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September 2014

Alsace (Route des Crêtes)

Black Forest Highway (Schwarzwaldhochstrasse)

Day 1 Sunday 14 Sept. 2014 Bremgarten - Menzenschwand (Feldberg).

Palace Böttstein with restaurant

On the way to the Rhine

Km. 80
Height of 759 m.
Route; Bremgarten, Mellingen, Brugg, Böttstein, Leibstadt, Albbruck, Albsee, St, Blasien, Menzenschwand.

Rhine crossing for non-motorized traffic Schwaderloch - Albbruck.

After that the Rhine Channel and already I'm in the Black Forest

The route to the border at Albbruck at the Rhine is known to me that's why I don't need a map. In Böttstein Castle I take my first coffee break.
I cross the Rhine over a pedestrian - bicycle bridge at Schwaderloch. In the middle of the bridge there is a barbed gate, for sure the border. Then I cross another bridge that crosses the Rhine Channel and already I'm in Albbruck, Germany.

6 tunnels between Albbruck and St. Blasien. Very curvy and steep rock walls. Temperature is ideal.

Nature protection area. The River Alb gurgles peacefully but can look very different after heavy rain.

Now I'm cycling up the Albtal, a beautiful valley along steep rock walls. Downhill on the other side, large boulders prevent traffic from a crash in the canyon. On this winding road I count six tunnels. There are 560 meters of altitude to the Youth Hostel in Menzenschwand, the goal of today's itinerary.

Through small settlements I cycle up the valley to

the Albsee

At the end of the valley, there is a small artificial lake with camping spot. For me, camping in mid-September is too late in the year. I left my tent at home.
In St. Blasien, I visit the cathedral before I take a stroll through the town.
This beautiful building was consecrated in 1781. It is a huge and very impressive, round building. You have to imagine a sphere of 36 meters in diameter whose half is supported by columns. The windows allow a lot of light to enter and the interior is all in white which makes it remarkably bright.
In Menzenschwand I find a nice Black Forest farmhouse, which serves as a youth hostel. Now, out of season, I am the only guest.

Lots of light and very bright the cathedral of

St. Blasien

and all in white

St Blasien`s


The youth hostel in Menzenschwand.

Day 2 Monday 15th Sept. 2014 Menzenschwand - Mulhouse (Alsace)

Km. 94.92 Total = 174.92 kilometers
Height 1117 Total = 1876 meters
Route; Menzenschwand, Feldberg, Todtnau, Schönau, Wembach, Böllen, Badenweiler, Neuenburg, Ottmarheim, Mulhouse.

The last houses of Menzenschwand.

Still, it is slightly rising.

Here I reach the main road in Feldberg.

The descent to Wembach.

Church on the right. Todtnau.

I cycle through small villages like Fahl and Brandenberg.

I cycle through a forest on gravel roads to the ascent of the Feldberg at 1240m.
The slope is moderate at first but soon it rises to a 13% slope. This demands the highest concentration because at times it is very slippery and the path leads to a deep ravine.
The summit of the Feldberg is still covered by fog but the sun is already breaking through at some spots.




The climb to Böllen through a beautiful valley.

Very hilly terrain.

During the next 720 meters downhill to Wembach the battery gets fully recharged.
The ascent is a beautiful stretch along Black Forest farms and resorts such as Todtnau and Schönau.
In Wembach (520M.), I turn right to the Böllen at an altitude of 1079 meters. It is time for lunch break with stunning views of the Black Forest hills.

Remote mountain villages like Neuenweg.

Reaching the top in Sirnitz.

Looking back towards Böllen.

Crossing the Rhine Channel near Neuenburg and Chalampé.

Abbey in Ottmarsheim (Fr.) a significant monument of the 11 century

The next 25 kilometer to Badenweiler I cycle on yellow-green marked roads. Yellow-green stands for scenic route.
At this time of year I encounter only few cars and motorcycles.
In Chalampé I cross the Rhine to France and I start the bike tour through Alsace.
I visit the abbey church in Ottmarheim. It was destroyed several times and rebuilt. In the year 1030 Rudolf von Altenburg founded the Benedictine Monastery. His grandfather was Guntram the Rich and is considered the ancestor of the Habsburg dynasty, the most powerful dynasty in Europe ever.
Altenburg Castle stands in Brugg (Switzerland). Rudolfs brother Radbot built the Habichtsburg, now called "Habsburg". The castle of Altenburg, is the first recorded residence of the Habsburg dynasty. Today, the building serves as a youth hostel.
18 kilometers are left to the youth hostel in Mulhouse. I cycle first through the center of the city, along the Place de la Réunion with St. Etienne Cathedral and Hotel de Ville. Afterwards, I switch on my GPS, so I find the hostel quickly without asking anyone.

