The 2014 Schwarzwald Giro – Kevin Sparrow
Photos and Words by Kevin Sparrow
Most of us got a good night sleep in our camper. The nights in Freiburg are chilly and it doesn’t start to warm up until the sun peeks over the tree line later in the morning. Everyone met at Biosk at 9:30, for a planned roll out at 10. It would have been nice to get a decent breakfast but Josh and I downed a bowl of cereal and I took a nutrition bar for a reserve. Others stuffed their jerseys full of snacks. We all knew we had a long day ahead of us…
We rolled out of Freiburg with a group of about 50 riders. The first 25k was a casual group ride through the small villages on the outskirts of the Schwarzwald. The Schwarzwald seemed to be taunting us as it grew larger and larger the closer we got. The group had a nice warm-up pace on the way to the meet-up point with the group from Switzerland. We greeted them and immediately tackled the first climb.
As soon as we entered the Schwarzwald, we were quickly engulfed by trees on all sides and introduced to the first ascent of the day. The “mountain goats” were already out of sight by the time I reached the 2nd hairpin. Conversations between riders seemed to take my mind off the pain. It took me almost an hour to reach the top of the first climb, which was close to 16k (10 miles), and 731m (2,400 ft.) of elevation gain.
As we all waited for the rest of the group to finish the climb, I took the opportunity to check out some of the bikes people were riding. Since Philipp noted that there was going to be some gravel routes this year, some people including me, decided to ride larger tires and cyclocross bikes. It’s really great to see all the European frames and set-ups that we don’t get to see that often in the US.
With every amazing climb, there is an equally epic descent. The roads down were smooth and fast. We were clocking speeds close to 80 km/h (50mph)! I was riding cyclocross gearing but even the road bikes were spinning out. At the bottom of each descent was a village, quietly tucked away from the world. Intersections had signs pointing towards other villages that were nestled in-between the mountains.
There were two major climbs before lunch, the later had me wishing I had twelve cogs on my cassette. The route this year took us off the beaten path a little bit. The rougher narrower roads also meant better scenery and almost no auto traffic. Eventually, the roads turned into gravel as we crawled up the winding paths.
We regrouped at the top in the middle of an intersection. While we were waiting for the rest of the riders, there was an impromptu climbing competition up a steep section off the road. Rune schooled everyone on his road bike with Lightweight Wheels. As soon as everyone reached the meeting point, we descended towards a much-needed lunch.
Like last year, Biosk greeted us with their mobile VW bus coffee shop. The handed out espresso, pretzels, and energy bars. Philipp handed out home made vegan treats that paired with the espresso quite nicely. With good vibes and perfect weather, it was hard not to lose track of time.
Philipp told us we had two moderate climbs left, which actually turned into three. We said our goodbyes to the group from Switzerland half after the second descent. As the elevation leveled out and we rode back into Freiburg. The group ride somehow turned into a fast-paced echelon ripping it through towns. We got back to Freiburg after almost nine hours in the saddle.
This was the 3rd year of the Schwarzwald Giro and already it has started to become a reunion amongst friends and cultures. I am already starting to make plans for next year.
Cheers to Philipp and everyone involved for inviting all of us and throwing such an amazing ride!
Check out the route and more information at Strava.
Follow Kevin on Instagram and check out photos via #schwarzwaldgiro