The Hunt Cycling is a independent journal and collective consisting of three cycling enthusiasts based in Halle Saale. We try to explore, document and share our experiences in the field of cycling and beyond. Besides drinking beer, lots of rides and intellectual discusses about bike nerd stuff, we’re riding with friends and running our showroom located in the center of Halle.
Living in Central Germany means living in lowland. Regardless of where you look, there are plains everywhere. That’s ok because there are a lot of beautiful bike routes crossing Central Germany like the Saaleradweg, the Elsterradweg or the European Biking Path. But sometimes this isn’t enough. The Alps are 800km far away and unless you don’t want to do an eight hour car trip, there are almost no possibilities for riding your bike uphill. Except one. With its elevation of 1,141 meters the „Brocken“ is the highest peak of Northern Germany and the „Harz“ mountain range. The Brocken is part of the Harz National Park and its annual temperature is only 2.9 °C. You have to do a 1 1/2 hour train ride from Halle to Ilsenburg to arrive at the foot of the mountain but it’s worth it.
The plan was to arrive in Ilsenburg by 10 am, so we hopped on the train early. We only packed some lightweight clothing, some food and some tools for the day and started the climb shortly after we arrived in Ilsenburg. The Brocken isn’t a very hard to climb mountain but it takes time to find your own pace and we didn’t want to climb too quickly, especially at the beginning. After the first 2 kilometers Boris suddenly got stuck with a broken chain but fortunately it wasn’t unrepairable so we inserted a short repair stop and tried to not cool down to much. Boris luckily found a chain joint and after 10 minutes of fiddling the chain back together we went on with our summit attempt. There were a few steep gravel sections and some challenging bursts on the first kilometers up to the first part of the Hirtenstieg but suddenly the Sun broke through the heavy clouds and warmed us on our way uphill to the peek. The weather was perfect.
We had to push the bike several times but this just gave us time to enjoy the scenery and to take pictures. The first unpaved part of the Hirtenstieg leads straight to the paved section — the last part of the track just before the summit. The weather changed and the temperatures dropped quickly the closer we got to the summit. We reached the top exhausted but happy and just wanted to get some food and warm up again. After one hour of recovery we were ready for our way back to Wernigerode. We stopped after a very rapid descent back over the paved section and decided to turn left straight into the forest. We knew a section called Weißtannenheuweg which should lead us downwards but we were unable to find it. We got lost a few times because we took the shortcut through the forest. To our astonishment, we found ourselves climbing and pushing our bikes up some rocky and slippery sections again.
The Brocken is always full of surprises but he rewarded us with some challenging single trails down to the Zeterklippenweg — the last section of the descent. From there it was all downhill. The landscape with small wooded valleys passed quickly while we where pushing the pedals hard down to Wernigerode. A beautiful and rapid descent with loose gravel follows each other and we all felt the rush of adrenaline. Just as we arrived exhausted but very happy the temperatures started to drop again and we grabbed the next best option for beer and food and enjoyed ourselves. It was a great day with good friends and we can only recommend a short trip like this especially for climbing. Even without suspension the trails where a lot of fun. We never had a moment of “This is to hard.” or “We can’t go down this section.” Every section we rode was possible to ride. Check out the bikes and our minimal setup at the end of the post and don’t forget to check out the full route we roughly put together on Komoot.