Final French Fling

Judy and Stephan (Sharon’s parents) were coming for mid morning brunch today. They had been staying at their cabin in a forest somewhere high up a hill…I’m sure I could get lost there too if I tried!

I wanted to contribute something to the brunch so had this great idea. Genuine French croissants.

Yes I know I am in Switzerland but France is not very far away. Ben was not sure if they would be open, being Sunday but I wanted to ride anyway.

The roads were ever so quiet. I do like riding earlier before people with cars get out and about.

Leaving Therwil I headed to the border and onto Leyman..,no bakery, but just out of the village, on my way to Rodersdorf, I took these nice rural scenes and another reminding us how fast they can drive here on open roads.

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I rode through a series of sleepy villages including Biederthal, Wolschwiller, Lutter and Raedersdorf. No bakeries but nice scenery.

I liked this church with the ominous sky.

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No man bathing here, but the cat was enjoying it. After this car, I saw many. I suspect there are many wild cats in this area.

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Looking back up the hill to an older chateaux.

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More forest, nice and cooling. Actually the temperature was great. Being so early it was about 19 degrees Celsius.

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Freddy made it onto the side of this structure.

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Then this was adjacent…TNT…it’s dynamite! Made me think of the AC/DC song I often train to.

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This bee hive was in a village. Great to see and surely this is something we could do in Tasmania with local communities getting  behind it.

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Another sleepy village ahead. I climbed around and then over the hill.

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I then had a steady 4 km climb of 6-8 percent and started to wonder about the merits of croissants! Were they going to be worth it, if I was actually able to find a bakery? So far, not one bakery!!

Riding on the town of Ferrette came into view. At the top of the hill is the old castle ruins.

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I found a panel with information. So the castle is Château de Ferrette. The county of Ferrette came into existence in the 11th century and consisted of a large part of southern Alsace ( the French region I was in).

In 1324, the County was acquired by Austria through the marriage of Jeanne, Countess of Ferrette with Albert II, Duke of Austria.

Austria ceded it to France in 1648.

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Having climbed for 4km, there was going to be some downhill….not very fast though as I hate cobbles. Again, this is steeper than it looks. The time on the clock is 8.40 am. Still nice and early.

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Down the hill and around the corner..a bakery!! It was open! A really nice village and one I will come back to explore more.

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I had a coffee and packed my 6 croissants into my pannier  and left as I was not sure how long it would take to return.

I was just cruising and spinning with zero interest in pushing myself as my knee and feet have been playing up from the walking. My body is also still recovering from my 24 hour ride two weeks ago.

I rode through Fislis and Oltingue where I photographed this renovators delight.

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Pretty flower boxes and a sign to the gelato shop!

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Looking towards Switzerland and Liebenswiller.

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Back in Leyman I photographed this cool crossing sign. Quite a few of these here.

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So the croissants made it back safe and sound and a scrumptious brunch enjoyed by all.

Wags, Ben’s dog from Australia, now happily ensconced in Switzerland, ever hopeful of food scraps.

Hannah arrives in a week and she is going to be overjoyed to have a pooch to play with.

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I have now cleaned and packed my bike. I considered riding Monday am and riding with Ben into Basel and back but took the conservative option….’just in case’.

My flight does not depart until 10.45 pm so it is going to be a long few days as I journey home.

Today’s route took me across the Swiss French border a few times as you can see.

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Thanks for reading …. stay tuned for my next cycling adventures. Xxx

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Basel

Basel has a population of around 180,000 and is Switzerland’s third largest city.  Today, we were to spend the day in the city therefore no cycling today.

Ben and Sharon had booked a brunch for us at a restaurant that features a number of Swiss foods as well as a variety of European cuisines.

Funnily enough it was opposite a major intersection where Tony and I got lost en route from London to Venice in 2016!

There was a delightful range of food, including many items I had not tried before.

As you often do with a buffet, we waddled out!

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We were heading down to the Rhine River and passed through a dog park. There are a variety of tactile experiences for pooches.

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We followed a pretty creek.

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The creek emptied into the Rhine, and at the junction was a small beach with swimmers in force already.

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Walking along the river banks were a multitude of cycling signs including directions to towns in Germany and France.

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The Roche building again where Ben works. The construction site is another new Roche building being developed.

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I was intrigued by these huts. They feature at regular intervals on both sides of the river. They are privately owned fishing huts.

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A section of an old Basel building from the Middle Ages.

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A lovely old door with 1539and 1614 mentioned.

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It was a hot day and the temperature was around 30 degrees. This is a drinking fountain. The lesson today folks is this….make sure you do not dunk your bottle into the pond section…always from the tap!

This guy was quite chillaxed in the fountain.

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Lovely ivy clad home.

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One of the things I love about Switzerland is their progressive attitude to cycling. The city of Basel recognises that cycling is better for the environment and actively encourages it.

