When I was a teenager in Redcar I used to ‘mountain bike’ all the time, I would take my far too big for me bike and ride the roads and farm tracks in the countryside, or ride to Marske-by-the-sea and take the woods to Saltburn, or I would cycle up the big hills to Guisborough to meet my friend and we would ride the forest tracks together before I would zip down the hill home. This was soon shaken out of me on my first ride with Glasgow Mountain Bike Meetup as when they asked if I had ridden before I laughed and said “yeah, loads around the North East, no worries!” only to be rapidly awoken to the reality that I had never ‘mountain biked’in the true, Scottish sense and a simple lap of Mugdock was a true awakening, I was petrified and exhilarated, I found my new sport.

Why the ramble? Well last blog I said I was off to ride Houffalize, I did, I chose route 5, one of the middle routes in terms of technical and physical difficulty. I was wary of choosing a difficult rated trail as I have been told so often that European trails are way harder than those in the UK. Houffalize trail 5 was a beautiful 28Km amble through beautiful looking (not smelling) countryside in Belgium, that I have ticked off my bucket list. I think there may have been 100m or so of the entire trail that was on1 a  lovely ribbon of singletrack, fun, swoopy trail, that abruptly ended at yet another road, or forest track, oh yes the 100m was in about 4 random sections throughout the trail. Don’t get me wrong, it was lovely in a teenager-youth-reliving-countryside kinda way, but mountain biking it was not!

Here’s some more photos from Filthy Trails instead!

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Attack the wallride (honest)

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Me in the trees

After looking at the short but difficult graded black route and wishing I had done that instead of tiring my legs on a countryside jaunt but my legs were now way too tired for the vertical-looking start of the black so instead I rode down some steps to make my bike feel better and we headed onward to Wiltz in Luxembourg where we had bookmarked a free motorhome spot for the night. Driving towards the spot all three spaces were available, and there was a strange bridge to nowhere opposite. As we got closer I realised it was in fact a start ramp for a decent sized mountain bike jump park, free and 3 metres from the van! Woohoo! Julie was on cooking duty as I got my bike ready, donned my pads and took a spin around the jump park for an hour. I am no dirt jumper but I was getting both wheels off the ground and having a fantastic time, just a shame it got dark and it was raining in the morning so my little spin would have to suffice for the time being.

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Jump park at Wiltz

From Wiltz we drove on to Vianden, a little town with a big castle, it was very impressive and I am glad we went inside for the self-guided tour. Not only was it very historically interesting but the views from up there were stunning! The town itself was very quiet, being out of season and the chairlift (in the photo background) was closed due to rain so we spent some time in a cool little bar in the old cinema and got currywurst for dinner.

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The castle, rebuilt in the 1980’s

The camp spots for the last few days had been free but this also means no facilities so we were in need of a campsite with showers and hot water and this we found in Berghof a little further south and at the centre of some amazing walking trails. We went for a short walk at sunset and saw an amazing vista from the top of the rocks and the following morning got up early for a misty low level walk in the bright green woods below. It was magical, no other people, just the birds and trees and a lot of mist.

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Sunset from the top

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Me feeling small in the woods

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Lots of little bridges and rock formations

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Spooky awesomeness

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End of the walk, beautiful morning

Luxembourg to Triberg, Germany, a long old drive but worth it to get to a quaint ye-olde German town famous for the tallest waterfall in Germany and being the home of Black Forest Gateaux, unfortunately neither of us like cherries so we settled with apple strudel but the whole place was charming in a touristy way. We went inside the worlds largest cuckoo clock, visited the house of 1000 clocks and I fell over on a slippy bridge at the waterfall, ouch, idiot!

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Water. Falling.

Today we are about to start the Bavarian Alps drive, we will probably spend about a week driving in the mountains and enjoying some real fresh air. The town we are starting in is called Lindau and sits on Lake Constance, we went into town yesterday and enjoyed breathtaking views of the mountains across the lake and had a lovely beer in the sunshine, this place really does have its claimed ‘Mediterranean climate’.

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Looking forward to this for the next wee while.

So bye for now, hopefully next time there will be more stories of mountain adventure and some biking too.

Sarah