This November, I headed to the Black Forest in Germany to explore what the area has to offer for gravel riding.
What I discovered was an incredible landscape of gravel tracks and single-track roads; over deserted mountain peaks and through colourful autumn forest. It evolved into one of the best micro-adventure explorations I have undertaken to date.
My chosen steed was the Kona Private Jake — a bike that has taken me across continents, and on countless adventures. Set up with 40c tubeless tyres it really is a go-anywhere, ride-anything rig.
I planned my routes for the Schwarzwald Micro with the German mapping suite Komoot; a platform that comes into its own for gravel riding as you can see the percentage of different surface types. I mapped out three 100-kilometre routes on a mixture of gravel tracks and back-roads, and set out to explore…
Having visited this region previously on a road bike, I knew the area offers challenging riding; with plenty of height metres and technical descents. Heading off-road really opens the door to some spectacular scenery and demanding parcours though; with Haute category gravel climbs, and 30-kilometre long off-road descents.
My trio of rides featured snow, gravel, hair-raising descents, and lung-busting climbs. There were times when my hands were so cold that I could barely grip the bars; and moments when I really questioned if the bike was going to make it round the next rock-strewn hairpin ahead.
The common element with all my rides was a feeling of euphoria. That amazing sensation of discovering what feel like secret trails through the forest; then returning home to a mug of glühwein to reflect on the dramas and memories from the day’s adventure.
I always love taking a bike to a new landscape — to discover unexplored places and new challenges. The Black Forest Micro has spurred me on; to endeavour to explore many more distant landscapes using bite-sized adventures in 2020.