It was 7am on a Friday. My alarm was ringing and when I finally woke I found my 8-year-old son Fynn was already dressed and waiting. It was no surprise, he loves riding and had probably been dreaming about this trip in his sleep. And when he’s not riding or dreaming of his next ride, he’s teaching his younger sister Leni skills and tricks. My entire family is crazy about mountain biking, but this trip would just be the two of us. The first big one we’ve done together on our mountain bikes. Fynn couldn’t contain his excitement!
The planned route was 133km long and follows some beautiful trails starting in Hann. Münden and ending at the “Tannenburg”. The trail is called X5H “Werra-Burgen-Steig” – a beautiful hiking and biking trail in the heart of Germany, passing some incredibly old castles.
After preparing a huge amount of food (which FYI is essential when riding with an always-hungry soon-to-be teenager), I crammed the essentials into my backpack: two jackets, some spare parts and tubes, the shotgun tow rope, and of course: my camera.
Alongside my love for mountain biking is my passion for photography. As a sports photographer, there is never a ride I’m without my camera – sometimes to the frustration of my riding companions. “Let’s take a shot right here, let’s take a shot over there, and of course: this is the perfect spot for a photo…” But hey, i’m sure in years to come they’ll enjoying looking back on these memories!
On the topic of gear, I ride a TREK Fuel EX 8, an awesome all-round full suspension mountain bike with 130mm of travel. Fynn rides a Woom UP 5 kids-eMTB with 250w of power. I anticipate the reach of his bike to be around 40km in the cold and hilly conditions we’re likely to encounter on this trip.
After packing all the essentials we were ready to start our adventure. My wife dropped us at the starting point in Hann. Münden, next to the spot where the two rivers “Fulda” and “Werra” meet to become “Weser”.
The weather conditions weren’t the best – cloudy and drizzly, but it wasn’t enough to deter us. It just meant there wouldn’t be too much traffic on the trails, not that we were complaining. We’d only just reached the top of the first climb and already had an amazing view overlooking the river.
A good 10km in the books and we stopped for our first break, finding a playground nestled in the forest to stretch the legs and have a snack. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have some fun on the swings either!
After riding through the woods shredding trails and big forest paths, we arrived at our lunch break spot. Schloss Berlepsch waited for us with some extraordinary tiny tree houses. Pretty awesome to look at, but much more breathtaking to stay. I spent the night here a couple of years ago and it was a fantastic experience.
With full bellies, we said goodbye to the dog and made our way onto some pretty cool trails.
40km and 5 hours later, we arrived at our destination for the first night – “Burg Ludwigstein”. Feeling pretty tired, I ordered us some noodles for dinner and we called it a solid day in the saddle.
Embarking on the second day, the first noticeable change was the sun. Not having seen it much the day before, it was a nice surprise. But the temperatures were much the same (it rarely passed the 10-degree mark).
After warming up, Fynn decided to take the lead, that was until we reached our first stop at the 5km point. A puncture in his rear wheel! I managed to change the tube in the middle of the forest.
I spotted pearls of sweat on Fynn’s forehead after telling him I hadn’t brought the right air pump for his valve. With a little quick thinking, I decided to try my 29-spare tube in his 24 kid’s bike. It looked pretty odd but it worked a treat.
After descending a cool trail, we had our longest climb of the whole trip ahead of us. Not a problem for my boy on his ebike, but some serious pedaling in store for me. We climbed to the top and found ourselves at the “Hörne”, with only 15km of nice downhill and flat sections to go.
Riding at 500m above sea level meant Fynn had some serious fun riding on snowy paths!
Knowing that there were only a few km’s left for the day, Fynn used every puddle to maximize his fun.
Exhausted after a long day, we found ourselves in our hometown Eschwege after riding 44km and about 6 hours of pure adventure.
The last day of adventure was the longest and toughest one by far. Starting in our hometown, we had a big climb ahead of us to kick the day off. The cool early morning temperature of 8° was actually rather pleasant – it meant we didn’t get too sweaty on the climb!
We were unable to ride all of the trails because of some fallen trees, but all in all, the path was in good shape.
With the first descent behind us, our feet started getting cold. The solution: heated insoles. They were the saviour of our trip!
After reaching the second big climb, I heard an unusual noise. I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from initially. It was a noise I’ve never heard on a bike but one that sounded familiar in some way. I realised the sound was coming from my jacket pocket and after a short second I found the keys to my wife’s car. The car she was planning to collect us in after arriving at the finish line. I showed the keys to Fynn and for the second time on our trip, I could see pearls of sweat forming on his forehead.
Knowing that we would have a spare key at home, I called my wife asking her to check. After a few looooong minutes of waiting, she called back saying she’d found the spare key. We breathed a sigh of relief!
Although I was enjoying the ride, my legs were starting to get a little tired. I decided to let Fynn pull me up the hill with the help of the tow rope.
After the tow, we arrived at an old castle in the middle of the forest where we decided to have our lunch break.
Fynn explored the ancient ruin and after that, we passed “Castle Hohenhaus”
After 40km and 5 hours of riding, we decided to take another short break to eat everything we had leftover in my backpack. Giving us the energy we needed to ride the last 9km.
Checking the map was pretty motivating by this point. There weren’t any uphills left and we could now just enjoy the ride down to the finish line, “Burg Tannenburg”
The last stop was a cool little underground cave which had to be explored by Fynn of course.
Pretty exhausted we arrived at the “Tannenburg” and called it a day (or three) on what was an awesome riding adventure.
Story and photography by Christian Kohlhausen.