One of the places that I really wanted to see while in Europe was the Black Forest. I’d got it into my head it would all be dense woods full of wolves and fairy tales, so I set out from Strasbourg slightly out of my way to see if it would fulfill my expectations.
Sadly the first few hours of my visit were marred by rain, lots of rain which made taking photos hard, still here’s a castle on a hill in Gegenbach:
It wasn’t long before it became apparent there weren’t going to be any wolves and if I wanted dense forests I was going to have to go off road, difficult at the best of times with the weight of my bike and impossible in rain. Instead there were picture perfect German houses and pretty little orchards, all very rustic and quaint.
Then it became clear I would be needing to add the Black Forest to my list of places that weren’t as flat as expected… I’d heard that there were some nice waterfalls at a place called Triberg and had planned on visiting them. Unfortunately I didn’t have a map for the forest so was relying on my phone and the extensive signing of cycle paths there; which meant I reached Triberg without getting lost but had to ascend to 700m for the privilege. It turned out the waterfalls were Germany’s highest up rather than with longest drop as I expected.
Having seen the waterfalls I now had to head to the small town of Simonswald where Lotti and Reiner had kindly agreed to host me. When I’d looked earlier Simonswald had seemed very close to Triberg. It turns out I’d misjudged slightly…
To start with I got totally lost and couldn’t find the cycle path Google maps had outlined; I ended up ascending the rest of the mountain to over 1000m. This meant I got incredible views of the surrounding landscape, lots of mist shrouded woods with farmhouses nestling in them. At the same time it meant my muscles were screaming and I still didn’t really know where I was. Thankfully a lady directed me to a town from which I should be able to find my way, it was though slightly the long way round. So by the time I was confident I was heading in the right direction night had fallen, I was at the top of a mountain in the dark and still a tad worried I wasn’t going to be able to find where I was going. I thought I’d better carry on though as I was afraid my hosts might be waiting for me and I didn’t want to pitch my tent by the side of the road.
After more up and down riding I finally reached what appeared to be the top of the descent down… Up to this point I’d felt four kilometres had taken an hour… going down it felt like four kilometres took five minutes, which it probably nearly did. Going down a mountain on a bike in the dark at what was probably 40km (I couldn’t read my speedo in the dark) is not something I’ll forget in a hurry. I believe it was it was 12km down, most of which was hair pin bends. To make it even more dramatic I could see a massive storm on the horizon as lightning kept sheeting in the distance.
Luckily I managed to get down in one piece and after asking directions quite a few times found my way to Lotti and Reiner’s.
At this point, having taken three hours instead of one to arrive, I was worried they’d either be in bed or not where I thought. Thankfully this wasn’t the case and despite my late arrival they made sure I was well looked after with a delicious home cooked meal and a comfy mattress.
The next day they were kind enough to provide me with a breakfast that would make sure I’d have enough energy for the day and also to ride with me the 30km to Freiburg to make sure I got off OK, which was very useful as if have taken ages finding my way.
So far I’ve been incredibly lucky with the kind people I’ve met!
Having left Freiburg I rode south with the Rhine towards Basel passing some nice German vineyards.
And deciding not to head back to France
I stopped in Lorrach.