Troyes to Freiburg

Sitting in the hotel room looking out the 5th floor window at the sunny skies and densely forested surroundings of Freiburg it’s not hard to see the beautiful possibilities for cycling in the area.  Many years ago I participated in a bicycle stage race here and I remember clearly the steep winding hills and the melodic sound of cowbells ringing in the heavy, foggy weather in the Black Forest.  Great memories but I think the part about gasping for oxygen and the pain in my legs seems to have faded.

Luckily our journey out of Freiburg does not include many of those hills (only 1 of 9km; still a big test) after that we will find ourselves on the Danube cycle trail the majority of the time till Bratislava.

Let’s look back at the last few days of cycling on the Orient Express. From Troyes the cyclists did an amazing job of cycling one of the longest days of the Tour at what ended up being 140km.  Our resident fast guy Chris Willie was in early, but even the last few riders were into camp with time to spare before dinner. 

The last 2 cyclists arrived on different bikes than they’d had the day before.  This was due to their bicycles being stolen from the hotels parking garage the previous night.  The 2 cyclists in question had an extremely calm and realistic attitude about the situation and I think because of that the issue resolved itself with relative ease.  The hotels’ insurance picked up the cost of their new bikes, which were purchased in Troyes that morning, and amazingly by 11:00am they were cycling the days route.  Hats off to them!

Our next day to Plombieres les Bains was a whole new route and destination for the Orient Express and one which will be a keeper.  The route was on quiet roads through the French countryside and finished with about 15km through a forest alongside a quickly running stream.  Plombieres les Bains is a striking town devoted to tourism since the time of Roman occupation; the famed thermal baths have been visited by everyone from Montaigne, Voltaire, and Napoleon Bonaparte to thousands of Europeans seeking solace in the restorative waters.  I don’t believe any of our cyclists ventured into the baths but hopefully they enjoyed the town before climbing the few kilometers to our camp overlooking the river valley. Munster was our next destination and this included the climb of the Col de Schluct.  About 10km of total climbing spread out over 15kms, it’s a big test and one that every cyclist on the Tour succeeded at.  This was followed by a quite chilly descent into

Munster, the city blessed with the famous Munster cheese.  It’s easy to notice that this province of Alsace has passed back and forth between Germans and French over the last few centuries.  While still in France many store fronts have German names and the architecture is more similar to the towns on the eastern side of the Rhine.

Today we have a rest day in Freiburg and the pace is slow (as it’s Sunday and tomorrow is a holiday) Cyclists are out exploring the town and tasting the local delicacies, the staff is checking out the route from Freiburg for the next day and sorting through other logistics.   Hmmm… I think it’s time for a bratwurst and Bavarian beer!

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