Felling that itch.
Living in the mountains may be a real challenge to anyone in love with them. Having been doing enduro mountainbiking for over 15 years now, we already have seen a lot of great riding spots here in Poland. As you get to know so many places, at some point you get a bit lazy. You already have so many favorite trails in distance of just over one hour drive from your home that you can ride them all year long without getting bored. At the same time you always feel that itch. You hear that little devil offspring sitting on your shoulder, using that trident. “Look for that new spot” – he says. “You are an enduro guy, explore!” – he keeps nagging. You already know that the only way is to submit. Let’s look at the map and start packing the car!
Not that small with big names in the background
The Small Beskids are a mountain range in the very center of southern Poland. They are a part of Outer Western Carpathian ranges – they are quite old and much milder in their build than what we see in Central Western Carpathians that we usually ride. The biggest summits in that area are Czupel (933m AMSL), Madahora (929m AMSL) and Leskowiec (922m AMSL). We set our sights on a bit smaller summits – they are Jaworzyna and Gancarz (890 and 802 AMSL respectively). Since 2004 Jaworzyna is called after our great fellow countryman – pope John Paul II.
Climbing as usual
We started our trip climbing the Jaworzyna to take a closer look at it. The place is inevitably related to our history and local culture. Every week people from nearby towns and villages gather there for a service in memory of John Paul II. We wanted to get some good riding the mountain is famous for, but at the same time we wanted to take a look at what’s going on there. We couldn’t hope for a better time! Climbing the mountain we passed numerous pilgrims, most of them older people. They were all really friendly and quite curious of our “craze” as they called mountainbiking. Older ladies showed their concern for difficult riding conditions in the rocky and rooty terrain while gentlemen expressed their support for our hobby – “ride as long as you can, young chaps!” said one of them, retired test pilot for Mielec airplane factory. We finally reach the summit to spend a while in the chapel and then proceed to the mountaintop shelter. We traditionally have a lunch of local sour rye soup and some good beer and proceed to the most interesting part – downhill.
Meeting the locals for a secret adventure
During our short stop on the top of Jaworzyna we met our long-standing riding buddy Dorian and some local dudes he brought along. As we get ready, we talk about our further plans. We want to get to Gancarz through its mountain pass and look for some secret trails there. These lines are solid and totally natural – it is quite surprising that they were not engineered by trail builders at all! They were born on their own being wood harvesting trails tens of years before. Most of the wood was towed by horses no serious damage to the trail system occurred. The wood sculpted beautiful lines that were a delight to ride! Over the time most of the trails were grown over by bushes getting wild and natural – just perfect. As we get to the foot of Gancarz we find our final destination – a secret gully with walls that are almost vertical. That formation is quite unusual in that part of Beskids. It begins with a mild downhill resembling a bobsleigh track and turning into a rocky, technical downhill past its middle section. That was a great topping to a cake we had that day – long after getting packed and setting off we couldn’t get rid of smiles on our mugs.
Just round the corner
That weekend was a valuable lesson for us. No matter how deep you are into your hobby that for us is mountainbiking, you will always find something new. You sometimes have to look deeper, ask for directions, get some guidance from others. But if your life is about exploring, you never know what you can find without even traveling far. Adventure is sometimes right round the corner, you just have to look for it.
Riders: Mariusz Bryja & Tomek Dębiec
Camera: Marcin Bukowski, Rowerowe Podhale
Local guiding: Dorian Rochowski
Support: Ibis Cycles, Local Outerwear, Urge Bike, Cane Creek Cycling Components, Joystick Bicycle Components, Mozartt.com, ZEIT