The good is so close Vol. 2 - Biking in Franconian Switzerland
With Tobi Woggon and Dennis Stratmann across upper Franconia
Tobi and Dennis, two good friends, have already been to many bike spots around the world. But since they still have some catching up to do in their own country, the two spent their last bike trip in the Middle Rhine Valley. Now Dennis visits Tobi in Upper Franconia and the two explore Franconian Switzerland. An ode to the local trails!
I've lived in Upper Franconia for about 10 years, very close to Franconian Switzerland, one of the most beautiful places Germany has to offer. Nevertheless, I can count on one hand the times I've visited the green valleys with their impressive rock formations.
I've always been drawn to the big wide world, to Kamchatka or to Iceland. I neglected the region that starts just 30 minutes from my front door. But in 2020 everything is different. In the course of the year, I have already seen many corners of Germany that I would certainly have ignored for quite some time without the travel restrictions.
REVENGE IN FRANCONIAN SWITZERLAND
After I had already travelled with my friend and photographer Dennis to the first Lock-Down in the Rhine Valley in spring, a revenge was now on the cards for me in the region. So I called all my friends who I know have been mountain biking in Franconian Switzerland before and tried to find out something about the region. Of course, I did this with the ulterior motive of finding out the best and most secret trails in the region. I searched the Komoot route planner, researched the best mountain bike tours in Franconian Switzerland and drew up a plan. If Dennis is coming to visit me, then I want to offer him something.
So on a Thursday morning we set off near Muggendorf at the southern end of Franconian Switzerland. From here we follow the "Highlight Tour", a route I got from my friend Oli. And if it's called that, then I hope it lives up to its name.
ON THE WAY IN A CLIMBING PARADISE
First we climb out of the valley onto a high plateau on a rather soft gravel path, which has probably also fallen victim to some logging. We cross small villages and after a while we turn onto a gravel path that takes us to the first large rock formation. Of course, we don't miss the opportunity to climb the rocks and enjoy the view. Actually, this region is known worldwide as a climbers' paradise and so every year some of the best climbers in the world are on their way. This is also where Kurt Albert from Nuremberg established the term "red point climbing", where he marked every route he free climbed with a red point.
"HE WHO FIRST SETS FOOT ON THE GROUND MUST PAY FOR THE BREAD TIME"
On we go on the bike and swing into the first descent down towards the Wiesent valley. What makes riding in the Franconian so special is the fact that the trails are littered with quite slippery stones that make life difficult for you time and again in technical sections. In addition, the trail often leads past the edge of the rocks, so that you have difficulty concentrating on the trail and not paying too much attention to the view.
After some flowy trail sections and short climbs again and again, the next stop is the Brotzeit Treppen. We had already been warned about this part. The rather technical combination of stairs, which winds its way down the mountain at different intervals and in tight bends, got its name from the locals: whoever sets foot on the ground first here has to pay for the snack.
NEXT STOP: RABENECK CASTLE
After a few more exciting descents and crisp ascents, we reach our car again. Now we have a quick bite to eat, then it's off to the next trail. Besides climbers and fly-fishers, many tourists also visit Franconian Switzerland to see the many castles and ruins that stand on the hills to the left and right throughout the Wiesent valley. We got a tip that there was a cool trail at Rabeneck Castle, so off we went. When we get out of our car at the car park of the castle and unload our bikes, the lord of the castle is already running towards us. O-HA, not even in the saddle and there's trouble? We expect an explanation that we are definitely not allowed to mountain bike here and that we should pack up again immediately. But the only thing he wants is for us to move the car back a bit. Wood is about to be collected. Lucky us!
TRAIL RECOMMENDATION FROM THE LORD OF THE CASTLE: THE CAVE TRAIL
And then something happens that astonishes us: The somewhat older and slightly chubby man looks down at our Fullies and says to us: "Cool bikes. You should definitely ride our cave trail with them. It's quite difficult, but you could give it a try." Well, that's something. A trail recommendation from the lord of the castle, and in the middle of Upper Franconia, which is known for its friendliness - I wouldn't have dreamed of that.
We set off and shortly after the castle wall, the flat path turns into a slope and we enjoy the challenging hairpin bends under a rocky outcrop on which the castle stands. From there, along a path secured with railings, we head straight for a rock wall, in front of which the path turns unceremoniously left into a cave. We cross the small cave and are spat out again on the other side onto a steep trail that takes us down more switchbacks, a cave and countless steps all the way back to the Wiesent valley.
"I WILL CERTAINLY BE BACK"
The next few days we ride a few more trails that were recommended to us by my friends and on Komoot, but this trail below the castle was definitely the best trail of the trip and will stay in my memory for quite some time. It's nice that I've now managed to visit this region. I will certainly be back.
Text: Tobias Woggon
Photos: Dennis Stratmann