Riding a foreign bike, on foreign roads, and in a foreign country is never the easiest task for a rider. So I took the easy way out and jumped on the back.
Along with 70 other Touratech distributors from 34 countries, Touratech Australia's Robin Box and Peter Whitten were in the south of Germany for a three-day conference that was ‘interrupted’ by a magnificent ride through the famed Black Forest.
Robin Box (left) and Peter Whitten at Touratech HQ in Germany, ready to take on the beautiful Black Forest.
With this being my first time in Germany, I was keen to sit on the back of the bike and take in the sights of a new country, whilst still enjoying the aspects that make adventure touring what it is.
The scene at Touratech headquarters in Niedereschach on a chilly morning was one of excitement and anticipation. Riders had been put into groups and allocated a Touratech-supplied bike, with a team leader, or guide, to lead us over the picturesque tarmac route to the north west of Touratech HQ.
Robin was given a big KTM 990 Adventure that was fully kitted out with Touratech panniers and a top case that proved perfect for a pillion passenger to lean against. It also meant that I could take photos along the way.
Once underway, it quickly became evident that this was a special part of the world. The scenery was breathtaking as we made our way up narrow country lanes that carried very little traffic and took us deep into the Black Forest.
The morning chill soon gave way to warm early autumn sunshine, and it wasn’t long before the joy of adventure motorcycle riding became truly evident.
With nothing but a helmet between you and the elements, your senses pick up things that they wouldn’t if you were sitting behind a windscreen of a car. Every change in temperature is magnified, and the smells from local farms, other vehicles and even pine forests, attack your senses in a way that’s hard to comprehend for non-riders.
Whilst this was my first ride through Germany, Robin had done a few, yet he reckoned this was easily the best Touratech ride he’d done, and it wasn’t hard to see why.
We made our way through villages such as Konigsfeld, Wolfach, Oberwolfach, Fischerbach, Haslach im Kinzigtal, Hornberg and Schwarzwald – names that meant nothing to me, but locations so special that they instantly had me longing to return to take a closer look.
We rode through streets made of cobblestones and under archways that had long-ago dates such as ‘1084’ inscribed on them.
We passed through tunnels kilometres in length, by crystal blue streams running through villages, through logging areas deep in the Black Forest, saw a number of beautifully prepared Renault R5 Turbos on a Saturday morning drive and, significantly, dozens of other motorcycles making the most of the perfect weather.
Like you often see with bus drivers, motorcyclists have an unwritten kinship that will see you giving each other a casual wave as you pass each other by. It’s an acknowledgement that you appreciate their similar hobby (or obsession), but also seems to act as an “I’ve got your back” kind of sign just in case something goes wrong. It’s a reassuring thought.
Heading further into our ride, we continued to pass incredible architecture and houses brimming with flower boxes on every window ledge. There seems to be a postcard setting around every corner.
We passed through Schonach, a hive of activity during the snow season, and where I saw my first ever ski jump towering above the pine trees, and almost as high as the nearby electricity-producing windmills. It was quite a sight – as were the cross country skiers practicing their art on the snow-less tarmac roads.
Further on, we visited Schonwald im Schwarzwald where, in 1737, the first cuckoo clocks were invented by Frank Ketterer – 43 years before Australia was even discovered!
I could have sat back and taken this in for hours, but all too soon the ride came to an end. After a couple of hours on the back of the KTM, my legs were numb and were reluctant to let me stand, let alone walk.
Yet none of that mattered. The sights, sounds and smells* of Bavaria will remain with me for years to come, reminding me of that day when adventure touring opened up a small part of the world that I’d never seen before.
It had been a journey to remember, and I’ve got the photos to prove it.
* Not forgetting the tastes! Eating Black Forest cake in the Black Forest is something you simply have to do, and I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
- by Peter Whitten
From cobblestones, to ski jumps and cuckoo clocks, Touratech's Black Forest ride had it all - including perfect weather!
The ride through the Black Forest was a picture-postcard experience that was simply made for Adventure bikes.