About 35 million years ago, the mantle in the earths crust sank between what is now Basel and Frankfurt, creating a rift valley 300 kilometres (190 mi) long and 50 kilometres (31 mi) wide and changing the direction of the Rhine from Basel from west to north. To the delight of future cyclists, this valley then filled up with sediment leaving a wide flat flood plain.

You’d think that being in a flat region with relatively cycle friendly policies this would mean I’m spoiled for choice. Unfortunately “flood plain” means what it says so there’s a complex network of drainage channels wriggling haphazardly across the landscape, and only a limited number of bridges over them, meaning the choice of routes is pretty limited unless I feel like making large detours.

My new employer is 15k (9 miles) north of where I now live, instead of a mere 5k (3 miles) and for some reason this was becoming a bit of a mental block, and the only way to change this seemed to be to actually ride it before starting work and show myself that it really wasn’t a big deal. It only has about 10m of up, for goodness sake, how hard could it be?

So last Saturday I got out the touring bike and set off. Of course, it started to rain as I did. Summer was last week apparently.

Once I’ve finished wriggling through the village, the commute follows the local “B” road, which is like an “A” road in the UK, and is straight, if a little dull. Despite promising myself I’d take my time, I found myself running out of upper gears in the middle ring, which I took as a good sign. On the other hand the humidity was making my work clothes a bit clammy, so I resisted the temptation to bung the chain on the big ring: There will be plenty of opportunities for that when I’m late for work.

The meagre drizzle laid off as I followed the cycleway north, leaving only a few droplets on the bike. These dried as I rode leaving a sort of leopard skin pattern in the pollen and dust.

The path continued past small villages in the valley sides, squeezed in to avoid wasting good farmland, and close to the local castle for when marauders came across the plains.

The only sizeable town between me and my new employer offers the choice is between riding through the old centre or along an “agricultural road” following the edge of the hills. As the town government recently rebuilt the centre at great expense, taking great care to make sure there was plenty of parking for cars and very little space for bikes, the quieter agricultural road is the route of choice.

It could be worse.

At the north of the town, the cycleway restarted; My work is in Herbolzheim, 4km away according to the sign but this is a cruel deception; the sign refers to the edge of the town where the next speed limit begins. Work is a bit further away.

The agricultural roads form a network for pedestrians and cyclists, all traffic free with the exception of the occasional tractor. This section is a zigzag between fields of wheat and potatoes, stained red by poppies. I was happily trundling along appreciating the scenery when It dawned that it had an unfamiliar feel, and I realised I’d missed a turning somewhere.

Eventually I found the way, reached the edge of Herbolzheim, and promptly missed the next turning in a nondescript mass of housing on the edge of the town.

Note to self: the signpost is there for a reason…

My workplace is unfortunately is situated in a building so full of 1990’s ugliness I won’t spoil your day by putting a photo on here. Depressingly, it didn’t particularly stand out.

I did find the 10m hill promised on the route planner though:

The return was a bit more relaxed, i.e. slower, because as is often the case there was a headwind. The wind seems to blow to the north in the mornings, and then change to a generally southerly direction in the afternoons, at least that was my impression at my last job to the south of my apartment, and I’m trying to be optimistic by telling myself it will work in my favour this time around.

I also had to do some shopping at the “Drogerie Markt”, the local version of “Boots” In another burst of optimism I bought sun lotion. We shall see…

Back around the next town; at some point I’ll try and get a better picture of the church in the distance… Apparently this route is not only the “Breisgau cycleway” but also the “Upper Rhine Roman Cycleway.” Part of me is delighted at the fact I get to ride on a tourist route every day, but my natural pessimism suggests this just means it’ll be full of tourists in summer if the lockdown is eased.

I took the scenic route back, as this detour is about 100m in total and much prettier and quieter than following the main road I think it will become a regular feature.

It took 48 minutes to get to work, which included pictures and wandering off down the wrong road on two occasions, so I think I can safely allow fifty for the ride. I just have to look on it as time gained cycling and reducing waistline, rather than time lost commuting…