Konstanz-Freiburg was the toughest stage even from the map, thanks to its 140 km of length and the several ascends along the route.
In 2015, when we went to Paris for the COP21, we established an intermediate stop, as well as we firstly planned for the tour in 2019.
The necessity to anticipate to Thursday our arrival in Bruxelles has yet forced us to “cut” a stop, and so we decided to merge the two with which we first linked Konstanz and Freiburg.
Because of some physical problem or simply to get a day of rest in a non-stop tour of about 1.300-1.400 km long, particularly physically challenging, Maurizio, Gabriele, Viviana, Gianpaolo, Roberto G. and Augusto chose to do the middle-path stage by train. It’s in the true spirit of Ride With Us, wherein what matter is not the enterprise of completing the whole tour by bike, but the logic of an event opened to everyone in which everybody can freely decide to join on the basis of his own abilities and necessities.
The Halloween celebrations until 3.30 am right under our windows have disrupted the sleep of more than one of us, but after a rich breakfast the 12 cyclists left were ready to depart.
In this stage we really reached the minimum number of participants and the thinner group surely moved more swiftly, allowing cruising speeds higher than usual.
The sky was cloudy and threaten a rain that it would undoubtedly dropping during the day.
After about 30 km of flat course we left the sight on the lake and we moved into the hinder land. For the coffee break we stopped, by chance, in a café called “La gondola”, where among paintings representing views of San Marco Square and Rialto Bridge we felt at home. We could not stop too long talking with the owner who, thanks to her grandmother, has a quarter of blood from the province of Venice, and we took our bikes ready to face the first ascents.
And here the adventure began.
The steep gradients and the length of the slopes immediately put to the test our legs’ muscles, that still kept in mind the efforts from the two Alpine stages. The route promised four similar ascents, that seemed to outline a regular wave on the track and then, at about the 85th km, the last ascent of about 400 m in altitude. The last part also promised the beautiful landscapes of the Schwarzwald, but we’re not sure we would be able to enjoy them completely because of the expectable weariness and maybe, because of the sunset.
The rain came at around the middle of the first group of ascents. We decided to deal with even the most challenging one before the lunch break, to avoid to face it with a full stomach.
A mistake on a passage on the track not clear, brought us on a dead-end route. We had to think about a different path, first pushing the bikes along a steep section of the hill, and then making up an alternative route among the fields searching for a beaten track that could lead us back on our original path.
The choice to have lunch after the ascent, correct on the map, brought us to the top completely without energies and in the following section, looking for a diner, we proceed in a single-file line, silent and cold so that we struggle to cycle in the headwind, unwelcome fellow traveller for the most part of the day.
After a good and hot soup we departed, convinced that the most difficult part was already over, but the section in the wood, beautiful in terms of landscape and emotions, gave us another nasty surprise.
This time was the right track, that we were following to the letter, that lead us in an unpleasant situation. What was a cycle route according to the map was actually a steep and craggy slope, crossed by slippery roots and wet leaves. Being impossible to cycle on it, our only chance was to bring the bikes by hand. On top of that, in the middle of the route we found a couple of fallen trees on the track and this forced us to a complicated handing over of our heavy bicycles.
We lost a lot of altitude, until we arrived at the stream at the basis of the gorge, where we had to cross a bridge with slippery and steep iron steps. Beyond the bridge an equally steep ascent to go up to the opposite ridge was waiting for us.
We finally found a rideable section that made some of us singing for joy, but it was getting dark and we were still 40 kms far from the destination.
The track led us to the motorway to Freiburg, that we followed during the night for several kms downward with cars and lorries that lift aerosols from the wet road. At last we left the busy road to head in the dark into a descend in the woods where we had to properly use our balance skills. We finally arrived on the level of the neighbouring towns of Freiburg, where the ride becomes easier and, in the end the beautiful bike path led us into the city centre. A sort of highway for the bikes, broad, with a perfect floor and smooth curves and the virtuous challenge between Konstanz and Freiburg came back to our mind for the better cycling.
The beautiful bike path was really the ideal to find back the pleasure of riding and put away the difficulties of the day.
The dinner was the occasion to say goodbye to Roberto, Nadia and Maurizio (whose aftermaths of the falling forced him to quit the tour) that left us, and 7 new fellow riders joined us for the last stages.