25.07.2009 - 26.07.2009 31 °C
There's no mistake that it's easier to write on tragedy than success. Tragedy is entertaining; the news reports on tragedies. Comedians satirise what's wrong with society. So when confronted with a day of near perfect cycling conditions, I'm at a loss for what to write.
This section of the trip was supposed to be one of the greatest concern as despite my research, no-one seemed to have cycled across Alsace-Lorraine to Strasbourg. Unlike other areas of the continent there were no reported cycle tracks, just hypotheses and "I haven't tried it, but good luck!" responses. It came as a massive shock to both of us to find the route perfectly navigable, with mostly gentle hills, good surfaces, little traffic, favourable winds and good scenery. Nancy was left relatively easily and we embarked on the preplanned GPS route which followed the canal as closely as possible. As we knew the elevation of the GPS route to be reasonable (see Schengen-Strasbourg, via Saint-Nicolas-de-Port) and we had also been warned of the Vosges mountain range ahead of us we had planned to follow the route religiously, even if we felt we could see better avenues. The first 50miles saw virtually no problems at all - a slight section through a national park which rose and dipped pointlessly for a few miles, but it was no great effort. Before long the Vosges mountains were on the horizon and we held the GPS route close like a priest entering into a group of demons with a crucifix - you know it's supposed to protect you, but could you really be sure?
We reached the fifty mile mark in record time by two in the afternoon before John's legs began causing him extreme pain. This fortunately coincided with the discovery of a cycle path along the canal we were following which, to our total disbelief, followed a gradual decent on excellent paths for 35miles all the way to Strasbourg. I still need to write a letter of commendation to Alsace council for this terrific piece of engineering; I wont forget. So John was able to bear it for as long as the conditions held and we entered Strasbourg for 7.30pm, having clocked a total of one hundred and two miles, an unbelievable distance.
We've took a day off in Strasbourg after medical advice that John's injuries likely came as a result of the incorrect gears on his bike on the difficult hills of earlier days. We intend to leave for Basel tomorrow however along the Rhine, and hope his legs will have improved by Switzerland as we will reach our greatest height yet of 810m, roughly 260m higher than our current maximum altitude. Quite a finale.