Ahhh Springtime! Everything is green and lush and flowery, the air is fresh and the world is reborn, the thoughts of young men turn to the willowy freshness of young women, mine however were trying to ignore a sore back.
I had spent Saturday on the banks of the Rhine in Basel with my feet in the water doing the dirty old man thing watching the bikini-clad chicks flout their stuff.
Laying on the hard ground had done my back in.
Time to grab the bike go for a ride and get some other thoughts in my head, by now the beemer has 230.000 Klicks on the clock and after last winter she is has accumulated quite a bit of patina, the gaskets in the front fork are banjaxed and she is leaking oil allover the front brakes, the good thing is that they no longer squeak, the exhaust has a hole somewhere, the brake-pads are down and I think she needs a new cable on the clutch.
Spares have been ordered from BMW but delivery is not for another three weeks.
Silly me, I always thought I lived in Europe and not Outer Mongolia.
But I have never been one to waste a perfectly good riding day, so come eight we bubbled (rather loudly) onto the motorway heading north.
I did not have any plan and just followed the front wheel, it asked me if I wanted a coffee, I said "yes" and we set course for Colmar just over the border in France.
In my minds eye I saw myself sitting at an outside table in the main square with a coffee a basket of Croissants whilst reading the International herald tribune to the sound of a motorbike leaning at a jaunty angle on it´s side stand, ticking gently as it cooled down.
Just how bohemian is that?
Nice pictures indeed, and on the side of the cathedral is a top-notch medieval WTF
And we think today´s priests are weird
Colmar is a wonderful medieval town but there is the worm in this otherwise quaint half timbered apple. The first thing that I saw was a tourist carrier in the shape of a choo-choo train, a fat Germany guy wearing shorts and a (very) loud unbuttoned shirt, he was trying to talk to the driver, "Parleez voo Deutsch?" at the same time complaining to his wife that nobody speaks the Deutsch.
I cringed into my coffee wishing the bugger would go away and stop ruining my morning.
Finishing my coffee I grabbed the bike and bubbled off following a sign that proclaimed Touts directions, or "that a way"
A bit later I saw a sign for the Wine road, I turned right and went to the Vogese mountains.
On the way up, following the wine road.
Yeh! At the top
Looking over the rhine valley, bad tongues will say that the fault-line is France´s way of getting away from Germany.
Everybody knows the black forest, the cuckoo clocks and the Dirndl local clothing with the three red pompoms on the hat, Grimm´s fairytales and all that guff.
If you think that the Rhine valley is actually a fault line in the earths crust, to the east is the black forrest and over the plane of the valley to the west is the mirror image of the Vogese mountains.
A mirror image but without the tacky tourist tat, empty open long winding roads, through leafy forrest, this is BMW LT country.
I love to drive slowly down roads like this, so slow in fact that the bugs get time to veer out of my path. I killed the engine and coasted down in silence, the closest to flying that you will ever get.
I headed to the Ballon d´ Alsace, a 1171 meters or 3.842 ft high mountain, the highest in the area.
Up until now I have lived in the eastern part of CH, with all the pointy bits just a half hours ride away there, people have a somewhat robust idea of hight, so I tend to regard anything under 1000 meters as a speedbump.
Slammer´s alpine motto: "I get my kicks above the tree-line sunshine!"
The Vogese are different I must admit, but every bit as enjoyable to ride as the switchbacks and hairbends of the high passes.
The ballon d´ Alsace offers a 360° view of central Europe, the air was clear and I could see the Alps in the distance and the valleys and fields below. Every meter traveled was enjoyable.
I flashed past a stone.
Something had caught the corner of my eye, a few hundred meters on I stopped and turned back.
It was a memorial stone..
..On the 2nd of December 1944 a Halifax bomber took off from Skipton, she dropped her load south of Essen, most likely the aircraft was hit by FLAK, unable to keep hight she crashed killing all but one of the crew, who later died of his injuries.
Things like this stele make me realize that people like the owners of the names on the stone created a world where my wonderful children, British-German, maybe the best of both worlds, can exist in peace.
Somebody cares enough to put fresh flowers down by the stone, it faces the Rhine valley over one thousand meters below.
I rode on, somehow I must have gotten a draft around my visor because my eyes had gotten moist, the sky seemed more intensive blue, the grass greener, the air clearer.
Surely there where giants in them days.