Sapiens on a folding bike – Day 4

Leaving the hotel I determine to tackle the road up the Kandel. Let me provide a context: on the map this is a minor lane which wiggles and wiggles, lined with green and with ominous view points marked.The map key explains that green lining means scenic: for me, the alarm bells ring. Steep! Little do I know that the Kandel is (I think) the second highest mountain in the Schwartzwald. Would it have made any difference if I had known? Probably not. It’s the only road going the way I want to go. And anyway, what the hell – bring it on.
The sky is laden, with low clouds obscuring the peaks, but not actually raining …yet. As I start climbing my mind becomes a streaming of random ephemeral thoughts: human rights: snails; kuchen; zig-zags. All will, I hope be revealed in due course.
It occurs to me that this is the joy of solo cycling – sensual indulgence overlayed with ephemeral thoughts. I know that I am alive! As Descartes said, “Cognito (sensual indulgence and ephemeral thoughts) ergo sum!”
The hill gets steeper …and I get slower. I start wondering how slowly I can go without falling off. This is the answer:


I should say that there are more of these on the road than people or cars. It is deserted.
The road gets steeper still and I start to zig-zag. This doubles the distance but halves the effort. I start analysing the zig-zag. Why is one or other always the harder of the two? (He’s gone mad, I can sense you thinking). The answer, of course, lies in the camber. Try it – or perhaps don’t.
I enter the clouds, and it starts raining. My imagination starts running riot; what about those wolves and bears? It’s just like a scene from a Grimm fairy tale. I stop to view a waterfall


The only company I have are the songbirds: goldcrests flitting from tree to tree, jays, and one buzzard who rises in front of me as if to say “this is my territory, not yours. Be off!”
Eventually, I get to the top. It’s taken over two hours, but worth every moment. There’s a fantastic viewpoint and a rather grand Biergarten. The only trouble is …. the Biergarten is deserted, and I can’t see beyond my hand. Disappointed? No. Anything else would almost have devalued the effort.

Back to Sapiens. I left you pondering “human rights”; well, I’m sorry, they don’t exist – at least, not as an absolute. No more than “animal rights”, which are governed by the biological imperative – right to be born; to try to survive; to pass on genes; and to die. We might like to think that human rights are inalienable – let’s not kid ourselves!
Of course, society has constructed a system of rights to protect the collective interests of the community (unless, of course, you’re Maggie Thatcher!). But this is what Harari would call an “imagined order”.
And what’s more, there’s clearly no consensus as to what they are. Some may seem straightforward: liberty, access to justice etc. Others are much more nuanced: gender; right to travel freely; right to free speech: right to reside in s place of one’s own choice. Oh dear! A few raw nerves here, I suspect.
Seriously though, it seems to me that this is an area where International agreement and cooperation is essential – to build a common understanding and affirmation of individual rights within society. We should be building bridges not walls.
There is however one, and I think only one scenario in which “inalienable human rights” can be genuinely promoted and understood – that they are endowed by a “Creator”. God?

I commence the descent. I suddenly realise …. it’s cold. If you don’t believe me look – and look carefully


I stop for Cafe (or is it Kafe) and kuchen at Sankt Peter


Thereafter, the rain digs in. I take a forest track. Am I miserable? Far from it. Somewhere, from a dim and distant past a tune enters my head. What is it? I know – “Oh Joy of Pleasure unforeseen”. This comes from a G&S show I conducted many years ago (probably 40; yikes!) for the Hemel Hempstead Operatic Society. Where did that come from? I now can’t get it out of my head.
In any case the forest track is a beauty.


Before long I arrive in Titisee, where I intend to get a train to Freiburg.
But enough – more of that tomorrow
It’s been a day of few miles, but much quality

Distance travelled               32.7 miles
Elevation gain                          5629 ft !!
Average speed                          6.8 mph
Maximum speed                       32 mph


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