Taunus bikepacking/ Taunus Teaser

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Verena
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Taunus bikepacking/ Taunus Teaser

Post by Verena » Sat Oct 24, 2020 12:25 pm

Dear Boners,

Here at last my belated report from my trip to Germany in early September, hopefully an ok read for a grey drizzly covid restricted weekend.

I have to start with a confession (sorry Stu :oops: ): My spiritual bikepacking home is, and always will be, in the Taunus mountain range just north of Frankfurt in Germany. Although funnily enough it all started on a train from Crewe to Holyhead in June 2018, where I met Jesko von Werthern, creator and patron saint of Taunus Bikepacking https://taunus-bikepacking.com/ . He was on the way to his third Transatlantic Way race, and me to my first cycling tour since my teens, riding national cycling route 8 from Anglesey back home to Brecon. The hour or so we spent on that train was like a road to Emmaus experience for me. He told me about Mike Hall, the TCR, TAW, bivvying, this thing called bikepacking, and his plan to create his own event near his home that summer – and something like a spark was lit in me. As we said our farewells, he wished me a good trip, and warned me to be careful – bikepacking/touring can be addictive, he said. I think he was right.

Anyway, I went on to take part in the second edition of Taunus bikepacking in 2019 (800km/15,000m), my first experience of bikepacking. This year, I wanted to combine a visit to my parents with the shorter “Taunus Teaser” (330km/5,775m), which is not an event but designed to be ridden as and when. By some good fortune, my covid rearranged travel dates happened to coincide with the main event’s covid rearranged date (it normally takes place in June), which made my ride feel that much more special. Last year I had hired a mountain bike, a Stevens Tremalzo 29er, and I decided to do the same again – why not, after all we’d made a good team last year, and the colour matches my jersey. ImageIMG_20200909_094910 by Verena Zimmer, on Flickr
I caught the train to the start in Hofheim late morning, and had no particular goal in mind, other than to ride over three days and two nights, enjoy myself, try sleeping in one of the many shelter huts, which I hadn’t tried before, try some night riding, also something I have hardly done, and be back with my folks for tea. By the day I started my ride, most of the riders of the main event had finished, but in any case when I arrived in Hofheim I rode up to the mountain chapel in the woods which has been the finish for the 1st and 3rd event – I just wanted to see it “in the flesh” after seeing so many finisher photos there. ImageIMG_20200909_120812 by Verena Zimmer, on Flickr
Instead of peace and quiet, a start of term outdoor school service was in full swing when I arrived, so I stayed back and caught my breath after the steep climb. The lords prayer, then a blessing to all for a safe onward journey, I’ll take that I thought, and headed into town to the start, where I was meeting Jesko for a coffee and an ice cream (obligatory) – an honour, considering he hadn’t had a full nights sleep for about seven days, as he makes a point of welcoming every single finisher in person, day or night. ImageIMG-20200909-WA0001 by Verena Zimmer, on Flickr
I finally set off at 2pm, and soon got into the flow of riding, and remembered what it is that is so special about riding in the Taunus, on the track carefully handcrafted over several years by Jesko: it’s just to abandon yourself to following that line on the GPS, to the ever changing ups and downs, different surfaces, and beautiful, tranquil, rural scenery alternating between sweeping fields, a few orchards, and beautiful forests, with occasional pretty villages and castles thrown in. ImageIMG_20200909_142208 by Verena Zimmer, on Flickr
ImageIMG_20200909_161613 by Verena Zimmer, on Flickr
ImageIMG_20200909_172804 by Verena Zimmer, on Flickr
Around 6pm I passed a restaurant with an inviting outdoor terrace, the Jagdschloss Platte, which is just on the edge of Wiesbaden, though you’d never know it if like me you were just emerging from a forest. I’m not usually one for actually stopping for sit down meals, but I knew I’d end up feeling better for it. I had a local speciality, well almost local, “swiss sausage salad”. ImageIMG_20200909_184202 by Verena Zimmer, on Flickr Every time I eat this it makes me smile, the whole idea of calling something a “salad” which is made almost entirely out of sausage. Translating it into English makes it even funnier. By the time I passed through Bad Schwalbach, one of the regional spa towns, it was getting dark, and it was time to switch on my lights. ImageIMG_20200909_201432 by Verena Zimmer, on Flickr I remembered that there were meant to be a few good shelter huts just past there. I passed one, then two, both a little too close to town for my liking. Then I learned that having a helmet light as well as a main light, plus wearing glasses, is not a brilliant idea, too much reflection, and somehow I got disoriented, took a wrong turn and nearly ended up back in Bad Schwalbach. Back to the second shelter it was, and I decided to call it a night. It was an open sided shelter, so I bedded down at the back of it, furthest away from the path and hoping to be out of sight. I’d just settled down for the night, coming up to ten, when a cyclist came past in the dark. Fair enough I thought, only doing what I’m doing. Unusually for me, I couldn’t get to sleep because I was too WARM, and I gradually peeled off layer after layer as the night went on. I woke up with a start at around 1.30, woken by lights flashing all over the place and some loud stomping that sounded like a giant. A jogger I think. I lay perfectly still, my heart racing, and thoughts of crazed axe murderers racing through my mind, I’m sure you’ve all been there…. Jogging at 1.30 in the morning, what is wrong with these people?? I thought, and drifted back off to sleep. I woke again at 3am, and saw an eerie red light disappear away from me. Too sleepy to get scared. At 4.10, more foot steps and lights, this time just white and more human sounding – just someone going for a walk?!? By this time I had had enough, stuff this sleeping in shelters thing, and off I went, riding into the dark, which after all is what I had wanted to do. ImageIMG_20200910_045624 by Verena Zimmer, on Flickr I rode through the Fischbach valley, much happier with using just my main light. As I passed through the village of Fischbach, still pitch black, suddenly church bells started ringing. 