Monday, 28 July 2008

Sunday 20th July - Karlsruhe to Offenburg

The black forest is hilly and gorgeous; just the antidote to the boredom of the last couple of days of Rhineside cycling. I started off today in the suburb of Durlach on the outskirts of Karlsruhe, where I had spent the night in a 'proper' and over-priced campsite. I bought a map of the region with the intention of dipping into the Schwarzwald rather than just skirting it. It was thoroughly worthwhile, seeing Bad Rotenfels (where a couple stopped to admire my bike and invited me to pick some fresh vegetables from their garden) and Gernsbach en route. The landscape is quite breathtaking, but then I tried to follow the 'Euroman' bicycle route out from Gernsbach, which quickly turned into a rocky unpaved footpath and was such steep-going that I had to get off and push the bike for a while, breaking a serious sweat. When I got to the top I felt like I had never been so happy to see a road in my life and rode the way down to Baden Baden drenched, although happy to have broken my first proper sweat since I left London.
Entering the Black Forest
When I came to Baden Baden, I was surprised to find that it reminded me of Brighton, of all places! It had a large array of the same Regency style houses that pop up in spa towns all over the UK, along with the odd pretentious stab at recreating some classical or oriental masterpiece. Also, half the town seems to be given over to green space, providing a welcome respite for a half hour kip. I didn't stick around very long (although long enough to be comlimented on my bike again and be given directions by another off-duty cyclist. He told me that Offenburg was still 60 kms away and, having already clocked 75 through a load of hills, I wasn't too optimistic about making it. However, it was a nice route through fruit orchards (with delicious plums) and with the ever forbidding hills of the Schwarzwald to my left.
In the end I made it to a good little pizzeria and ate about half my body weight, before finding an amazing hidden bit of woodland next to a lake and camping out, having a glorious late evening swim. It is quite lightly populated around here, so I am hoping this will become a more regular feature of the trip.
Free camping doesn't get much better than this...

Av. 17.5 kph. Max. 47.4 kph, Dist. 139.18 kms, Time 7.54.41

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