Updated: Sep 10, 2019
Today was supposed to be a rest day, but I woke up feeling good and eager to move on from a city where a small coffee and croissant cost me £7 for breakfast . Which is a shame because Basel is a beautiful city and is full of bikes. My host last night said wait until you cross the border before you buy anything. Last night's Airbnb stay put me back in the winning column. A really nice bloke who invited me for a beer immediately on arrival and we ended up having several beers and two pizzas (he paid). Sipping my morning coffee I noticed that almost every single cafe on the street had at least one guy on his own doing the same. It seems this is a European thing. Of course this is a national pastime in Italy where it seems everyone buys an espresso and spends 10 minutes staring off into the distance lost in thought. I once went to a lecture by the advertising great Rory Sunderland, where he suggested that a man staring into the distance with a cigarette in his hand is considered thoughtful. Take away the cigarette and it's just some nutter, looking at nothing. After my usual 15 minutes of riding around in circles I finally found the way out of the city. The highlight of the day was the 10 minutes where I rode from Switzerland to Germany and then France: freedom of movement anyone? I was following my Garmin today as my German mapping friend had obviously taken one look at the 30km of riding on gravel alongside a canal on the official route and thought 'bugger that'. However, what followed was 94km of almost utter boredom as I went from one identikit French town to the next, separated only by long straight roads into a headwind. I was forced into time trial position for long stints just to make progress. I know that boredom will continue to be one of the biggest challenges on this ride, but the range of emotions I have experienced over 500km in 5 days is amazing. Trying to find somewhere for lunch was obviously difficult as France is shut on a Saturday. Even some petrol stations it seems. I ended up grabbing a beer in one of tiny bars where everyone stops talking when you walk in, and then communicates their displeasure at you being there, through a series of shoulder shrugs and frowns. I didn't stay long. The only other 'highlight' was when my Garmin launched a surprise attack in Enisheim. I had ridden off the route atracted by some odd music that turned out to be an Algerian wedding procession. As I rode over the standard cobbled town square, Garmin set off an alert to tell Rachel I'd had an accident. If my Garmin was a person, it would be a small oriental man jumping out of wardrobes to attack me (a joke for my older readers there). I text Rachel to tell her not to worry, but 10 minutes later Strava decided to get in on the act and stopped Livetrack, causing Rachel to call me in a panic. I seem to be attracting bastard technology. The last 10km into Colmar sent me weaving through some of the vineyards that the Alsace region is famed for. Not intentionally. If the Swiss attitude to cycling signage is "hey guys we know this can be stressful so we will put up as many signs as possible at every junction", then the French is "eh, look around, we gave you some clues. c'est une grande aventure non?". Dinner tonight was ham and cheese sandwiches washed down with a litre of pineapple juice, on a bench in a town square (with cobbles obviously). Glamourous eh? Today's numbers; Time in the saddle - 5:50 Interesting things I saw - zero *oh come on, someone must have got it by now.