Friday, August 3, 2018

Cycling Alsace - 48° 27' 44" N 07° 28' 59" E

We first brought our bikes to Alsace in 2012 and immediately feel in love with the cycling here.  Head east, and you ride the flats of the Rhine Valley, through crops of corn, wheat, cabbages and barley and along canals dotted with locks and white swans.  Head west, and it is the hilly terrain of The Vosges Mountains with castle ruins, forests and steep climbs.  North and south, you can choose climbs, flats or the rolling hills through the vineyards of the Route des Vins.

The cycling infrastructure has improved over the last six years.  When we first came, the signage simply directed you to the next village so you had to know each and every small town along the route.  With the villages being only 3 - 4km apart, this was a challenge!  The signage has improved with the use of numbered cycling routes from local loops and the wine routes, up to the EuroVelo #5 which runs 3,300km from London, England to Brindisi, Italy!

The Tourist Offices in the region rent out e-bikes for 20 euro a day and provide fabulous rainproof route maps complete with elevation profiles and points of interest!  And for the times you are actually cycling on a road rather than a pathway, the cars are courteous and tolerant of cyclists and simply sit behind you until it is safe to pass with the legally required 1.5m gap.

Tourist Office Map
Showing each turn and the elevation profile
As we do not have a car, we use our bikes for transport - go grocery shopping, visit friends in nearby villages,  get to the pool etc.  It is a great way to get around and, as we live in the very centre of the village, we can easily get home regardless of the traffic, one-way streets and the frequent closures for summer festivals.

And now for the details of our rides:

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We rode to Mutzig to visit a bike shop that rents tandem bikes.  With Mum and Wendy coming for a visit, we decided that popping Mum on a tandem behind Sean and Wendy on his bike was the best solution to our transport issues!  We made a few stops along the way to run a few errands - a great way to put some kilometres onto our leg whilst doing the day to day jobs!


The only elevation gains were going up over bridges.  The bulk of this ride is along the canals that run through acres and acres of crops.  The route drops you into Le Petit France district of Strasbourg which is a fabulous place for lunch.  It is flat, fast and fun down the canal before cutting back through the crops to Obernai.

The climb up to Mont-Sainte-Odile is super pretty through the forests of The Vosges Mountains.  And the view from the top is spectacular looking over the Rhine Valley to Strasbourg with its distinctive one-spire cathedral, red-roofed villages each with their church spire, the mountains of the Schwarzwald (Black Forest) in Germany and the endless grapes hugging the foothills along the mountain range. 


Where will we get to if we just keep going?  Mulhouse!  And we can jump on the train to get home rather than the 120km return ride...


With Mum on the back of the tandem and Wendy on her first major road-bike foray, we headed to the cafes and flowers of Strasbourg. And the train ride home (bikes travel free - even the tandem) ensured we ended before there were tears!


An amble through the ancient villages, complete with cobble stones, village walls and gates, half timbered houses and the ubiquitous flowers.




Wendy borrowed Sean's road bike to see if those spin classes were relevant to the open road ... and they are!  Both sisters scampered up to the top in no time at all.  Nancy and Sean drove the support car and met them at the top with snacks.







Sean went for a ride with "the boys" on a borrowed electric-assist mountain bike and had a great time!  It was almost too easy though, allowing him to climb hills he shouldn't have been able to.



A long, lovely ride out to the canals and back.  The first part of the ride (towards Strasbourg) was not very interesting, but getting onto the flats along the water more than made up for weaving through the industrial section at the start.




Riding to Germany?  No problem! A foray across the border and back.  If the bike computer had been on teh whole way, it likely would have been a 100 kilometre day.








Lots of riding ... and we are still not finished exploring this scenic area.  We will be back!

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