Here is an older lady zipping along, nicely dressed.

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Ben insisted we head into the Tesla showroom. He has his eye on a Tesla car. There is no dashboard information. Everything is on this large iPad like screen.

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They can’t decide between white, blue or red. I quite like the red! Price is around 60 000 CH which seems quite reasonable. I am sure they would be heaps more in Australia despite the fx rates.

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A tram to the other side of the river and we walked around a lovely park. We stopped here to soak our hot and sweaty feet. Little fish nibbled our feet curiously.

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This is a great bike to hire if you have little kids. I have seen numerous of these around the city with kids being carted to and fro.

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Shoes back on and we continue our walk.

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Plenty of well maintained bike paths.

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We headed into the Tierpark. This is quite large and free! It was established in 1871.

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I quite liked the buffalo and goat.

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Switzerland has many of these structures for bees, acknowledging their importance.

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I liked the park rules signage.

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This is the children’s playground. How cool is the wooden structure?

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Finally Basel’s heraldic animal, the Basilisk. Curiously the definition of basilisk is a poisonous worm and fable emerging from the egg of an oold rooster, brooded by the warmth of dung or by a snake or toad.

The appearance is described as ‘like a cock with dragons wings, the beak of an eagle and the tail of a lizard’.

The basilisk…..

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My feets and knees were knackered, and I was glad to arrive back in Therwil where we had some amazing Japanese food that Ben picked up on our way home.

Thanks for reading! Stay safe and keep smiling. Xxx

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Eye opener

I planned a longer ride today, starting off by riding into the city of Basel with Ben as he headed off to work.

There was a constant stream of cyclists snaking their way along various routes. Cycling is heavily encouraged to reduce traffic congestion with plenty of bike storage options.

I bid Ben farewell at the Basel Bahnhof and headed Rhine River via Munsterplatz and the Cathedral. This was my third time riding past the Cathedral since 2016, and I had not noticed this on the Cathedral walls.

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I took the little animal on the right to be a dog…bit over the top treatment. I later learned from Ben that in fact it is a dragon…a pint sized one. So St George slaying the mighty, scary dragon.

Just past the Cathedral was this view of the Rhine River, looking upstream.

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Looking downstream to the old bridge I was to cross over.

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I crossed the bridge…this is looking downstream, the intended direction for today’s ride.

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I winged it today. The rule was keep the river to my left as practical as possible. I knew I had an industrialised and port section to pass through.

This maybe one section I should have avoided. This was the steepest set of stairs I have ever ever taken my bike up. There is a metal section you can see on the right for the bike wheels, but I had to do this one step at a time, using my bike brakes and my body to stop the bike having a speedy descent.

So…coming back, note to self…avoid!!

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Out the other side an onwards. Last year I crossed this bridge from France to Germany. Yes, I was now in Germany. It is reasonably close to the point where the three countries meet.

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Various sign posts clearly indicating what towns and village options available. I was heading towards Neuenburg and further on again.

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This lock crosses a section of the river.  For much of today’s ride there is a very Long Island in the middle of the Rhine. you can ride over this bridge to the island, go further island and then cross over into France.

Next trip  I will explore that.

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Priding along I encountered this creek. I was about to get wet as no way to avoid it. I just love 100 percent saturated shoes so early in a ride!

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The trail joined up with another….looking back from where I had come was this sign, Verboten! Oops!! Well, I survived!

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Some lovely river views.

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I liked this anchor. Apparently there used to be a ferry crossing at this point of the river, so it is believed the anchor belongs to the ferry. The ferry operated from 1918-1952,with the anchor being found in 1999.

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Just after here I saw the most incredible site a cyclist could see. So what astounding and confusing and the question is WHY?

Ahead of me a man came out of a side track towards me. he had no shirt in…not so,unusual…then he got off his bike.

This man was in his 30’s, very muscly and a tan on every part of his body….how do I know that? He was riding his bike nude!

Would it be wrong to take a photo 😂😂😂

If anyone could get away with riding nude, it was this man…but ooh the saddle chafing!!

I then came across this beautiful spot on the river, being enjoyed by swimmers. It was over 30 degrees Celsius and I envied them.

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At this point I had been on gravel paths for 40 km ( out of 55 km) and was in need of some food and drink! So made the decision to head away from the river to the village of Grißheim.

I rode around the village, and even though it was 11.45 am on a Friday siesta time seemed to have come early.

The only thing was this van selling a variety of cold meats.

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My big purchase…I should have purchased more!! This was a bit less than one euro. Very tasty.

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The water fountains in the village all had non potable water, unlike Switzerland where you can drink from most.

Hazy views towards the Black Forest over recently cut corn crops.

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A little further on a flower farm. Gladioli featuring.

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Villages I passed through with no water included Zienken and then I arrived in the much bigger town of Neuenburg.

Lots of fountains and statues.

