managed to find a new bike just in time for a long-planned short tour of the German Black Forest... 2 weeks before was cutting it fine, and with hindsight, I'd have liked another couple of weeks to get a couple more jobs done... but it went surprisingly well save for a developing wobble through the handlebars which only really affected the ride home (thankfully). here she was on the day I collected her... came with some nice touring bits already, 12v socket, full luggage, screen, vfr handlebars (I think), and fatter seat. IMG_20180630_124738 by Dan Ciminera, on Flickr basic checks were done. oil was ok... would have liked to have changed it, but didin't want fresh oil loosening any crud which may or may not have been present just before leaving. chain checked, cleaned and set right to go, brakes checked, tyre pressures, yadda yadda. Went with the stock seat in the end as it had clearly barely ever been ridden on and seemed the more immediately comfortable on the road in the few hundred miles I managed before setting off. anyway, set off with friend Chris on his aprilia futura (1000 v-twin, rotax engine same as used in the mille sports bike), we have been doing car tours since doing a banger rally across to turin in our teens many moons ago and having been riding for a good few years now and always having said we'd visit the black forest after passing through it so many times en route to Switzerland... we booked a ferry last autumn and saw it through! We'd gone on night time ferry after working all day so we just did a short stint to Roncq just north of Lille and checked into the local Premiere Classe £25 digs for the night at 2am to get some shut-eye ready for the long ride the next morning. We headed back up into Belgium to use the free roads and followed down through Luxembourg and then down through Strasbourg (very pretty place) for the Rhine crossing into Germany and on to Wolfach where we'd booked a cheap apartment on a deer farm. Somewhere along the way in Belgium/France, having a little leg stretch. On one of these stops we met a weary young lady on a Dakar edition BMW GS making her way to Greece over the course of 11 days. hat off to her. IMG_20180716_232344_607 by Dan Ciminera, on Flickr Made it to the German digs without any fuss, just aches and tiredness. Should have taken the day off work beforehand. Lesson learned. Converted barn type situation with some apartments in... extremely cheap for the apartment regardless of number of guests, we were 2, but were 5 beds if we'd brought more friends along. The breakfast room, or room of death, as we quickly dubbed it. IMG_20180714_090636 by Dan Ciminera, on Flickr Continental fare, as expected. additional £3 a day and the lady asks you very literally "do you need an egg?", each morning before her grandad shuffles past and chuckles to himself, seemingly at our expense. excellent freshly ground coffee, homemade jams, and eggs from their farm. IMG_20180714_093918 by Dan Ciminera, on Flickr link to the hotel if you're interested... (we definitely will stay there again) https://www.agoda.com/en-gb/josenhof/hotel/wolfach-de.html?cid=-217 they even gave us our own garage to keep the bikes in IMG_20180714_101815 by Dan Ciminera, on Flickr our first full day of riding saw us head out down the B500 south all the way down to Swiss Koblenz (we didn't bother crossing the border this time) with a very nice cake-stop at the Dorfschmeide cafe in Hochenschwand. I'd been here before in the car and knew the cake was magnificent. IMG_20180716_232646_745 by Dan Ciminera, on Flickr suitably pigged out after being unable to whittle down my choices any further. IMG_20180714_143110_1 by Dan Ciminera, on Flickr after we reached the bottom of the B500, we snaked our way back up on some of the offshoot roads. some of the surfaces were iffy, but the hairpins and views were spectacular. IMG_20180714_223919_367 by Dan Ciminera, on Flickr we found a nice bike-friendly restaurant/bar/hotel in Gutach on the way back for the evening and pulled in for obligatory schnitzel-stop. There was a waitress with excellent English so we got on just fine there and were looked after. We went back the next evening too. IMG_20180714_201046 by Dan Ciminera, on Flickr The Aprilia had seemingly shat it's clutch fluid during the day leaving Chris with a toe-blister from stiff clutchless riding all day. Luckily the hotel folk were bikers, who promptly gave us some brake fluid and I'd had the forethought to pack a little bleed valve in my tool roll at the last minute. IMG_20180715_104003 by Dan Ciminera, on Flickr after bleeding, the Aprilia was back to 100% again so we headed off this time up the B500 north, to Baden-Baden before snaking our way around it like a helix on some more windy switchbacky roads with a wurst-stop at a biker hut on a reservoir called Schwarzenbachtalsperre and a cake-stop in Oppenau before then heading all the way back up and back down the B500 and shooting back down to Gutach for tea. IMG_20180715_145941 by Dan Ciminera, on Flickr IMG_20180715_225005_568 by Dan Ciminera, on Flickr IMG_20180715_224900_982 by Dan Ciminera, on Flickr IMG_20180716_233305_642 by Dan Ciminera, on Flickr IMG_20180716_233056_746 by Dan Ciminera, on Flickr heading back we decided on a change of scenery and found an airbnb in Bauvin, also just by Lille. easy to find, nice quiet little town with pubs, food, 3 small bike shops, fuel... everything you need going to and from the ferry and only an hour and 10 mins from Dunkirk ferry terminal. nice little chalet out the back of the house, with another wonky, Alice in Wonderland feeling cabin. The fella is a biker and was in his element chatting bikes and showing us about his garage with harley, thunderace, ducati 800ss, and an r80 bmw race bike. photos of his racing exploits all over the cabins was a nice touch. IMG_20180716_165548 by Dan Ciminera, on Flickr if youre interested, here's a link https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/15765035 all in all, a very nice trip was had, and looking forward to more of the same in the future now I've broken my bike tour duck.