Tuesday, 6 September 2011
It felt like a summer holiday...
"Saturday 20th August. Essentially from dawn until dusk. Basel (CH) -> Freiburg im Breisgau (D), so through the Southwestern (most hilly!) bit of the Black Forest. Offroad."
It was one of those random internet offers that occasionally appear - originally pitched as an unofficial 'race' but eventually morphing into an excuse to gather some disparate folks in a lovely location to go ride bikes [and bask in the Swiss Summer Sunshine™].
The offer came from Ash, honch of the Trans Provence and Trailfinder-in-cheif of trailaddiction who happens to stay in the area.
A busy week at work meant packing a few hours before flying out - not a great time to find out that my bike needs lots of bits unbolted so it fits in a bike bag, still it went in and managed to come out the other side in one piece.
After Dan and I made the super plush [and suitably spendy] Jugendherberge Basel St. Alban a bit less sleek by building bikes outside we wandered off to Ash's to get some info on a local ride. Heading up to one of the bridges across the Rhine we met a slightly puggled Jenn carrying her bike down the hill to the Hostel. Did I mention it was hot and sunny?
Some bread, cheese and cooling shade at Ash's was complimented by some detailed beta on a local ride which we suffered on in the afternoon sun. Dust! Oh and there were highland cows over the border in Germany, too...
After a bbq and some beers on the bonny banks of the Rhine with Dan's friend Cannondale Chris we retired early to our post modern penthouse youth hostel preparing for an early start tomorrow.
I think I may have slightly overestimated how early Dan I were likely to be in the morning but this allowed Jenn to apparently have time for two coffees before we shambled into view.
A short pedal later we mustered at the German train station, the group twelve strong: various Brits, some really quite quick locals [especially the Alpha Females], a trio of Swedes. Once some supplies for the day had been procured from market in the station we were off!
And goddam we were off at pretty much race pace... it was nice and cool and as we were following a canal for the first 10km or so out to the hills. By the time the hills had gained a bit of steepness and the sun was beginning to warm up it was around 3 hours in and I had pretty much bonked already. Riding a squidgy lump of a bike did not help... Nurse! The Gels...!
So there were trees and hills, hills and trees and there was the Zick-ZackWeg, I'm sure you can figure it out. There was also some sweet ribbons of cheeky singletrack. I'm not sure exactly what the rules are on bikes on walking trails, but there did not seem to be much love from the walkers we met - maybe the quick girls and boys at the front forgot to say hello... Either way I was happy to play the Scottish Card...
A lunchtime lull of apple tart and alcohol-free weiss bier fed us into the maw of the days big climb - a 400m grind to the top of Belchen amongst the tourist throng congregating atop the fourth highest peak in the Black Forest.
Some cheek off the top of the hill [along with a small bit of walker grump] highlighted a change in the terrain with more rocks around. There was also the incident with electric assist bike that Chris had brought along on the ride - a minor tumble snapped a control cable which he expertly re-spliced and insulated the lot with insulating tape. Good to know that MTB 2.0 can be trail bodged.
Ash was kind to us and allowed a contouring option for the next 20km to the next peak, instead of a 450m descent and 700m climb... That really would have hurt, and the Alpha Females would have become even more twitchy about missing their train home.
Schauinsland topped out with 35m of bonus climbing up the impressive Eugen-Keidel observation tower. A lattice structure with 3 massive single tree trunk verticals.
Time to head down, to get the train, but first 10km and about 750m of descent on fast swoopy trails. Hero dirt for heros. Obviously people were having too much fun as the puncture fairy unleashed merry hell on the group.
I think there were six in total in the space of a few km. I may have had two.
I may also have forgotten to bring spare tubes. Umm... Thanks Dave360 and Jenn for the bailouts... Oh, the Puncture shame.
Still it was a nice day to be out.
Train back to Basel, beer, kebab, river - continue until dark.
Most excellent... thanks to all concerned.