Slaloms between trees and rocks, footbridges over streams, traverses, going up, going down, clearly signposted, safe and one way roads. In addition, there are many spots where one can sit, eat and appreciate the views. All of this combined forms a biking sensation in the mountains next to Swieradow-Zdroj.
Single Track – a system of biking trails on the border of the Czech Republic and Poland has at least three indisputable advantages. Firstly, every biker, regardless of skill, age, fitness and risk tendencies, will find something for themselves. Secondly, it is impossible to get bored. Thirdly, the project is new, well developed and gets bigger almost every year.
At least a weekend of fun
Nowadays, the vast majority of nearly 90 km worth of complex biking trails in the Jizera Mountains lies in the Czech territory, known as Singltrek pod Smrkem.
- If somebody has their mind set on it, is in good shape and has a few hours to spare, they could probably ride around all of it in one or two days. This ride will not end after 90 or 100 km, as there are additional routes that connect particular loops. However, it is not worth spoiling one’s fun by pressurizing oneself into doing the whole distance. Me and my friends prefer weekend trips, but we don’t do all the trails. We got to know them, selected a few of our favourites and save some time to chat, have breaks for meals, admire the mountains and rest by the lake in the mountains. It sometimes happens that one of us has a flat tire, we work together to patch up the hole or change the tube. It is always worth allowing some extra time for things like these – said Arkadiusz Kosmala, an MTB passionate from Zielona Gora. – I can’t imagine a year without at least three or four weekends spent on these trails – he added. – It is so much fun that I start to miss it the moment we pack our bags ready to go home.
In the Polish and Czech mountains, created by a Welshman
There is a lot of praise for the Single Track system on blogs and internet forums. The implementation of the project by a Welshman, Dafydd Davis, also won two international prizes.
Davis, a mountain fanatic, introduced similar solutions in Wales, England, Canada, Japan, Ireland and Israel, sticking to the assumptions of creating durable and interesting trails for both bikers with sports attitude and amateurs of recreational, unrushed trips. In the Jizera Mountains it was possible to combine the requirements and abilities of various people. “An excellent adventure, also for families with children in bike seats. I highly recommend the Czech trails. From the easy ones to those that require true skill, although anyone can even, with no rush, ride the latter. We surely will come back!!!” – says the review of a Polish biker on TripAdvisor.com.
An important feature of the whole experience: The trails were created with almost no interference to the natural environment. The project and its implementation largely used the natural conditions of the Jizera Mountains and already existing trails and tourist infrastructure. It was enough to become friendly with the surroundings in order to draw the trails between the trees, mark and clear them, strengthen and harden the road and install the footbridges.
The trails in the entire region, quite narrow and – with small exceptions – one-way, are marked with colours. The black trails are considered hard, the red ones – of medium difficulty, blue – easy and green – very easy and two-way. However, even on the hard trails a lot depends on the adjustment of speed according to one’s skillset. Riding slowly, especially around tight corners and footbridges, should guarantee the safety of everybody. The difference is, the green and blue trails are usually laid on flat ground, whereas the black and red ones – go up and down the road.
The name Single Track says a lot about the specifics of riding it. Two bikers riding alongside each other would not fit in the vast majority of the nearly 90 km of the entire system of trails. If during the peak of the holiday season or on a sunny weekend the trail gets crowded and one biker wants to overtake another, it is considered common courtesy for the slower rider to stop and allow the faster one to pass. – However, every couple of hundred meters the trails become wide enough to make overtaking possible – explained the biker from Zielona Gora.
Using the bike trails is free of charge. Also an app, developed for the entire system of ‘singles’ that inform the bikers where exactly they are and where they’re going, is free. One can also use traditional, paper maps and informative materials. Both will be updated shortly as the decision to build an additional 45 km of new trails has been made.
Today the most popular trails are located in the Czech territory. It is not because there is more of them there. The Czechs offer restaurants, buffets and stations equipped with repairing and cleaning gear for bikes, also the lake in the mountains is on this side, where amateur swimmers and a campsite can easily be found. These are some of the reasons why Polish tourists are keen to use the guesthouses on the Czech side. Bed and breakfast offers can be found in several locations. Nove Mesto pod Smrkem, Lazne Libverda, Hejnice, Ludvikov pod Smrkem, Frydlant – cost between 300 and 500 Czech koruna. Thanks to the system of bike trails nearby the Bike Friendly base, the biker friendly locations, have been developed. In the houses and lodgings that belong to this chain, the storage and cleaning of bikes and the opportunity of using a washing machine are available without being requested.
It is best to ride mountain bikes (MTB) on the mountain trails, rubbles, stones and roots. It is not worth leaving for a trip without a helmet, basic equipment also includes patches or an extra tube, a pump and a tire lever. In many towns in the Czech Republic, but also in Swieradow, one can rent a bike suitable for riding in the mountains. Prices? E.g. 75 – 100 PLN in Ski & Bike Swieradow and 229 – 699 koruna in the Trek testing centre near Nove Mesto.
One Czech koruna (CZK) is about 0.16 PLN today. – In the recent months we observed the gradual increase of the Polish currency’s value in relation to the koruna. Since December 6, the zloty gained a bit above 4 percent in relation to the Czech currency- said Bartosz Grejner, analyst at Cinkciarz.pl, an online currency exchange company. It allows exchanging currencies – e.g. Czech koruna – 24 hours a day and at much more competitive rates than those offered by banks.
Where to start?
The official website of the system singletrack.pl offers descriptions, maps and lengths of all prepared segments and information about organized events. It is also easy to find videos from the cameras installed on the bikes’ helmets and handlebars of the cyclists who ride on the trails. Their recordings present a glimpse of how much fun they have.
Where to start the adventure with the “singles”? An excellent starting point is placed e.g. at the carpark on the border of Poland and the Czech Republic, where on one side of the road one can enter easier trails: green and blue, and on the other – more challenging; red and black.