Last week I was on holiday in Braunlage, Germany. Whilst mostly a family trip, I had the opportunity to ride the sov in the bikepark on two days and here’s what the park is like at the monent and what to expect from the tracks.
The park is located in Braunlage, a small, just over 6000 inhabitants town in central germany and offers tracks starting at the top of the Wurmberg to which you can get to using the gondola. Each third or so gondola takes up to five bikes and the ride up the hill takes about 10 minutes.
I met some people from Berlin at the pay window and since one of them rode a bike I own, we quickly got to talking and ended up riding together for several hours. The first track we rode is simply called “Downhill” and when the Berlin people said they were going to ride this trail first, I have to admit I was a little nervous starting on the “Downhill” track, which is usually a rather rough track designed for long travel bikes. Did I mention I brought my hardtail? Well, the track’s name didn’t live up to my expectations. While it was rough, it was never steep nor did I have to use a lot of chicken ways. There were loads of rocks and roots and the track lacks a single minute to relax and roll freely, you have to closely pay attention to the track in order to find your way down the hill. The first part down to the half-way station mostly follows the line of the gondola through the trees to the sides, features some flat and broad northshore elements (likely to cover huge mud holes). These elements are missing in the lower part of the track, where it is more like a singletrack actually. Loads and loads of rocks and roots all the way down, really challenging your upper body fitness but flow was absent. The name “Downhill” however was not the best choice in my opinion. No large drops, no gaps, no steep shots, mostly rather medium slope, sometimes even so flat you have to pedal. By no means a bad or uninteresting trail, just not a track I’d name “Downhill”.
The second trail was the trail I’d planned to ride first if I would have ridden alone. It’s called “Singletrail” and totally lives up to its name in the upper part. It is a little steeper than what we encountered on the “Downhill” track, the trail runs alongside a gravel road and in contrast to the Downhill track does not only run between trees but also in the open which makes it feel a little more like an alpine single trail. When it enters the forest after about 2 to 3 minutes though, the trails are hardly distinguishable. Due to the geological realities, the trail flattens just like the previous one but you don’t have to pedal too much. There’s a moderate rockgarden at about half the way down the track.
But again, the description of a “flowy singletrack” it not actually true. In order to ride this trail in a flowy, smooth way, you’d have to ride it numerous times and recommending it to beginners like the park runners do … well, especially the first part of the track will imho be unrideable for most beginners. Take a look at my video to get an idea of what I mean.
Since other than the two already ridden tracks in the upper part of the hill, the only open (as in “not closed”) trail was the “Downhill Race Track” and we all knew from a video we saw, that, due to the lack of riding skills for such a trail, we would not have fun on that track, we rode the downhill track again but switched tracks to the “Downhill Race Track” at the half-way station. The lower part of this trail was mostly similar to what we already rode in the first two runs.
To sum up, the tracks mostly differed in the upper part between the top and half-way station. Everything below that follows different routes, but the kind of track is very, very similar. So we decided to combine the two most fun trails yet in the fourth run into an upper part “Singletrail” and a lower part “Downhill” which turned out to be pretty fun.
For more advanced riders, there’s also a northshore track, but we didn’t see much of that. Maybe that was to the heavy construction work taking place in order to refurbish the skiing region for the winter.
Anyway, after the fourth run I had to call it a day since my hands were bleeding from open blisters and I had a lot of trouble holding on to the bars.
The last day of the holiday however offered another possibility to ride. Unfortunately, it was so windy the gondola was shut down and I had to pedal up all the way. I did do it once, but did not have enough motivation to repeat the uphill, so I took the last route again and rode the singletrail a third time, just to be welcomed by my family when reaching the bottom. My daughter was so happy being allowed to “ride” the big bike for the first time – a really good memory.