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I stopped at a cafe and had a lovely iced coffee…but they had no water either. No shops around with water! It was becoming a luxury commodity!!

I rode through Steinenstatt…having climbed up hills in the heat, to see what views there might be.

I arrived in Bad Bellingen and did a reconnaissance of the town …. there are often shops near churches…not here though!

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This was looking promising….

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At last, bliss!

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Great cafe, lovely owner who was very interested in where I was from, what I was doing.

Continuing on through the hills…

This view towards France.

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Little stalls on the side of the road, honesty system with payment. This one even sold used golf balls.

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Over the road was competition.

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Rural vistas. First looking towards France, the second Germany.

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It was very hot up the top of the hill so decided to head back to the gravel river paths. I stopped here and studied the sign.  I took the turn down the hill.

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The gravel path quickly evaporated to this rough track in the vineyard.

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Totally running out of track, I could see a road, so wheeled my bike down the slope, through the sti going nettle.  Once I got to the road, I either had to head up the hill, or down!

Well  the river would be at the lowest point so down I went.

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Back on the river, there are numerous of these excess water storage pits for times of Rhine River flooding.

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Back in Basel I cross the bridge and you can see swimmers out floating down the river.

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I ride back to Therwil. Potable water! I filled up here.  These fountains very iconic in Basel, being a cross between a dragon and rooster.

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I quickly showered and headed back into the city via tram to meet my dear Swiss friend Sandra. We were heading out for the evening.

We passed the City Hall. Lovely building.

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Popped inside for a look….then I heard familiar music. looking out a group of Hare Krishna’s passed by so gi g their familiar chant.

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This sign indicated that bicycles are permitted inside for visitors. My cycle tan arms 😂😂😂

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I liked this cool dude!

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We ended up on the river front, in the industrial area.

Shipping containers are painted, crates of weeds and looking really funky.

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Table tennis was being played. That guy looked a bit like the one of the bike. The one playing table tennis that is!

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English trees beside the river.

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More funky stalls selling a variety of food and drink.

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A red ship…whatever! It was looking more and more li,e I had walked into a Mad Max movie set.

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This caravan intrigued me!

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We ordered food and sat upstairs with a view back over Mad Max.

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Potted weeds everywhere and a nice old bath next to,our table. Great idea to just grow weeds!

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Sandra and I tried multiple times to get some selfies, but neither succeeded in the dark!!

It was such a joy to see her. We first met in the Maldives in 1985. Then visited her and her husband in 1986-7 in Switzerland and then I did not see her again until 2016.

Since then we caught up,last year, and again this year!

So another wonderful day has come to pass. I rode about 108 km, and about 60 km of that was gravel.

Here are my route details.

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20 French towns and villages in a day

Today I drove my car to Gueberschwihr, a village in the foothills of the Vosges Mountains, France. the entire area is UNESCO listed as a natural regional park.

Many of the villages are listed as “Plus beaux villages de France” and “Ville fleurie”.

Once I passed through Basel and across the border, I sat on an autobahn doing the 130 kmh limit. The distance flew by quickly and I found myself in a very narrow lanes village.

I had predetermined by parking spot at the local cemetery on the village outskirts. It was perfect.

I planned a circuit visiting as many villages as possible in the day. I ended up visiting 20! No wonder they seemed to merge together.

First issues first…I had forgotten to bring my water bottle so would need to find some as a matter of priority as the day was going to be warm.

I headed up the hill towards Voegtlinshoffen, and yes the bakery was open and they had water. Ah, I had left my Euros behind too…but they took card…so I needed to keep my eye open for a bank.

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Refuelling by the fountain above, in what was a very sleepy village, I moved on to Husseren-les-chateaux.

Leaving Gueberschwihr was an interesting fountain, and signs of the recent Tour de France having passed through last month.

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High on the hill is an old castle.

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Narrow lanes, medieval homes, cobbles were to be the norm for the day.  As you can imagine moving through these villages was slow progress, but gives you the opportunity to appreciate the incredible beauty that has been maintained since the 15th to 17th century.

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Once I left the village and headed towards Eguisheim the old castle on the hill had become three old castles.

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Eguisheim is worth a visit for a few hours. Concentric streets, old gates, beautifully maintained buildings, narrow lanes, pretty window sills,  had attracted trillions of tourists. Walking my bike through the centre.

There  were various interpretive panels on buildings providing insight into the history and age.

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The villages flew by in quick succession, often not more than 1-2km apart. Wettoshein, Wintzensheim, Turckheim, Ingersheim, Katzenthal, Ammerschwiher, Kentzheim. I was stopping often to check my navigation points, walking through each for both safety and pleasure.

Silence office 36 metres on the right. Ok…

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Best I could figure was this grotto maybe a ‘silence office’ as it was maybe 36 metres from the sign….

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This village entrance gate looks like a smiling cat.

