After yesterday’s washout, the sun is shining when we wake. The shoes however still have memories of the day before, but not too uncomfortable. I seemed to be struggling for the word go, feeling ok but not as interested in breakfast as I should have been. Not really enough fuel for the day ahead, and once on the road, it was apparent that although the legs were turning, there wasn’t much power. Fortunately the surface was flat, with the usually light head wind meaning that pushing was necessary to maintain a reasonable pace. I quickly worked out that hydration or lack thereof may have been the issue, the more fluid I pushed down the throat the easier it got, and so I made a point of keeping the bottle in hand at regular intervals. Neither of us had drunk much the day before, I think I was assuming that all the water on the outside might gradually find it’s way to the inside by osmosis. It seems it doesn’t work that way.
This morning we got to see those lovely hills along the side of the river that had looked slightly maudlin the previous afternoon. A wide slow river, long majestic bends and wooded hills rising either side of the route. The settlements are now taking on a different appearance, you can start to see the Germanic/Swiss influence in things like the roof slopes and church towers, and the place starts to feel less like France. To be honest, over the last few days somehow France seems less like a foreign country, and more like a place that I live. I’ve obviously been here too long!
Still can’t speak the lingo mind you, although I did understand every word the hotel receptionist said this evening, which is more than can be said for Jones. Perhaps I can charge a fee as official translator? Of course it’s cheating a bit, there are only so many variations of ‘your room number is …’, ‘would you like breakfast’, ‘here is the code for the door’, and ‘you can use the swimming pool and sauna till 10pm’. Hang on, did she say swimming pool? That’s a first! Got to go check that out. I did, it was disappointingly small and the sauna was shoehorned into a broom cupboard. There was a large family group in the pool area, some basking like walruses (size analogy accurate) and the more spritely family members were doing a cross between seals waiting to be culled and a strange form of synchronised swimming as four of them tried to do laps of the pool without kicking each other in the face (which might have made the culling somewhat easier). So decided it would be safe to take a shower in the privacy of our own bathroom.
Back to the lack of pushing power, and Jones was leading the pack today, which meant I had to put up with looking at his arse again. By the time we’d done 60, I was pretty much done for, whilst he was still talking about doing the extra 30 to get to Mulhouse. But that would have taken till at least 9pm which was getting unreasonable, and given that it’s a Friday night, we thought it sensible to find a hotel before there were none left.
At lunch time, we stopped to talk to a couple on recumbent bikes, you know the ones where you lay down with your legs in the air. A younger French couple who had set out from Toulouse and were intending to head out on the rest of Eurovelo 6 to the Black Sea. And then maybe keep going. They said they had a couple of years, so it sounded like a round-the-world in the making. Mind you, they had already had a 10 day break as the chap had dislocated his thumb whilst trying to be helpful to some people in a boat. Just goes to show that you need to watch out for more than the perils of the road when on a cycling trip.
We also came across a bloke on a folding bike towing a sea-faring canoe. This one came with outriggers and a sail, and immediately caught the interest of Jones who likes the odd canoe (the odder the better). He peddled back to talk to the chap whilst I continued to hydrate. It turns out the guy had sailed/paddled down the Rhine from Strasbourg, bike on board as well as kit and camping equipment, had then switched to land and the towing setup and would follow our route in reverse till he got to Orléans, then get back in the Loire with the boat, stow the bike and sail/paddle out to the Atlantic, and then around the coast of Brittany to Bourlogne! I don’t think Jones bothered to mention all the cycle gates along the route which would make life difficult with the bike and canoe is tow. Didn’t want to piss on his bonfire, but good luck to him anyway. Nutter!
It’s now pissing with rain, but the forecast is for it to pass before the morning. After a check on options for getting home, we are thinking of stopping in Mulhouse and not going on to Basel. The hotels are looking pricey in Basel, and we’d only need to cycle back 30 miles along the same route to be able to get a train or car from Mulhouse. So when we get to Mulhouse, hopefully by lunch time, we will find a hotel early, dump the bags, and then have a leisurely potter to meet the Rhine, hop over the border and sample some of the German brew, and then back to the hotel for a celebratory meal. We think it most likely that we will get the train to Paris, and then weigh up options on either the Eurostar back to London, or the train to Calais. The only difficulty with the Eurostar is availability and the ability to take bikes. The French are alleged to be unhelpful if you want to take a bike without dismantling it, which we don’t want to do. If necessary, we will consider an overnight in Paris and then the ferry route home depending on how sociable and workable the connection times are.
So tomorrow looks to be the last day of cycling for this trip. There are only another 12 miles to go before we hit the magic 1000, and it’s at least 25 miles to Mulhouse, so job done. I’ll summarise what we think of the trip in the next couple of days, so keep reading – it’s not over till the fat lady sings!
Miles Covered Today: 61
Total Miles Covered: 988
Executive Summary: Be content with your own ambitions, and not get led astray by nutters with canoes