My first view of the Alsace Valley
Although it is hard to tell it from the still image
The wind was blowing at 25 mph and it was raining

Today the weather was worse than yesterday, although still not really bad: It was dreary, it rained lightly on and off during the day, and the wind blew gustily from 10 to 20 mph out of the north all day. I rode north-west most of the day, so I usually had a side/head wind coming across the road, slowing me down and making the wind blast from large vehicles more of a problem. I didn't mount my camera for the first twenty miles because of the light rain - just enough to mess up the images because of the water drops on the filter protecting the lens. I removed the camera from what was left of the mount - more on that - thirty miles later and only took a few images after that because of a somewhat heavier light rain. Despite the wind and the rain, it was a more enjoyable day of riding than yesterday.

Looking back at Mountbeliard from D437

It certainly started with more pleasant riding on N83. I crossed the river 100 yards from my hotel in Clerval - my hostess (French hotels have hosts and hostesses) came out and waved as I rode away from the hotel - climbed over a little hill and was back riding N83 alongside the river for the next five miles. Very nice riding, even in dreary conditions. I rode N83 to L'ile sur le Doubs, then rode N463 to Mountbeliard. Although French N (for National) roads have a reputation for not being very good bicycling, both of those stretches were fine: light to moderate traffic, no trucks, polite drivers, and moderate slopes on the hills.

Mountbeliard wasn't bad either - I only got 'lost' once and then I was lucky enough to run into a no-bicycle sign - not literally, although I did lean my bike against it very shortly after I turned the wrong way. It was a bit tricky getting to the other side of the road across traffic coming from three directions, but after that I found my way out of town fairly easily.

Once out of town, I stopped to mount my camera, then stopped again because something was making funny sounds. It was my cable lock which had fallen down and was swinging into my bicycles rear wheel. Then I climbed on out of town and headed north west on N437

Leaving a roundabout on N437 north of Mountbeliard
I did try to straighten the bike up before I took the picture!

I stopped in Chatenois les Forges, a small town just before N437 crosses the autoroute for a break and a snack. I'd stopped for fresh bread on my way out of Clerval, and I had a jar of Nutella to eat with the bread. Yum! When I stopped, I wanted to switch my front bags from side to side. I'd gotten them on wrong this morning, and it was annoying to have to get my computer out of the bag on the 'other' side of the bike when I stopped. I alway lean the right (my right) side of the bike against something when I stop, so it is easier to access the left bags.

I had leaned my bike against a rail fence and placed my helmet over the camera when I stopped. I make the mistake of removing the right side front bag first, which unbalanced the bike enough that it fell over on its left side.I grabbed it and pulled it back up against the fence, and broke my camera mount when the helmet hit the fence rail. I broke off the modified plumbing fitting that hold the filter and protects the lens. I've glued it back on tonight (with Goop - don't leave home without it!) and it will likely be just fine tomorrow, but that meant my camera mount wasn't working properly for the rest of this day. I did have the camera mounted, but I had to use the lens cap to protect the lens and the lens extension mechanism while I rode. I also use the lens cap, and the cord which attaches it to the camera body so I don't lose it, as part of my mounting, so the camera moved around more and was not as secure when I had to use it to protect the lens.

Shortly after N83 crossed the autoroute, I left it for D25. N83 joins E54, a busy expressway, not long after that, and the resulting mess parallels the autoroute in Belfort. I didn't want to go there! D25 is great and very popular with local bicyclists. I met a couple of them almost as soon as I got on it in Trevenans.

I rode D25 diagonally below and beside Belfort to meet N83, back to it more civil self, coming east from Belfort. In that ten miles or so, D25 crosses/merges with several roads and goes through several towns. I did get lost in Vezelois where my mapping software has the route for D25 wrong. I, following the mapping software, rode east on D13 looking for D25 to exit to the north. I couldn't find it, so I rode back into town and asked a fellow working in his yard where D25 was. I showed him my computer map since he didn't speak English and I couldn't say D25 in French. He told me to go back past the 'ding-dong' and turn right ( a droit) there. The 'ding-dong ' was the bells in a very nice church and, indeed, shortly after the church, and to the west of where it came into D1, D25 exited north.

