A high pitched female scream vibrates in front of me as I race downhill a leaf covered trail. Tires continue rustling through the golden-brown carpet of the forest floor. There it goes again! I feel hot and damp air on my face as I exhale into my neck warmer. The yell hits my eardrums once more and a split second later I comply and lift my front wheel just before another drop sends me flying down the hill. A firm grip on the handlebars with one finger on each of the brake levers is all I have to take control of the trail ahead. Jump! – she hollers yet again. Saska is riding in front of me and Jarek, screaming her heart out she does a hell of a job to let us know where the fun starts.
Some 48 hours earlier our trio left Krakow to ride along the 160 kilometers of the Eagles’ Nests Trail to Czestochowa. Connecting medieval castles dating back to XIV century it meanders some of the most beautiful terrain of the Polish Jurassic Highland, a limestone garden of cliffs, rocks, valleys and caves – the birthplace for many Polish rock climbers and speleologists. Our riding garden of eden for a breif moment.
It all began with a last minute call to arms sent via mail, sms and what ever was at hand to all of our riding friends. Let’s ride Jura! Of those chosen few only Jarek had the free time to join us for a couple of days riding into the golden Polish autumn. Me and Saska took an early train from Rybnik to Krakow where we all would meet. After a coffee and a visit to the friendly and well stocked bikershop we leave for the trail armed with fresh brake pads and empty bladders.
What unfolded was a stunning slideshow of autumn color explosions, great riding, taking in the cool, fresh October air and warm evening campfires to keep us company over the long nights. Our riding season is not over until we say so.
Rock formations to castles, castles to trails, trails to valleys, valleys to climbs, climbs to landscapes. We take in this endless cycle without rush.
On the second day we make a small deatour to visit Bledow Desert, Central Europe’s biggest depository of sand – effect of glacial activity from days of yore. Although for most of it’s time an arboreous area , it has been made barren due lowering of water levels caused by purely antropogenic interference. Once treated as devil’s work nowadays a lot of effort is placed to keep the “natural” deserticolous character of the place – these schizophrenic actions might leave the place arid for decades.
During WWII it was most notably used as training grounds for the Africa Corps and a testing ground for V1 rockets later used for bombing of London.
The sands can reach up to 70 meters deep and make our progress slow, taking us most of the afternoon to thru-hike-a-bike.
For the hungry and tired there is always a Polish treat available en route to replenish lost energy.
The final day brings some morning frost to shake our bones and a welcome friend to warm our hearts – Krzysiek joins us for the last stretch to Czestochowa.
Ask any Pole about his country and he will tell you Poland is a place of wonders unheard. When twin brothers can hold two most important government positions during on election then why not find a Native American settlement in between medieval castles?
The Eagels’ Nests Trail with its wonderful scapes, ancient landmarks and ease of access is a fun way to spend a long weekend traveling south of Krakow.
There are two variations of the trail, a cycling and a hiking trail. The latter being the modus operandi for bikepacking excursionists – gpx files can be found for both on the official webpage. Maps for the whole Jura area are readily available in bookstores and outdoor shops.
The hiking trail gives plenty opportunities for off-road touring with just a handful of mellow hike-a-bikes. Bikes are allowed with only a couple of exceptions in the Ojcow National Park where (mostly paved) designated bike trails shall be used. Riding the trail from Krakow to Czestochowa is the preferred direction as it delivers rideable climbs and most fun descents. Follow the white-reds!