Local Heroes, Local Trails | Philipp Gerken & the Deister
My name is Philipp Gerken, I’m 27 years old and have been biking off-road for 15 years. I studied in Stuttgart and Berlin and at the moment I work for CamForPro in Hannover.
After having tried out various sports I discovered biking through my uncle who took me biking in the Deister hills near Hannover. For the first five years I just rode relaxed XC rides. In 2003 I stumbled upon the first season of DropIn-TV, which was broadcast back then on Canadian TV. What the heck was going on? Mountainbiking in the city and on chicken ladders in the woods? I was amazed and switched to a harder riding style trying to defy gravity straight away. Via street/park and dirt I arrived at downhill and 4X in 2004. Since then I’ve been competing in downhill and Enduro races regularly and to relax I love to regularly plough up the local trails.
Even back then I really enjoyed the fresh air and letting off steam in the great outdoors. Trail building and riding your own trails is really fulfilling. The fun I have is always enough motivation to get on the bike.
Mountainbiking and racing has taken me to Canada, South Africa and Australia. But nothing has beaten my favourite area for Enduro riding yet.
The Deister (local slang for roots): a range of hills 25 km long and on average 350–400 metres high (Hannover lies at approx. 50 m above sea level). Geographically it lies between the Weser Uplands and Harz plains and thus forms the border to the flat area of north. From the top you can see north of Hannover for miles and miles and the Harz mountains including their highest point the Brocken (1141 metres) to the south. Well known German riders like Jasper Jauch, Stephan Mangelsdorff or also Joscha Forstreuter come from the Deister-Region.
The ridge lies approx. 30 km south west of Hannover. In the car you can get there quickly via the A2 or A7 motorways. For local riders the journey via subway (about 30 mins. from the main station) is well worth the trip. At the edge of the Deister ridge there are several stations, which are perfect points to start a ride. For visitors who want to spend a few days here there are plenty of local guest houses where you can stay.
A day in the Deister starts with packing the backpack. After all we want to spend the whole day in the forest. Fill the bladder, prepare some sandwiches, check the air pressure, grab your enduro bike and off we go.
In general you can ride here are any time of year or day. Rainclouds like to unload their cargo on the southern slope so they tend to be wet but not soggy. As the Deister is a recreational area we share the trails with hikers and other visitors. We mostly ride on conifer forest trails, which are full of roots. On the southern slopes you’ll also find rocky trails with clay surfaces.
You’ll meet other bikers who are happy to direct you to the next trailhead at every time of day. Favourite meeting points are the Waldkater Wennigsen, the Nienstedter Pass and the Barsinghausen Sports grounds.
The Deister is criss-crossed with a huge network of fire roads. Think about how long you want to ride for and put a route together based on length of time available. So also perfect for short blasts especially as here you can always find a trail half way up the overall total height. Less experienced bikers can also easily get round steeper sections. Besides you’ll always meet a helpful biker who can accompany you for a short section before vanishing off in a different direction.
Depending on your fitness it will take around 30 minutes to reach the ridge via fire roads. A trail follows the highest point along the whole ridge and serves as the starting point for trails. You’ll also find the Annaturm and Nordmannsturm restaurants there, where you can refuel.
A few years back theDeisterfreun.de e.V. built two official trails. Just like in the bike park there are a few rules that need follow in order that the project continues. At this point big respect to the boys and girls who have been keep the trail in good condition.
From the Annaturm you can start the “Ladies Only“ trail. Here there are lots of mid-large sized jumps. The perfectly built berms also allow less experienced riders to keep their speed right to the bottom.
On the Nordmannsturm side you can access the “Ü30“ trail. It starts out very rooty and from the middle becomes more jump heavy. But keep back some power for the longer mid-trail climb.
Other trails with quaint names like Rumpelstiltskin, Sleeping Beauty, Vendetta or Sunroof make you want more. Most trails are between two and ten minutes long.
“Where The Trail Ends“ isn’t the end by any means. You’re always happy to enjoy a cold beverage in the nearby beer garden at the Bantorfer Höhe with ‘Alpine view’ or at the Teufelsbrücke with the local ‘Deister beer‘ Rupp Bräu from Lauenau in the Deister. If you need something more solid after liquid refreshments the Annaturm and Nordmannsturm restaurants are open until the evening.
In the bike shop Bike-Infection, directly situated at the edge of the Deister you’re bound to meet like minded folk. All round riders who don’t just ride enduro, should bring their dirt bikes and head for the BMX track in Misburg or also the Yard-Skate hall in Hannover. Street biking is great all-year round in all of the city skate parks, you can get to any of them easily by subway or underground.
In Hannover there are tonnes of options for nightlife, our tip: a perfect day of riding rounded off at the Vietnamese restaurant in Limmerstraße Street Kitchen. There you get fresh and cheap food and the cook clearly always takes the racing lines in the kitchen – you’ll never get served quicker.
The Linden district is where you’ll find lots of young people ready for partying action. Ambling about with a Späti beer or when the weather’s good meeting up at the Strandleben during the Maschee festivals to plot the next road trip. Whatever your favourite genre there’s bound to be a club perfect for your music taste close by:
Chèz Heinz, Faust, Glocksee, Bronco‘s, Lux or also in the Capitol, from techno, reggae, house to guitar noise. The night star transport system will get you home safely all through the night.
At the end of the day the question remains: is a trip to northern Germany worth the effort? I say: plan at least two days. At least!
Text: Philipp Gerken
Pictures: Albert Rein, Stefan Knaak