Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Black Forest Passes

I'm currently spending some time with my parents in the southwest of Germany. Yesterday my mum had a doctor's appointment in Bad Krozingen, giving me a couple hours to go riding in the Black Forest. On a tourist website I had found a suggestion for a "Black Forest Pass Tour," crossing over three ridges. The route was rated as difficult and also was a bit too long for me to make it back in time. Fortunately there was a link that would allow to cut short the route and do only two of the three passes.

After some flat riding on the outer edges of the Rhine valley, the climbing began. I passed the former St. Ulrich's priory and made my way up the mountains on a road with good surface and surprisingly little traffic. Further up the hill I saw a sign that explained the latter fact: For motor vehicles this was a dead end; only local and non-motorized traffic was allowed to descent to Horben on the other side of the ridge.

Switchbacks and cows

It wasn't even that hot, but I was dripping with sweat

Looking back down at St. Ulrich
 Once I made it to the top, I was rewarded with a marvelous view in all directions, including a view of the Schauinsland mountain, my next destination. First, however, I got to reap the other reward for climbing: A fast descent on a narrow one-lane road.

No through traffic
 At the bottom of the descent was the base station of the aerial tram going up the Schauinsland. The sign on the road, announcing a 12% grade over 12 kilometers sounded a little scary, but it didn't feel nearly as steep. There were still signs and road stencils from the Schauinslandkönig, apparently Germany's largest mountain time trial, which had taken place just a day ago. The length of the climb—and the fact that I was wearing Birkenstocks with their flexible soles—made matters challenging.

 But the low gearing of the MTB got me all the way up, and once again I was rewarded with great views. I turned off the main road and rode a few hundred meters to the upper station of the tram, which also offered a restaurant with a terrace. Because we had had to be on the road so early in order to make it to Bad Krozingen in time, I hadn't had anything to eat yet, just a double espresso at the clinic. I also hadn't brought a water bottle, and so I was very happy to snarf down a shandy (which in Germany is known as Radler or cyclist) and a bottle of fizzy water.
Looking down towards Freiburg and the base station of the tram

You can't see it on the pick, but people were waving and cheering at me
 The temperatures up on the mountain were markedly cooler, and in my sweat-soaked state I didn't want to stay too long.
View towards the Münstertal
What followed now was a screaming descents into the Münster Valley. The road was narrow and full of sharp turns, and so I quickly got stuck behind a car. Awesomely, though, the driver soon pulled over and signaled me to pass. Thank you, unknown driver! Once in the valley, the rest of the ride was a gentle downhill all the way back to Bad Krozingen. What an awesome ride!

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