As an extension of a business trip to Germany, I took the opportunity to go to Mannheim. We have a bunch of close friends who stay there, and I never lose a chance to visit them. And this time was no exception. The highlight of my visit to Mannheim is mountain biking in the hills and forests nearby. This time I did not really have a full weekend and so tried to see if I could arrange something for Friday and Saturday. I was lucky to be able to do some great mountain biking on both days!

When I first visited Mannheim a few years back, I had connected with ADFC, the cycling federation in Germany that has various local chapters all over. One of the office bearers of the Mannheim chapter is Ruslan Fursa, who I befriended by sending a mail before my first visit, and who was gracious enough to respond to my mails and accompany me on the cycling tours arranged by ADFC. This was great fun, and on my subsequent visits I make sure to connect with Ruslan and try and get a ride together with him. Ruslan was kind enough to make time on Friday for a nice long ride through the hills. This was his first ride this season too, and I was happy I could start the season with him.

View from apartment in Mannheim The weather at Mannheim was just glorious! I stayed with friends in a small street near Alte Feuerwache across the Neckar river

Cycling along the Neckar river from Mannheim to Heidelberg We started at 9:30 am and began cycling from Mannheim to Hiedelberg along the Neckar river. A beautiful route that passes through typical small German towns that line the river

A view of Heidelberg Castle from the Philosopher's Walk We started cycling up the Philosopher’s Walk, which is a steep climb from about 350 feet up to over 1500 feet. All along the way, one can see Heidelberg castle across the Neckar river

Venturing into the hills after the Philosopher's Walk, Heidelberg At the end of a steep climb up the Philosopher’s Walk, we ventured into the hills from a small side street

Cycling into the hills after the Philosopher's Walk, Heidelberg As we get into the forest, the green canopy of trees envelopes us and the temperature drops by a few degrees

Cycling into the hills after the Philosopher's Walk, Heidelberg Then we start the downhill ride – exhilarating! The cold wind whistling in your ears and the trees flashing by… couldn’t have been better!

I sorely missed my helmet camera, which I had taken with me, but forgot to get the clamp to fit it to the helmet 🙁

Cycling along Neckar at Heidelberg After that exciting downhill ride through the forest, we rode along the Neckar river for a few kilometers. The weather was perfect – a sunny 20 degrees (centigrade). The route is called Shonauer Strasse – or beautiful street – an apt name indeed!

Cycling uphill through the forest from Heidelberg to Shonau After a few kilometers of peaceful ride along the Neckar, we again headed uphill away from the river through the forest towards Shonau

Lunch break while cycling at Ober Absteinach We were really tired and hungry after two steep climbs and descents. We were desperately looking for a place to rest a while and eat something. But we had to trudge uphill on a long and ardouous climb of about 15 km till we reached Ober Abstienach, where we found a nice restaurant with outdoor tables waiting for us!

Cycling back towards Mannheim After a much overdue lunch at Ober Absteinach, we headed back towards Mannheim along small roads via Heddesheim

We reached Mannheim by 4:30 pm – a total riding duration of 6 hours covering a total distance of 87 km with maximum altitude gain of 1500 feet and total climb of over 4000 feet.

My Mannheim Family! An evening spent in the town center with good old friends – and a chance to meet some new friends!

Having done a long and exhausting ride on the Friday, I was not sure about doing another hectic ride in the mountains. But I could not resist the temptation and I set out on Saturday with Gerhard, cycles loaded in the back of his car.

Starting the mountain biking excursion We parked at Leimen to start cycling from there

Starting the climb The route starts with a big climb with an altitude gain of 1227 feet in just 3 kilometers. Good that we did this climb in the beginning

Climbing up rapidly through vineyards The route initially goes along vineyards growing on the hillside, and one can see the town of Leimen behind

Up hill cycling at Leiman, Neckargemund, Germany The best part of today’s route is that it almost exclusively follows small single trails through the forest… and sometimes not even that!

Up hill cycling at Leiman, Neckargemund, Germany The climb is quite difficult, and we really struggled to keep ourselves from falling off due to our cleats – but both me and Gerhard managed to fall a few times and get some bruises

Taking a drinks break while cycling in the forest from Leiman to Neckargemund The trail starts from Leiman and climbs up for about 11 km. We took a small break after the tough climb up at this small resting place built in the forest

Taking a drinks break while cycling in the forest from Leiman to Neckargemund The difference between forest trails in India and here is so evident… well maintained routes, spots like these where people can rest a while, or even have a nice picnic

Downhill through thick forest trails between Leiman and Neckargemund After the tough climb uphill, the downhill trail is really great fun. However at some points, we had to get off to cross over fallen logs or where the trail was just too far overgrown with bushes

Cycling along the hills near Neckargemund As we came downhill towards Neckargemund, the route follows the river for a few kilometers, and then climbs back up away from the river towards Waldhilsbach

Cycling along the hills near Neckargemund At some points, the trail was slippery, wet and steep uphill, cut into the hillside that dropped down to the river rapidly… so one false move could get you tumbling down into the river

Bridge over a stream between Neckargemund and Waldhilsbach Once the trail turned into the forest between Neckargemund and Waldhilsbach, the slope eases out, and at we found this beautiful stream of cold water running down from the hills down into the Neckar river

Cycling trail from Waldhilsbach to Gaiberg We pass through the forest via Waldhilsbach and then the route really gets wild! There is almost no trail in sight, and we have to find our way through thickly wooded trails

Forest cover between Waldhilsbach then Gaiberg Occasionally one could peek through the trees and see the entire landscape covered with thick forests all the way Waldhilsbach to Gaiberg

Passing through Gaiberg We passed through the last town of Gaiberg before heading back to Leimen

Final halt One final halt at a clearing in the forest before heading back to Leimen. The last stretch was all downhill.

One funny thing happened on the last stretch. We were following a relatively broad path in the forest, and we were going pretty fast. I thought I was following Gerhard and saw him up ahead of me so I kept going down till we reached a town which I thought was Leimen. But when I caught up with him, it was some other rider! I was so engrossed in enjoying the ride, I did not realize when Gerhard fell behind me, and I started following some other rider who happened to overtake me. Fortunately I had my mobile phone and so did Gerhard. So we quickly connected again… but I had to climb back half way up the nice slope.

Mountain biking - Back at Leimen, break for Doners and drinks Finally we’re back at Leimen, and we are famished and thirsty having run out of all the water we carried. We take a break at this cute restaurant for some doners and drinks that get the energy back in our tired bodies

Even though today’s ride was shorter – about 38 km – than the one I did yesterday, the maximum altitude gain was similar – 1227 feet – with total climbs of 3295 feet. But the route was completely adventurous – mostly single trails, and in some places not even that.

Super fun ride, with some bruises and injuries along with great memories to carry home.

Celebrating last supper with German friends Celebrating a last supper with friends at their cute farm house on the outskirts of Mannheim

Auf wiedersehen Deutschland! Auf wiedersehen Deutschland! Hope to see you again soon Germany!