Kamaz and me met in Černá Hora in order to try together the Rychlebské Stezky singletrack, which he wrote me about a long time ago. My friend already tried partly before so today was for him the occasion to comlete it all. There are only a couple of such singletracks in Czech Republic, designed in purpose for mountain-biking, with many special fittings like wooden ladders, boulders moved to convenient positions, etc. This is a totally new concept, inspired by what is in UK (see Andy's pages like Altura or Llandegla).
Surprisingly this area of the Jeseniki (more exactly the massif of Studniční Vrch) owns large granite boulders, unlike the gneiss neighbours (Medvědí Vrch, Šerák, Praděd), similarly to what we see in Karkonosze or Iser mountains. They designed the singletrack to make the most of these boulders and very often the route goes in between, with lots of bends and bumps. It is not rare that the boulders are large enough so both wheels are on it, giving a pleasant "slickrock" feeling...
On the upper part the builders were in my opinion very optimistic about the ability of riders to deal with such obstacles, and there is stuff far too technical for me as well as Kamil, which involved more bike-carrying than riding in few sections. In lots of places pedals and sprockets teeth of previous riders scratched the rock, making as many scars ! Lower, the riding is more accessible and it is a real pleasure. At the very end we met the owner and iverstor of Rychlebské Stezky, repairing some gap in the trail, and with who Kamil had a chat with in czech. An extra portion is to open from May next year !
As we could see when back (we started early), the place seems extremely popular in the region, there are brand new bike-renting shops in Černá Hora, formerly a lost little village. Rychlebské Stezky is certainly a very good place to go with friends and have a good fun.
For once, I am not going to provide a very accurate bike description, as the singletrack is marked as well as can be with little round-shaped green logos easily recognizeable. Don't pay attention to the painted red signs that correspond to another pedestrian marking. Just beware of not missing any junction, especially when riding all schuss during the descent. That would be a shame to miss the most delicious portions due to such mistake...
The most important is the start, as it is not marked and we need to follow secondary roads to find it. From the Černá Voda hotel car park, take the little road that goes south to Staré Podhradí, leaving directly the street opposite the main road on the south shore of the river that flows in the middle. The little road becomes a track. At one moment, on the left, the first green sign appear, and the trail is well visible on the left, going over a little stream and with white gravels.
For a while, we elevate on a gentle singletrack running into random places of the forest, apart from the fact the white gravels make it a singletrack. Stones appear as we ride up, and their presence culminate at the point where we reach a wide lace. The singletrack reaches a track on the upper level, and we are already on the highest point of the circuit. But not exactly on top of the hill; for those willing to reach it it is only a matter of five-hundred meters ahead on the red-marked track.
As we leave the top of the circuit, a short (in distance, not in time) horizontal section begins with the highest technical difficulty. We must deal with extremely rocky sections and in many places most people will step down. From time to time it is almost mandatory to avoid some sharp prominent rock corner to hit our knees or stomach as we avoid some obstacle ! Sometimes the few trees roots add spice, and slippery places make it from time to time just impossible...
The torture stops as the trail becomes again reasonably straight into the forest.
After we pass a short section of land rover track, at the end of which we must not miss the turn (a turn that Kamaz missed during his first visit), starts the best part of the descents. Still some rocks, but the singletrack is now describing smooth curves between them. The bike handling is just perfect. The most we go down the less are natural rocks, but the trail maker added some artificially to make the pleasure last.
The lowest part of the ride is just dealing with ultimate curves, ups and down into natural irregularities of the terrain in the forest. As we get close to Černá Voda, we pass a little bar on the left in which having a beer is more than welcome. Then we ride back to the centre of Černá Voda. We follow the street opposite the main road south from the river to get back to the hotel.
The drive is pretty simple and quick, both from Olomouc in Czech Republic, or Wrocław, Poland, as it is near the border.
From Olomouc, take the direction north to Zábřeh and Žulová. Then turn to Černá Voda on the east.
From Wrocław, both options via Strzelin and Paczków or via Nysa and Głuchołazy are good. Perhaps Paczków is more direct.
Once in Černá Voda, park near the hotel Černá Voda, a good place to stay if you need; a good place where parking is tolerated too, but preferably if you plan to ride early in the morning and leave not too late. In the other case, ordering a beer to compensate will be well seen by the owners.
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When to bike
Most of the year, without snow.