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Very pretty.

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Fantastic interpretive panels. Turckheim is in the Munster Valley and known for its ancient ramparts.

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I just kept snapping.

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Heading to Kayserberg was this vista as I left riding through vineyards and rejoined the main road.

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I passed by one of the village entrances as I could see another Tour de France sign.

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I rode across the river to view this before doubling back into the village proper. Kayserberg is another village you could spend hours in. I probably stayed an hour wandering around, choosing to walk my bikes as it was filled with hoarded of tourists on the cobbles.

The village features remnants of medieval walls, a Romanesque church, historical half timbered houses, Renaissance burgher’s mansions and a fantastic old world ambience.

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I sat on the edge of this bridge, which dates back to 1514. A French lady had asked me to take her photo as ‘her husband was terrible’. I obliged and asked for one in return.

I knew by the angle of the lens she was not going to capture the bridge or background buildings…I wondered about her husband then!

One hot and sweaty Sharron.

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Leaving Kayserburg I chose a route via the vineyards and stopped to look behind me. A nice view of the medieval castle above the village.

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A bit further along the vineyard path again you can see the Vosges nicely as well as Kaysersberg.

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This view, same spot but looking in the opposite direction. Towards the Rhine Plains.

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Knocking off more villages including Riquewihr, Hunawihr, Ribeauville, Bergheim, Rorschwihr.

This was my favourite Tour de France installation.

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You can see some old castles high in the hills.

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Another old village gate.

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The French love their cycling.

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St Hippolyte entrance… green bike..green jersey? My favourite green jersey rider being Peter Sagan.

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Dark clouds and I got wet. It poured down for about 15 minutes. Bucket loads, but it was still in the high 20’s so not unpleasant but very soaking.

However there were also frequent lightening strikes after the rain and I decided it was time to turn around as thunderstorms had been predicted and I was not that keen to be sitting on a piece of metal, so far from my car.

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It drizzled on and off all the way to Colmar and I kept my camera dry. I rode back mainly via a route through the vineyards.

Colmar is quite pretty, but I am not a bit city fan at the best of times and after securing some food and drink, a few quick photos hotfooted it out of town.

 

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About 14 km later, I arrived back in Gueberschwihr. I turned right at the sign.

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The village square.

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Back to where I started. The cemetery in the vineyards.

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Today’s route and up and down climbing.

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I really enjoyed today’s ride. It was slow going courtesy of the villages but I gained an appreciation of the historical majestic beauty of the restorations, flowers and general ambience.

Certainly I would like to do further rides in the Vosges, heading higher up into the hills next time.

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I once was lost…and then found myself…in France..in a dark forest!

I wake up early and once it was light enough decided to go on an exploratory ride, checking out a few villages…all before Ben and Sharon arose was the concept anyway.

I mapped out a ride but had not been able to upload it to my Garmin so took my iPad.

This is the route I completed today. The thick pink line indicates the border between Switzerland and France, with a smattering of Germany top right.

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There were a few navigational issues initially and I was then on my way to Leyman, although not as originally plotted.

Just a few hundred metres short of the border I stopped to take these photos.

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The road weaved around and I came to this sign. I was pretty sure I needed to take it, and it looked ok bar the red no entry sign.

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So a short climb and I was at the top of a small hill looking back towards Switzerland hills, although the town is in France.

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The road turned to gravel. At first the gravel was fine, you just needed to slow down more.

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The gravel got looser and lumpier and I ended up pushing my bike up a hill. There were side tracks everywhere and I was just hoping I was on the right one.

The gravel became bitumen and I thought, yes….you are on the right one…it lasted all of a few hundred metres as I arrived at this Chapel, bang smack in the middle of nowhere.

Chapelle de Heilenbrunn was apparently a former place of pagan worship, and a chapel with a spring with healing powers.  Where is that spring??

The chapel was first recorded in 1359 and the present building dates back to 1682.

It was sold as national property during the French Revolution, being bought by the municipality in 1812 and restored to a place of worship.

It has since been renovated three times and hosts various events during the year.

Only catch is a shite gravel road! MTB bikes and 4wd worshippers preferable! If you survive, somewhere in that deep dark forest might be some healing springs to soothe your nerves and aches.

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Right, so which direction from the chapel? It looked like a dead end until I noticed a small opening in the forest.

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This is quite steep and I pushed my bike up. Photos never do justice to degrees of climbing.

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It plateaued out at the top and this was the view all around me. Left or right…..I decided right and was met by so many choices as to further track alternatives. Crap!

I figured being in the middle of a forest, if I stuck with the ‘better quality’ track it should end up somewhere ok…..then I started thinking about all of the Monty Pythons puns about being lost in a dark forest, looking for a shrubbery!

There was no Lady of the Lake, King Arthur or Patsy, just me on my touring steed.

