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near Hilgen, Nordrhein-Westfalen (Deutschland)
This beautiful cycling trip through the Bergisches Land with its rolling hills, rivers, reservoirs, and traditional Berg houses takes you on three ‘Bahntrassenradwege’ (cycling paths on former railway tracks), but also takes you through the hills in the region, and to two reservoirs (Große Dhünntalsperre and Brucher Talsperre). The entire track is paved with asphalt, and suited for the road bike. See the excellent website http://www.bahntrassenradeln.de/ for a lot more information on cycling on Bahntrassen.
The trip starts in Hilgen near the A1 motorway, near the old train station. You first descend to the Eifgenbach and then climb to Dabringhausen. From here you cycle to the Große Dhünntalsperre to get a view of the reservoir. I initially planned to continue cycling on a minor road along the reservoir, but for road bikes there is no way through (for tour bikes there is an unpaved track). After having a look at the reservoir dam, you go back and then cycle all around the reservoir (without actually seeing the lake) to where the Große Dhünn flows into the Vorsperre Große Dhünn, although the lake here is more of a wooded wetland. You climb from the reservoir to the B506 where you have an excellent panorama and then descend to Kürten on a beautiful minor road and then follow a larger road through the valley of the Kürtener Sülz. At the end you climb the K29 and then descend to the valley of the Lindlarer Sülz where you enter the Sülz Bahntrasse, a 5 kilometer asphalt cycling path which takes you across a railway bridge and then climbs to Lindlar. From here you continue climbing on the K21 and then descend towards Frielingsdorf. You climb another hill on a small road and then descend through the woods to the Leppe valley. You follow the Leppe to Kotthausen and then climb to the B256, and then cycle on busy roads to a small road which takes you past the Brucher Talsperre, and on to the Wipper valley. You descend to Marienheide and then enter the Wasserquintet Bahntrasse which you follow for 25 km to the Panorama-radweg Balkantrasse. On the way you pass through the town of Wipperfürth and Hückeswagen. The Wasserquintet cycle path follows the Wipper valley which turns into the Wupper valley at Wipperfürth, and then climbs away from the valley where the Wuppertalsperre starts. At one point, a railway bridge is missing and you have to descend and climb an 18% grade to get back to the former railway track. After arriving at the Balkantrasse, you descend for 10 km all the way to the starting point, and only leave the railway track in Wermelskirchen.
You can find something to eat and drink in on the Brucher Talsperre, and in e.g. Frielingsdorf, Wipperfürth, and Wermelskirchen. The Bahntrassen are quite flat (with the 18% gap where a bridge is missing as an exception). On the stretch to the Brucher Talsperre, you will do a bit more climbing, although nothing too strenuous.
The Bahntrassen are known for their gradual ascent and descent, but here a railway bridge is missing and the cycle path descends to the road and then ascends steeply (18%). There is an alternative route with 8% grade, but that is not necessary on your road bike...
Reservoir with water-sports opportunities.
Here a climb starts out of the valley of the Kürtener Sülz (a bit more than 60 m ascent).
Here you start on a small, and a bit steeper climb on a small quiet road to Dhünn-Neuenhaus.
From here the road is a dead end for road bikes. You could skip this if you do not want to see the reservoir dam.
I originally planned to cycle this road, but the gate was not indicated on the map. This is a drinking water protection area, and you cannot continue. There is an unpaved cycling path, but this is not suitable for road bikes.
Village of Frielingsdorf. You have a nice descent into the village, and when you exit the village there is a short and steep climb.
Here you enter the Panorama-Radweg Balkantrasse. For more information see the German website http://www.bahntrassenradeln.de/details/nw4_11.htm?w
Reservoir dam of the Dhünntalsperre
Here you enter the Sülz Bahntrasse. There is a railway bridge and a climb to Lindlar on this 5 km stretch. See the German website http://www.bahntrassenradeln.de/details/nw4_17a.htm?w for more information. The cycling path end in Lindlar.
You have a nice view here on the B506.
From here you have a good view of the Wuppertalsperre.
Here you enter the Wasserquintet Bahntrasse, an excellent cycling path. More information on the German website http://www.bahntrassenradeln.de/details/nw4_13.htm?w
In Wermelskirchen you leave the former railway track and cycle through the center of town. I did not follow the signs in the center: you end up seeing some of the traditional Berg houses in the center, but there is also a little climb as a result.
In Wipperfürth the Wipper changes name and becomes the Wupper. You could leave the cycle path at this point and go to the center to eat or drink something. I did this, but removed that stretch from the track.