How do you scratch a big bikepacking itch in a year where travelling is a huge issue? I found myself looking at maps for the best places to go but with the Corona virus still at large, I didn’t want to travel too far. Soon my eyes were opened to places I had previously overlooked. Instead of traveling to Spain or the Alps, or taking a plane to a distant place, I decided I was going to visit the Black Forest, just a short drive from where I am based in the Netherlands, with my good friend Bas a.k.a. mr. Detour Studio.
We rode the finest gravel climbs and descents and slept in some amazingly beautiful spots and shelters for the night, called "Schutzhütten".
During the trip we rode our drop bar gravel bikes with 45mm tires, which was perfect for the great gravel you'll find all around the Black Forest.
To make riding easy we went for a lightweight travel set-up, leaving our tents at home abd only bringing lightweight down sleeping bags, bivvy bags and mats – perfect for our bikepacking bags and for sleeping in shelters.
After reaching the south of the Black Forest we chose to cross the Rhine Valley via Basel to the French Alsace, at the foot of the Vosges Mountains.
Here we rode the beautiful Route du Vin (Wine route) north, riding as much gravel as we could. Believe me... vineyard gravel roads are the absolute best.
'Party pace wins the race' was our motto for this trip, and not every day brought us loads of kilometers. It did however bring us a great 11 days worth of adventure and beautiful scenery... now shared with you in this bikepacking Collection.
Day 1 of our off-road bikepacking trip brought us from the start in Durbach at the edge of the Black Forest, into the heart of the Black Forest. Most roads consisted of great gravel roads. We ended up sleeping in a 'Schutzhütte', an open shelter, near the village of Haslach.
Day 2 of our bikepacking trip was a short day full of beautiful gravel roads. A nice chilled glass of Coca-Cola halfway brought some great relief from the heat. Eventually, we ended up sleeping in a beautiful shelter called the 'Offenbacher Eckle Hütte', which had a kind of Scandinavian vibe to it.
The beers and schnitzel at restaurant 'Schöne Aussicht' a couple of kms further up the climb were a great addition to the already perfect shelter for the night.
Get recommendations on the best single tracks, peaks, & plenty of other exciting outdoor places.
Day 3 of our bikepacking trip brought us from the peaks near the restaurant 'Schöne Aussicht' in central Black Forest, to the eastern borders of the Black Forest and eventually – after not finding a suitable shelter for the night and rain coming in – a hotel in the village of Villingen-Schwenningen. Along the way we stopped for a short lunch in the touristic town of Triberg, shortly after we encountered one of the longest steep climbs of our trip, out of the Triberg valley. The hotel that evening was well deserved ;-)
Day 3 of our bikepacking trip brought us from the peaks near 'Schönes Aussicht' in central Black Forest, to the eastern borders the Black Forest and eventually - after not finding a suitable shelter for the night and rain coming in - a hotel in the village of Villingen-Schwenningen.
Along the way we stopped for a short lunch in the touristic town of Triberg (terrible place), short after we encountered one of the longest steep climbs of our trip, out of the Triberg valley. The Hotel that evening was well deserved ;-)
Day 4 of our bikepacking trip brought us from the comforts of the city of Villingen back west into the Black Forest. We set sail for the Feldberg (highest peak in the Black Forest) and on the way there we ended up at a nice and big shelter on top of a hill near the village of Neustadt. Along the way only beautiful gravel roads and nice climbing and descending. Amazing day on the bike and a great overnight shelter from the evening rain.
On day 5 of our bikepacking trip brought, the highest point of our travels, the almost 1500 m high Feldberg, awaited. From Titisee the gravel climb up to the top is nothing shy of an amazingly beautiful climb. After the top we kept as much altitude as we could, finding shelter in yet another fine 'Schutzhütte' somewhere above the town of Todtnauberg.
Day 6 of our gravellish bikepacking adventure took us from the hights of the Todtnauberg hills to the south, direction: Rhine river and the Swiss border. We wouldn't ride to the Rhine today, but did end up in a nice (and big) shelter in the forest near the village of Todtmoos, stopping along the way on the Feldberg Pass for a delicious hamburger and a beer ;)
Day 7 of the Black Forest bikepacking trip brought us to the southern edge of the Black Forest, enjoying the forest and swimming in the Rhine river near Basel.
Since we needed power for our devices and a nice shower after days of riding in the heat... we decided to sleep in a hotel that night. From there we could also plan where we would go the next day.
At the start of day 8 of our bikepacking trip we decided on where to go next... The answer was, the Vosges Mountains.
We rode through Basel (Switzerland) and quickly after crossed the border into France. After a week of the Black Forest, this was something completely different. The hot, burning, dried-up French countryside. It was a beautiful day, but not nearly as beautiful as the shelter (refuge) we slept in that night, at the side of the Vosges Mountains near Masevaux. Definitely check out the komoot Highlight on that one! At the refuge we bumped into a group of French locals, celebrating the 50th birthday of one of them. The French being the French, of course they shared their wine, food and fire with us. Such a great evening!
Arriving at the edge of the Vosges Mountains at the end of day 8, taught us that riding the Vosges Mountains is something completely different than the Black Forest on the other side of the Rhine Valley.
Where German gravel made for smooth riding, the Vosges off-road paths were more like mountain bike trails with lots of steep and loose rocks covered ascending more so than we had hoped. So we decided there and then that we would not ride into the Vosges Mountains any further, but turn our wheels towards the grapevine-covered east side of the Vosges...On day 9, we started our way up north, riding the Route du Vin in the Alsace wine country. Day 1 of 3 wine drinking days ;-)
After waking up in a local vineyard, day 10 in our fine bikepacking adventure brought us further north up the alternative gravel version of the Route du Vin, that we drew on the go through the komoot app on my telephone. A hot day in the sun, filled with the nicest gravel roads around, endless vineyards and beautiful views.
At the end of the day, we yet again found ourselves sleeping in a local vineyard... the way to go when wildcamping in the Alsace I'd say :)
The final day of our bikepacking trip was a relaxing day of crossing the mainly flat Rhine valley, in between the Vosges Mountains on the one side (France) and the Black Forest mountains on the other side (Germany). Our day started by waking up after a night in a local vineyard. We said goodbye to our lovely alternative (Gravel)Route du Vin and made our way to the German border at the town of Strasbourg. Strasbourg is a beautiful old town with a lot of biking going on. Ate a good burger there ;-)Our journey ended where it had started many days before, at the edge of the Black Forest in the wine village of Durbach, from where we took the car back home after a good night's sleep in a local hotel. All in all, this trip was a great one, with many different landscapes and changing scenery. Europe is so beautifully diverse in terms of landscapes and culture. Also, the Black Forest is truly a great place for riding gravel, whereas the Vosges Mountains are a bit more rough.Looking forward riding my gravel bike through the Black Forest again soon!