I did not see the healing spring, nor did I see one sign post. The Swiss love their sign posts, whereas the French have skimped!!

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Eventually my theory was right and I ended up on a major road….one that I had not plotted on my route…but I figured it out and headed to the next town.

What a shame…a French bakery was open…what do? Well one chocolate croissant later I was moving again.

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From here, navigation was easy as I just memorised the names of each village, and fortunately in each village, the next village in each direction was listed at intersections.

So many pretty towns.

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It was now around 9am and the sleepy villages were arising. I had two smaller hills to climb to drop back I to Switzerland.

At the top of his one is what appears to be an air traffic control tower. This hill is the highest point around and Basel’s international airport is actually located in France.

I had scouted nearby earlier in my route.

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A bit more forest, back into Switzerland and oooh look, a sign post!! I was heading to Oberwil and yes it was listed.

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Back at base Therwil, Sharon and Ben were up and about to have breakfast. Great timing.

We then took Wags for a walk in the adjacent forest. Dogs doing what dogs do…..

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The the rest of the day unfolded.  We caught a tram into central Basel. Went to an amazing pet shop so Sharon could buy Wags some donuts! Yes, dogs eat donuts too it seems!!

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Wags will eat anything but not sure if he would eat this! You know the only way you should cook kale is with coconut oil. That way, it is easier to scrape into the rubbish bin!!

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Then we hopped onto a train to head to the Swiss capital of Bern. A few sights.

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Then another train to Stettlin, the village that Sharon grew up in with her parents Stephan and Judy, sisters Davita and Joy.

It is perched high on the hill overlooking Stettlin and valley towards Thun,

Stephan and one of his daughters attended a course in how to construct pizza ovens and then built this with all locally sourced material. So yes, home made pizza for tea.

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Here we are enjoying dinner.

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Then it was a train back to Bern, train to Basel where there was this bike with a keg type of barrel on the back. I hope it is empty.

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Finally a team back to Therwil, walk back to home base and I jumped straight into bed!!

Thanks for reading…tomorrow the plan is to do a site seeing ride around the Colmar – Vosges Mountains in France.

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Mother and son, part 2

A beautiful morning as I looked out the window.

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I got up and dressed ready to go for a walk with Ben and his dog Wags.

I was hoping Wags was feeling ok as I discovered last night that Wags has got into my medicines and had consumed 6 Mylanta (antacid), 1 Buscopan (anti spasmodic) and 1 Imodium (anti diarrhoea). What a mix!

Fortunately he had not touched my epilepsy medicine as I am sure that would not be good for a dog!

So from now on this is what I need to do…shut my bedroom door. Isn’t that a lovely welcome sign too!

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Wags appeared to be in fine form! Relief!

Check out this slug, it is huge! Wags seems to have no interest in eating them.

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Wags sniffing!

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Throughout the forest there are many woodpiles.

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Wildlife zone providing protection.

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That is a young Christmas tree farm. Numerous patches of  beautifully formed and coloured trees.

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We planned to do a short ride from Lucerne some 1 1/2hour drive away.

Parking the car was a pain and eventually we found somewhere, headed off on our bikes towards central Lucerne.

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After a short distance Ben was aware of issues with his bike. By a stroke of good luck, a bike shop was less than 500 metres walk away. The store needed the bike for a while to complete the mechanical repair so we found somewhere to eat.

I had the soup and Ben the antipasto.

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Finally we hit the road, planning to ride around the lake to Vitznau and catching a ferry back to Lucerne.

I had visited Lucerne some 33 years ago, recalling that it was particularly beautiful.

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The vistas as we scooted around the lake were fantastic. The mountains were difficult to photograph as the sun had created a haze over most of them.

This is looking towards the direction we were heading.

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This is Mt Pilatus and a tiny tip of the Matterhorn to Pilatus left.

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Not all tracks were rideable….pushing and lifting needed!

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This section was difficult too as it was particularly narrow and we came up it. Tricky!

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At the top of the stairs were numerous kiwi fruit vines, bearing many fruit.

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Beautifully green countryside.

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Then this beautiful outlook with a cute statue.

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No matter where I looked, I clicked!

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A break in transmission….this Church was in Vitznau where we needed to wait for an hour to catch the ferry.

The ride was great….it was hot, and undulating, with significant tourist traffic in Lucerne.

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The ferry was packed to the rafters so we stood at the front. It was cooling and provided many wow factor vistas.

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There were some very impressive chateaus.

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One had a small chapel on a rock island.

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This one is very impressive!

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Finally we arrive back in Lucerne with the imposing Mt Pilatus backdrop.

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A final look back before we jump into our car to head back to Therwil.

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Switzerland is such a beautiful country. All along the lake today, people were making the most of the water in the soaring temperatures.

It was over 30 degrees today and if this keeps up, I will have a suntan!!

Back home, Ben knocked up a cheese fondue for his old mum.

