Admit it, do you know someone who has ever said: "Hey, it's supposed to be good weather this weekend, let's go to Dzierżoniów"? No? I'm not surprised at all, I don't know either. Because, kill me, but I don't know why anyone would go there. I mean, I know now, but I didn't know until this weekend. So I will present to you a brief historical outline of how the situation came about, when we decided to go with Łukasz to the beautiful city of Dzierżoniów.
About two months ago I had a birthday - I got Rammstein tickets from my best girlfriend. As the concert is in such a distant future, unimaginable for us, I also got a second ticket, such consolation: for Kazik, in Wrocław. His concert was just at the time when I had to work remotely, so I thought I would be sitting in Wroclaw a little longer. A quick glance at the map to verify where one goes there and many contenders have indecently appeared among potential candidates. The route of qualitative elimination defined by the parameters: quality and distance from Wrocław (if Panda were to join me for the next weekend) fell on the Owl Mountains.
From the north, the Sowie Mountains look something like this, and as the end of summer is the most beautiful period in Poland, probably all the photos will look like passed through 7 filters:
There is no problem in the Owl Mountains to set a 100-kilometer route with vertical elevation above 2,000 meters. In my opinion, it is this value that separates mountains from hills.
Sobótka too well known (and the Ślęża Massif of Sowie visible and so best), Well-worn deer, the Bóbr Valley probably not for so long, and the rest is a bit far away. In the end, we didn't go to the concert, and the weather was so bad that nothing left of my plans ... except to know that I had to return to the Sowie Mountains. So when positive meteorological perspectives appeared on the horizon, I wrote to Łukasz and on Thursday evening we sat in the car to be in Dzierżoniów less than 4 hours later.
Is Dzierżoniów the best city in Poland?
Definitely not. What did I know about him before I arrived? Exactly nothing - the same as about the Owl Mountains, which, however, somewhere in the back of my head smoldered as such a lower and less interesting copy of the Karkonosze ... but also much more smoky for 3/4 year. These impressions certainly remained in us after a visit to the nearby Table Mountains, which two years earlier we visited with fat bikes. From that day on, I no longer ask where the name Duszniki Zdrój came from. Dzierżoniów is one of those cities where you enter and you have the irresistible impression that when you stop at the traffic lights you will die.
It's a bit like a combination of the city from Franko's game and a typical town based on one large workplace, which unfortunately collapsed ... and then you enter the market square and think - "about you, but nice". This is a frequent ailment in this area, and only the number of abandoned factories and warehouses in the area indicates the thesis's accuracy. I like it, but I believe that this fall may well be a set that doesn't need improvement, e.g. for the series combining Silent Hill with Walking Dead.
We sleep in Dzierżoniów because it's cheap, period. The choice fell on Miodowy Hotel, where we pay for 3 nights in a triple room PLN 367.20. It is clean, with parking, safe, normal - nothing more to be happy. You can get to McDonalds and ALDIk without pedaling.
Sowie Mountains - how is it there?
I'm not sure how to write it so as not to offend anyone. It is of course very nice, finally the hills and it's so decent - sometimes you are at 250m above sea level, and sometimes at 800m above sea level. The only problem is architecture and human civilization - it creates a climate ... well ... unforgettable? Unique? Unique? Such Giant Mountains only much more, harder?
This is the climate from the movies 'Ninja accounts of the Nazis', 'Iron Sky' (filmweb: When the Third Reich was falling into decline, the most faithful Nazis were sent to the moon. Now they are ready to return to Earth) etc. It is made up of many more or more less underground facilities left after the Third Reich, i.e. a complex Riese (Giant) - generally Hitler's atmosphere, armaments, UFOs, etc. I am eager to refer to the Internet, because apart from facts one can find many inspiring conspiracy theories. Generally, nobody really knows what it was all about. I abandon the topic, because googling too long about Hitler will personalize my ads to such an extent that I will be afraid to visit the Internet.
Let's add to this a large number of post-German buildings (such with panache), which in a rather poor area are already bitten by a tooth of time and we have before us a picture of what the area looks like. Of course, I am not saying this in a negative context - the whole creates a coherent, somewhat scary, but also fascinating atmosphere. I like.
