i went to basel last weekend for a spot of black forest riding. once the (hot and hard but ultimately worthwhile) riding was done i got to spend a day indulging in a spot of what i love doing most in unfamiliar cities: aimless wandering.
aside from the fact that it's a beautiful place full of old churches and new paint, basel is also, like many places on the continent, absolutely bike friendly. trams and bikes rule the city centre, cars happily give way to cyclists and pedestrians, and it is almost impossible to get lost on a bike thanks to the right signs, in the right places. people were riding bareheaded and gloveless on an amazing array of bikes and, because it was relentlessly hot, simply walking up the hills before hopping back on at the top and continuing on their way.
on sunday, the utility traffic was joined by 'serious' sports riders; mountain bikers with helmets jammed in backpacks as they headed out of the city for the hills in the morning, road riders unapologetically sweat-stained and tired-looking as they pedalled home in the evening sun after their races and rides, a few even with numbers still pinned to their jerseys underneath their musettes.
a good place to be a cyclist. when will uk cities be like this?