As we arrived in Colmar we passed the 470 mile mark for our tandem cycling trip. Here’s what that almost looks like:
I say almost, because we caught three trains on route. The first after we left Bruges, as the flat open spaces of Belgium were getting a bit dull, never thought I would crave hills on this trip. Another to get to a house sit on the outskirts of Paris, and finally so we could peg it over to Colmar to see my parents in East France.
We racked up the miles without really paying much attention. It’s our first ever cycling tour and we’d done no training. Plus Kel had been ill with parasites for the last year and I’d got fat. Seemingly to make up for the fact Kellie couldn’t eat much food, I ate her share.
I always thought I was one of those annoying folks who couldn’t put on any weight no matter what I ate. 3 months of stuffing my face in Canada and gaining 12kg (26 pounds) in bulk proved that wrong.
It’s not the normal build up, but thankfully being a bit of a porker doesn’t stop your legs working and Kel continues to recover from her parasite infestation. Dairy and high sugar foods still bring on her waves of nausea, she avoids these now. I imagine it’s torture watching me fill my belly with all the pastry France has to offer.
We’ve adapted pretty quickly to the rigours of cycling. The first 2 weeks involved lots of moaning, groaning and grunting (steady on). A days riding would be littered with breaks, and finish with us collapsing on the floor exhausted. Making an evening meal would be a real chore, staying awake beyond 8:30pm almost impossible.
Now we sometimes extend our days riding, or do a spot of sight seeing. Mornings are not the painful exercise they used to be, lactic acid no longer burning our legs as soon as we set off. The only breaks we need are to rest our painful posteriors. What would life be like without our padded shorts? Probably a lot less stinky, there is definitely a foul stench after 5 days of riding. Never touch another’s padded shorts is an unwritten rule.
It feels like we have hit our stride finally, after many nightmares involving destroying Donkey on a train and France trying to break us. The pleasure of cycling now far outweighs the pain. So of course, just as we find our feet we decide to stop for a week. Yup, very sensible…
Colmar is the town we’ve chosen as a base and it’s impossibly beautiful. Buildings straight from a fairytale, cobbled streets, patisseries, restaurants and coffee shops everywhere. It’s a tourists dream, with museums, tourist trains, Bartholdi statues (the chap who made The Statue of Liberty, in my ignorance I didn’t know this was his hometown) and even a section of town called Little Venice (for obvious reasons). But the crowds of people here in May is not overwhelming, in fact it can be pretty quiet as you roam the streets.
We’ve taken the time to hang out with my parents, who drove down from the UK to join us, in a lovely Airbnb apartment slap bang in the centre of Colmar. When we’d had enough of town life we hired a car and headed to the hills. The nearby Munster Valley is filled with windy roads and huge elevations (they ski here in the winter), resulting in astonishing views of the countryside.
Long ago we discovered researching our destination is pointless. It causes underwheliming-itis. Instead we find a place to stay and just turn up. Then sometimes you get a complete surprise like this…
St Martin’s Cathedral – Plays host to a family of stalks who’ve built a huge nest on one of its spires.
epic Munster Valley
My wife enjoying the tourist train a bit too much