Getting that flow feeling in the Naturpark Altmühltal region near Nürnberg -- photo: Mardee Saxton
Getting that flow feeling in the Naturpark Altmühltal region near Nürnberg -- photo: Mardee Saxton

MUNICH — (MunichNOW Active Sport) — With literally thousands of MTB routes less than 2 hours south of Munich in the gorgeous Bavarian and Austrian Alps, why the hell would we drive north?

Mardee Saxton out in the woods -- photo: Mardee Saxton
Mardee Saxton out in the woods — photo: Mardee Saxton

That was my first thought this morning when my friend Ben picked me up. He was late, but I held my tongue because, after all, he’s the one doing the driving. He said it was just an hour to Neumarkt in der Oberfalz; it was an hour and thirty minutes. But again I didn’t say anything; he’s the one who took the time to plan this route.

We parked in Lidl’s empty lot and headed out, riding on a wooden boardwalk, then a bike path—sometimes paved, sometimes not—that wound through meadows and a lovely park, then took us along the Ludwig-Donau-Main-Kanal.

Thirty minutes in, I could not stop myself.

“Is this what it’s going to be like for the whole ride?”

Don’t get me wrong. It was nice. I like riding through German towns and this was a particularly nice one, with lots of artsy details—sculptures and mosaics and a climbing tower and whatnot.

But why come here to mountain bike? Ben assured me it would turn into singletrack. He knows that’s what I want.

Well-marked trails make riding a pleasure -- photo: Mardee Saxton
Well-marked trails make riding a pleasure — photo: Mardee Saxton

Then, it just appeared—a steeply sloped plateau rising from the flat, gentle landscape. At 590m, the Buchberg is a distinctive landmark, covered in beech and pine trees that shelter its 20k singletrack trail system. The trails are smooth and not technical—just a few roots here and there—but you still need some skills. There are a few slippery downhills and the trail gets narrow in parts with steep drop-offs.

These trails are designed for freedom—no obstacles and rolling ups and downs give you that flow feeling, the one Harald Philipp is talking about lately in his video. You get to the place where you stop thinking and just feel, you trust your bike and your skills, and just let go.

FLOW TRAILER from Summitride on Vimeo.

We made a couple of loops—one up top and another closer to the base, then reluctantly

Riding faster makes it tougher - the reverse is true too! -- photo: Mardee Saxton
Riding faster makes it tougher – the reverse is true too! — photo: Mardee Saxton

headed back to the car. Although a 40-minute warm up was good, I recommend going directly to the Buchberg (there’s lots of parking) and spend your time on the trails there.

I will continue mountain biking in the Alps. It’s beautiful and breathtaking and will take a

lifetime to explore. However, MTB in the Alps isn’t perfect—there are miles and miles of not-so-exciting farm roads and I’ve found the singletracks to be straight up, straight down and technical, with not a lot in between.

So is the Buchberg worth the drive? I asked Ben if he’d do it again; he said, “Ja. For sure.” Me, too.

• The weather is perfect for mountain biking—just the right temp and no bugs.
• It was a Sunday, but we saw only six other bikers on the trail.
• You can avoid the weekend traffic by going in that direction.
• There’s lots of recreating to be done in the Naturpark Altmühltal area. Combine the trip with a stop at Konstein for a 2-hour klettersteig.

Beautiful vistas pop up from no where -- photo: Mardee Saxton
Beautiful vistas pop up from no where — photo: Mardee Saxton
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