Gravel is not my thing.

We had grabbed some breakfast supplies the previous night to prepare in our kitchenette. We were able to hit the road by 8.15 am with the temperature hovering around 16 degrees Celsius.

Skirting around the back of Wellsford we quickly hit the first patch of gravel for the day, but fortunately it was only for about 5 km, and very rideable. We chose this track to minimise our riding on State Highway 1, busy most days, but even more so now that people are heading off on Christmas holidays.

Rural scenes, still very green.

I liked this view with the distant knobby hills.Back onto bitumen these photos were taken from the top of a climb. The lower one shows an electric fence that Tony needed to get over, as the reflective flag had blown off the rear of his bike in the gusty winds.

First stop of the day was Mangawhai Heads, a town that I had stayed at during my solo ride last year. We rode around and settled on coffee at this joint. They also provide free, very cold, sparkling water for your drink bottles.

We did a reccy of the town and this is the local waterway…low tide.

For me, the day’s highlight was beautiful Lang’s Beach, a stunning white sandy beach framed by craggy headlands, gnarled trees and wonderful views to offshore islands.

The islands that can be seen from the shore are Tauranga and Marotiri or, the Hen and the Chicks. They are the remains of long dormant volcanoes, once part of the Pacific Ring of Fire and are now wildlife sanctuaries.

The lone rock on the right hand side is known as Sail Rock, a common mark used for yacht racing.

A few more beaches and then we headed inland to Waipu.

Waipu is a village rich in Scottish heritage. The Waipu Highland Games are held every New Years Day and people come from around the world to dance and compete in traditional Celtic challenges.

Today we just wanted lunch. There were plenty of choices, but we chose one promoting ‘honest’ food. Very nice iced coffee and an omelette later and we were back riding.

This is where the day got tough. We had been subjected to strong winds all ride. We were close to the junction of State Highway 1, the quickest route to our overnight destination of Whangarei.

However, quickest is not always the safest, and we chose to head further inland, across some lumpy hills towards Waipu Caves. We figured there was a chance they may be gravel, but to start with they were bitumen.

Then our luck ran out. It was dry, lose, slippery gravel with drifts on bends, adverse cambers, punctuated by some cussing. I knew where I needed to be, but my bike seemed to head to where it ought not.

Very frustrating and I will admit on some of the 13 plus percent climbs I jumped off on bends as I did not want to fall. Downhill I was even more cautious!

Anyway…life goes on. We liked this totem.

The dirt road had very few cars on it, so that was a plus. We were shocked when we arrived at the Waipu Caves how many cars were there. The place was packed.

Below is a group picnicking near the cave entrance. There were many other such groups in the area.

The cave is unmanned and you can just wander in. There is a 175 metre chamber. The limestone cave has stalactites, stalagmites and glow worms near the entrance. The cave system is considered regionally important for geomorphology because it is the largest cave passage in Northland.

There is also a 4 km walk through the reserve, through karst limestone formations.

The hardest section of ride was as we left the cave. I got really excited at one intersection as we started to descend on bitumen. Alas, it was for max 100 metres!

Some more lovely views though looking towards our destination of Whangarei.

A few more km and we returned to bitumen, and we could pick the pace up from our gravel grinding crawl.

The road joined State Highway 1 and we were low on liquids, so headed to the service station up the road. Here I am chilling in the shade.

The State Highway was crazy busy with traffic so head down and maximum concentration. There was a verge ranging from 30cm to maybe 80 cm so we survived ok, and the cars were pretty well behaved really.

We headed straight to our Air BNB accomodation, a unit alongside the owners house….at the top of what they described as a ‘steep’ driveway. Yep, they were right. It was 28% gradient at its steepest point. We pushed our bikes up!

Today’s route…minimised to show our positioning north of Auckland. The elevation graph shows the up and down nature of the ride…biggest ones being on gravel 😢🙈🙅‍♀️😀

After showering we headed to the Town Basin, a mecca for local and international yachties, craft and art galleries, cafes and restaurants. Many were closed as it was later Sunday afternoon.

Can you see me in this quirky art ‘installation’?

The busy Basin.Looking up the hill towards our accomodation The clock museum with a giant sundial. A telephone box with a working telephone. So day 2…done and dusted. Despite my anxiety on gravel, I lived to tell the tale. I really do suck at gravel!

Below is my favourite picture of the day. Taken at Lang’s Beach. Think this one will ultimately feature on a wall at home.

