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Gravel Raid in the Eifel

Mirko Meerwaldt Tekst Mirko Meerwaldt Gepubliceerd 17 augustus 2018

In the most western part of Germany, skirting the Belgian border, lies a vast expanse of endless rolling hills and dense woodlands. Its deep gorges and steep ridges are interspersed by rustling streams and pastoral villages, made up of medieval looking half-timbered homes. At the centre of it all is an intricate system of huge dams and man-made lakes, around which countless forest trails swirl.

This is the Nordeifel, a peaceful panorama of natural beauty. Traces of a darker history still abound in the region though; amidst the undergrowth of the valleys and in the eternal twilight beneath the pine boughs crosses have been placed in memory of missing soldiers. In the winter of 1944, a ferocious battle was fought on this soil. The remnants of two world wars are obvious still; tank barriers, bunkers, memorials and cemeteries dot the area. It speaks volumes about the importance of the region’s features.

Image by: Brian Megens
Image by: Brian Megens

The Eifel’s legacy
Presently, serenity has returned to the Nordeifel, but the Ordensburg Vogelsang is still surmounting a prominent precipice, a former NSDAP institute for young officers and an imposing example of Nazi-architecture. To get there, one could take the broad, arrow-straight road towards the grand entrance gates. Alternatively, one could also choose to ride the gravel paths bordering the Urftsee, until you come to a spanking new modern cycling suspension bridge, before taking on the 16% climb to the complex. Catching your breath on the top while admiring the view over the see itself is worth your arduous efforts. It’s clear that times have changed favourably for the Nordeifel.

Image by: Brian Megens
Its dense forest is criss-crossed by secluded gravel paths
Image by: Brian Megens

Gravel grinders heaven
Recently, the Nordeifel is rising once again above itself, leaving behind its somewhat bleak image of switchbacks ringing to the screech of car tires, and valleys choked with the exhaust fumes of motorists. Besides establishing itself as a favourite among the road- and mountainbike crowd, the area is now emerging as a veritable paradise for off road cycling-aficionados. There lie grand opportunities for exploration by bike beyond your personal horizon. Its dense forest is criss-crossed by secluded gravel paths; its slopes offer challenging climbs, rewarding panorama’s and spectacular descents; fire trails abound on the higher plateaus, crossing vast and solitary expanses of fir trees; scenic singletracks border the shimmering lakes and hidden streams… in short, very suitable terrain for the LtD Gravel Raid.

Image by: Brian Megens
the area is now emerging as a veritable paradise for off road cycling-aficionados
Image by: Brian Megens



LTD Gravel Raid
Taking place on the 28th – 30th of September, this is cycling pro Laurens ten Dam’s very own gravel riding event. Two routes (110 km/ 140 km) aim to let you explore the most scenic and challenging tracks and trails traversing the rugged beauty that is the Nordeifel. Riders will encounter gravel paths, rough forest trails, singletracks and a few quiet tarmac roads to tie it all together. Keeping in style with ten Dam’s philosophy of Live Slow/Ride Fast, this is not a race. There are 3 timed segments, but riders are encouraged to choose their own pace and take in the surroundings. After the ride, it is surely time to chill, and bask in the festival-like ambience of the campgrounds. Live music, coffee, good food and beers add to the laidback mood of the LtD Gravel Raid, with a focus on fun, comradeship and enjoying the scenery. Join us.

Image by: Brian Megens
Image by: Brian Megens

More info on ltdgravelraid.cc