Damn it, a clear case of overconfidence! The way over from Frankfurt had been so easy, driven by the tail wind through the plain and over the first hills. The 500 meter high mountain up ahead shouldn’t be a problem either. The mountain bike trail, however, which looked like a clever shortcut, overwhelmed the combination of partially off-road gravel bike and currently only moderately trained legs. It goes over ever thicker boulders, and soon nothing works anymore. So: pushing. A little embarrassing. Finally the little road to the summit, but things get even worse: an electric cyclist shoots past, she says hello. Condescending? Or is there an apologetic undertone after all?
In any case, the summit makes up for the push and the sweat. The mysterious name of the highest mountain on the Bergstrasse alone: Melibokus. For a time, a few scholars from the area believed that the Greek geographer Ptolemy, when he wrote of Μηλίβοκον, the Mälibokon, was referring to their mountain, which until then was called Malschen. It was a mistake, but too good to be wrong. And so the name stayed. To the west you look over the Rhine plain and the Palatinate Wine Route, to the east over the sea of hills of the Odenwald.
If you still want to torture yourself a bit, have a mountain bike on hand and promise to show consideration for the hikers, you can now continue the Burgensteig, above Bensheim, Heppenheim and Weinheim, up and down, with grandiose views to the Strahlenburg, where the Käthchen von Heilbronn’s story written down by Kleist could have played. Or take it easy, whiz down the Melibokus and then roll down towards Heidelberg, drink a wine on the beautiful market square of Heppenheim and at some point get on the train.
There is hardly a region in Germany that offers as many different tours as the hilly landscape between Darmstadt, Heidelberg and Aschaffenburg. You can comfortably ride along the rivers that border the Odenwald, on the well-developed Main Cycle Path, where the mountains come closer and closer to the river, through the picturesque Miltenberg. Or from Heidelberg up the Neckar to Mosbach, always as many kilometers as you enjoy. Accommodation and train stations are practically everywhere. Or you can give yourself crisp tours that are not inferior to alpine stages. From Babenhausen in the north to Hirschhorn in the south there are still a friendly 800 meters in altitude over 85 kilometers; On the round trip from Bensheim via Fürth, Waldmichelbach and Lindenfels you have to climb almost 1700 meters in altitude over almost 90 kilometers.
You shouldn’t underestimate it, the Odenwald. Especially in the west there are sharp climbs to draughty peaks and rapid descents into narrow valleys. The King’s Tour is the 212 kilometers of the three-country tour through the Hessian, Baden-Württemberg and Bavarian Odenwald. With enough ambition you can do it in two days, with enough serenity you take five and enjoy the great landscape that you never have to share with crowds.
Tours under: bergstrasse-odenwald.de or tg-odenwald.de