Breathtaking views, historic castles and picturesque half-timbered houses. Endless forests, steep cliffs, juniper meadows and peregrine falcons. And you're smack-bang in the middle of it all, with your bike in tow and ready to start a real challenge: 405 kilometers (251 miles) and almost 9,200 meters (30,000 feet) of elevation gain. Welcome to the Swabian Alb.
"Spätzle Cross", "Trans-Alb" or officially "Bike Crossing Schwäbische Alb"- there are many names for crossing the Swabian Alb from Aalen to Tuttlingen, a stage trip that is a real challenge even for bikers with serious Alpine experience. And while you might ask why you would opt for the lower mountain variant when the Alps are a short drive away, the fantastic views, diverse nature and culinary specialties will you make you glad you did. And that's before you enjoy the incredible, hard-earned descents.
"Bike Crossing Swabian Alb" is the official version of this ride which inspired us to build our own. The original is technically a relatively simple ride, however, choosing smoother paths over proper singletracks, which is why have added plenty of additional Highlights here and have exchanged many of the dirt tracks for singletrack. And while this means it might be more strenuous in parts, we guarantee it'll be more fun. If it does get a little much for you after some time on the trails, though, you can always revert to plan B: switch to the official route, which is well signposted throughout the length of this ride.
Just bear in mind: A trip through the Swabian Alb is always challenging. Constant ups and downs are typical for this low mountain range, so you'll need to be physically prepared. Your effort will be handsomely rewarded, however, as glorious views over the Albvorland are always a given. Thanks to the "Albtrauf", a unique sort of cliff-edge that skirts along the side of these routes, you'll always have a great view over the landscape.
If you want to start the rides in stages, a little planning is important. Book your accommodation in advance at each destination and make sure you have enough clothing, food and spare parts. In order to minimize your luggage, you can also send small "sweeping packages" with clothes to change in advance to wherever you'll be staying when you need them. This requires some effort, but those who have already had the pleasure of wearing fresh clothes after several days on the bike know that this is guaranteed to pay off. The best way to and from your arrival and departure point is by train. Both Aalen and Tuttlingen are well connected to the rail network.