A Long Day in Eastern France (Mulhouse to Belfort)

Now that we’re in France the local authorities and bike groups are starting to pay attention to our ride, organized as it is by a French group, the AF3V.

That resulted in a total of three official receptions for us yesterday, and a certain amount of faffing about that became a bit tiresome.

We only had 60km to go, and first event was fun, a meeting at 1100 about 20km from our start point at an old Alsace farmhouse where the locals served up local wine and some treats, including creme de cassis and white wine apertifs, which are quite a thing at 1100 in the morning…

We were then told the next event was only 20km away and not until 1530… We could have walked that distance in the time available, but chose to do a picnic lunch beside the canal and sleep off the apertifs in the shade for an hour or two.

We usually try to get the cycling part of the day done before the hottest part of the day in mid/late afternoon, and in hindsight we really ought to have blown off the second reception and gone straight to Belfort. It was held in a playground with inadequate amounts of shade, and at the end of it we were told we were all to ride as a group into Belfort, which was still nearly 20km off.

We had been joined by a number of new members in Mulhouse and an large number of local cyclists had joined us for the day to ride with us to Belfort, and 60+ cyclists is far, far too many to keep in one pack.

We had been told to stop at the brand-new, very shiny TGV station enroute to Belfort but when we showed up the station some employee started yelling at us to move our bikes, so most of us kept going into Belfort.

The local organizers insisted on keeping the mob of cyclists together all the way through town, which really wasn’t wise given the size of the group.

This resulted in two accidents, one a collision with a bollard by one of the local cyclists, the other one if our ride members, a lady from Hong Kong, being clipped by a car. No serious injuries, but neither accident would likely have happened if we had been following our usual practice of riding in small groups at our own pace.

The final reception was up at the massive and impressive citadel above Belfort, a fortress started by Vauban in the reign of Louis the Fourteenth and expanded until the beginning of the 20th C.

That was a good dinner and a pretty good end to a very, very long day, but the whole thing was a bit of a gongshow. Thankfully the rest of our ride schedule has no more days as heavily scheduled.

Long ride tomorrow, 85km to Baum-les-Dames.