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Belinda's Black Forest Raid: part 2


We stayed at the outstanding Bierhaeusle (trans: Little Beer House) run by Karl Schweier and his family: It's been in the same family ownership since 1842 and is situated on the north-eastern outskirts of Freiburg, close to the centre by tram, and two minutes to open countryside. Karl is a very keen cyclist and provides a secure cycle garage equipped with a small workshop, and can also provide cycling-specific meals - the breakfasts alone are fantastic. Although Freiburg and its surrounding area has a well-developed network of cycling paths - Germany likes to keeps its cyclists and motorized traffic separate wherever possible, and where it's not possible, cyclists are usually given right of way - you can go astray without a map. Karl kindly provided a Garmin for us to use. As he grew up in Freiburg, and knows the area like the back of his hand, he was more than happy to suggest and design routes to suit our day to day requirements which we followed using the Garmin. He manages to get out on his bike most days, even for a short spin, and is doing the Trans-Alp Challenge again next year, so he's a pretty mean cyclist himself.

There are numerous cycling possibilities which can be divided into three main types of ride: flat in the Rhine valley and the outskirts of Freiburg; undulating in the vineyards, with some Surrey Hills-type steep climbs; and the mountains, in the Hochschwarzwald, the highest of which is 1400m. We started with a rather adventurous 90km route through the Kaiserstuhl which seemed to take us through every vineyard in the area. Not to be underestimated, you can climb pretty high and be rewarded with spectacular views over the whole area. On that day we stopped off for lunch in Burkheim, a pretty, cobbled village with several good restaurants. The first climb of the day was the Texas Pass - nothing to do with Lance Armstrong - but a cheeky 13% in places.

Black Forest Traffic

One of the most spectacular routes took us through meadows and a practically car-free climb to the Geiersnest (Vulture's Nest - wonder how it got its name?) and then a descent onto the 12km climb of Schauinsland (1284m), with a steep 12% section at the bottom. This is THE hill-climb route for the local cycling clubs and there is an annual King and Queen of Schauinsland if you fancy entering into the spirit of things. Jan Ullrich, formerly a local boy of Merdingen, just outside Freiburg, used the Black Forest for his training rides and has written a book detailing 20 routes in and around the area but there are an almost infinite number of other routes to explore. We managed 6 days of cycling before moving onto the Swiss Alps.

We had a three hour drive from Freiburg to Meiringen in the canton of Bern in Switzerland. The town is famous for the Reichenbach Falls, a spectacular waterfall that was the setting for the fictional presumed death of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's character Sherlock Holmes in his fight with Prof. Moriarty. The town also claims to have invented meringue. It's also very close to numerous classic climbs.

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