Sunday, October 19, 2014

Cycling in Basel, Switzerland: slowUp Basel-Dreiland

Crossing the Rhine on a bike-pedestrian bridge

We were delighted to participate in slowUp Basel-Dreiland, a closed-road mass cycling event in the Basel area. 40 km of road closure through Basel and the surrounding area. The Route goes through Switzerland, France and Germany and crosses the Rhine river 5 times, and it seemed like a wonderful opportunity to see the area by bike and participate in a community event.

Yogurt feed by Roche campus in Basel

There are 14 slowUp event in different Swiss communities. Here is some information on the series: (english, with links to the main site info which is in german/french/italian).

Huningue, France
We hopped onto the route near our lodging in Basel. The route has three loops and we planned to do the whole thing, unless the forecasted rain was too heavy. Route map is here:
milk can stacking/climbing dexterity contest at the central festival
The route was incredibly varied: city riding in Basel, a festival area in the park (which included kids activities, food, sponsor tents, etc), riding in parks, farmland, small roads, large roads and bike paths and cobbled village roads, multiple Rhine river crossings (including once across the top of an interesting hydroelectric dam), riding through multiple villages in Swizerland, Germany and France, and also some less-interesting segments through industrial areas. The ride is extremely well-supported, with a rest station stocked with food samples, water, apple juice and a bike mechanic about every 5 km. Traffic-control and signage was impressive-- there were police or volunteers at every intersection with traffic, including traffic circles, and almost every turn was well-marked.
Despite the on-and-off rain, the ride was incredibly well attended, including tons of families with little kids on bikes, in trailers, trail-a-bikes, you name it. When the rain started, rain jackets and rain covers (for trailers) came out, and everyone just pedaled on. Impressive! The pace of the event is rather leisurely, with limited opportunities to ride hard due to the frequent rest-stops (where traffic slowed to a crawl) and choke-points like narrow bike paths or sharp turns. It took us about 5 1/2 hours for 45k of riding (with several stops at points of interest and rest areas). The route is fairly flat (by Strava, I got 650 feet of climbing over 45k), which is by design to make the route beginner and family friendly.
We felt very fortunate to participate in this event, which took us to area roads and communities that we wouldn't have otherwise discovered during our 6-week Basel trip. I loved going in and out of countries (Basel is at the border with France and Germany), and the different appearance of the different towns and areas along the route. Well done slowUp!
Some photos and impressions follow (due to the rain, my camera was out only intermittently, and I missed some shots due to riding bliss :) ie, didn't want to stop to take a photo). Photos are not in order.
The route went through farmland (in Germany at this point)
Cobbles coming over the Rhine river (between Rheinfelden, Germany, and Rheinfelden (Switzerland)
On the Rhine
Dan in Rheinfelden (Switzerland). The route loops through the town on cobbled roads, including a climb up through an old part of the city. Wet cobbles, baby!
Canal crossing. Bridges wait in a lock to get up to the lake above. The route later wound around the lake over a hydroelectric dam.

View of Basel from upriver
Heavy rain did not deter the riders (or as Dan said, whereby the Swiss demonstrate that they do not fear the weather).



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