It is now 10.37 pm and I need some shut eye, having been awake since 5 am.

Take care, thanks for reading

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Mother and son

A few years ago my second son Ben moved to Switzerland..and yes, there was a young lady involved.  Since then, she has become my daughter in law! I was in Switzerland May 2018 for their wedding.

Happily living and working in Switzerland means I do not get to see them often, so I took the opportunity for a short break to fly over and see them…oh, and of course I brought my touring bike with me!

I arrived yesterday afternoon in Zurich after four flights. I grabbed a hire car and then drove to Therwil, on the outskirts for Basel some 95 km from Zurich.

Ben has taken a couple of days leave to be with his dear, old mum. Fortunately I am in better knick than Ruth Cracknell’s version of Mum.

Despite my jet lag, we headed off on a ride through the adjacent local forest up a series of gravel paths. They wind around farms and crown land.

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The sign above, in German, is warning users of the risk of bushfire given recent dry conditions drying out the forest. This place is so green compared to Australia.

Switzerland has a brilliant network of bike trails, using existing tracks and roads. They are well signposted.

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They have well constructed bridges for shared use with walkers and cyclists. This was a nice river crossing.

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In 2016 Tony and I rode through this area, en route London to Venice. We passed through Augusta Raurica and saw a very interesting Roman ruin. Here I am in 2016.

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So I was keen to see more of this area as the area is a Roman archaeological site, and the oldest known Roman colony on the Rhine River, settled around 44 BC, in the vicinity of a local Gallic tribe.

Today many ruins have been discovered and preserved. However over 80% of the area is still to be ‘discovered’ awaiting the advent of advanced imaging.

First stop was an area of Fort wall, where a significant silver treasure trove of over 50kg of pure silver objects in 1962.  The treasure chest had been buried in 350 AD.

They sure built thick walls!

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The next spot was the base of the old church constructed between 360-400 AD. For part of its existence it served as the seat for the Bishop. By 749 AD the Bishop relocated to Basel.

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This picture below shows the church, above the archaeological section we viewed.

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Old gravestones have been found including these two.

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Leaving the old church, we followed the narrow track adjacent to the beautiful Rhine River.

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The Rhine baths were next. They were built around 260AD and were still in use until the 4th century.  Today the only remains are the underground installations, walking on the floor of the underground heating system.

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Wooden shoes were required to be worn in the ancient baths so as not to damage the floor.

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The next site is where craftsman made and sold their wares.

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The highlight is the ancient theatre. Workman were packing up from a Roman weekend festival.

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The steps to the old temple.

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The ancient amphitheatre barely exists, but the picture showed what it once looked like.

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Very little remains now bar the basic shape. The vegetation has taken over the former seating.

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Finally, we visited the former East gate and town wall, funerary monument, complete with a mini animal farm.

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Finally, back to my view from 2016. Looks like the vegetation has grown!

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It was stinking hot today. The temperature was over 33 degrees Celsius and we were 10 degrees Celsius when I left Tasmania on Saturday afternoon. It was a shock to the body and plenty of water was being drunk.

Water is available in all villages, as they all have sparking clean, cool water at fountains like this one.

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We rode on parallel with the Rhine to Rheinfelden, a very pretty town, also visited during our 2016 trip.

The town has a bridge across the Rhine. So yes, that is Germany in the background. Plenty of people sunbaking and swimming from the island in the middle of the river.

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Beautiful Rheinfelden.

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Over the bridge into Germany and we rode parallel again to the Rhine, but heading back towards Basel.

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Eco friendly church.

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Another fountain. We both tossed out our remaining water here as the water was warm, and refilled with this lovely cool water.

The forest behind the church is part of the great expanse of famous German Black Forest.

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From this Rhine River view we could see bathers swimming in Switzerland!

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Ben has never been keen on having his photo taken, but his annoying mother got one!

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This was intriguing. Ben told me that in another hour or so, hundreds and hundreds of people would converge on the river, with bags, and float downstream.

You can see some swimmers with their bags below.

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We rode past where Ben works. He works on the 14th floor of Switzerland’s tallest building owned by Roche.

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Basel Cathedral.

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It was a lovely ride. So nice to be able to ride with one of my kids. Not sure how he will pull up as it was a bit further than he is used to.  I think we rode about 56 km.

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Thanks for reading….I will have to plot another ride for tomorrow next!!

 

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Dream it! Believe it! Achieve it!

I am a goal oriented person. I feel lost without goals. With a goal, I feel a sense of purpose. I have something to work towards. It captures my imagination and keeps me focused.

When I do not have a goal, my mind wanders aimlessly and I feel unchallenged and demotivated.

This trip was a goal borne from a variety of circumstances and possibilities.

I trained for this goal. I trained hard. I was doing between 600-800 km per week on my trainer on Zwift. Some knocked me for doing it on the trainer rather than the road.

