Well here we are in the final throughs of the European section of our trip, with a mere four months to go.
Martigney, Switzerland to Abondance, France, 109km
After being away from the group for a one-week period it was off again to join up with the group. We left the hotel with a gut feeling the day was not as we had understood it to be as the original plan was to be in Chatel, France and not Abondance as indicated above, and it turned out our gut was right. We rode on a bike trail for 25km before we started up a grueling 14km climb to an altitude of 1200mīs. The beginning of the climb was delayed as we broke a chain and had to seek repairs, luckily the shop was100m from where we failed. One hour and $85 later we were off for what was to be a bitch of a climb. When you go off route you end up carrying not only tools but all necessary clothing to ensure you can be self-sufficient. What this means in our case is about an additional 50 pounds of stuff. Mary still insists on that 40-pound hair dryer. The change of camping sites translated to an additional 13km to an already long day. The support on the mountain for this hot (30+C) hilly day was extremely poor, in the two and three quarter hours we were climbing we saw no support vehicles, but we did see plenty of riders suffering and out of water. The dinner was outdoors at picnic tables set up in the field and consisted of some rather interesting potatoes, with little pieces of mystery meat in a sauce that had a rather strange after taste, even the diehards who will eat anything seemed to be having some difficulty in digesting the stuff. There was also cold pasta with a red sauce and cheese that had absolutely no taste.
Abondance to Geneva, 79kms
Following a rather interesting breakfast at the camp it was off for a beautiful ride to Geneva. The route was mainly downhill, with a few climbs thrown in for good measure. Along the way we stopped at the home of one of the riders where his family had set up cheese, wine, water and coke for those who chose to stop. It was a nice touch and every one had a good time. The ride into Geneva was beautiful as we came along the lake, the sun was shining and the temperature was ideal. We arrived at check in to find out we would be sleeping 48 to a room in an underground nuclear bunker. We had a look at the facility and decided 48 people sleeping in bunk beds in one room for a couple of days was an experience we chose to not avail ourselves of. Luckily the university across the street had very affordable rooms in student's quarters we could rent. We started a landslide as a fair number of our fellow riders decided a room of two beat a room of 48. Dinner and breakfasts were served at the university and the chefs did an excellent job. They appreciated the handshake and thank you that I extended in appreciation for some rather good meals after some rather marginal stuff. The DRG (daily route guide) we had going into Geneva was a source of great knowledge as we learned that Geneva is called the refugee capital of the world, even a couple we know from Switzerland were surprised to learn this little gem of knowledge. Geneva was not the greatest place to do sightseeing in, but we did make the most of our layover day.
Geneva to Salavaux, Switzerland, 37kms
After breakfast it was off in a car before we started riding. We are becoming real soft but felt the pouring rain would wrinkle our delicate skin and when we were offered a ride till it stopped we could not look a gift horse in the mouth. The weather did clear so we did a ride around the lake where the group was camping. This proved to be a harder ride than we expected as we made a wrong turn and found ourselves on one hell of a climb. Turned out it was worth it as the view was spectacular. For dinner we decided to treat ourselves to Thai food at the hotel where we were staying, turned out to be a wise decision, great food and good service.
Salavaux to Zurzach, Switzerland, 158kms
Today's ride was started in a rather dismal way with fog and overcast skies dominating most of the AM. The afternoon saw the skies clear and it turned into a beautiful day. We chose to ride bike routes that are published in books available in most European countries and we had a super ride. There was little in the way of traffic, the route flatter and in most case more scenic. The regular route for the ones choosing to remain on route was not on bike paths (big shame) and it tended to go over every high point. The campgrounds were prepared for the group and the manager did an excellent job of trying to fit the tents into what little space there was. The tents were spotted around the grounds between permanent campers etc. We had a very nice dinner at the camp and once again the campground manager had laid on entertainment in the form of a local choral group who sang traditional Swiss songs (sort of a yodel) and three fellows playing the Alps horn, very talented and entertaining.
The following day was slated to be a rest day but being the crazy people we have become we decided to get on our bikes and ride half way to the next day's destination. Actually our motivation was selfish, as we wanted to avoid a bus ride some 235kms, which the organizers had laid on in lieu of riding. The ride was much more challenging than we had planned, this combined with a late start etc. made for a very long day. We were mostly in the Black Forest for the day and our climbing for the day was something greater than 1600 meters. We arrived in a little town of Triberg, which apparently is the heart of the clock building industry for Germany. A neat town, but too many tourists. If you can believe it, we met a couple staying at our little and modest hotel from Florida, talk about a small world. I realize this is perhaps a small point but can you imagine our surprise when we tried to get a route guide from the organizers to assist us in getting to Rheinmunster only to be denied same. Why when you save the organizer a couple of meals, a bus ride and bike transport would they deny someone a few cents worth of paper? Could this be customer service?
Triberg to Rheinmunster, Germany,
Today was the day the group rode the bus we drove the car for Steve and Al who rode and picked them up after some 60kmīs. The first part that they rode was up hill but very gradual, the part we were going to ride but decided against turned out to be extremely steep with little in the way of relief, a wise decision on our behalf. The campground was very crowded as this is busy season and trying to cram the large number of tents into the limited space available makes for some interesting times. We went out for dinner and had a very nice meal.
Rheinmunster to Bad Durkheim, Germany 120kms
Following a great breakfast at our hotel (still not camping) it was off for a beautiful day of riding the German countryside. The route we chose took us along the Rhine River and was on the beautiful Rhine bike route, paved and quiet bikeways. The route also took us through some very neat old towns. We were once again at a camp where the campground had done an excellent job in laying on a very nice meal. When one sees roast pork, roast turkey, fresh vegetables and dessert you have to pinch yourself to make sure you are at the right venue.
Bad Durkhiem to Koblenz, 136kms
Following a late start as we had to make some minor repairs to Alīs bike it was off on what turned out to be a very hilly ride through the wine country. The road followed the hills which where unrelenting and constant at least for the first 75kms. After this it was down into the valley where we followed the Rhine River for a beautiful ride.
This part of the trip has been blessed with sunshine most of the days today being one of the few exceptions; luckily today the rains came late in the day.
We continue our trek to Luxembourg, Belgium then Holland where things are somewhat confused concerning where we will be camping (supposed to be beds) and where we will be flying from, started out Amsterdam, then Rotterdam and now it is a bus to Koln Germany where we fly to Canberra, Australia. The trip continues to evolve.
Will close for now stay tuned for any further updates.
Love, Dave & Mary