Abbey Ottmarsheim

< from the west side and from the inside^.

Town hall ^ and

Cathedral St. Etienne in Mulhouse.>

Day 3 Tuesday 16 Sept. 2014 Mulhouse - Le Hohneck (Routes des Crétes)

Km. 69.52 Total = 244.44 kilometers
Height 1452 Total = 3328 meters
Route; Mulhouse, Uffholtz, Hartmannswillerkopf, Grand Ballon, Le Hohneck.

The village Uffholtz^.

< Town gate.

Start of the ascent, Route des Crêtes>


of the World War one.


I turn my GPS on to get to know my goal for the roundabout way, called the "Routes des Crêtes" in the community Uffholtz. From 300 meters above sea level in Uffholz to the Grand Ballon (1340 m) on I have to climb an altitude of more than 1000 meters. The weather is fine; I have enough time and even electro support.
After around 10 km, I reach the memorial Hartmannswillerkopf.
Exactly 100 years ago French and German soldiers have fought a battle on this hill in World War I. 30,000 men lost their lives.

Le Grand Ballon

and the views of the Vosges

At the top of the Grand Ballon (highest mountain in the Vosges) I enjoy the lunch with a group of Belgian racing cyclists and charge the battery (about an hour). I still have more than 30 km to go and there are still a few hills to surmount. Although the battery is not empty yet it would do no harm to charge it a bit more. Their racing bikes weigh only 7-8 kilo. It is impressive the improvements that have been made over the last few years in this technology. On the other hand, my weight is 60 kilo, I guess about10 kilo lighter than the average of the four racers. That compensates the weight of my bike.
As expected, the journey takes me up- and downhill. When I reach the Refuge du Sotre at Hohneck, I am amazed by the location offering a stunning view on the Alsatian hills and lakes.

Sometimes up sometimes down

and rarely flat.

Any increase takes its name.

Many valleys have a reservoir.

Route de Crêtes runs

from 1100 to 1200 meters

This is the view from my overnight stay, Refuge du sotre.

Refuge is translated with hut. In reality, they are on a par with smaller hostels. Breakfast is at least as good. The four-bedrooms are clean and equipped with bedding. The advantage to travel in September is that I don't have to sign up if there's a bed free, because until now I have had a room for myself.

I see many reservoirs. Always from above

Refuge de Hohneck.

View from Refuge du Sotré.

Day 4 Wednesday, September 17, 2014 Le Hohneck - Strasbourg

Km. 154.4 = Total 398.84
Height 997 = Total 4.325
Route; following the Route des Crétes via Col de la Gorge, Col des Bagenelles, Ste-Marie-aux-Mines, Col de Ste-Marie, Saales, Schirmeck, Hasslach, Strasbourg.

Some Col`s on the road today.

Col de la Schlucht.

Rarely do I meet a car.

From one to another Col

here du Lauchpach

and always beautiful views

The Routes des Crétes runs on a level of about 1100 to 1200 meters. I have some Col's in front of me. The first starts after a few kilometers, Col de la Schlucht. Here I cross the main road and follow the R. d. Cr. up to the Col des Bagenelles. It offers a spectacular view (1100 m) on the whole valley La Lièpvretre almost to Ste-Marie-aux-Mines (450 m). This means time for a coffee break and a breather and to enjoy the splendid few. The descent takes me through small villages and along a few farms. It seems the school in Ste.Marie is at lunch break because it is teeming with students. I turn left to the next Col.
It is noon and despite the late autumn, the sun has enough power to make me sweat rivers.

View over the valley Lièpvretre.

In a few months I can ski here.

Only bird chirp is heard.

At 450 meters in Ste.Marie-aux-Mines.

The next col

and then through sleepy villages.

The D420 (Highway) goes north via Saales and Schirmeck. But I take every opportunity to avoid it and to use side streets.
My goal for today is the Refuge in Oberhasslach. Unfortunately I can not find it and the passers-by in Oberhasslach have never heard about the "Refuge in Klink", although it is located on my new map. The tourist office closed at 17: 00h. As usual when I'm in need of such an office, I'm 15 minutes late.


He enjoys a mud bath

Centre from Saales.



I change my plan to continue direction north. I type in my GPS the address of the hostel in Strasbourg. I think it is a nice city to have a rest day tomorrow.
When I arrive in Strasbourg, it is already dark. Suddenly I see a cyclist with a fully laden bike. We look at each other and say: "Y.H.???"
He has also a GPS and in no time we find together the "Youth Hostel". (Today I have no problems to find sleep).

