A cycle ride based upon the Hainberg overlooking the German city of Göttingen featuring gravel, forest trails, Panzerweg, Kopfsteinpflaster (Cobbles), some use of public roads and importantly gnarly Befestigter Waldweg (Reinforced wild road).
A ride made up of a circuit approx. 15km in distance, so good I rode it more than once!!
Roads, paths, and trails are pivotal in our lives linking us to other people and places. Before the bicycle became an affordable and accessible item for the general population, how far you could walk in a day determined your area of travel (Unless you could afford to keep a horse or ride in a carriage). When people began to ride bikes, they became more mobile and they pushed out into other communities and areas.
Some of the earliest roads were made up of wood to create a firm surface instead of a muddy mess when wet, and then more durable stone roads were laid pre the use of concrete or asphalt. The Roman Empire being famous for its stone roads.
I have written about the A2 road that links Dover on the south coast through London into Central England. The A2 is ancient and was known as Whatling Street during the Roman Empire (And before). It like so many such roads had developed from being drovers’ tracks and pilgrims’ ways (North Downs etc.). In Germany, these types of main trading and communication arteries are called Hellweg and Wirtschaftsweg (Economic way).
I would have liked to have created a Gutingi Paris Roubaix (PRBX) ride in and around Göttingen but so much of the Kopfsteinpflaster has been consumed by asphalt and gravel. You will still find long stretches of cobbles/Kopfsteinpflaster/Kassein in other areas of Germany, northern France or Belgium linking communities etc., creating its own folklore in cycling mythology, such as Paris Roubaix. Instead in and around Göttingen gravel roads (Gutingi Strade Bianche) and befestigte Wald- und Feldwege criss-cross the landscape and through the forests.
What I call a stone road is one made from semi and large stones, some Weg has made use of the geology of an area (just under the surface of the Hainberg is a layer of rock) and others have been created in a manner similar to being cobbled but less uniform and more chunkier, and some sections can be wonderfully described as ´agricultural Kopfsteinpflaster´. In contrast gravel roads are crushed stone spread across a surface and often compacted.
Some Befestigter Waldweg or stone roads are old and have become a jangle of broken pieces, worn edges, crevice’s, and holes – the stones are often displaced and scattered, consumed by mud or grass. This makes for a tough, tough ride although sections are not too long in length.
The best/worst sections of stone roads are designated STEIN! and STEIN!!
Almost all gravel, cobbled or stone roads are Befestigter Waldweg which simply means a reinforced road.
The route is tough on a road bike even with fat tyres and a challenge on a gravel, cross or MTB
This route is based upon the Hainberg overlooking the German city of Göttingen and we have sought out the most notable stone roads and Kopfsteinpflaster. The ride includes hills, descents, gravel trails, pave, Panzerweg, Befestigter Waldweg and some use of public roads.
The route is not signed, we offer a GPS, but you can choose to follow your own direction.
Bikes – Merckx (L) with Gravelking 28/26 & Specialized CX (R) with Rene Herse 40mm
Want to ride it?
This is an informal ride and a suggested route only. If you would like to ride it with us do make contact. Or of course you may ride it at your own time and if you do, it would be great to hear from you – https://veloklubhaus.com/contact/.
Cobbles in Göttingen – See Gallery for more