However, there is also a second goal. I am currently the leading female zwifter in the world, distance wise, and on track, barring injury, to be the first to attain 100,000 km. I am in the top 20 all timers ( ie. only men ahead of me), out of more than one million riders.

Some have said “you are lucky” re our touring trips. It is not luck, it is perseverance despite what obstacles may present themselves. To quit, or make excuses, is easy.

Lessons have been learned from this trip….mapping, routing, accomodation, things to carry and not carry…none are major…more ‘tweaks’.

There are a few other trips in the planning pipeline, so the dreams will continue. The goals will be replaced with new ones…fairly quickly too!

I wanted to show you this picture. Some may have noticed these bands in pictures on this, and other trips.

I wear these for all of my ‘in real life’ rides ( ie not Zwift). They have meaning for me, as blood, sweat and tears have encased them.

A few years ago, my dear daughter Hannah, then aged 20, set herself a challenge. In one day, she rode a massive 337 km, with a group of other riders, in Tasmania.

Tony and I were the support crew.

She chose to raise funds for two charities dear to her. The Amy Gillet Foundation and Beyond Blue. She raised around $5,000

Amy Gillet was set up following Amy’s death, as the result of a careless, inattentive driver, crashing into the Australian road team during a training ride overseas. The Foundation pushes the safe sharing of road message.

Beyond Blue supports anyone suffering mental illness.

I support both organisations visibly by wearing these. I support their ethos, and I guess I regard these bands as good luck talismans.

Road safety is important to me. I ride, along with others that I love and care about. We all need to share the roads patiently and responsibly. Your patience and temporary inconvenience might just save my life, or that of someone else I (or you) care about.

Mental health. Tony and I have both had depression and anxiety in our lifetime. I have had one of my children suffer. We have seen first hand how some sweep it under the mat, like it does not exist at a time that support is needed more than ever.

I for one, will continue to fight that attitude. I have nothing but sympathy. The suicide rate is unacceptably high, and if I can help one person then fantastic.

I have reached out to strangers and helped. One I reached out to, I now regard as a good friend.

Tony and I now prefer smaller group events. We both feel uncomfortable and stressed in larger groups. We won’t attend such events anymore unless critically necessary, as we don’t enjoy them. They stress us. That is us, looking after us!

Cycling gives us a peace of mind. The relative quiet of the country villages and roads, not the noisy impost of impersonal cities.

The journeys will continue.

To those who liked my links on Facebook for the blogs, to those who actually read the blogs, to those who liked and commented on the blog (on my blog page), to my new blog followers….I thank you.

We do look to see who reacts positively as we see that as a form of support and encouragement, for what was, without a doubt, the hardest challenge we have undertaken, during one of central Europe’s worst ever spring weather.

Until my next trip and blog,

Love and hugs

Ooroo

Xxx

Back to where we began….

Last night, my Czech friend Mirek wrote to me, offering to pick us up. He said the weather looks really bad, and you don’t want to finish the trip so wet.

I ‘politely’ declined. Tony and I both agreed that it would take something horrendous weather wise to agree to that. We wanted to finish, what we started, on our bike. Besides, our final day was a shorter, easier ride…well on paper we thought it was!

We checked the forecast. We could see his point. Weather forecasts can change overnight, and we had our fingers crossed. On the plus side, it was not going to be cold.

Waking up I checked and it was pouring down big time.

By the time we finished breakfast and changed clothes, the rain was easing! YES!

We headed out of Kutna Hora, up a hill and onto nice quiet country roads. The first village was Grunta, boasting about 20 houses and this amazing church.

We passed through the large town of Kolin but did not stop until we were back onto a bike path that followed the river Elbe. We had ridden through Kolin on our very first day.

It was a great sealed path and we enjoyed it…shared pathways are slower to ride on, but you can relax as there is not the traffic to contend with. Many are also used by local residential traffic so you can’t totally switch off.

Some photos from this section. There were taverns along the way. I imagine on a sunny summers day it would be a very pleasant place to chill out.

Note the cycle path signage. The Czechs have done a great job. No new infrastructure for bikes. What they do is use existing infrastructure, work our routes, map them, signage and at infrequent intervals larger area maps on the side of the road. This would be simple to do in Tasmania with minimal $ spent.

The plan was to stop in Podebrady for a coffee. I like Podebrady. The weather was looking ok.

The approach to Podebrady was very nice. Different aspect to my previous visits there.

We headed straight to a coffee shop we were familiar with adjacent to the main town park. We had not seen this part of the park before.

Whilst sitting in the cafe I was texting Mirek our whereabouts. I asked him the following…and then his response…

Awesome! We had enjoyed our ride on the sealed bike path to Podebrady and we looked forward to continuing on a ‘sealed’ path to Cekalovice, which is situated adjacent to the same river.

It started off nicely. The town in the distance is Nymburk.

