This week I decided that riding to the Rhine and following the French border again would be a bit dull.

Expatriate life is so hard sometimes.

Out came the map. I wanted a shortish ride because I had work the next day and I didn’t want to be exhausted, up to 50k (30 miles) was about the idea. On the map I found the ideal place, the Simonswälder Valley, a side tributary from the Elz Valley which I’ve followed a number of times. It’s fairly short but leads deep into the lower Black Forest. Also, being a weekday it would be quiet.

This isn’t the Simonswälder Valley; this is Waldkirch, where I got lost. This is for two reasons.

Firstly, my new apartment is a couple of hundred metres from the long, straight riverside cycle path which follows the Elz river almost the whole way to Waldkirch. I was rather enamoured by this idea so I just followed it instead of my usual route and ended up on the opposite side of Waldkirch to normal.

At this point I discovered the other reason: my map was on the kitchen table.

What with this and a lack of cycle signage I was a bit busy to take pictures but eventually I followed a long distance footpath sign through a housing estate, over a railway and under a road, and suddenly I was, finally, in the Simonswälder Valley.

The thing with the Black Forest, is that it’s very definitely the Black Forest; It’s not just that it’s obviously not say, Cleethorpes or Basingstoke, it’s also very different from the Rhine valley, a mere 20km/15 miles away.

25 km to the west from my village I’d cross the border into France, and unless you accidentally missed a bridge and landed in the Rhine, you’d not really notice. Here, it feels like I’m in a different country.

It can be a bit of a shock to stop at a bus stop and see the logo of the Freiburg Transit Authority on it.

For want of anything better, I’d aimed to ride to the Kapelle ohne Glocke, the “Chapel without Bells” which was almost exactly 25km from my apartment.

It turns out that the reason it’s the “Chapel without Bells”, is that they probably couldn’t fit any in.

I’d been climbing all he way and getting lost, et c, so it felt like I’d come a long way. Of course the return down the valley was rather faster, even with photo stops (and getting lost in Waldkirch again, but we’ll ignore that) and suddenly I was back in then open flat Rhine plain, following the cycle path by the river.

With one last crossing, a few more K’s and I was at the end of my street. I could get used to this…