Black Forest & Vosges Motorcycle Tour - June 2018
We are all very excited at British Bike Tours - the start of our Black Forest and Vosges motorcycle tour. Great digs in Folkestone, close to the town where we found a lovely Turkish restaurant - we even had genuine Turkish beer which went down very well. A full breakfast is provided and then off to meet the other riders at the European tunnel entrance.
The tunnel is a great way to quickly get across to the continent but some of their staff really need to improve their customer care. We are soon in France and on our way. After the extremely busy roads of South East UK it really is a pleasure to ride on the relatively empty roads of France. The car drivers also seem to be alot more biker aware and courteous.
We are soon onto national roads and making good progress. After a 30 min lunch stop in the sun we head onto twisty roads and make our way through the beautiful Ardennes. Very little traffic, no massive potholes, twisty roads, sun is shining, glorious scenery. Biking Nirvana.
We arrive at our hotel in Bastogne at 5.30pm and then it is a quick shower and freshen up for a few beers and meal in the town square.
Day 2 - Bastogne to Kaiserslautern
The problem with riding a motorcycle is that you can get wet. We awake to thunderstorms and a heavy downpour. Due to this we put back our start time by 30 minutes and donned our wet weather gear. The problem is that although it is raining, it is also 20 degrees - the choice is to be wet on outside or wet on the inside!!
We head out into Luxembourg, the rain is now a fine drizzle, the roads are great apart from the one covered in diesel. Certainly makes you concentrate but never an enjoyable experience. The inclement weather overnight has created flash floods and some of the rivers have burst their banks. Due to this we have to divert from the original route. A new route around the flood is soon mapped out with the help of some very friendly locals and a coffee. We are on our way to the Nurburgring. There is actually a major event on at the ring so we carry on past the main entrance and onto the outskirts of Koblenz.
In the afternoon, the rain has gone and the sun is out as we ride the beautiful road along the Mosel River. Beautiful historic villages, castles and vineyards - a chilled out ride with a couple of stops for cake and coffee. It is hard to beat an afternoon such as this.
In the evening, we get a taxi from our 4 star hotel into Kaiserslautern for delicious steak and beer.
Day 3 - Kaiserslautern to Mulhouse
A very respectable 9.15am start on this lovely warm morning. Straight out of Kaiserlautern and within 5 minutes we are into the "Palatinate Forest" which is one the largest forests in Europe. It is vast. We ride a mixture of roads, some fast sweeping roads and then some small single track roads which take us deep into the forest. It is a great mornings ride with perfect weather and topped off with coffee and cake at a superb German cafe.
Our route will take us to Baden Baden and the start of the famous B500. This 40 mile stretch of road is one of the oldest and most famous German Roads. It features a great surface, many turns including some hairpins and beautiful scenery. It is tempting to blast the whole 40 miles in one go but to be honest this is missing the point. It is well worthwhile taking some time to stop and admire the surrounding countryside. I find that a chilled approach is the most enjoyable way of riding this iconic road.
Time for a late lunch in the beautiful town of Wolfach. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes to choose from.
By this time it is boiling hot. Luckily we are heading for the slightly cooler air of the mountains as we head towards Feldberg. At 4898ft the Feldberg is the highest mountain in Germany outside of the Alps. It is also the biggest German winter ski resort outside of the German alps.
We have to change our route again due to a "Umleitung" - diversion to you and I. These are notorious in Germany - luckily we soon plot an alternative route and make our way across the Rhine and into France and a lovely evening in the centre of Mulhouse.
Day 4 - Mulhouse to Epernay
The weather is being very kind to us as we depart from Mulhouse up to the Grand Ballon in the Vosges mountains. The road up from Cernay to the summit is one of my favourite roads, twisty, challenging, not too wide, not too narrow - just perfect.
We are then onto the "Route des Cretes". This ridge originally formed the boundary between Germany and France. At the time of the First World War the French created a military road and the "Routes des Cretes" was formed. It is a great motorcycling road and very popular. The best thing about it is everyone seems to be having great fun, including the Gendarmes on their motorcycles, the group of guys on their 2 stroke mobylettes (with no brakes!!), cyclists, hikers, para-gliders, etc. It is a real mecca for outdoor pursuits.
We stop for coffee at the very popular Col de la Schlucht. A great spot for exotic bike and car spotting.
From the Col de la Schlucht there is a quick downhill section to the Ski resort of Gerardmer. Once out of the town the roads change to fast National roads with long sweeping bends. A big change from the tight twisty mountain roads of the morning but good fun nevertheless. It is a lovely day as we drive into Epernay - a quick shower and then a lovely walk down the Avenue de Champagne, home of Moet & Chandon, Pol Roger, De Castellane to name just a few Champagne houses.
Day 5 - Epernay to Calais
It would be so easy to jump on our bikes, hit the motorway and rush back to Calais. However, this would be really missing the point. The ride through the vineyards of the Champagne region is not to be missed. It really makes for a great mornings ride with plenty to see and excellent roads. It is a great way to finish what has been an awesome tour with great folk - it has been a reall blast and I can't wait to do it again in September 2018.