Water, far-reaching views, no man’s land: gravel tour through Silesia

The three-day gravel tour through Silesia, organised by the Dresden Dropbar Crew, starts in October 2024. Here are some exciting impressions of the journey from 2023.

Words: Christian Hacker
Photos: Wojtek Sienkiewicz

Let’s go: Day 1 of the gravel tour through Silesia

The three-day gravel tour got off to a cosy start at Café Schwerdtner on the market square in Zittau. The bikes were positioned around the “Mars Fountain”, where an armoured warrior has been standing on a Renaissance column since 1585. Four lion marks on the column spew water into the octagonal fountain basin and bear witness to Zittau’s former wealth. The riders gathered at the start of the tour.

Before the official welcome, all the necessities for the journey and the evening’s rest were packed into the support vehicle. Until the big welcome speech by route manager Christian, the participants enjoyed coffee and cake at the fountain, the place where they would all say goodbye again on Sunday after their adventures together. On that day, they rolled into the green expanse of the Czech Republic together on freshly cleaned bikes.

The common destination of the first stage was the accommodation in Pobiedna (Poland), less than forty kilometres away as the crow flies. The region is best known for the legendary climb to the Heufuderbaude at 1,050 metres above sea level, a small challenge for Dresden’s cycling enthusiasts.

The sunny, warm day went at a pleasant pace and the participants enjoyed the wind around their ears. Along lonely rivers, over bridges, fields and hills, they rolled relaxed through the Czech border region. Views of the Zittau Mountains and the Ješted invited them to stop for a drink and a refill. Michel, the escort vehicle driver, was thanked for his support at all times of the day and night.

The opportunity to test great play equipment in the no man’s land near the huge Bogatynia open-cast mine was seized. The carousel and seesaws were perfectly oiled and time seemed to stand still there. Wonderful pasture landscapes, bright yellow rapeseed fields and fragrant forest paths provided a real holiday feeling.

Lunch in Czech was taken on the market square in Frýdlant, where plenty of time was allowed. After an exhilarating climb to the Frydland viewing tower and a stop at the playground, the route took a cooling descent along fast forest motorways. An unfortunately somewhat complex puncture split the previously very united field of riders into many small groups, duos and trios.

The wonderful freedom allowed the participants to forget their everyday lives, and time pressure was not an issue. They completed almost seventy-five kilometres in a “sporty” six hours. At the hotel at the foot of the mountains, the bikes were stored in the cool cellar and the rooms offered space for the hoped-for regeneration. The Hotel Dworek Saraswati with its cosy beds and generous space proved to be a dream. In the parlour of the beautiful manor house, the cycling fans enjoyed a menu consisting of starter, main course and dessert.

Gravel tour through Lower Silesia – Day 2

The weather gods also showed their favour to the gravelists on the second day, after letting it rip during the night. The storm clouds had cleared overnight and the morning was cool, windless and dry. After a hearty breakfast, the participants were back on their bikes, albeit a little late.

With up to 150 kilometres and 2,400 metres of climbing, today was the queen stage of the gravel weekend, which was crowned in the truest sense of the word at the end. The journey initially took us across fields and meadows, peppered with puddles from the nightly downpours and the odd motorised obstacle from another era.

The first vantage point of the tour was reached and, just in time for the ascent of the rock, the clouds cleared, opening up a fantastic view over the landscape of Lower Silesia in the sunshine. Lonely forest and meadow paths, past a reservoir, led to the first rest stop of the day in Löwenberg. A short detour was necessary to avoid a building site and Polish construction workers.

Once they arrived in Löwenberg, the participants fortified themselves with bread rolls, coffee and cake. On the edge of Löwenberg, they climbed the miniature version of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains and enjoyed the view. The journey continued in smaller groups through forests, fields and meadows. The route alternated between gravel tracks and challenging forest paths.

The unspoilt nature and solitude of these landscapes were a delight, even when the path seemed to end in a rape field and there seemed to be no way forward. But a good sense of direction quickly led them back on track. Many unexpected discoveries were made along the way, including a small, fluffy “problem” bear and what appeared to be an aeroplane hovering close to the ground in the middle of the fields.

One highlight was the epic walk along the dammed Bobr. The light through the treetops on the path over roots and gravel and the constant view of the water were a joy for every graveler. Shortly before Hirschberg, a funfair beckoned, but the temptation for fun and games off the gravel track was resisted.

From Hirschberg, part of the group rode in the light of the slowly setting sun over endless gravel tracks through the forests up to the Stog Izerski at just over 1,000 metres above sea level. The last few metres of the ascent demanded everything from man and bike. However, the marvellous view at sunset made up for all the effort.

The other part of the group conquered the Sepia Gora, the smaller neighbour of the Stog Izerski, which is also an impressive peak. Both peaks were worthy crownings of this day’s stage. A rapid descent took them back down into the valley and across the fields to their stately accommodation.

After the energy stores had been replenished with plenty of food, the cosy part of the evening followed. Thanks to the young sommelier Michel, there was an illustrious selection of white wines, the enjoyment of which sometimes only became apparent with the second or third sip or when the right order was chosen. The gravel day full of unexpected and epic moments ended cosily with a campfire.

Silesian border tour – Final day 3

The third and final day began cool and spring-like, with the goal of reaching Zittau – only seventy-three kilometres and around 1,200 metres in altitude still lay ahead of the gravel riders. We topped up our energy reserves with a hearty breakfast, then packed our things and loaded them into the support vehicle. We set off in the direction of home.

The group said goodbye to picturesque Pobiedna in Lower Silesia and a landscape that would remain with them for a few more hours. While yesterday’s route was characterised by bumpy climbs, the first few kilometres of the day were along the road until we entered the forest and followed winding forest paths. The cyclists climbed steadily metre by metre in small groups on wonderful forest paths. The reward followed at Palicnik at an altitude of almost 950 metres with a breathtaking 360° panorama over the Jizera Mountains.

The forest paths and gravel tracks carried the group up and down, and the kilometres flew by. We stopped at “Samalova Chata” for an early lunch consisting of pancakes, soup and a refreshing pint. Half of today’s route had already been completed.

The path continued steeply downhill and the kilometres passed effortlessly. A playground by the river tempted the group to take another break, and the childlike joy of testing out the play equipment resurfaced. After a short photo shoot on and behind straw bales, the group continued the journey at a whizzing pace along the three-country corner.

Suddenly the time had come. After around 300 kilometres and over 4,000 metres in altitude, they reached the market square in Zittau together. Christian, the tour leader, gave a short speech and the group reviewed the events of the last few days over coffee, cake and ice cream. It was nice. Lower Silesia, see you again. Soon, for sure.

Information about the drop bar crew and the gravel tour through Silesia

Date of the gravel tour through Silesia: 3 – 6 October 2024

Click here to go to the Dropbarcrew website.

Here you will find many more dates for the current season.

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