Kia ora

For the third consecutive Christmas , we are in New Zealand to do a cycle tour. I guess you could say that we like the place!

Kia ora is Maori for welcome. As a kid I knew the word Kia ora….it was the brand of sickly sweet green cordial my mother used to buy for us to drink. I do like the way that New Zealand has embraced its Maori heritage with so many examples of dual naming ( ie. English and Maori). The Welsh do it very well too, and can only wonder why we do not in Tasmania to acknowledge, recognise and value our extensive Tasmanian aborigine history.

Our flights out of Melbourne were delayed for multiple reasons. The plane arrived into Melbourne late due to the 44 degrees Celsius temperature accompanied by very strong winds and bushfire smoke closing one runway. All flights in and out of Melbourne were taking off and landing on the one runway.

When we finally boarded, the plane was incredibly hot. The pilot apologised. We could not have any air conditioning until he turned the motors on and we were waiting for two passengers who ‘will arrive shortly’. Famous last words.

Some 20 -25 minutes later two ladies boarded. Still they did not shut the doors. Waiting, waiting, waiting.

15 minutes later, the two ladies left the air craft.

Still the door remained open……

Maybe 10 minutes later, the two ladies reboarded the plane, with one holding the hand of a stewardess who seemed to be very insistent.

Immediately the captain asked for the door to be closed and cross checked!! She was trapped!!

As a result, we did not arrive into Auckland until around 12.45 am, and then at our overnight stay at Gervase and Deb’s house close to 2 am this morning.

First job, after some sleep, was to put the bikes together and Tony discovered my rear disc had been bent in transit. Poop! This needed to be rectified, or a new disc purchased otherwise I could not ride.

Here are Gervase and Tony discussing the situation. Fortunately for us, Gervase has the most bike friendly house ever, including a wide range of tools….disc was straightened successfully.

I am so fortunate to have a number of wonderful friends in New Zealand. I truly value and appreciate the friends I have made through cycling. Coffee and Christmas tarts with Gervase and Debra and we were on our way leaving Forrest Hill around 11 am.

We had arranged to have coffee with Dave at Waitoki. He is a Zwift friend, with us both being leaders for The Big Ring (TBR). When I used to lead Mink’s Centurion ride, Dave would regale us with corny jokes (sorry Dave), and describing his yoga efforts.

Proof of the catchup!Kaukapakapa was next after bidding Dave ‘ooroo’. This was the town where my stolen backpack was located in March last year by an eagle eyed cyclist.

Local park in the town with some interesting features.

The bikes all geared up.I am not sure what this is…fish? Maybe you can stand on it and walk along it for balance? Maybe you just look at it and photograph it.The hills started to get a bit more serious with some 13% pinches. The temperature had picked up to high 20’s. There was a really stiff breeze. Predominantly a headwind with occasional side gusts from our left, pushing us further from the verge.

The elevation map shows a few steep and nasty little pinches.

You climb, you get great views as a reward. Lush green farmland with sea views.

I like this sculpture and the cows who could not give a hoot.

Up and down, more views, more sculptures.

A very tidal river does not prevent a boat club from existing. Mangakura Boat Club has a lovely position alongside this river. We could see from tops of hills, that this river feeds out to a larger harbour and the west coast of North Island.Incredibly lush green farm land. In Tasmania many farms are already very dry and brown, so there must be solid rainfall here.

The last climb was a nasty little climb that just kept giving. I was very glad to be at the top and enjoy the views. Really any excuse to stop at the top of a hill….’oh, I just want to admire the views…”

Looking to the west.What goes up, must go down….so it was a nice descent and a few more rolling hills to arrive in Wellsford, a busy service town, and our overnight stop.

We were pretty keen for dinner, and walked the length of the town (that might sound impressive but maybe only 1km each way from our accomodation 😂 enjoying using different muscles for a stretch!)

The meal choice was standard pub fare bar the local cuisine speciality….wait for it…stew on toast!

We chose steak…Tony ate my chips and I ate his salad. The home made plum sauce ( in the wine bottle) was actually very nice, packing a peppery punch.

We will hit the sack early tonight to catch up on our beauty sleep.

Today’s route ( bar a straight line section where my Garmin was turned off under the Highway One sign).

Returning to our accomodation two final sights.

The heritage museum murals reminded me of Sheffield. Tasmania.

I did wonder why it was named Albertland having a quiet chuckle, as in my teenage years when I did cross country, there was an elderly lecherous athletic official named Albert who used to chase my running friend Catherine and I around the place as we tried to escape him (and we were very successful being far more agile and nimble).

