July 25, 2013
It was a beautiful morning. Unfortunately it was 11:00 before I realized just how beautiful it was, and that tomorrow would be miserably hot again. “I should go for a ride!” I finally told myself. Half an hour later I finally got my stuff together and left Basel behind. Today I would make a foray into the Black Forest!
Rötteln Castle in Lörrach
I decided that the town of Titisee was far enough, and had a tasty little squiggle on the map between here and there. I made my way across the Rhine and up to the town of Schopfheim before things got more interesting. I had set the GPS for “fastest route” which looked to be right along the same road the entire way. But I had a slow truck in front me and an impatient van behind me. After watching the van come up fast on me one too many times, I took the next turn off. The GPS did a quick recalculation and I settled in for the ride.
Looking south towards the Rhine and Switzerland
Another rider taking a break
The road bounced between fertile, rolling farmland and steeply wooded ravines. The pavement was generally smooth but I confess to lolly-gagging, and just puttering around the corners as the next vista swept into view. I waved a motorcyclist by me; he was obviously intent on the road more so than the scenery.
Usually I was ok with taking pictures as I rode, but occasionally I really wanted to stop for a better shot, but there was no where to stop. Therefore you’re stuck with a peek-a-boo view of some houses just outside the town of Todtmoos.
I crossed many ridges and low passes today, each one with refreshingly cool air and tantalizing smells: pine, hay, fresh rain or flowers. The roads I was on followed a pattern: ride through the forest, come to open farmland (possibly a village), climb a ridge through more trees, break over the top of the ridge and have stellar views of the landscape to come. Which was just as fine as what I had just ridden through.
Town of Bernau im Schwarzwald
One thing that is very different between Switzerland and Germany is the addition of solar panels to German roofs. While Germany has embraced this low-impact source of energy, Switzerland has been slow to the change, citing that it wants to preserve the look and feel of existing towns. While I appreciate Switzerland’s dedication to its heritage, I applaud Germany’s progression.
Enough of the villages – back to the farmland!
I eventually joined up with the main road to Titisee and the traffic that flowed along it. It was not a place that encouraged passing, so I sat in my place and waited for the ride to end. I was looking forward to parking the bike in the small resort town, wandering down to the lakeside and enjoying something cold to drink before heading home.
In the spring of 2011 Dan and I had made an unrelated trip to Freiburg (DE) and I had a day to myself. I took advantage of the time (but not the weather – it was a dreary spring day) and took the train to Titisee. It was well before the summer crowds would show up and I enjoyed the almost empty town. Not so today! Because I’d arrived by train previously I hadn’t realized how convoluted the roads were and I essentially rode through the town before I realized what had happened, and there was no way back short of doing a giant loop back out on the motorway. I took refuge in a nearby parking lot and walked into the town. I was still a couple of blocks from the shore when I gave up. There were too many people and the sun too hot. I sat down in some shade and had some snacks and water before going back to the bike.
On the train ride of 2011 I had seen the tortured roadway that ran between Titisee and Freiburg. I was curious to see it from the pavement instead of railcar and asked the GPS to route me home that way. The traffic out of Titisee was bad but there was no where safe to pass.
Eventually the road opened up and included a passing lane, letting me by the campers and trailering vehicles in front of me. The road was so steep and turns so sharp that in one instance, it actually folded back and under itself.
The road compresses at the Wutach Gorge, an incredibly narrow rift in the mountains that the Wutach River races through. The road had been hacked into the cliffs, while the rail lines simply cut through the rock via a tunnel. Over it all stood a life-size bronze statue of an elk. I had caught only the slightest glimpse of it in 2011, and even this time it snuck up on me.
At the bottom of the gorge the landscape opened up into wide farmlands and fields of corn. I was pleased to see the tassels on the corn – almost time for local harvests! And then I re-routed the GPS to put me back into the mountains.
I’ve never seen one of these before (photo below) and can only guess at its use. To expand upon the photo: there’s a metal cistern of sorts at the top of the hill, the tower looked to be at least 150 years old, and at the base of the tower there was a narrow stone-lined channel leading away. I’m guessing that it was a type of vertical mill, where the water was dropped straight down in order to provide the head needed to power some sort of machinery. If anyone has actual knowledge, please let me know!
Shortly after here I was ready to just get home. My seat wasn’t comfortable and I’m having trouble with my Shoei helmet. I would be happy to get off the bike for today. I set the GPS to take me directly home but in the meantime, I was content with the continued fantastic roads.
Something that I’ve noticed in Germany, Switzerland and France is how they treat their utility towers. I really don’t know what they keep inside of them, but they’re always tastefully done and blend well into the landscape.
A mannequin inviting riders to stop for their “Biker Menu”
Almost two dozen storks landed in this field as I approached.
It was a good day, but I know that I’ve touched on just the tip of the Black Forest iceberg.