The town fortification was interesting. It began soon after the town was established around 1275, with the more significant work carried out during the reign of King Vacaville II from 1288 to 1305,and a latter section in 1337 during the reign of John of Luxembourg.

The fortification is around 7-8 metres high, and had 50 towers. A deep defensive moat once existed in front of the walls.

The walls were badly damaged during the Thirty Year War in the 17th century, and reconstructed during the early 1900’s.

The town has a nice tower clock.

On the other side of town the sealed path turned to a single track. Narrow and slow. As we went on it became quite muddy and slippery in patches, and I ended up walking, pushing or using my bike as a scooter for the worst sections up twisting slopes.

I made a mental note to have a chat about the word ‘sealed’…I don’t think it translated! 😂😂 . Having said that though, it was ‘kinda’ fun, and slowed our progress to finishing our odyssey. Let’s face it, I did not really want to finish.

After fiddle farting around on the dirt for 10 km or so, drops of rain were felt. Wind was getting stronger, and we were at a bridge crossing the river Elbe.

We made an executive decision to hit the true, sealed road and head directly to the finish post.

12 km or so, and it was all over bar the photographs, memories, some scars from falls, 2 refrigerator magnets ( our sole souvenir purchases), 2 dirty bikes and lots of stories to tell.

Todays map….

Would I do it again? Heck Yes! I would start it all over tomorrow, no questions asked.

Tomorrow we train into Prague so keep,watch!

I see dead people…..

Another great day to ride. We have had five days straight with no rain! Garmin told me it was 26 degrees Celsius at its peak!

Our bikes were not in our rooms ( up two steep flight of narrow steps), but stored here surrounded by linen and stuff! When we headed to our room after our dinner the previous night, there were table cloths on the bikes, disguising them! We were the only guests in the penzion.

Leaving Tabor was slow…the cobblestone shuffle!

Looking back along the river this was the view.

The views today were not dissimilar to yesterday. Lakes, rivers, agricultural fields (wheat and canola), dotted with villages every few km or so.

We stopped for coffee in Vlasim.

More lovely water scenes…this one has a guy fishing.

Beautiful fields, and we did wonder what the beautiful maroon coloured plant was.

About 10 km later, I investigated….notwithstanding the fact that I inadvertently walked through a bunch of stinging nettle in the process. Both legs got well and truly ‘done’! A pretty plant. Any ideas what it is? The leaves were like a three leaf clover.

Tony and I have been impressed with all of the newer sealed roads in the Czech Republic. They have a really thick layer of bitumen and no obvious joins , like ours on the Bass Highway, where a thin seal is applied. Then they are constantly patching it up like a patch work quilt.

We encountered a reasonable amount of roadworks today. Here they have scraped back ready for a re seal on a side section. Take a look though…there are three layers, and those top two are thick. I put my drink bottle there for reference.

Shame we cannot do a better job with our bitumen.

Today was quite hilly, and as I mentioned earlier, quite hot. It was a pleasant surprise, at the top of a climb to find this little pop up shop. Yes, we had an icecream.

More nice scenery.

On the outskirts of Kutna Hora this amazing church came into view.

I had one main goal in Kutna Hora, and it was not this church, but one a few km on the other side of town.

After finding accomodation and the usual routines, we headed off on foot to a very ‘special’ and ‘entirely different’ church. The Cemetery Church of All Saints with the Ossiary, a world famous, UNESCO listed church since 1995.

It is the memorial site, final resting place for 60,000 people! The church was part of the oldest Cistercian monastery in Bohemia, founded in 1142.

The cemetery was greatly extended during the 14th century epidemics, with around 30,000 buried there.

In the spring of 1421, the Hussites troops captured Kutna Hora, attacking the area of the church, killing another 10,000 people requiring burial.

At the end of the 15th century, the cemetery was reduced in size, with bones from abolished graves were relocated to the ossuary.

The bones were decoratively arranged in the 16th century, then rearranged some 30 years later, then again in the 18th and 19th centuries.

It is certainly mind blowing seeing so many remains….some skulls have shiny heads from people rubbing them.

Extensive renovation and archeological works are currently underway. They have found more bodies.

It is quite confronting, despite the fact that we went there knowing what we would see. 60,000 people!

Walking back to accomodation we walked past the Cathedral. To the left is a cream coloured building. It is an unusual museum, but given the number of people smoking in Europe maybe it’s popular. It is owned and run by Philip Morris, of course!

We walked around this church..no doors open today.

Tony found himself a new friend. Personally he was a bit too plastic for me.

The clouds are gathering. The forecast is not great. Tomorrow we finally return to our starting point in Cekalovice, some 20 km north of Prague. Nice weather would be great….

Tomorrow also marks 5 weeks since we left Cekalovice. Wow!

Another day, another journey, another story.

Todays map and chart.

Thanks for reading

Ooroo