Oooo it’s an early start – 4 o’clock! That literally is the middle of the night! I was awake before the alarm went off though, excited to be going away on the bike. There were five of us heading to Germany for 8 days including an overnight stay in France on the way down and again on the way back.
We met at a lay by just off the M25 at stupid o’clock in the morning and headed towards the tunnel. I know we started off on the M25 and, if I recall, we came off there at some point and joined another motorway, they pretty much all look the same. It’s not much fun riding on a motorway and we normally avoid them if we can but when you have miles to munch and a train to catch, needs must.
Having made good time, we stopped at a petrol station about five miles from the tunnel to fill our tanks up so we could get a few miles under our belts in France before having to stop and fill up. We also managed a quick coffee and headed for the tunnel. Having checked in and gone through passport control, we queued in readiness to get on the train.
Now for those of you who have gone on the tunnel before, for me anyway, it is always a touch and go moment actually riding onto the train as you have to ride at an angle onto the train and it is, I’m guessing, aluminium and therefore slippery. I am always fearful that I am going to make a complete ass of myself and come off the bike. Phew! This time I made it on okay and kept my dignity.
Once we got off the other side we headed towards Verdun which was where our overnight stop was. Now we normally have our fuel stops when the person with the smallest tank needs filling up.
Stephen’s bike can go a maximum of 120 miles but to err on the side of caution he likes to fill up around 100 miles just in case there’s no petrol stations for a few miles. We find when touring that this works really well because after 100 miles your bottom is definitely in need of a pit stop.
We’re not in any particular rush to get to where we’re going so a nice steady ride with plenty of coffee (and pee) stops is perfect.
We made good time and arrived at our hotel in Verdun about 4 ‘ish which allowed us time to shower and have a bit of R&R before heading off for a walk to find somewhere for dinner. Verdun is a lovely village, very picturesque. We stumbled across a lovely little restaurant with a seating area out the back in a lovely garden. Perfect.
My French, it would appear, definitely needs working on as I asked what was in the vegetarian lasagne (they didn’t have the meat version) and I thought I understood what the lady said. It would seem I did not. I should explain at this point that I cannot eat fish. Any type. Fish doesn’t like me. Well you can guess, the vegetarian lasagne arrived and it had salmon in it. Salmon! Who puts any type of fish in a vegetarian lasagne. Needless to say I could not eat it and ordered a pizza which seemed the safest option. John, on the other hand, was quite pleased as he ended up with two dinners!
After a hearty brekkie the following morning, we set off heading for Triberg in the Black Forest where we had rented an apartment for a week. Now the scenery in France is lovely (from what you can see of it whilst riding and concentrating on the road ahead) but when we crossed the Rhine into Germany, the scenery changed completely and was really beautiful.
The style of the houses were different and most of them were impeccably kept – very neat outside and nicely painted and there were lots of little religious shrines along the roads which I couldn’t remember seeing any of in France.
After several pit stops and a very long lunch, we arrived in Triberg late afternoon and stopped at a supermarket for supplies and most importantly, dinner and beer for that evening. We followed the sat nav to our apartment which was, literally, half way up a mountain in the middle of nowhere. We followed a long winding road higher and higher, turned off onto a dirt track and arrived at our apartment. Wow! The views were stunning and it was so quiet and peaceful. We were greeted by the owner and shown to our apartment. R&R followed by showers followed by beer. Ahhh perfect.
After chilling for a while, we went outside and got the BBQ going, lit the fire pit and settled in for an evening of eating and a few beers. Perfect end to a long day of riding.
The following morning was relaxed with a leisurely breakfast and a chat about where and what we fancied doing that day and ideas of what we fancied doing over the few days that we were there. We don’t tend to plan too much beforehand as it very much depends on the weather but we check out on the internet before we go places to visit etc. so we have a general idea and options for both wet weather and riding weather.
I know everyone has their own ideas of what they want to do on their holidays and how much riding they consider as ‘doable’ and luckily we are a like minded bunch and it works really well. When you find great mates that you can go on holiday with, it’s brilliant.
It is, at the end of the day, supposed to be a holiday and we don’t want to be covering hundreds of miles each day and getting back to the apartment knackered. We like to ride somewhere, have a walk around and a coffee, ride somewhere, have a walk around and lunch, ride somewhere, have a walk around coffee – you can see where I’m going with this. If there is anywhere specific one of us wants to go, then we go. For us as a group, it’s perfect.
We didn’t get out ‘til late morning the first day so we headed to Freiburg, which was only about 60km away to find somewhere for lunch. After lunch and a walk around we headed off for a ride, nowhere in particular, we came off the B294 and onto the B33 to see where we ended up.
As it turned out the B33 was a brilliant road with lovely sweeping bends and a pretty much near perfect road surface which ended up in this little village called Elzach which had an amazing ice cream/coffee shop. I wondered if we would be able to come via this place every day. I had a feeling my leathers were going to be a lot tighter on me by the time I went home after this holiday!
We stopped at the supermarket on our way back for dinner and beer and set about the BBQ upon our return. Sitting round the fire pit late into the evening eating, drinking and chatting was fast becoming a favourite way to end the day for me.
The following day we headed to Lake Constance, some 120km away. Wow, what a beautiful place. We found a cafe overlooking the lake and watched the world go by for a while. A steam train pulled into the nearby station and a couple of the guys went off to have a look at it more closely. I, meanwhile, considered my view from the cafe perfectly adequate and ordered another coffee.
Back on the bikes, we followed the road around the lake and stopped at Hagnau am Bodensee where John decided he would go for a swim in the lake. He had come prepared with a towel and budgie smugglers! I was quite content with just removing my jacket and sitting on the bank watching. Certainly no wet feet (or anything else) for me.
In Part 2 next week follow the rest of the trip where we visited Triberg Falls, Rodelbahn toboggan run and found a Harley Davidson engine being used as
beer pump in a bar ……….