6am, presumably an old tradition, a wake up call for everyone to get ready for work or school. A few lights came on, and I rode on into the beautiful Wisper valley, one of the more remote parts of the ride. As it grew lighter, a stopped for breakfast at a shelter hut in the valley. ImageIMG_20200910_065424 by Verena Zimmer, on Flickr Now that would have been a nice place to spend the night….
Now I LOVE German bakeries, especially for breakfast, and the good thing is that supermarkets too usually have a bakery/ café. Damson cake for breakfast, delicious. ImageIMG_20200910_083547 by Verena Zimmer, on Flickr The rest of day 2 was as perfect as they come, beautiful weather, neither too hot nor too cold, more beautiful scenery and great riding, quite a bit of it along the beautiful river Lahn, with a few stiff climbs thrown in just to keep the interest, and usually rewarded with some vistas over some castle. ImageIMG_20200910_090408 by Verena Zimmer, on Flickr ImageIMG_20200910_093936 by Verena Zimmer, on Flickr ImageIMG_20200910_123905 by Verena Zimmer, on Flickr ImageIMG_20200910_165752 by Verena Zimmer, on Flickr I passed through the bigger town of Limburg in the early evening just as the light was turning golden, beautiful I’m sure but too busy for my liking, and I was keen to pass through as quickly as possible after my experience there last year (which is another story, but basically it was a mercilessly sunny 40 degrees, my brain was so addled on the approach that I took a wrong turn and doubled back on myself adding at least half an hour or so, and then I got literally trapped in the campsite from hell for the night). ImageIMG_20200910_184516 by Verena Zimmer, on Flickr The rest of the evening was just heaven, I rode on through two towns and then back up into the hills through what felt like an endless golden hour, with the sun slowly setting over open fields. I was well chuffed with how my rough planning for timing of my bivvy spot was working out, and I got to the area I was aiming for just as the last reds of the sunset were fading. I had planned on sleeping in the woods, but instead opted for a lovely south sloping bit of shrubby land which may have been an orchard once, just off track but with plenty of shelter so I couldn’t be seen. I had the sunset on my right, would have the sunrise on my left, and ahead of me were just a few nice twinkling lights from some windmills. Much more like it I thought, peace and quiet, as I settled into my bivvy bag, the temperature being much more seasonal this night. As soon as I did, I heard two men talking, very very nearby. Oh no, here I go again I thought initially, and it was strange as they weren’t moving at all. In the end I decided they didn’t sound like the axe murderer type, were probably sitting on some bench nearby, so I just ignored them and slowly drifted into a blissful sleep. Drifted being the appropriate word, for I had chosen a sloping site partly because I didn’t have a pillow so thought it might be comfy. Only problem was that of course bivvy bag on grass is quite slippery, so I kept sliding down the hill through the night, occasionally wriggling myself back up towards my bike. Picture large olive green slug.
Sure enough I was treated to a beautiful sunrise, and being in no rush on day three, I had a bit of a lie in to enjoy it.ImageIMG_20200911_063052 by Verena Zimmer, on Flickr After riding for a while I got to a small village, and started to look around for a bakery. I asked a man standing by the side of the road, and to my delight he told me that if I waited around for about 5 minutes, the bakery car would arrive. Sure enough it did, and there I was, ten to seven in the morning, deliciously warm flakey croissants in hand for breakfast – does life get any better?? Last days for me, whether bikepacking or on holidays, always mean watching the clock, and I knew I would want to take some shortcuts, so as to get back to Hofheim by mid afternoon. I had kind of hoped that I might manage to time it to meet Sofie, the last rider of the Taunus bikepacking, at the finish, so I wanted to be there and not miss her, and I also wanted to catch the train back to my parents to get there at some civilized time. As it happened, Sofie wouldn’t finish for another day, but she did it – chapeau! The shortcuts were fine but reminded me of how much nicer it is to ride through the forests and fields. Bit of highlight came when after such a long time in the mountains with the horizon always being more hills, suddenly there were none, and I knew this meant I was getting close to the edge, where the mountains drop off quite sharply down to the densely populated urban area around Frankfurt. Then a little later I caught a glimpse of the tower blocks of the banking district, quite spectacular, but no photos as I had to preserve what little battery I had left. Just decided to take one last photo of what is for me the essence of what I love about the Taunus – the forest. ImageIMG_20200911_125642 by Verena Zimmer, on Flickr Long, long, fun flowey descents down and down off the mountains, to the pretty village of Eppstein with a dramatic castle perched high up on the hillside above it. I saw a signpost saying Hofheim 8km, felt a mixture of yay I’m nearly there mixed with aw it’s nearly over, classic mistake, complacency! My GPS told me otherwise, and instead of rolling further down the valley, there was another steep climb all the way back up to the top. Rewarded by more stunning downhills through beech forests, and back to Hofheim.
Just brilliant.

