The Black Forest…
Today was fantastic, plain and simple. The riding was the best I’ve done on this trip, this year, in fact, for pretty much all the time I’ve been riding. Today had everything – warm, sunny weather, twisties, panoramic views, a big blue sky with big white puffy clouds, lush green landscape, and roads that made me weep with their perfection. Even getting stuck behind a few cars didn’t dampen my enthusiasm. Everyone needs to ride the roads in the Black Forest once in their lifetime.
I left Freibourg around 9AM this morning and headed north toward Waldkirch. From hereon started the twisties. The road was a narrow, single lane one, which climbed up steadily. There were a few uphill decreasing radius turns that caught me off-guard. Before I knew it, I was above the tree line. I wondered if my fear of heights was going to kick in, but out of nowhere, the road suddenly widened to signal my first via point – the village of Sankt Peter. A few minutes before there had been nothing but a tight winding road through the forest, now there was a big hotel with tens of motorcycles parked outside it. I stopped and took all the pictures I possibly could.
After a brief stop at the hotel, I took off again, this time towards the village of Sankt Margen. More brilliant roads, more unbelievable views – lush green meadows, cows grazing, elevation changes, gloriousness.
Southward bound now towards Odenback and Birklehof and then the B31 to TItisee-Neustadt. There were way too many tourists there for my liking, so I did a quick circle around the town square and fled. The B317 took me toward Barental and then the B500 to Schluchsee. The lake was gorgeous. I rode past it for a little bit before turning around. Once again, there were too many tourists at this resort town. I did stop for a quick meal before heading on the road though.
There were hundreds of motorcyclists out on the roads today, fully clad in leathers. The Europeans take their safety gear very seriously. I followed their example and started passing cars and lane splitting. Why oh why do cars drive so slow?! Most of them were good enough to move over for me although I did encounter a few a**holes who did their best to not let me pass.
On this ride too, there was that feeling of riding through town after ghost town. Big empty houses flanking the streets with not a soul in sight. The only times I saw people were at the bigger resort towns near the lakes.
Southward again on L146 towards Todtmoos and a little detour towards Utzenfeld. East again towards Sankt Blasein, a picturesque little village. I wished I could stay, but I didn’t. The road was a-calling! And what a road! South all the way on L154 to the Rhine. Hundreds of little twisties! The road was narrow and flanked with a cliff to the left and rock barriers to the right. Everyone needs to ride this road once before they die! I truly did shed tears at the end of it. I was this close to turning around and doing it all over again. The only thing that made me continue was the thought of wanting to get to Basel early enough during the day that I’d be able to see a bit of the town.
I had picked the last part of the route to run parallel to the Rhine and ride into the city of Basel in Switzerland. It looked like it would be pretty on the map, very like riding past the Mosel a couple of days ago. In hindsight though, this was a mistake. Even though I rode past the Rhine, the road was lined with steel mills and foundries. I guess they build the industrial towns right next to the great river.
The road also went through numerous towns with low speed limits and slow drivers. It was really hot and humid now. It was only 36km more, although it seemed longer. I rode a total of 233km (approoximately 140 miles). Did I mention that it was the most glorious riding I have done, even though I didn’t come across any trolls or gnomes in the Black Forest? :)
I finally reached Basel a little past four and checked in to the HI hostel that I had booked the previous day. The hostel was very nice although I got a bit of a sticker shock at the cost of everything, even though I had been forewarned. Wifi was 1 franc for 10 minutes or 6 francs for an hour or 15 francs for 24 hours. Laundry was 15 francs with a 24 hour turnaround, so that was out of the question. Dinner was 17 francs. I escaped into the main town in a little bit and got a doner kebab type wrap for a whopping 9.5 francs, and it wasn’t even that good. A latte at Starbucks was 5.80 francs. Given that a swiss franc is equivalent to a US dollar, this was all stupid expensive.
I wonder if it is possible to not eat or drink at all for my remaining 3 days in Switzerland.
I roamed the town of Basel for a little while until finally turning around to the find the hostel again. I was rewarded with probably one of the most spectacular visions of this journey – the Rhine at night, calm and clear, glittering with a thousand lights.