Troyes to Munster to Freiburg to Ulm
It is about 5:00 am and I am in a hotel room in Ulm Germany … on the Danube, Einsteins birthplace and home of the largest steeple in the world. Hard to actually describe the most spectacular days one could even imagine. when we left Troyes for our longest scheduled day of the tour, we went through this beautiful nature trail. We were riding with “Doc” about a 60 year old ER doc from Boulder that races bikes. He is the besy cyclist on our tour, but as we were speeding down the trail not really paying attention, we missed our turn and needed up going around this beautiful lake for an additional 15 miles. It was a beautiful hot day and the hills for the last 30 miles were long and tough into the wind. We stopped in a little town to have coffee and fill up our totally dry bottles, but alas as we found in all of these little towns in France, there are always long hours of the day when they choose to close. In this ride early on we were on the Champagne car/bus tourist route so about every 6 miles you would enter an old old town with the most beautiful old homes with spectacular gardens and of course many housed their own champagne. I won’t go into every day but the scenery and stops along the little cafes are fabulous. I don’t eat bread, but every one loves stopping off to get the bread, strangely enough the bakeries do’t sell coffee so you usually have to go across the street to the bar/restaurant where coffee is served ( way too small a cup for me) and you may sit next to a local drinking wine at 10 in the morning.
he day we road into Munster , I wish I could adequately transplant by brain images, even pictures do absolutely no justice…in this ride was a 9 mile climb with only about a half mile break within it to the ColDe La Schluct. The las 2 miles get steeper and steeper. I love love to climb so made it to the top first, but had about 20 miles before the climb so we did not start the climb at the same time. Then 10 miles down this wonderful smooth not too steep road all the way into Munster ( a beautiful small town with plenty of tourists). In Munster Dan and I had a beer in the tourist spot with one of our fellow riders and then found a little out of the way bar to watch the Tour de France while having a couple of very good Dark beers. At first I ordered some type of beer, you never know what you are getting with the language barrier; and got this bright red beer that tasted like cAndy/cough syrup. Dan drank it while I ordered another. Well 2 pints of beer is well over my limit but 3? After the third we decided to get upearlyand go back up the mountain from the Munster side before starting our scheduled ride. This was so much fun, a much easier ride on this side and then after we flew down, the market was going on in Munster. The bread-cheeses- fresh meat and produce from the local farms and just watching the people…what a treat.
Food has been great, our tour cooks for dinner on riding days and we eat on our own on rest days but the hotels all provide breakfast…not those little breakfasts you get from US hotels, I am talking the biggest best buffet of breakfast you could dream of. I eat vegetables cheese and some meat but nothing white, so no bread, grains, potatoes etc. I supplement my calorie deficiency with candy (caramel things you suck on, and licorice) plus beer. Still lost plenty of weight I the first 2 weeks but that is pretty usual for me on these long treks as I lose a lot early and then stabilize.
Food is so much better than when we went across Canada.
I am so wordy but it is hard to decide what to put down as it is also new and wonderful.
I won’t go into our tails of woe in Freiburg except that nothing and I mean nothing except a few restaurants are open in Germany on Sunday and everything shuts down early on Saturday even restaurants so we missed getting to the supermarket and almost missed laundry on Saturday ( we had planned on doing it Sunday) . Long hungry day. Getting out of Freiburg we climbed out into the Black Foresr. This time a much tougher steeper climb although shorter at 6 miles. Doc beat me to the top but I gave him a run for his money falling back about 30 yards at the end. He said his power meter registered about 90 to 95 percent of his effort when racing the mountains in Colorado so he was very impressed with my climb. I can climb but thankfully Dan pulls me through all the wind and navigates for me.
Navigating is a whole other story, the Tour tries to help by flagging some intersections but mostly you just have your cue sheet. We got lost in one big industrial town and spent about an hour trying to figure out how to get back on track.
The last 2 days we have been in Germany riding along the Danube.
Update: Rest Day now at 3:00 pm and doing laundry. Dan and I went out for a little spin and ended up doing 40 miles through about 8 towns of various sizes. We got just a little lost. I caught a cold here, first cold I think in over 2 years, but not hard to do given all the contact with people.
A cole of words about riding on the Danube. It is absolutely nothing like I thought it would be, which is some flat path like the rail trail on the Cape with a bunch of people slowly meandering around with family. Quite the contrary at least this section is very scenic with come gravel road parts, and the Danube is quite small here. We went through a beautiful nature park with big rock faces and hills and monasteries built on the top of these cliffs. There are hundreds and hundreds of people that use the trail many many that carry all their camping gear on their bikes as they travel various distances on the trail. The Danube extends from close to the German East border to the Black Sea about 1200 miles but we are ending our journey along it in Slovakia.
A couple of things about Germany…at least this part. I am shocked at how religious they are. Big big churches (catholic) in every town and huge mini personal shrines with either the Virgin Mary or Jesus on the cross everywhere. I really like the German people, they proudly speak English and given the chance…bitch about the French not trying to learn German where they all try to be able to communicate. met A lovely 80 year old woman that was so thrilled to be able to practice her English. All the waiters and hotel personnel spak very good English. I love the cleanliness.
The farms are spectacular as you go across country I would imagine it must be like the farms of the old days before the big companies bought them all up. we all noticed how they plant very small sections of varying types of grain corn etc, so it is quite colorful and probably ,uch healthier for the soil. They seem to all have advanced machinery as well. In France there were many many windmills in Germany there are huge arrays of solar panels on just about every roof.
When I see how wonderful this trail is for commerce in all the towns it goes through, I wonder why we can’t get our shit together on the Cape. Every town has a big cobble stone center of town with restaurants, shops cafes, and these unbelievable sculptures which must tell the story of the town.
I would definitely put this on this list for ANYONE to do. You don’t have to ride as much mileage to really enjoy. In fact most people probably spend a little more time in each town than we do. For us it is either a great coffee shop in the morning or place to eat lunch in the afternoon. We like to explore off our route on our own, although one elongation trip on a “bike path” sent us on a very rocky mountain bike trail for 6 miles which is pretty dicey on a road bike wih skinny tires.
we had to walk our bikes up a steep slope for about 1 mile but luckily found a beautiful road to go flying back down to the Danube.
Well as you can tell…life is good!Dan and I have planned our next trip. Doomsday Ride…which is very hard mountain riding from Belize to Costa Rica. Forging rivers, plus mud and long descents down muddy roads. That means new bikes and more adventure. Until the next time
PS Remember I don’t go back and edit so excuse all errors or parts you have no idea what I am talking about.