucking it out on a weekend break to one of the spots or you’re on a longer multi stop break. The three trails we visited were perfect for the week we had spare to ride. But these three are just a few of the many small operations running in Germany. With others such as Oberammergau, Bischofsmais, Hindelang and Willengen, it is easy to see how you can spend a week or two visiting and riding a variety of trails. If you live in the south of the UK, you could be riding downhill tracks with lifts just five and a half hours the other side of Calais. That is surely a selling point for a
long weekend break? Many people travel three hours to Wales to pedal or push up the hill! We hit the German parks on the way back through Europe and stopped off at Totdnau, a former Maxxis Cup venue in the south first and then headed north to Bad Wildbad, which has gained the reputation as one of the rockiest trails out there. Then we went on to Winterberg, home of the massive IXS Dirt Masters competition. We pulled into Totdnau late at night and pretty jaded from a long drive, we found our rendezvous, a bikers bar (of the Harley variety) run by an ex–pat called Andy who had an uncanny resemblance to Meatloaf who had adapted Ozzy Osbourne’s persona. He showed us to our accommodation and we settled in for the night. The next morning we woke to see the hill sporting the longest toboggan run in Europe, it looked amazing, until we found out that it had automatic braking designed into it so you couldn’t hit the corners pinned – where’s the fun in that? Throughout the trip it did feel like we were on an old dears coach tour as all the places we stopped were small, pretty, really quiet and inhabited by the incontinent.
This small town in the southern Black Forest was one of Germany’s first ski resorts, due to limited snowfall and climate changes it has never suffered from much development and thus retains its authentic German small–town charm. In fact the ski season now only offers around three weeks of quality snow, so the lift owners have been keen to
look at other ways to use the hill. As a result the downhill trail was born 13 years ago, making it the first Bikepark in Germany. It is a luscious green area; you could almost be in the Tweed valley or the valleys of Powys only this place offers you a two man chair to the top of the hill.
While the resort lists three trails, a downhill track, the Wildride and a freeride route, you certainly wouldn’t travel here to ride anything other than the DH. In fact I’ll save you the disappointment by telling you DO NOT ride the freeride trail, once again this term is easy to misinterpret and I’d say Freeride in this area mainly involves rolling down forest roads. The Wildride is OK for a few warm up runs, it is an easy purpose built descent, but in contrast, the main downhill run is a gem. It reminds me of the Pleney track in Morzine, only with a little more variety and nowhere near as beaten up. There are some nice jumps in the run and some great root and rock sections that you can hit full tilt. It is very much in the style of the older European courses, big and fast, though it evolves as you work your way down with some fun slower sections. One in particular had
sweeping lines in and out of gullies, with crests and compressions, it flowed really well and you could attack it to pump through the banks and turns.
There is not so much choice in Totdnau, so best bets are the Harry Apartments (+49 7671 1467) found near the trails, the Waldeck Hotel (+49 7671 9930) in the centre of town or Stay at Andy’s Bar – the Pfeffermhule (+49 7671427).
The Black Bear hotel in the town square serves some mean traditional German dishes, most of which involve large chunks of meat, a plus point in my book, but perhaps not to everyone’s taste. Andy’s Pfeffermhule serve good steaks too, and they serve through the afternoon and evening.
Only one place to head to, go and see Andy in the Pfeffermhule, he will sort you out and you can meet up with all the local riders there. It is packed full of memorabilia from all sorts of biker groups and this is the social hub of the small town.
There is a bike shop under the lift station which has a decent stock of parts and hires bikes; you can also hang out here on the sofas in–between runs.
There is a two man chairlift and the bikes are hooked on securely.