There is a shortage of modern and ultra-expensive SPA hotels, but instead we have agritourism that attracts with the offer "the worse, the better" - so inviting korpoczłowieka to rest from everything, see for example: Cottage Is Another World or Biotanics - Rush Free Zone. This means that sometimes on one side of the street stands an old Polonez, which is just an old car standing by the cow shit, and on the other side the same Polonez is vintydżową an attraction for tourists where soy latte from animal shit living somewhere in Asia can be served.
In summary: it is specific, but climatic. VERY.
Sowie Mountains - roads
Let me paraphrase a certain text:
We know you like holes,
so we made holes on the holes,
so that you can fall into holes when you drive through holes
but we also know that you like asphalt patches,
so we patched it
so that you can come up with patches when you come across patches
This is one of those regions where roads have already begun but it is going slowly. It means one thing: if you want to set up a several dozen kilometer training loop on a good surface - you can. Ba, even after such a very good can be done. It is worse if you plan to go a bit more ambitious in terms of tourism and sightseeing: there are roads so bad that the worse is hard to imagine. I am still trying to put bones, acetabulum, pouches and joints in place. For me, a bomb, because together with the things described above, it creates a coherent atmosphere. For these purposes, I DEFINITELY recommend the TIRES minimum 28mm.
It is worth emphasizing, however, that many roads are already made and most of the passes and the valley between the Walimska Pass and Lake Lubachowski are Podkarpacie - you go and wonder what's going on and why there are no rollerbladers here (they could even ride with plastic wheels).
Such places only confirm my belief that changing the road to a version with slightly wider wheels is the right decision. I am afraid that before we look back, everything will be already cluttered with asphalt. Kind of cool, but still not ...
Traffic is minimal to moderate. This is one of those places where people are in places where there are people and where they are not ... they are not there - such a lemming syndrome. This means that on weekends tourists will meet in typical tourist places and on the main roads that connect them. From the cyclist's point of view - perfect.
Sowie Mountains - what to eat?
As a man spending a large part of my days away on a bike, I don't consider myself the right person to talk about food. Generally, if someone after driving gave me dust stuck together with water and sugar, I would be happy. Presence in Dzierżoniów Aldi, Biedronka, Kaufland and McDonalds it also didn't make it easier for me to verify many eateries. So, let me quote here the ones we visited and the ones recommended by people from the Internet.
Cicha Woda Agrotourism Lasocin - Attention, I quote the advertisement: the famous trout from Lasocin, fried or grilled, or dumplings glued under thatched roofs with matchmakers' hands living in harmony with each other sprinkled with onions and greens. We confirm a very good place.
For ~ PLN 40 you can eat trout, baked potato and finish with zurek (or vice versa). Sour rye soup is in bread (it consists mostly of bread and żurkowych toppings like sausage and egg) and in a plate - then it's just a sour soup.
Biała Locomotive Cafe in Nowa Ruda - the most obligatory place for all instagram riders. Apart from the impressive collection of spoons on the wall, the traditional must-try is coffee with acorn surrogate. An additional attraction is the fact that Nowa Ruda is one of the most polluted cities in Europe (in terms of air quality). In addition, Nowa Ruda is a city worth seeing, I'm sure it's a matter of time before it is discovered by large Hollywood producers.
From the environmental intelligence I understood that if you have to park there by car, the hubcaps are worth taking with you (and maybe even whole wheels). I don't have this problem, because as a resident of Prague I don't have half the hubcaps, but I warn you honestly. And there is also a funeral parlor by the name of Kiełbaska - I am amused.
Sokola Pass: Sowia Grapa, Karczma Pod Sową, Szyprówka - We didn't check anything. They all lie in the so-called "tourist center of the world", so I can't assess whether people recommend it because they got there or because it is simply good.
Metro in Dzierżoniów - we were encouraged by a billboard by the road with the inscription "Pork chop from the Subway" - a classic chop like at grandma's, with potato and salad. Qualitatively exactly as you just imagined it, and large. We feel minimally cheated, because we received the phrase "from the subway" as a unit of measure.
Italian tavern in Dzierżoniów - good pizza, the restaurant is quite pleasant and completely zakakaki considering its external appearance. We get there by accident, because it is the only place in the area that: it is open in the evening, it did not go on vacation, there is no special event, it is possible to get there and is not crowded by "local youth".