One of the towns on D25

Vezelois, with fields and tractor - that is the Ding-Dong sticking up in the middle

Yet another town with mountains,and rain, to the north from D25

I was really hoping for a restaurant in Bessoncourt, the biggest of the little towns on D25, since I would not reach anywhere else that I could eat during the period when restaurants are open for lunch. There was a restaurant and I had a good, and reasonable sized / priced lunch. Life is good in France when you get to eat properly <grin>!

Looking across the junction of D25 and N83

It was not bad getting back on my old friend N83. The riding definitely wasn't as good as on D25, but it was nice not to have to worry about getting lost. To be fair, I don't really worry about it - I just accept it as inevitable and not a big deal. Life is like that in France.

The last picture I took before putting my camera away
when the rain started again - coming to the top of a hill on N83

It was exciting seeing the first sign for Thann, a town on the Alsace Wine Route. Even before that I saw signs for Ballon - in the mountains I had been seeing in the distance and a place where my daughter Adriane toured last fall. I had made it to another significant part of this tour; Alsace. In a few days I'll be seeing my daughter whom I haven't seen in almost a year. Before that I will be visiting a touring friend whom I've never met and who greatly helped me with my routing in France.

It was only half a dozen miles on N83 till I left it to head towards Thann on D34, but the rain started again several miles before that. I had to put my camera away because of the rain, but, otherwise, the rain made little difference in my riding. I zipped up my wind vest when the rain was hardest - it was never very hard - and rode on into the wind. The wind was much more of a pain than the rain.

Near the beginning of D34

D34 is delightful. It heads north to Gueweheim over a couple of ridges with neat switchbacks and lots of pretty scenery. It is actually marked as a bike route, and it certainly should be! Note that name; Gueweheim. That doesn't look like a French name. It isn't since this area has been switched between France which got it after WWI and Germany. It is interesting, and confusing, to hear the French pronunciation of the German town names!

OK, I'm impressed!

I rode to Thann, following D34 and then D34 l - I think it is an 'l', not a '1' - it was hilly riding and pretty riding. In Thann I was drawn to the Cathedral (I'm assuming it is a Cathedral since It looks like one) with its baroque (?) styling. Neat! In the process I had to cross E512. Yuck! Fortunately I saw that I could continue out of Thann on D34 l which parallels E512 to Cernay and then head up the valley on D5. Getting out of Thann was painful. Not the traffic, which wasn't bad on D35 l, but my shin, which I crunched when my, unclipped, shoe slipped off the pedal as I pushed hard to restart my bike after a car kindly allowed me to turn left in front of it. I wonder how the driver reacted to my look of agony as my left pedal slammed into my left shin. Damn that hurts!

I rode north from Cernay to Soultz on D5. After stopping a supermarket for supplies in Soultz, I decided to go back to N83 since there is no good D route to Eguisheim, my planned destination for the day. I couldn't get there because of a no bikes sign on the access road, so I had to ride back west a bit towards Geubwiller then east again to Issenheim, before I could get on N83.

N83 was a lot busier and faster in this stretch than it had been earlier in the day. It is a divided four lane expressway with little or no shoulder and moderate to heavy traffic including big trucks. I don't think I'd attempt it unless I had to in the States, but in France, why not? I rode hard for about ten miles on N86. That took maybe 40 minutes. Then I got off before Eguisheim and did some riding in three other wine route towns: Hattstatt, Obermorschwihr, and Herlisheim. None of them had functioning hotels although they all, and especially Obermorschwihr, had lots of wineries. I was a little worried that I might have to ride into Colmar for the night. When I reached Eguisheim, I realized that that worry was groundless.

At the entrance to Eguisheim is a big sign announcing that it won Grand Prize in the French competition for flowers in the town in 1981 and again in 2001. That is a big deal in a country where towns compete for flower display. As I rode on, I realized that I was in the tourism center of this area. The flowers are beautiful and there is some neat old stuff - maybe I'll get some pictures before I leave tomorrow - and there are lots of, moderately expensive, hotels and other service for tourists. Not surprisingly given how close the border is, most of the tourists are German.

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