The last three days of riding between Chaumont and Colmar have been incredible. We are far enough from Paris now that we are getting to enjoy the best of backcountry cycling. Leaving Chaumont we traversed a series of old roads through rolling hills of small farms and villages. The bridges that crossed the many small streams remained from Roman times. Our first destination was Vittel, the source of the bottled water. At our camp that night we were neighboured by a troop of German Scouts who were camping on site for 10 days. In that time they had constructed incredible shelters from wood canvas and rope. They cooked in huge cauldrons hung by chains over the fire. I even managed to watch a performance of “Robin Hood and his Merry Men”.
The stage to Saulxures was a very social ride. Walter, Sheila, Lincoln, Joy and myself found ourselves cruising at a leisurely pace enjoying the conversation as much as the scenery. We stopped at a patisserie for some decadent snacks before we even made it as far as lunch. In the afternoon we stopped to indulge in the local ales in Remiremont with only 13km left to ride. Big mistake! The end of the ride led us right down a valley that just tunneled the headwind and the belly full of beer didn’t help the legs. My preconception of Europe was that it was supposed to be a place of refinement, historical and cultural. Well that evening we were camped at le Lac de la Moselette and I was shocked to discover that even Europe has Trailer Trash. At our Caravan Park there was live music. I went to check out the show only to discover a bunch of hicks line-dancing to a bad Elvis impersonator sporting a star spangled banner.
My favorite ride on this continent was the stage coming into Colmar. One of those mornings where the legs just feel strong. It was cool, the sun was burning off the fog in the valley but low clouds still hung in the hills. At La Bresse, a small ski village, 20km into the ride, we turned into the le Vallee de Chaujoux. We gained over 1000m of elevation over 15 km as the road twisted up past mountain streams, chairlifts and giant hemlocks. The pavement was still graffitied with names of the best cyclists in the world as the Tour de France had traveled this same route just weeks earlier. I was cranking so well, I didn’t even stop for lunch, which was at Col de la Schlucht the summit of the mountain pass with an incredible vista of the lowlands. The descent was 13 km and it didn’t take very long. The switchbacks were so tight but I tried not to use my brakes. My odometer is broken so I have no idea what my top speed was by I managed to over take two cars. Now we are in Colmar for our second rest day. We are camped beside the R. Ill. The town itself has small Venician canals, flowers everywhere and the cobblestone pedestrian mall has every possible tasty treat you can imagine. Franziska, a Swiss TDA veteran is coming to join us for a day. It’s always good to see old friends in a foreign place. When we leave Colmar we will enter country number two, Germany [and head for] Ulm, the birth place of Einstien.