The Sowie Mountains - classics to enter:
Let's start from the basics. The basis of each loop is the decision which passes we want to include. For simplicity, I will tell you that you ultimately want to include each of them. From both sides.
from Pieszyce: 12.28 km 4.2%
The Jugowska Pass is quite specific, because it is one of the few places that I would prefer to overcome in the shorter version, i.e. from west to east. Thanks to this, we gain a downhill ride, which definitely can be included in the TOP20 in the country - maybe not from a viewing angle, but driving pleasure. The road is even, pleasantly wavy and infinitely long (as per our conditions) - all hidden in a dense forest. As for the views, from the side of Sokolec from time to time there will be a clearance between the trees, and at the very top willing can be tempted by a delicate offroad (fully passable on the road, at least when it's dry) and get on a very nice off-road road.
Along the way, there is a somewhat modest but quite pleasant viewing platform with a panorama of the Ślęża Massif, on which we are led by signposts, which we exceptionally decide to trust (although we have slight resistance - Łukasz promised himself that he would never trust any platform again). There is also a trail leading to the lookout tower from the car park at the top, but the "entrance PLN 4" sign scares us more than the "no entry" sign.
from Bielawa 10.39 km 4.0%
from Nowa Ruda: 9.03 km 3.2%
The Woliborska Pass is somewhat similar to Jugowska, but slightly worse, because it lacks an optional, scenic field trip. To overcome in the same direction, and the exit east to Bielawa is a cycling highway that lasts 7 days and 7 nights, but if you like delicate arches, you will be delighted.
from the east 4.06 km 5.9%
The Silver Pass is about entering the Silver Fortress - I have the irresistible impression that coming from the Silver Mountain, I overcome it somehow nieprawilnie, because instead of the main road (which is currently under renovation), I'm going along a vertical path next to the city - the compensation is views. A closed road with several serpentine leads to the fortress itself. It's hidden in the forest, so you can't see it anyway. In combination with dojazdówką they give almost 3km with an average of 10%. In general - rather hard. The area is famous for enduro routes, so road cyclists are a minority here.
from Walim 4.90 km 4.7%
Sokola Pass is probably the main tourist center of the area. It is here, at the top, that we find most of the recommended pubs, the beginning of walking routes and ski slopes. If we are driving from the north, it is definitely better to bypass the main road sideways - through Sierpnica (described below as the GMP route), because the main one is a bit of a depression, but you can see the famous Walimskie Adits, a rocket, bunkers and a driveway on which bottles roll uphill.
At the top it is definitely worth getting to the Orzeł Hostel (also described below), but I recommend that you make sure that our blocks in your shoes survive some walking. If you are a super hardcore, it is worth a moment to add a shortcut in Sokolec (also below).
from the east: 7.81 km 5.4%
from the west: 4.41 km 5.5%
The Walimska Pass is also similar to those described earlier, but it has several advantages. First of all: a somewhat hidden viewpoint on an off-road road, at the top. Secondly: the reflection at the top from the main pass to very good areas, which will take us to Lake Lubachowskie. Thirdly, the most important, because on the route there is a Memorial Monument to J. Kulig and M. Bublewicz (and the road itself is J. Kuliga Street), going west, you may be surprised by fragments of quite pleasant cobblestones. It's like sticking Karowa into a classic congress.
Sowie Mountains - 10 gems to ride:
Apart from the list of obligatory things, the Sowie Mountains (and the surrounding area) are full of roads less known and less impressive on paper, but the numbers are not always the case. Here is a list of places that in my opinion is not appropriate
Michałkowski Potok Valley
that is, the area between the top of Walimska Pass and Lake Lubachowski. Perfect asphalt completely mismatched to the area, steep driveways and architecture ... which astonishes. This is a classic place where you do not know whether the houses are abandoned and falling apart, or are simply stylized and therefore very expensive. If I were rich and had a trailer somewhere to cook amphetamines, I'd probably aim right there. It will not be difficult looking at the number of inscriptions "for sale". We cross the valley on the first day and from that moment we know that you have to look for pearls. Because it is like that - you drive a field with fudges and ponies, pass the new GTS Panamera, and a bit further on the side of the road is hidden Ikarus 280 - "The Fall of Icarus".