Day 5 Thursday, September 18, 2014 day off

Km.16.9 = Total 406.74 (Stroll through the city)
Height 0 = Total 4,325

A few impressions of the beautiful city of Strasbourg with its many half-timbered houses and cathedral.

To the platform of the cathedral I had to climb 660 steps. Well, I think I have earned a fine beer!

Olaf from Dresden, I met yesterday, accompanies me to the city. He wants to visit a few sights. He has been to Strasbourg before and continues cycling this afternoon towards Koblenz.
The Cathedral is closed to climb the tower but in the afternoon it will be open. So I make my way to get an impression of the city. The city center is car free but bikes are allowed. I see a striking number of people driving around with rental bikes. In front of the youth hostel there are 15 rental bikes straight in a row next to a pillar, where you can rent the bikes with credit card.
1 hour 1
1 day 5
One month. 20
3 months: 30
1 year 80
For young people under 26 years of age there is a discount

< The tower seen from the platform.

High level of architecture (above).

View of the spiral staircase. >

On the Place Kléber I have lunch. An oversized statue of Jean-Baptiste Kléber, a general of the revolution army, stands in the middle of the square.
After lunch I go to the Cathedral to climb the 660 steps. It only goes up to the tower platform; the upper part is not open to the public.
When I get back in the youth hostel I see some people playing pétanque on a field next to the hostel. Most likely a championship is taking place, as there are a lot of players, I think over a 100. It looks like a very serious matter.

The city of Strasbourg seen from the platform of the cathedral on both sides.

Boat trips through the canals.


Rental bikes. Rightmost one column for rent with credit card.

Day 6 Friday, September 19, 2014 Strasbourg - Baden-Baden.

Km. 69.7 = Total 476.44
Height 122 = Total 4,447
Route; Strasbourg, Wanzenau, Gambsheim, Herrlisheim, Drusenheim, Münster, Moos and Buhl due to road construction work, Sinzheim, Baden-Baden.

Firstly, along the Rhine. Left the town of Kehl (Germany) on the right side the Y.Hostel "Park du Rhin"

then through a flood plain inland.

There is a bicycle track partly along the Rhine. But I cycle a little further away from the river through marshland and forest. On a nice quiet paved road I hear birds chirping and occasionally I encounter joggers or cyclists. After about 10 kilometers I join the normal road. I enjoy cycling through the small Alsatian villages. In Drusenheim I don't wait more than 10 minutes for the ferry to cross the Rhine. It is free of charge.

Bike path through wetland

A small stream leading to the Rhine.

An ornate bridge over the L`Ill.

In Münster near the monastery church, the road is interrupted due to construction work and I have to make a detour over Moos and Bühl. But with such nice weather and almost no traffic, it's not really a detour. The Y.H. is of course on the very top of a slope. Baden-Baden is a very elongated city whose center is small. I make myself comfortable in the hostel.
Tomorrow I'm going anyway eastwards and hence I will have a look at the center.
At the Y.H. I get to know a group of young musicians who have a concert tomorrow.

The villages in Alsace looks likes deserted

The free ferry to Germany.

Day 7 Saturday, September 20, 2014 Baden-Baden - Freudenstadt

Km. 66.1 = Total 551.54
Height 1219 = Total 5.666
Route; Baden-Baden, Sand, Mummelsee, Vogelkopf, Rossbühl, Freudenstadt.

Festival theatre Baden-Baden

Assembly rooms (healt resort)


In Lichtental the climb begins

From the Y.H. on top of the hill I cycle down towards the center. I pass the theater, casino, large and small churches until the centre, where I take a few pictures and have a look at the people at the market. At the suburbs in Lichtental I take the first turn-off towards the south. (Highway 500) Here the Black Forest Highway begins; it is a counterpart of the Route des Crêtes. The turn-off is on a level of 190 meters. The plateau runs on about 1000 meter.
It starts with a moderate 6% ascent but soon it becomes steeper to 8-9%. I have set my limit at 7%. Anything over 7% I turn the support on level 2. Level one is 25% engine power and 75% I have to do myself. Level 2 is in reverse order.

The Famous Black Forest High Street.

At this time of year very quiet.

View of the Rhine Valley.

near the Mummelsees

After 15 km, in Sand, it's over. Now it's like in Alsace, up and down.
Nevertheless flows much sweat and occasionally I do a water break. Every day I take a one liter thermos bottle with me to make an instant soup or a cappuccino.
This road is slightly wider in comparison to "Route des Crêtes" and has more traffic. In this season it is quiet and traffic does not interfere too much. However, I wouldn't cycle this road in high season. There is no bike trail, and it is not marked as a yellow cycle path.
Every hillock has its name, for example, Mehliskopf, Hochkopf, Vogelkopf or Schilfkopf.
On Mummelsee there is a lot of activity. A whole load of buses are parked next to many cars. They all want to enjoy and relax. There are many opportunities for leisure activity: small boats to row on the lake, or use one of the many trails.
I make a stop and take a few photos before I continue.
At 15:00h I arrive at the hostel. I prepare my bed for the night and head to the city by foot.