O and this one is just me the next day back in my home town, on my way to take the bike back to the hire shop.
ImageIMG_20200912_101719 by Verena Zimmer, on Flickr

Fat tyre kicker
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Re: Taunus bikepacking/ Taunus Teaser

Post by Fat tyre kicker » Sun Oct 25, 2020 2:34 am

Great write up, loved reading it :-bd

Verena
Posts: 375
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Re: Taunus bikepacking/ Taunus Teaser

Post by Verena » Sun Oct 25, 2020 7:49 am

Cheers 😊

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htrider
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Re: Taunus bikepacking/ Taunus Teaser

Post by htrider » Sun Oct 25, 2020 5:11 pm

:-bd
Looks like a good route that, always fancied hitting Germany for some bike touring. Mebbes next year....

Verena
Posts: 375
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Re: Taunus bikepacking/ Taunus Teaser

Post by Verena » Sun Oct 25, 2020 6:20 pm

htrider wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 5:11 pm
:-bd
Looks like a good route that, always fancied hitting Germany for some bike touring. Mebbes next year....
Definitely recommend it, keep an eye out on the website for 2021 dates, will be in June. Just be careful not to get waylaid by all the beer gardens and wine towns, happened to a few Brits last year...

Landslide
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Re: Taunus bikepacking/ Taunus Teaser

Post by Landslide » Mon Oct 26, 2020 9:47 am

Sounds perilous! :-bd

JoseMcTavish
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Re: Taunus bikepacking/ Taunus Teaser

Post by JoseMcTavish » Mon Oct 26, 2020 5:29 pm

Enjoyed that, I could feel the late summer warmth emanating from the page...

Verena
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Re: Taunus bikepacking/ Taunus Teaser

Post by Verena » Mon Oct 26, 2020 10:38 pm

:cool:
JoseMcTavish wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 5:29 pm
Enjoyed that, I could feel the late summer warmth emanating from the page...

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Blackhound
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Re: Taunus bikepacking/ Taunus Teaser

Post by Blackhound » Thu Nov 26, 2020 11:18 pm

Nice write up. An event I have looked at before and must do sometime. Perhaps not in '21 unless everything feels safer.
Image

Verena
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Re: Taunus bikepacking/ Taunus Teaser

Post by Verena » Tue Jan 05, 2021 12:04 am

Registration is now open...just saying....feels a very unlikely prospect at the moment I know, but I'm hopeful that things will be better by then...

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ledburner
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Re: Taunus bikepacking/ Taunus Teaser

Post by ledburner » Wed Jan 06, 2021 11:13 am

Thank of an interesting trip report... Sunshine fields, orchards, forest gheaven. I would get trapped at the bakeries. It all sounds perfect.
.... That was a lot better than my induction raining, mud & soggy sleeping bags, but hey it was all part of the adventure and made the hot food in the cafe on the way home so much tastier!
Alway moving forward some how... Maybe not the direction originally planned :cool: ....
Please be tolerent to spelling mistakes or typos', :oops:
I'm only fluent in one language and English appears to be my 2nd one..
:???: :o

Verena
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Re: Taunus bikepacking/ Taunus Teaser

Post by Verena » Wed Jan 06, 2021 1:33 pm

ledburner wrote:
Wed Jan 06, 2021 11:13 am
I would get trapped at the bakeries. It all sounds perfect.
:smile: thanks, yes that is a real danger....

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