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Europe by Tandem

From Castellon (Spain) to Northern Cape (Norway) by Tandem supporting the fight against cancer.

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Day 28- Dannemarie- Morteau

Posted by admin On Agosto - 9 - 2010

127 kilometers. 7 hours and 9 minutes.

IVAN: During today’s stage, we covered the French regions of Alsace and Belfort; it was one of the loveliest routes we had taken in Europe and one of the toughest as well. In fact, we are 20 kilometers from Switzerland, a country we wanted to keep away from at all costs because of its far-famed chains of mountains, I guess what I have just said speaks volumes. Today was one of the hardest days of this European trip (well, in fact, most of them are hard, aren’t they?); we wound up doing a beyond-category climb of more than 2100 meters above sea level.   

The day was seasoned with the following oddities: we left the amazing hostel in Dannemarie after 8:30 in the morning; we said goodbye to Ricardo, a Spaniard who has been living in France for a long time and who we met while having dinner, and his friends. A few minutes after we left, we suffered our first mishap: the bicycle chain fell off its sprockets and got entangled in a rather funny way between a hub and a spoke. This little mishap made us waste 15 minutes. We could then continue cycling as usual, that is to say, absolutely flabbergasted by the scenery, until we bumped into the first two ascents that went upward up to 600 meters and then went downward up to 300 meters above sea level; just to warm us up.

Later on, we got to Pont-de-Roide, the town where we wanted to have lunch. What a lovely place! We were only too delighted to be there. We ate on the cheap at a wonderful place (see the photo below). As to the flavors, no comment! Look, the food was really good in Norway and Finland; in Sweden, Poland and Germany as well; but the French have a thingamajig, don’t know how to put it,  they are far and away the best cooks. I tasted a dark and white chocolate mousse that made me shed some tears.

From here onwards, it was tough going. We had to cover a mountainous area very close to Switzerland. We went upward along a 900-meter mountain pass in one fell swoop; without taking a break; all the way riding uphill. We cycled for 10 hard but beautiful kilometers in one and a half hours at 7 kilometers per hour; and to think that we were carrying a bag of more than 30 kilograms… It shouldn’t have posed a problem for us if we had taken something to wet our whistles and fill our bellies with but, as we are the bomb, we jumped off the deep end without carrying anything in our bag. So, we were up there, hungry as a hunter and without anything to drink or to eat. There wasn’t a single spot where we could go into and shoveled food into our mouths. We finally cracked, hit the wall. We almost ended up going door to door begging for food. So much so that the moment we saw something that looked like a bar, J.L threw himself into it looking for food. Unfortunately, he proved to be unsuccessful: he went away empty-handed and he was saying angrily: “I don’t know if I can’t see straight but I think this bar isn’t an ordinary one but a gentlemen’s bar.” At that very moment, we caught a glimpse of the sign that read “Chez la Marie”.

After cycling for 10 kilometers more and after loads of minutes, we found, by chance, a fruit stand in the middle of nowhere…we stripped it bare! We gobbled down 4 fruit each, which helped us to get to the nearest bakery where we took 3 pastries each. I’m telling you all this one hour later, sitting at the table where I’m going to have dinner. My goodness! How ravenously hungry we were! Hope tomorrow will be a better day.

By the way, here go some crazy things we recorded with the video camera. Hope you like them!

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