I was somewhat stuck with Albert as my mother had arranged for him to give me lifts to cross country but she was unaware of his ‘tendencies’. I kept quiet as it was my only way of getting to the different venues to run until I got my drivers license and purchased a car.

I later figured it out…Port Albert is not too far away.So thanks for reading. Tomorrow is another day…new adventure….new memories.

Llamas or alpacas?

Teaching the old dog, new tricks!

Let’s go back in time – not that long ago – to May 2018.  I was in Europe having spent a week in the Czech Republic with my good friend Mirek and his family – then transferred to Bern in Switzerland for the wedding of my son Ben to Sharon.

In between I managed to break a couple of ribs and tried to keep that relatively quiet despite the ‘discomfort’.  I was often asked why – well, I did not want the travel insurance company telling me I could not keep riding!  I am a bit stubborn at times!

After Ben’s wedding, I caught a train to Zurich to meet up with Aussie riding buddy Geoff.  We then rode to Asolo in the Venetian region of northern Italy, to hook up with Italy Bike Tours “last 12 days” of the Giro d’Italia.

It was an incredible 12 days spent in a variety of regions of northern Italy – watching incredible racing – riding some beautiful areas.

Much to my astonishment, I was contacted by Clive Marshall, Italy Bike Tours owner a fortnight ago asking me if I would consider being a support leader and ambassador for the 2020 Giro – I was like “say what?”……I re-read the email, thinking I must have misunderstood – then I exhaled and said “Oh my goodness” to Tony!

One issue was that we were already committed (airfares paid) to fly to London in May – but it did not take much discussion to change airfares despite an additional $850 in charges to do so!  That is another story re airline price gouging!

So we are off to the Giro d’Italia 2020!!  Exciting – you bet!!

This time I will be in a different role…not as a guest, but a support rider-leader for the other guests. First time role for me, but I am confident that I can do this and delighted that Clive has that confidence in me, as I will be a week or two short of my 58th birthday by then. So guess I will be the old granny learning new tricks.

Fantastic that age is not seen as a barrier in this company, as I have had experiences more recently where age is perceived as a barrier to being an ambassador. I think it is an advantage in supporting a certain genre of riders.

The Giro is one big party of fist pumping, adrenaline surged fun, enjoyed by all ages!

So what happened in 2018 that makes me want to return? The easier and cheaper option would have been to undertake the self supported cycle tour planned.

Is it the fantastic support team?

Daniele, the lead rider, former pro, winner of a stage of the Vuelta.
Stephano, photographer
Roberto and Clive
John Lee Augustyn, former pro with Sky
Marco, former tour director who takes good care of the non riders

Is it the food?

Well this was en route to Italy…think this is in the Dolomites. Makes me laugh still! Could not resist throwing it in.
The amazing aspect of this meal is that we are literally 10 metres from the criterium course.


The gelato is very good! This is Erin enjoying hers, leaning on a tour, as you do! Looks like a big wine bottle on top, yes we visited a vineyard a few days before in the Franciacorta region. Prosecco tour 2020.

Is it the decorated villages and towns that the Giro passes through?


Is it the people you bump into on Monte Zoncolon?


This is Chris, fellow guest like myself, having a nap waiting for the race to arrive up Monte Zoncolon.
Josie Dow, Tasmanian that I knew from my kids swimming days. Just happened to see her climbing up Monte Zoncolon and called out to her. Great place to catch up, but how amazing to see her, picking her out from the thousands heading up the mountain.
This guy came prepared! This is about 6 km up Monte Zoncolon and he carried his painting gear up.

Is it the mountains?




Lake Garda
Lake Garda
Yep I rode up there!
Looking down from Colla della Finestre
Colla della Finestre
Matterhorn, viewed from Cervinia. This was a magical town and climb, ending up in a valley with mountains on three sides.

Is it the people you meet?

Luke ( ex pat Aussie living Singapore) and Peter (Australia)
Geoff (Australia)
Chris (USA)
Another Tasmanian I bumped into that I knew….Kim
Daniele’s son with his first bike
Getting ready to roll
Visiting a very old winery

Is it the people you watch?

Missing some gear …jersey, helmet, gloves….steering interesting but he’s having fun.
These two guys were waiting for the race and I loved watching them…they were animated and passionate.
Passionate! This guy flew over from Colombia to watch the Giro. He knew all the Colombians on tour and shouted and cheered as they made their way to the top of the climb. We are sitting up under the trees with a birds eye view to our left and saw close hand Froome’s incredible victory.

