I now have time sitting in the beautiful town of Beaune, the wine capital of Burgundy, with a glass of their local product at my side, to start recounting the final days of my tour.
Oh yes, I left you all in Lucerne, from there I continued north on EuroVelo5 in the direction of Basel. Here I saw another Switzerland, away from the mountains, meadows, and cow-bells, of large industrial areas, and shopping malls. However, on reaching Aarau I was back riding along the banks of great rivers with many other cyclists to keep me company. Then came the sting in the tail with a huge 600m climb over the Jura mountains. I was alone, no other cycle -tourists, they obviously knew better!
My stop-over that night was at a B&B, in an appartment run by Frau Gold, a pensioner, who apparently had never hosted a cyclist before and couldn't quite fathom how I had cycled all the way from Lucerne ( I didn't mention where I had actually started my tour and where I was heading!) Frau Gold was most welcoming and sat me down to a large cup of coffee and pastries. I helped to fix her Internet router so I could have WiFi. She was most appreciative!
This was the day I left Switzerland and crossed into France. In Basel I rode on their fine network of city cycle paths that led to the mighty River Rhine (sorry, another selfie there) and then continued on busy roads in France which weren't very cycle friendly, to the walled city of Belfort. In my opinion, the defences of this city begin well outside the perimeter with a series of hill ranges which would deter any aggressor, but not a determined cyclist! In Belfort I spent the night in a Budget Ibis Hotel (the showers here are akin to a plastic coffin/cubicle) and the day after joined Eurovelo 6 for the remainder of tour.
Wednesday and Thursday20-21/5
Eurovelo 6 is the cycle path that crosses Europe East to West from The Atlantic to Budapest. I had decided to ride part of it westwards and what a great experience it is!
Most of it is traffic-free, flat, and runs alongside rivers and canals, The Doubs and The Rhone. On these routes one pedals effortlessly and has time to take in the scenery, wildlife, and canal activity of barges ( most of which have cycles on board).
On these days I was able to clock up long distances without excessive effort and on Thursday I succeeded in recording my longest distance of the tour, 108k.(see stats)
Whereas Switzerland had the sheer physicality and power to impress ones mind , riding France had a much subtler sensory quality that affected ones sight, hearing and smell. It was as if each bend in the river path gave up new reflections in the water (impressionistic cycling?)or the wind blew the waves in new patterns. Such was the French artistic cycling experience. A Bonjour, a nod, a smile from all the other passing cyclistes - the Velo culture dominates this country.
Of course as is usual with me the drama was left to the last (day of riding). This was on the stage from Dole to Beaune.
Whilst pedalling along the serene banks of the Soane there was a fierce bang that alarmed the ducks on the canal into a flurried flight. My rear tire had blown and was torn. My heart sank, although the problem wasn't as bad as I had suffered in Scotland with a broken frame, but I still had to find a solution if I wasn't to put my rendezvous with the bus in jeopardy (I was 40km from Beaune, in the middle of a French nowhere).
So I dragged up from the recesses of my cycling memory an old mountain bikers fix for such calamities, placing the foil wrapper of a power bar/gel inside the tire under the tear to protect the inner tube. After sucking out the gooey gel (yuch) I did exactly that. Swapped the tires round, so there would be less weight on the front, pumped up, and it held! In fact it held, all the way to Beaune, over some rough tracks too, re-inflating every so often. Was I relieved to take that selfie at the entrance to Beaune! I raise now my glass of Burgondy to the 'recycling' of energy gel wappers!
That's it! Thanks for staying with the Blog of my adventure to the sticky end, and thanks to all for your messages and comments. Very special thanks,of course, to Yvonne who unselfishly encouraged me to do the tour and for her practical help at the start, which were over and above the limits of marital duty!🚲😊❤️
The Final Route - as planned !
18/5 Lucerne to Gilderkinden 84.21km, 8hours, 865m agg.climbs
19/5 Gilderkinden to Belfort. 96.57km, 9 hours, 788m agg climbs.
20/5 Belfort to Hyevre-Parroise. 96.57k,8 hours, 788m ag climbs.
21/ 5 Hyevre-Parroise to Dole. 108km, 8 hours, 164m agg climbs
22/5 Dole to Beaune 77.03 km, 7 hours, 205m agg climbs.
Total distance of tour 661km.
Posted from Leeds UK - reached by bus - but that's another Blog!