The Eifel

The Veluwe and other areas near to Wageningen are great places for mountain biking, but another advantage of Wageningen is that you are close to the German border. Only two and a half hours driving and you are in the Eifel. The Eifel is an area of chalk hills, or rather an elevated chalk plateau, with relatively steep-sided valleys cut into it by a number of rivers. That has a number of consequences.  The chalky soil means that the area is bursting with orchids and other rare plants, and the valleys mean that even though the highest point is only about 600 m, you can still easily clock up a thousand meters of elevation in three hours cycling.  Around Bad Münstereifel there are a number of waymarked tracks, that are also available for download as GPX files.  They have some quite nice routes, although it must be said that a higher proportion are on tarmac (albeit mostly without cars)  than I prefer. The same cannot be said for the book on the right.  The authors have taken great care to keep off-road as much as possible, and have come up with a great selection of routes. If you buy the book, you can also download the routes as GPX files, and you can also download audio files which give you instructions about where to turn and so on by listening to an mp3 player as you go round the routes. I don't speak German, so could not really test out if this is a practical idea or not, but with GPS you also find your way round with no problem. The routes are quite varied in how steep and challenging they are, and they are graded for both how technically difficult and how fit you need to be to go round them; very handy.  Within each route there is also quite a lot of variation as well.  The two photos below illustrate that nicely, from the Pasque flower (and Oxlip) meadows (with bike in background) to the singletrack with the impressive drop in the woodland.  As usual with such scenes, the photo does not do justice to the track; it was only just wider than my handlebars, and round the corner there were lots of tricky roots all over the path. More to the point, the slope to the left was so steep that you could be sure that if your attention wandered and your front wheel went over, it would be like plunging over a ravine.  Not a risk you take when cycling a little nearer to Wageningen very often.

Eifel mountainbike - near Balnkenheim

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