Monday, April 21, 2008

Eurovelo 6: From Loire to Rhine

Nice gravel tow path
After leaving the Loire the Eurovelo 6 was often routed along canals. Cycling along these towpaths could be anything from smooth tarmac to gravel trail to impassable mud tracks. One day I tried to follow the Eurovelo 6 map and ended up in mud so deep that even pushing the bike became impossible. Apparantly the Eurovelo 6 had been much more developped on the map than on real ground. The mud clogged up the brake pads and then everything stalled. I ended up half carrying the fully loaded bike half cleaning the wheels every minute. I have never before been that happy to see tarmac again.

Flooded bike trail
The rain had been so bad that it had inundated sections of the bike trail as can be seen on this picture. It was difficult to decide whether to just cycle through risking to get wet when you had to turn around in the middle of it or just look for an alternate around it. Unfortunately there were not too many other cyclists around to see what they were doing. I was probably cycling too early in the season. The veloroute was actually quite nice, but very badly signposted. If you are cycling along a canal and can see for miles on end, you don't need any signposts, but then there were hundreds! But in the big cities, were you really need them, there were of course none. So I ended up cycling around in industrial suburbs for hours in pouring rain being lost.

France was an endless succession of castles, cathedrals, canals and rain, rain and more rain! In hindsight I have probably overdone castle sightseeing a bit. They were so expensive that I have overspent my budget and in the end all those castles looked pretty much the same. Cathedrals on the other hand were at least free. A last and very different highlight of the route through France was Mulhouse: Not only did it have a very centrally located Formule 1 hotel but also a superb railway museum. I wished I had stayed longer but I had to push on to meet Ursula in Basel which was less than a day's cycling from Mulhouse.

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