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Black Forest Biking

Last year, we were asked by some friends whether we fancied biking in the Black Forest this June and without a great deal of thought we said yes! It was nice to be asked. The plan was to make our own ways there and all stay in a hotel in Mulheim – there are several Mulheims, this one is at the South Eastern edge of the Black Forest. What we didn’t know: The Black Forest is VAST! We managed to see remarkably little of it in a week. And it is quite far away, it took us 2 long days to get there and 2 long days to get back. We did 1500 + miles. What we had heard: The roads are amazing – yes, they are. What we already knew: Germany is biker heaven. It is a very bike friendly place with huge areas of fantastic roads for biking. The Harz Mountains (where we have also been) The Bavarian Forest, the Black Forest, etc etc. What we didn’t expect: It was extremely hot! In Germany in June! OK, it is pretty far South (next door to Switzerland) but we never expected 30 degrees and we weren’t really equipped for it. I had to go and buy another strappy tee shirt! Being 2 up, we have little luggage space and could not take our Kevlar jeans. We could really have done with Kevlar jeans and a fully vented jacket, but no room to carry them.

What we experienced: we got to know one particular road very well. It was our main way into the forest and boy was it steep and twisty! I mean, you do a bit of this stuff now and then, but this was a solid hour of up and down the mountains on hair pin bends and fast sweeping curves. Mike’s bike is a VFR 800, sports tourer, I am a bit perched on the back and suffice to say our friends nicknamed us Missile Micky and Rucksack Sue. I had to hang on tight – it was pretty tiring.

Then we always came out onto the famous B500, THE Black Forest route that everyone rides. This is a larger, better surfaced road, busy in places, quiet in others, lots of fast swooping bends, lots and lots of other bikers! You spend a lot of time waving! What we saw: We had a day of cuckoo clocks and waterfalls (Triberg area) and a day of chair lifts/cable cars and tracked toboggoning, which was great fun. We visited two lakes. We went to a steam railway which was closed. We had a ‘day off’ for shopping on the feast of Corpus Christi, when everything was closed! We ate a lot of cake. We spent a lot of time sitting in a bar in the town square, all of us on big outdoor sofas, which was very enjoyable, especially as they also did nice food. We ate a lot. We talked a lot. We laughed a lot. We like to travel just the two of us, but being with friends was great.

How we travelled there and back. We went out on the Euro tunnel train, meeting some of our friends at the terminal, because we could not get the evening sailing we wanted on the Harwich Ferry (Harwich is very convenient for us) Then we rode across to Germany in a day on motorways (not payage) and did 5 countries in one day – UK, France, Belgium, Luxembourg (terrible traffic past Luxembourg, we and about 20 German bikers filtered for miles) and finally Germany. Stayed in a hotel, then travelled on more motorways to Mulheim. 2 long days. We came back a different route with a different party of friends, the party having split to come home. This time we were heading to Harwich via Holland. We did a day on A roads which was very, very long. No services on A roads! At one point we stopped at a ferry crossing point (no ferry) in the middle of nowhere, right by the Rhine. I shared what little food we had in our top box (a couple of cheese rolls, water, crisps and some biscuits) with one of the other couples, we all went wee in the bushes, I skimmed stones on the Rhine and afterwards we all said that was our favourite stop of the day! Finally, after miles of riding through vineyards and village after village, we got onto an amazing road that runs along the Rhine, castle after castle wowed us, we found a nice café to stop in, and even though we were all dehydrated from the heat and tired, that bit was great and had us all vowing to come back and explore the Rhine castles. Stayed in another hotel (very nice spot by a river) and next day decided to do things differently. One of our number does not like motorways (hence the A roads on day 1) but Mike does not like trying to cover 250+ miles at a snails pace. The compromise was to do the motorways, but stick to 70 mph. 4 bikes, one leading, nervous person 3rd with us behind. The fact there are hardly any lorries on Sundays on the continent helped us to stick together. We stopped every 50 miles. Every time the nervous motorway rider wanted to pull out, we pulled out first behind him and then he came out into the space we’d created. Result – a relaxed days riding we all enjoyed! Even though it was 30 degrees. Finally we stopped at a favourite Pancake house half an hour from Hook of Holland and had a leisurely pancake stop before carrying on to catch the ferry. And then home. What we think about going again: To ‘See’ the Black Forest you ideally need to tour it, not stay in one place. But we have updated our ‘bike packing’ list to include more items and different items ‘if weather forecast good’….. so I guess we think we’d do it again!