Andrzejówka is a somewhat pointless finish to the driveway, when we still drive through the area - by the way, very nice. At the top, there is the Mouflon Ski Resort, a classic hostel and, most importantly, a really impressive melafir mine.
You could write the whole text about Sokołowsko, and if you are ambitious, maybe a book. From the point of view of the cultural ignorant, it is enough to know that the whole looks like a tourist museum thanks to coherent buildings and that Krzysztof Kieślowski lived here, and thus - a film festival is also organized. It is said that it is Silesian Davos. Read more for example here.
Shortcut in Sokolec
It's such a dare, instead of going down the main road, you can skip two turns and go straight ahead, through the estates. I recommend - it hurts. This is where the most popular cycling Instagram photos are created - every shot has exactly the same.
Shortcut on the Walimska Pass with numbers: 0.81km / 12.8%. I don't know, I wasn't - the guys say that this choice of route to the pass determines whether you are a boy or a man. Knowing the stories of some bloggers and Polish bicycle companies, I'm afraid to write anything about gender, so I skip the abbreviation. The official reason is that driving shortcut overlooks cool streamers.
A quite pleasant addition to the loop on Lubachowskie Lake. Roads empty, level, pleasant and finished with a very nice view of the Grodno Castle.
Such Switzerland almost. There is asphalt around the lake that looks like poured the day before. On the shores of the change houses straight from Scandinavia or Marin City, California. Along the way, there are three attractions - a hanging bridge, a dam in Zagórze Śląskie and Grodno Castle. I can't recommend the castle itself, because the access can be gravely, but if you want to make a loop with it, it is made of this enduro (so we go with the shoe). The viewpoint marked on googles and signposts is one of the worst points I've seen in a long time ... unless you like to look at the road and someone's home. At the weekend people take pictures of themselves, so maybe I just didn't understand something.
The route of the Polish Mountain Championships
Part of the route from the 2018 Polish Mountain Road Championships, i.e. Rzeczka - Sierpnica - Walim. On the 15 kilometer loop it is about 560 meters, so it's easy to guess what profile it has. It is narrow, even, steep, nice and empty - I did not expect something like this along the race track.
Let me give you some statistics - 600 meters with an average of over 16%. Sounds hard, but not enough to consider it impossible. Meanwhile, this is the first driveway in a long time that beat me. There are several reasons, but the most important of them is the surface - such a regular cube with holes, which can only be driven straight. The margin of error is from 10-20cm - further leaving the track results in a serious increase in the potential for unhappiness, and the crowd of people just waiting for it.
As a bonus, we get a nice view from above and those puffing families and screaming and crying children asking "how far ?!".
Falcon and craters
A trained eye will notice that during the western part of our trip, between Głuszyca and Nowa Ruda, we try to avoid road 381 and drive sideways. I do not recommend such a solution to everyone: 381 is even, long and when there is no traffic - pleasant. Our version through Łomnica, Dworki and Krajanów is an absolute observation bar (especially around Lomnica and the flooded quarry), but the further south, the greater the hardcore. I honestly admit that I don't remember as bad asphalt any more than in Sokolica. In general, Nowa Ruda region is surface hardcore, but if I had to repeat the route, I would ride the same way (but with a different bike).
Along the way, you can add such pearls as, for example Włodkowice Climb, i.e. almost a kilometer of very good asphalt with an average of a dozen or so percent, which according to Strava was driven by 7 people (including our four).
Saint Anne's Mountain
In Nowa Ruda, apart from the White Locomotive, there is also a surprise. Driveway to the observation tower on the Mount of All Saints, which unfortunately we pass by and Mount Saint Anne, i.e. nearly 2km with an average exceeding 10%. The driveway may not be easy and pleasant, but very nice and rewarding the effort with views.
Of course, you can see the magnificent Nowa Ruda from above:
meaning worth it or not?
In my opinion, definitely yes. This is not a place I would like to visit for a vacation or a weekly trip, but for the weekend as much as possible. Little traffic on the road, reasonable slopes (mostly), and driveways that długościowo they are so "just right" and almost always properly reward with the view put in effort make the place recommend to beginner, Masovian highlanders, as well as people who would like to look at something new and rarely seen abroad.
Let us hurry to visit such places, they leave so quickly ... they will all flood in perfect asphalt, buildings will demolish and put new, nice, glowing and lose all their unique charm.