Aug 11

Lost a day due to rain. Today I felt a little less intimidated by the heights I had to climb in the Black Forest and a little more prepared. I suppose it isn’t rocket science to take such basic supplies as water with you, but you have to remember that I am used to a short, 40 minute training run along the flat bike paths of the Hardtwald near Karlsruhe. Things often turn out differently to what you expect, and I certainly had been planning just to ride along the valleys of the Kinzig, where the bike paths are wide and flat. What I ended up doing was heading straight into the hills. Heh. So much for the conscious mind controlling things, right?

I forgot to mention in my last post that I start out early in the morning, around 6 AM, when the air is fresh and the sun low in the sky. It is pleasantly cool – perfect for the sweat and strain about to beset me.

Picture 5

My goal today was a point on one of the high Schwarzwald roads at around 700 meters called Hönhäuser. That equates to a climb of around 500 meters and a total journey of around 24km. This time a had my camera with me. I’m glad I did, because the early morning shadows produced some beautiful photo opportunities.

The path I took up from the Kinzig valley

The path I took up from the Kinzig valley

There’s a funny thing about maps. The little green lines joining places together look like they’re easy to ride along. When you actually get to them and find yourself looking more up than straight ahead, you realize what lies ahead. So once I’d turned off the main road and started following a little stream called the Harmersbächle, it was more or less the lowest gear on my bike and a considerable amount of huffing and puffing. But I wasn’t going to give up. It was the top or drop for me. I’m told that alcoholics anonymous use a technique we’re the addict says to himself things like, “Just make it to lunch, then you can have a drop to drink”. Once lunch time comes he says, “OK, now why not wait until your favourite TV show tonight, then have your drink”. And so on, moving the goal bit by bit forward, rather than setting too large a task to begin with. When roads persist in traveling upward without respite, a similar technique is the only way for a sad soul such as me to ever make it to the top.

Halfway up the path I hear a rumbling noise behind me. It fades, then returns, gradually getting louder. Quite clearly it is a tractor, and it seems to be coming my way. As there is not much room either side of the road, I look behind nervously, trying to plan the best place to stop and let it past. It is a high price to pay, as every little bit of forward momentum has been preciously earned. Finally it turns a corner and appears below me. I stop and watch it approach. In it is sitting an old farmer. As he reaches me he stops and pushes open the door. In the thickest of accents he asks, “Well you must be pretty crazy. Where the hell have you come from?”.  I explain to him that I have come up from the camping grounds at Steinach, but can’t really think of a suitable reason as to why I’m not crazy. I look down at my biker tights, my biker gloves, feel the biker helmet on my face and decide to play it cool. “I’m trying to reach the top”, I say, “There’s a path up there with great views”. OK, maybe not so cool, but he misunderstood me anyway and gave me instead some comforting words. “Well it’s only another couple of kilometers to reach <insert unintelligible place here> and then it should be easier”. He was off collecting wood for the winter, which, in the middle of August is either a bit too conciencious, or also completely crazy.


I found a spot to sit where the early morning sun cast long warm shadows across the soft slopes at the top of the climb. It gave me time to contemplate what to do next – go back the way I came, or take the car road back down. I went for the car road and have to say I had an exhilarating, if not slightly reckless high speed ride all the way back to camp. It took a minute fraction of the time the up journey did.

I am starting to enjoy this holiday.

written by OzJeff \\ tags: ,

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