Back in the Renkumsebeek

After a week in the States (see here for photos of a MTB ride there),Renkumsebeekdal it was good to be back on home ground.  Easter Sunday morning was cool (only 5 degrees or so) and sunny, which was great weather for biking.  At last the leaves of the trees are beginning to come out of bud, so even with the cool temperatures it feels much more like winter is really ending (despite forecast for wet snow in the north of the country this morning).

Not in Wageningen

If you think the picture looks a little dull, that is because it is pouring hard with rain. Not in Wageningen Very hard. I was visiting a colleague who is lucky enough to live in the Nature Park Spessart (a little to the east of Frankfurt) and who was kind enough to lend me his bike for a few hours.  Despite the serious quantities of rain, I managed nearly 40 km and 1000 height meters.  What you cannot see on the photograph, is that just behind me, there was a scattering of bones and entrails of about half a dozen rabbits.  Odd.  I guessed first that it was maybe a place where the buzzards took their prey to eat, but later my wife had the more likely idea that probably hunters put the rabbits out as bait for foxes. I followed a route that was mostly based on the Hochspessart tour from At first I was a bit disappointed as it followed the road, but it turned out that was just for the first bit and a relatively easy way of gaining some height.  After that it was off road all the way, some forestry track, but also a lot of singletrack through the woods, including some technically challenging steep sections with drop-offs and wet roots. I don't mind admitting that seeing I was by myself on a loaned bike, I walked some of the tricky bits. It was in any case good to ride over some properly steep hills.


If you look very carefully in the photo on the left, in the highlighted area,Wildlife you can see a couple of ears sticking up, and underneath a body.  A rabbit.  The photos was with the wide-angle view of a phone camera, so in reality it was actually quite close.  What was more spectacular was that only a couple of minutes previously a deer (with small antlers) had stood and looked at us from only about 20 m distance.  It was not at all afraid and after about three minutes wandered off slowly.  I did not dare get my camera out for fear of scaring it. Furthermore it was a beautiful spring day and the fresh green leaves in the woods looked amazing with the sunlight streaming through them. I almost did not get to seee it as my bike was in the shop with a broken ballhead and the front forks being serviced.  However the kind people at the LBS lent me a spare one, so we could still go out.


Spring has moved into early summer (it is the solstice next week)Squirrel! and the woods have lost their spring freshness.  Nevertheless, they are still very much bursting with life, nicely illustrated by a squirrel* running across that path in front of us this afternoon. We were surrounded by the sounds of adult birds declaring their territorial boundaries and by the young calling for food.  It is only a month until the summer holidays, so it is time to start getting in a those extra kilometers to get the fitness level up to the necessary level for the mountains of Spessart where we are heading for.

*I took the photo on the left a couple of weeks ago (in Germany), obviously on a mountainbike trail there is not usually time to get out a telephoto lens before the animal in question scampers off.


In Spessart there is a well-signed network of mountain bike routes, 'Bikewald'. SpessartTo be honest, I was a bit dissapointed with them. The easier (blue) routes are very nice if you have children with you, for example route 33 starting from Gräfendorf both has impressive scenery and they have made a good effort to include some technically difficult parts (which are short enough that children can walk up).  But the more difficult routes (red and black) are mainly difficult for having a lot of hills, some of them steep, but unfortunately a huge proportion of the route is on gravelly fire-road through the woods.  Those are mostly very broad, with a horrid gravel surface to cycle on and often going on in a straight line for many kilometers. 
Klaas Bergfeld's site about north Spessart ( on the other hand has some really nice routes.  A lot of singletrack, and when they are forest roads, not the great wide motorways of the official route (though that might be due in part of different forestry managment policies of Bavaria (Bayern) compared to Hessen).  I had some great rides following his tracks and can thoroughly recommend them

Flowering heather

It is over thirty degrees outside, which is really too hot to be out on the bike, Flowering heatherbut nevertheless the spectacular flowing heather in the lowland heath here and lack of people in the woods (too hot even for the holidaymakers in the cottages and camp sites on the Veluwe) meant that it was worthwhile. 'Underfoot' it was also optimal, there has been enough rain the past weeks that it was not one big dustbath, but the hot weather of the past few days caused the top layer to dry out.  So despite the heat, I whizzed around one of my usual routes ten percent faster than I normally do.