Day 6 Colmar to Saverne - A Policy of Truth

Updated: Sep 10, 2019






How many of you reading this would know if I had 'cheated' and changed the route? None, is my guess. Unless there's someone out there pouring over the maps every day. Which seems unlikely. Last night I took the decision to cut out a chunk of today's ride via Strasbourg. * Firstly because I was told by my host this evening (a keen cyclist) that I can expect more of the same as yesterday's roads all the way. I was bored out of my mind yesterday, so I'm not keen to add to that. * Secondly, it's my ride and I can choose to go whatever route I want * Third, it means I can add something in later on that's more interesting like Ghent or Bruges for example * Lastly, because it won't change the fact that I am cycling across Europe. So why bother telling anyone? Because I don't want to bullshit people later on and say I rode all of EuroVelo 5, when I plainly didn’t. When I get around to writing my top tips after I finish (my family will be getting the full PowerPoint presentation), one of those tips will surely be, to ride your own way. Don't be a slave to guide books or official routes. Last night's Airbnb was a partial success. On the plus side it was a nice place, I slept like a log and it was within walking distance of a supermarket where I bought a large bottle of beer and a family sized bag of crisps (living the dream right there). The guy hosting was also a cyclist, albeit a baggy-shorter, but it meant I could clean and oil my chain. On the other side he was mildly interested in my ride, but only so he explain how he ridden much further off road and he did that thing French people do when I mispronounced a word. They know exactly what you mean, but pretend not to and make that face sticking their lips out (you know the one, you are doing it right now while reading this). Anyway on to today's ride. I rolled out at 8am, around the time on a Sunday morning I would be joining my fellow Lanternes for our Sunday Social. I have little pang of regret for missing it. Sunday is definitely cycling day around here also, with hundreds out. But no one seems to be enjoying it. Imagine if you were riding at 10am on a sunny Sunday morning and a cyclist approached you from the other direction giving you a smile and a hearty "bonjour", would you; (a) wave back signalling the shared camaraderie of the road? (b) flag him down and read French poetry at him until he breaks down in tears or (c) ride past stoney faced refusing to acknowledge that you have even seen him? If your answer was (c) congratulations you will fit right in around here. In fact the only person who smiled back all morning was a young guy on a mountain bike with headphones on, smoking. It was only when I got downwind of him I realised why he was so much more relaxed than he fellow countrymen. The question is, why are the French so miserable? Before my lunch stop at Barr, I covered 55km along tiny roads through vineyards. It was easy riding through tiny villages and hamlets on a beautiful day. The only interruption was when I ride past a group of tiny children having a water fight in their swimming costumes. One little girl took aim at me with a bazooka the same size as her and unloaded the whole thing in one shot into my chest. It was freezing cold, but funny. Perhaps I should have expected it. This is after all the country where someone threw a cup of piss over Chris Froome. (No I'm not comparing myself) After lunch in Barr the ride turned into the familiar afternoon slog: a battle with my head, my body, the sun (32 degrees) and the roads. Say nothing of the cavalier attitude the French have to sign placement, which just adds to the misery. With 30km to go I was having another mental wobble, partly caused by the route. It was only 18km on the main road, but 30km following the bike route. A few encouraging WhatsApp messages from home (thank you Eleanor and Mark) helped me refocus. 30km at home would be an hour on a good club ride. Here it was another two, bringing home the truth it is about hours in the saddle not speed. I eventually got to Saverne after a 120km and was invited by my hosts to join them for a family barbecue. It also seems that the lady hosting me is a masseuse and will fit me in tomorrow - what are the chances you say? Pretty damn good when you have someone working away for you in the background. Of which, more later. Numbers for the week; * 36 hours riding, but that's over 40 hours in the saddle * 642km * 5,451m of climbing * 4 countries * 3kg lost * Approx 20 bottles of coke - more than I've ever had in 10 years


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