The "Route des Crêtes" is a scenic road running along the ridge of the Vosges from Cernay to the Col des Bagenelles in Alsace. On summer weekends when the weather is fine, it is a favourite run out for bikers from the adjoining regions of France, Germany and Switzerland.
For several years, rumours have been circulating that the road will be closed to bikers. Although the police and the local authorities have repeatedly denied that such plans exist, the local group of the FFMC (Fédération Française des Motards en Colère, the French Federation of Angry Bikers) decided that some form of protest was necessary.
On Sunday September 21 2003, the FFMC invited bikers to take part in a demonstration. I took my R90S and arrived at the Markstein around 9.45 am. It was a sunny, warm day and I was in time to see hundreds of other bikers arrive. And they went on arriving well after the scheduled meeting time of 10 am.
At around 10.45 it was estimated that we were more than 1000 bikers present, and we set off to ride northward in one huge group to the Col de la Schlucht. At the same time, a second group set off for the Col de la Schlucht from the Col des Bagenelles. Both groups had police escorts.
I was near the front of the group and was able to park the bike without difficulty and watch the others arrive.
By the time the second group had arrived too, around midday, it was estimated that between 2500 and 3000 bikers had gathered on the Col, which had to be closed to other traffic for several hours.
The local TV station, FR3 Alsace, started its evening news broadcast with a detailed and generally sympathetic report on the demonstration. The next day, it made front page headline news in the local newspaper, L'Alsace.
Postcript. It is now 2010 and the road is still open to all traffic, including bikes. The latest rumours are that: 1) the road will be closed to private traffic, but free shuttle buses will run for walkers and climbers; 2) the road will stay open but a speed limit of 30 kph will be imposed. As the French say, à suivre ...
Last revised: 01-Jan-2010