Is it the rides we did including some personal challenges and achievements?




Is it chillaxing?

SOLE 2FDBB5312-1399-408B-B5D3-03D05B12B083AF460170-39E8-4F87-B8ED-714182DEF92304904153-BE9F-4B00-9EA5-966F62953FA3018D5BB6-8315-4235-A88F-7B9814F5B8F4AEB03DB0-AD3F-43D0-8AB4-E4D13D9A4F2178486178-2CC5-4061-95D0-42910B67CCA6579A2320-AA1E-40B7-A797-7AE5176D37666BB1F7F9-DCE1-4246-B7FF-14D9BCB3B9E7A4EEE127-F5DF-40C3-8DA4-2723FF8F420E


Aperol spritz, Rome

Or is it that race?

Looks to me like this rider smiled at my camera.
This is Chris Froome, just metres from an extraordinary win, taking the Maglia Rosa from Simon Yates, setting himself up to win the Giro d’Italia 2018.
Very forlorn Aussie team this day, waiting for a dejected Simon Yates.


Well, it is a combination of all of the above!  The Italians are so passionate about the Giro d’Italia – they love cycling – and as the riders come into the towns, the hairs on your arm lift!

The undoubted highlight for me was successfully climbing to the top of Colla della Finestre which included 8 km of sludgy ‘gravel’ – and then watching Christopher Froome smash himself up there the next day, having made a solo break with 80 km to go – then we dashed out to secure prime viewing positions at the top of Bardonnechia waiting for him to arrive – and what an arrival it was!

Giro d’Italia 2020 promises to be a beauty – there are the lakes including Como and Garda.  Climbs including Passo Gavia and Passo Stelvio.  Towns including Milano.  The historical country of San Marino.

You want more?  Dolomites, Alps, Piemonte – prosecco, Pantani museum and me!

Memories are truly forever – well unless you get Alzheimer’s!






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.



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.


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.


Looking back up the hill to an older chateaux.


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



Freddy made it onto the side of this structure.


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


Pretty flower boxes and a sign to the gelato shop!


Looking towards Switzerland and Liebenswiller.


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


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.


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.



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



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!



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


We followed a pretty creek.


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


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


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


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


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



A lovely old door with 1539and 1614 mentioned.


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.


Lovely ivy clad home.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Shoes back on and we continue our walk.


Plenty of well maintained bike paths.


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


I quite liked the buffalo and goat.



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


I liked the park rules signage.


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


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…..


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


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.


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.


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


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


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!!


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.


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



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.


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!


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


Some lovely river views.



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.


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.



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.


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


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.


A little further on a flower farm. Gladioli featuring.


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.



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!


This was looking promising….


At last, bliss!


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.


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


Over the road was competition.


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



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.


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



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.


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



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


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.


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.


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.


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


I liked this cool dude!


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

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



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


English trees beside the river.


More funky stalls selling a variety of food and drink.



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



This caravan intrigued me!


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


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


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.





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.




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.


High on the hill is an old castle.


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.


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


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.



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…


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


This village entrance gate looks like a smiling cat.


Very pretty.


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


I just kept snapping.



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


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



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.




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.



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.


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


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


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

This was my favourite Tour de France installation.


You can see some old castles high in the hills.


Another old village gate.


The French love their cycling.



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



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.



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.




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


The village square.


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


Today’s route and up and down climbing.



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.







I once was lost…and then found myself…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.


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.



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.


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.


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


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.


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


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


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!!


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.


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.



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.


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


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…..


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!!


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!!


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



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.


Here we are enjoying dinner.


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.


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.


Mother and son, part 2

A beautiful morning as I looked out the window.


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!


Wags appeared to be in fine form! Relief!

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


Wags sniffing!


Throughout the forest there are many woodpiles.


Wildlife zone providing protection.


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


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.


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.



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.



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.


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


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


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


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


Beautifully green countryside.


Then this beautiful outlook with a cute statue.


No matter where I looked, I clicked!



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.



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


There were some very impressive chateaus.


One had a small chapel on a rock island.


This one is very impressive!


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


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


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








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.



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.



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



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.


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!



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.


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


Old gravestones have been found including these two.



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


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.



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


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



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


The steps to the old temple.


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


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


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



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


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.


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.



Beautiful Rheinfelden.



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


Eco friendly church.


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.


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


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


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.


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


Basel Cathedral.



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.


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