Dolina Suchej Wody
Dolina Suchej Wody, the "Valley of dry waters", after the identically named stream (and well-named; the water goes underground in some sections with limestone ground), is perhaps the hardest valley to cycle in the whole Tatras, Polish and Slovak.
This valley lies in the part of the Polish High Tatras. Only 6km of cycleable part, but a lot of time is required.
The end of this valley is the "Dolina Gąsienicowa", a wide glaciar valley in which many mountain lakes are lying. But this upper part of the mountains is for hiking only.
In the end of Dolina Suchej Wody is located the famous mountain-hut Murowaniec, in whose storage local it is possible to leave the bike. Dolina Suchej Wody by bike is in fact an excellent way to make a one-day trip to the highest tops of the area without spending a too long time in the approach.. in the only condition to have the required physical condition !
The first meters of this trail give a sympathic impression, but soon it turns into a nightmare. The flat track gives place to a track cobbled with horribly big round granit stones (probably taken from the nearby stream when it was built); very prominent, and very uncomforable, to cycle.
The whole track requires good technical skills in order to keep the balance and cycling straight, without stepping down.
And just like it if wasn't enough, one of the steepest parts of the whole trail is right here....
If you started cycling with a polar jacket and long lycra trousers, you can remove them. For your information, there is 500m of elevation difference over 6km, on this type of ground.
If you already feel like making a break, don't. The most stops you will make, the hardest it will be to start again properly, and maintain the balance on the bike.
The only generous section is located half-way, a bit after the juntion with a red-marked trail (an identically cobbled track leading to Rusinowa Polana, but forbidden to cyclers). For about 1km the trail goes horizontally, and the cobbles disappear. But the break is short.
The slope gets steep again, and you pass a campsite surprisingly located here, "Rąbaniska w Dolinie Suchej Wody", which is in fact a base for rock-climbers affiliated to the Polish Mountaineering Club (PZA). If you are member of any UIAA affiliated club you can sleep here, but if you ride this trail you are probably no carrying a tent on the bike..
Later is another of the worse sections of the trail, when it describes a "S" bend, with the most inclinated slope, of the whole trail. Keep going... Not long after the track is flattening a bit, before the final assault to the destination, the hut Murowaniec.
The last meters are really hard, but you are well rewarded. The fresh air of the high altitude (we're 1500), and the smell of mountain pines will penetrate the deepest of your body, and you will feel like a new man !
This hut offers all facilities (restaurant, snack bar, showers, etc). The storage local costs 2zl for 5 hours; let's say that for a standard hike to a nearby summit you are likely to pay 3zl (1€), more than reasonnable.
When I did it, I was loaded with side pockets containing my hiking shoes. It took me about one hour and half to achieve this ascent by bike.
The way down is not much quicker. Unless you have a suspended bike, which will certainly make the way down more comfortable, you can be sure that a good hour will be required to deal with all the irregularities of the terrain. From time to time, flat sections located aside of the cobbles make it easier, but never for very long.
Back to the car park, you will feel all your bones shacking and you will count your teeth just in case :) The human body is not the only one to be sollicited. After my own descent, one of my pedal bearings was done (all balls had gone), and one radius of the front wheel went also missing without I noticed it...
As a conclusion, to counteract a bit the scary description of this trails, here are few views of the Gąsienicowa valley which you can admire in the end. Some old barns are located around there, and make a fine sightseeing if you don't feel climbing a mountain after that.
Some of the most famous tops located in this valley are (SP links) :
Świnica, Kozi Wierch, Granaty, Kościelec, the Orla Perć via-ferrata, Kasprowy Wierch...
You can either try to reach first Zakopane (from the city of Cracow, airport), or avoid it (frequent traffic jams during week ends and holidays).
In this case, from Nowy Tag, take the direction of Nowy Sacz and then Bukowina Tatrzanska, and Cyrhla:
Agrandir le plan
Near the juction with the road to Murzasicle, some 200m east, in the middle of a lnog straight line in the forest, is discretely located the beginning of a cobbled land-rover trail, marked with black hiking signs.
The entrance of the National Park costs some 10zl but no one is there before 7am (a good time to start if you plan a hike together...)
The place is a bit unpractical to park a car with no space on the sides of the main road, but you can park in the nearby village of Cyrhla, for example on the wide space in front of the village's Cars garage, on the main road.
When to BikeSpring, Summer, Autumn.
Not Winter ! :)
In the Spring, you will enjoy the views to the snowy tops while the lower parts of the mountains are green. The ideal moment is end of May. It can be still quiet cold in the mornings and evenings.
Make sure the snow has completely disappeared in the valley in late spring.
In the summer, you will find tourists on the trail, especially on the way down, some of them with children, sometimes in the middle of the way. Be very careful.
The Autumn is perhaps the best season, with stable weather, colours turning red-yellow, perhaps some sign of snows on the tops, and again less people. The ideal moment is end of September to mid-october.
Cycle preferably at least 2 or 3 days after rainy weather, in order not to dirty you too much in the mud in parts located on cycling tracks.