Overlooking one of the many valleys.

Up and down

to a height of 1000-1100 meters.


Day 8 Sunday, September 21, 2014 Freudenstadt - Titisee - Neustadt

Km. 116.1 = Total 667.64
Height 1291 = Total 6.957
Route; Lossburg, Alpirsbach, Schiltach, Wolfach, Hornberg, Triberg, Furtwangen, Kaltenherberg, Waldau, Langenordnach, Neustadt.

Water games on the market square of Freudenstadt with Protestant city church

Water games with town hall

There is still a lot

of moisture in the air and the sun

will not show up well today.

I opt for the road 294, called "German Fachwerkstrasse". I had planned the Yellow-Green road over Bath Rippoldsau but this Sunday morning, the weather is not promising. The advantage: I expect only little traffic.
I noticed that people drink Alpirsbacher beer in this area. After 15 km, I arrive at the doors of the brewery, just next door to the abbey church.
The river Kinzig accompanies me for a while.

Brewery next to the monastery church. Luckily the rain has subsided.

This road is rightly called Fachwerkstrasse. (half-timbering-houses street)


The straightened river Kinzig.


Via Schiltach I get to Wolfach, a beautiful town, ideal for my first coffee break. After 3 km bike path I reach Hausach. Thanksgiving makes everyone in this area to be out on the streets. All are nicely dressed, most in traditional costumes.
A young woman at a market stall stops me and wants to know whence and whither. She also tells me about her own cycle tours.

Harvest fesival in Hausach


All prepared for the feast


clocks for sale Schwarzwälder Uhren


I follow the River Gutach via Hornberg to Triberg. Here I have a break in a coffee-bakery.
It is a very touristy place boasting to have the
highest waterfalls in Germany.
After Furtwangen it starts raining and within minutes St Peter opens its doors and it rains in flow. The Kaltenherberg restaurant appears just at the right moment. The waiter gives me a hint for fastest way to Neustadt.
After 100 meters through the forest and over a mountain to Waldau, it saves 4 kilometers.

Clocks for sale here is big business

In this pastry shop in Triberg I take coffee break

Now the rain has stopped but the cape is within reach

Schönwald in the blackforest ^

Church, maypole and the Eiffel Tower together. This week is a French Week in Schoenwald.>

In this parish is the Bregsource.The river united in Donaueschingen with the Brigach and is called from there on Danube.

When I leave the restaurant it has stopped raining and the best of it: the brand-new road is closed for car traffic yet. To the left and right there are still construction equipments and the white lines need to be drawn, for me it's cycling as on a velvet road, just wonderful.
In the "hostel", again I have a room for myself. Next morning, I see in the breakfast room two couples, so I was not quite alone in the hostel.

Near Schönwald.

Until now still dry

The rain makes for lush meadows.

Day 9 Monday, September 22, 2014 Titisee-Neustadt - Bremgarten.

Km. 103 = Total 762.24
Height 612 = Total 7,569
Route; Titisee, Bärental, Schluchsee, Staufen, Berau, Weilheim, Waldshut, Brugg, Mellingen, Bremgarten

Between Neustadt and Titisee



Ascent to Barental and then left to

the last climb at Altglashuetten

After a rainy afternoon yesterday, I'm surprised that the sun breaks through the fog.
I want to follow the yellow-green route via Lenzkirch to Schluchsee. The Youth Hostel. Supervisor tells me that the road is closed due to construction. So I cycle along the west-side of Titisee.
In Bärental I take the left turnoff 4 km before Feldberg.
There are still a few hanging clouds in the sky, but it is quite sunny


A defined part is Moor.

From Schluchsee on

it goes downwards to the Rhine.

Back in Switzerland. Pontonier exercises

At the end of the Schluchsee I leave the main road and turn left on a yellow-green side street via Schönenbuch to Waldshut.
As from Waldshut, I find myself back on familiar territory and I'm already home in Bremgarten at 16: 00h.

In Reusstal there are many horse lovers. Here at Mellingen

Small lake in Niederwil

Reuss Valley with view of the Mutschellen

The Fohlenweide in Bremgarten. Here foals are reared. ^

Back home in Bremgarten. Passing the St. Nicholas Church in the Lower City.>