8bar Adventures – Schneekoppe
Max and Stefan were looking for an adventure not too far away from Berlin, which they can do with their 8bar KRONPRINZ road bikes.
Photos: Stefan Haehnel / recentlie.com
The so-called “Giant Mountains” are the closest mountains to Berlin. They are located on the Czech/Polish border. After some research they found out that the “Schneekoppe” or locally called “Snezka” is the highest elevation of the Giant Mountains, with 1.602m above sea level.
Unfortunately there is only a ten kilometer long cobbled road from the Polish side in a really bad condition leading until the peak. It is said to be doable with Mountainbikes only.
Stefan called some local bike riders to get more information about climbing the Schneekoppe. They told him that he must be nuts. There wouldn’t be a possibility to climb that mountain with road bikes. On one hand it’s forbidden to get up there with any vehicle without a special permission and on the other hand to and the cobbled road is in really bad condition and at some points up to 25% steep. Everyone who knows Stefan & Max knows that this made him even more excited to do it!
DIARY OF THE RIDE – STEFAN SCHOTT
Our base was in “Sosnowka”, a small typical polish village, which is around twenty kilometers away from the mountain’s top.
We arrived late in the evening the day before our attempt to climb the Schneekoppe. It was already dark so we couldn’t see anything of the landscape that was waiting for us on the next day.
On the next morning my alarm was ringing at 7 o’clock. When looking out of the window to get some idea of what was waiting for us I didn’t see anything. It was totally foggy.
One hour later we were already on our bikes… After a few kilometers of rolling along the valley the uphill started. We were riding on a paved road until Karpacz, which is a touristic town at the bottom of the Schneekoppe.
From now on the rest of the climb was inside a national park were cars and bikes are not allowed. To enter the national park we had to buy some tickets at a counter. When the cashier saw our bikes she immediately told us that it’s not allowed to ride bikes inside the park. But luckily she believed us after we showed her our road bikes and told her that it wouldn’t be possible to ride these tire on the cobblestones anyway.
When we got into the park we didn’t trust our eyes when we saw the path. This actually had nothing to do with a “road” it was more a “stoned trail”. The gaps between the cobbles ranged from 5 to 15 cm big and there was no real system how the stones were aligned to each other. I wasn’t sure if my Carbon wheels were the right setup for this… But now it’s too late.
As soon as we were sure the guards at the park’s entrance couldn’t see us any more, we jumped on our bikes and gave it a try. It was quite steep from the beginning and my cyclometer showed 15%. Luckily it was possible to ride, but only with a speed of around 6-10km/h. My eyes were focused on the ground all the time. You had to find the right line that your wheel wouldn’t get stuck in a longitudinal groove. But we got somewhat used to it and it actually started to be fun. It was like in a computer game were you had to find the best path and don’t get stuck. If you put a food on the ground you lose one life! Unfortunately I lost and had to do a handstand in front of the camera.
After around five kilometers the climb got really tough and was 25% steep at the hardest sections. It was still possible to ride where the cobbles were dry, but because of the morning due it was pretty slippery at some sections and our tires slipped. So we had to push our bikes for some time until it got less steep.
When we reached the tree line the morning fog was gone and it started to become sunny.
After a few more kilometers riding we finally saw the top of the Schneekoppe in the distance. The last two kilometers were in really bad condition with some steep ramps. There was no tree around and the wind was blowing really strong from the front.
We were both totally stunned when we reached the top and enjoyed the clear view to Poland in the one and Czech Republic in the other direction.
After about 30 minutes we went back down. Luckily there was a lift going down from around two kilometers below the top of the Schneekoppe. So we didn’t have to ride down the cobbles all the way.