Happy New Year to all of you
Some friends are wondering what happened to me in December after I got back on my bike. Now here is the official answer.
After the driest November since ever, maybe it was one of the most wettest December.
I left my sister’s place in Lahr on Friday the 9th of December, just at the day when the weather turned very bad. My destination for the end of the day was my friends place in Sausheim, close to Muhlhouse, just a little bit more than 90 km, under normal conditions not a problem at all.
Unfortunately there haven’t been normal conditions. There was strong headwind and later also rain.
I had to tell myself what I used to tell my audience, keep calm, desperation cost too much energy etc…
Soon I realized I wouldn’t arrive during daylight. On a long straight road through the forest I had to put my lamps on. And surprise, surprise, there I got enough light and also could cycle in dark.
Actually, for the tour I had no certain destination, the aim was simply to test my equipment. The light succeeded the test, the rain booties, failed. I got wet and cold feet.
After 10 hours hard cycling I arrived at Elke’s and Gile’s place, A hot shower not only washes away the dirt and sweat but also all the unpleasantness of the day. Afterwards I was not only clean but also happy again.
I also had to test my health condition, how do my knees and wrists behave during a long bike ride?
On the bike I realized, my left wrist didn’t like it very much. From time to time I had to take it off the handle bar and do some gymnastics.
The problems with the knees I realized later on the staircase. This I didn’t take very serious, I thought, that’s cause of the hard cycling day and until I get in a better shape again.
Next day I took off again, the destination of the day another friends place in Bisel. There was no hurry, because the distance was only around 50 km. The wind calmed down a little bit, but there was more rain.
After Mulhouse I reached the wonderful cycling path along the Rhine-Rhone cannel.
Of course, there were no other cyclists, only some animals, for example the coypu.
Despite the rain, the atmosphere was very nice, so I decided to stay at the canal until Dannemarie.
From some cycling trips around Bisel, I already knew the cycling path from Dannemarie to Seppoi-le-Haut, from there its only 3 km to Bisel.
It was Denis’ birthday many guests were invited. Like usual in France we got a multi course dinner, with champagne and very good wine.
Lucky me, I was not too tired, because it got very late.
It was already planned to stay in Bisel on Sunday. This was the day with the best weather of the whole week, no rain, no wind, sunshine, but colder than the days before.
After the relaxing day I continued in rain and wind again. Anyway, I was very happy to be back on the bike again. I had no certain destination for the day, I only had to go as far as I get, no hurry, no stress.
A short brake in Montbeliard and a “picnic” in the train station, where it was warm and dry. It’s a habit of mine to go to a tourist office, if there is one. In Montbeliard it was again very useful, I got a map of a cycling track from Montbeliard to Dole, with all necessary addresses on the road like accommodations.
Despite of the rain and wind, it was a pleasure to cycle along the empty path between the Doubs and the Canal.
Because my feet were wet and cold I was not very eager to cycle late, also daylight is a problem while cycling at this season in the northern hemisphere. Sunrise is around 8:00am, sunset around 4:30 pm.
It was only around 3pm, when I arrived in Saint-Maurice, one of the little villages that you easily can miss, if you cycle too fast. According my new map there should be a Gites, one of the cheap accommodations in France. A quick phone call and I knew it is open. I not even had to look for it, it was right on the other side of the canal, next to a bridge. Of course I was the only guest, I had the whole Gites with kitchen and bathroom for myself and very cheap.
I only can recommend it. It’s new, clean, cheap and the lady is very nice.
Because the heating system was out of order, I could test my sleeping bag and it passed the test with success, I had a nice warm sleep. Only getting up the next morning was a kind of problem.
Next day, at least the first 3 km, was no rain, but then my friends and companions, wind and rain, were back. At least I could cycle without taking my map out, there were a lot of signs along the road, only were it was newly builded the signs were still missing.
As long as I staid against the wind, I knew I was in the correct direction.
Without a brake I was cycling to Besancon, I wanted to arrive there before dark and there is no reason to make a brake in the rain.
It was already the second time I staid in the Youth Hostel in Besancon. It’s a huge building, I had a room on the 7th floor. I almost couldn’t sleep, the storm and rain were too noisy the whole night through.
Next morning all thoughts of turning back home, were gone, despite the weather I continued.
In Besancon, the canal flows in a tunnel, the cycling path as well.
quite interesting, but still very wet.
It must be very nice to cycle here in summer, most likely also very busy. I still didn’t meet any travelling cyclist.
After 24 km the sky turned black and the wind turned in a heavy storm. Lucky me there was a bridge in sight, which I arrived 5 minutes later.
I leaned my bike at the wall and set on the floor behind my bike in the lee.
It didn’t last very long, the wind blowed the rain below the bridge, and my bike was pushed on me. I was only sitting there, completely wet, the bike above me and hoped it will be over soon. Finally after 30 min the storm and rain calmed down and I could continue. After 1 km I thought, it doesn’t make much sense to continue, I should turn around, what I did then.
But again 3 km later I decided, no, I want to continue, at least I want to reach Lyon, and turned around again.
Just before I reached Dole again the sky turned black again and I had a thunderstorm with hale, also not something you want to have on a bike ride.
It was still early afternoon when I arrived in Dole, anyway, I didn’t want to continue. Soon I found the Tourist Office, got a map and the address of the Youth Hostel. But then I had to go to a bakery to get finally something to eat.
It was 5pm and already dark when I arrived at the Youth Hostel, and felt asleep immediately. The hot shower had to wait for another couple of hours.
One point I also had to learn at this trip, I am not that young and fit anymore. I cannot plan for 100km distances per day anymore, 70-80km are enough, at least for the first 5000km of my next trip.
Of course, next day I continued my trip again, the last bit along the Rhine-Rhone- canal. In the meantime I learned, the canal doesn’t flow into the Rhone, but in the Saone.
Along the canal, at least before Dole, there are mountains and curves, you still can hope the headwind get’s better.
After the mouth of the canal it changed. The path leads directly to the South without any barrier. The headwind was stronger than ever. It took my hours to cycle the 3km to the next town.
Here, again, I thought about turning around, but again I decided to continue, for another 2 km.
And then there was the final decision: My goal of this trip was to test my equipment, my health and shape. Besides my tent and stove I had tested everything. So, I declared I reached my goal and finally turned around.
In just a few hours the wind blew me back into Dole, where I started in the morning.
In Dole I had enough time to have finally a hot wine on the Christmas Market.
Another advantage of turning around as well was I could celebrate Christmas and New Year with friends.
Who knows where I will be end of this year.
I whish all of you a pleasant New Year, with new experiences and many good meetings with nice people and of course lot’s of cycling trips.
Wow… sounds ….like a real challenge…. I really admire your strength.
By when will you start for your long trip?