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.

ED2669A1-FCEF-403C-A7A1-6A6DBCDDDB7CB2D0E12F-A89A-4FBD-B1AC-FBE81FCE800A

E3F17CA7-9BEB-406E-BD5E-A71AAD577E2E

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.

BE88062A-5FDF-461C-BDAD-F3C0EFC46F34

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.

B49EF02F-FF92-48A9-9E2C-05F9DA6BCE0E

Looking back up the hill to an older chateaux.

F36CB972-8638-4289-9DE2-0E9E2074978F

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

5BF88D16-E971-4E18-8D2F-48B726588656

7DB9E919-03A2-45C4-95F3-4ED8C8DF456A

Freddy made it onto the side of this structure.

43C9BBA2-6471-43B2-A8AB-FFEF5A6C9484

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

4121ED0C-4281-4BAC-8A77-A4A541C12E1E

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.

1461FA2A-2698-4B7B-844C-68CC6BBFDB7B

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

21899C95-3C12-4734-B2DD-5F8E604736B2

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.

3FD56327-A406-4EB0-A853-BA3FD734FCEE

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.

BCB00E0D-CE16-4781-9EE0-1C49410748B5

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.

7096AFA6-4937-48D9-8B22-72F19B2CB27A

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.

CB1E3AA2-CF99-4FA6-A57E-0C53A2781A5C7566785C-47F7-48E8-9D67-9D9A45396621

955D4EAA-C143-41A0-88B8-14C73226ACB8

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.

0B339164-4C21-428B-88EC-1F05364AFEA7

Pretty flower boxes and a sign to the gelato shop!

9A5F25B5-83EC-4CBF-BFB9-A51AE19193D1

Looking towards Switzerland and Liebenswiller.

443E2C19-C036-401F-8420-3847ED0ADA5A

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

DB507BE6-5F7C-45A0-ADAA-16DD21D774BD

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.

CF21E668-5CFC-4DCF-8250-4531D6BF22AB

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.

345B92E7-1B8A-4A6D-9049-304F5B817E7B

69A28D85-3ED3-4940-A24A-AE1108A87A4C

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

BE88062A-5FDF-461C-BDAD-F3C0EFC46F34

Montervarchi to Florence ( 70 km, 999m) Final day! Boo hoo

day3ltusc

We were not upset to leave Montervarchi although disappointed that our last day riding seems to have arrived ever so quickly. We were approaching 2100-2200 km in how far we had ridden but we were not tired. The only thing we were fed up with were the awful pillows the Italians prefer. They are anorexically thin and hard as concrete.

image
Last day of the pre ride routine

 

The day was cool again being around 4 degrees Celsius when we left. The skies were overcast but rain had not been forecast. The first few kilometres involved weaving our way out of the city in the busy early morning traffic. By now, we were getting used to the drivers consistently crazy driving.

Today there were a series of hills to climb including a couple of steeper and longer climbs, all made slower by our luggage we were carrying.

Firstly we crossed over the Fiume Arno ( river) that flows into Venice. A much dirtier river than the ones we had seen earlier in our trip such as the Rhine and the myriad of canals.

We skirted around Terranuova Bracciolini and Pernina.

image
Early ride view

Along the hilly ride parallel with Foreste Casentinesi, Monte Falterona we passed through a multitude of villages. This one had a nice church.

image
These guys looked quite mafia.

We stopped at a cafe just around the corner featuring statues.

image
She had a big head!

It started raining so the jackets came back on. The temperature was now a balmy 7 degrees Celsius. The following are some of the scenes.

image
Despite all the warning signs from France to Italy we did not sight one deer!

image

image

image
This is an example of a really good section of Italian road.
image
Olive groves

image

We plodded on through Pian Di Sco, Vaggio, Borgo A Cascia, Reggello and Poggio Giubbiano – all such mouthfuls, before descending back down to Fiume Arno and outer Florence where the car drivers are even crazier, if that is at all possible.

image
That is Florence in the hazy distance. You can make out the Duomo.

Back in Florence it was time to clean and pack the bikes ready to head home. We again stored them in a commercial garage around 500m from our hotel. We had the same room, with the same incredible view of the Duomo.

So now it is time to reflect and prepared to head home and set new goals to kick.

Post Script Day 2: Chianti – 62 km, 1052m

day2tusc

We awoke to blue skies today, despite it still being 4 degrees Celsius at 9 am. The breakfast spread was impressive and after the Manager insisted on taking our photograph (as he had never met anyone who had ridden over 2000 km in 3 weeks) we walked up to the tower behind the hotel to see what the view was like.

image
One view

 

 

image
And another showing some of the remaining 13 chimneys

The manager offered to give us food to take with us (little does he know most of us do that anyway – today being no different – but it was the first time any hotel has offered that). He will get an awesome Trip Advisor review from me.

image
The narrow alley walking back to the hotel. That is our bedroom window on the top level above the narrow alley.
image
The little courtyard behind the hotel. Our bikes had been stored up in the area beyond the couple of steps and the side gates were locked from the inside.

Leaving San Gimignano we were scheduled to do a 79 km ride through the Colle di Val d’Elsa, down to Monteriggioni, then heading up towards a series of towns in Chianti.

We rode through Poggibonsi where a man cheered us on from the side of the road. He was obviously a BMC supporter as that is what he kept calling out and clapping. We laughed.  About 5 km past this point Tony said that faithful Garmin said we had 130 km to go. Hmm…that was weird so we stopped and found that he had two different Gpx files for today’s ride and they differed. We pulled up my file ( we had on both Garmins as back up is one failed) and I only had one.

Either way, we were not on the original planned route and were on an ‘alternative’ route and well off course. The good news was that I could see that we were heading in an easterly direction that should intersect with Castallina in Chianti and bring us back on course, but losing around 18 km in the process.

The downside was that this road had serious hills. There were three sections warning of 15% climbs. Not too bad with no luggage but the extra weight made them hard!

image
First warning sign

The area was nice interspersed with olive trees and vineyards.

image

 

image
San Gimignano in the very distant background

Eventually we arrived in Castellina in Chianti and had some lunch noting some of the unusual cars the crazy Italians drive.

image
This can be parked anywhere.

 

image
Funky and small.
image
Small and useful.
image
Not sure that there are side airbags in this one!
image
Nice views.
image
Sitting in the sun, even though it was only around 11 degrees by now.

After a nice break car watching, we headed off towards Radda in Chianti, my favourite for the day. Scenic, nice views, rolling hills to ride over and a great little art gallery where I made a purchase, direct from the artisan, which he is shipping back to Tassie for me. Wish I had photographed it, but he uses the curved panel from an old wooden wine barrel and attaches a miniature metal bike he hand makes, along with a couple miniature metal handcrafted Tuscan trees. It will be a nice momento.

image
The artist also does a series of bike posters.
image
2 cyclists and 1 rooster in Chianti
image
Chianti scenes
image
Another rooster, this time in a field of lavender.
image
More roosters.

We arrived in Montivarchi  disappointed to have left the beautiful Chianti countryside as Montevarchi seems a bit daggy. But we did find a few little gems including this church of San Lorenzo.

image
Nice church in the older section of Montevarchi
image
Exterior of the San Lorenzo church
image
One of the “nicer” looking homes – but I found this a bit “creepy”.

Starving hungry we could not find one restaurant. The hotel staff told us of one that opened at 730 pm!!! A few hours away. So we asked where the nearest supermarket was. I was happy to find something I like to eat.

image
Yummo!

So tomorrow is our final day riding. We head back to Florence on a scheduled 74 km ride, with over 1000m climbing for the third consecutive day.