About : Europe

There are 3 very different parts to the ride. In Portugal, Spain, France, Switzerland and Germany you’re in modern western civilization all kinds of amenities and support – fine dining and **** hotels to budget inns. You ride on nice, paved secondary streets, and especially in Germany, on a lot of spectacular bike paths. Crossing into eastern Europe, (Czech Republic and Poland) the roads are about the same, but the seleciton of accoodations goes down outside of the major cities. In Belarus and Russia the road selection and hotel selection outside of major cities goes way down – get support or bring camping gear.

Basel CH 163k/98m***

This was the most picturesque, enjoyable riding day so far. We had a cold, early, van based breakfast just outside the courtyard of our Hotel Castan***, and then stocked up for the ride out of Besancon under rain boding skies.

Then there was some traffic and a few big hills for 10km or so, which proved discourage to some of us. And all of a sudden, we were riding next to the Doubs River watching the barges, enjoying the ride.

We took our morning break at a grocery store in Baume-les-Dames, where a canal miraculously appeared along the road.

It took a little effort, but we persuading Dave and Susie that the towpath along the canal made for flat, great riding and they mounted up. We rode the canal for another 35km. I rode with Susie, so she got most all the photos along this segment.

Our traffic-less ride through the flat countryside had to come to an end, but when it did we were still along the River on a nice road that made for good group riding.

We hadn’t gotten an action shot of Charlie yet, so this was just the opportunity. Lisa didn’t want to get left out, so she waved.

We made plans for lunch in Audincourt and found a nice Greek Pizzeria, but not Sylvie. It’s hard to connect in a large town or city which none of us are familiar with, without a street map.

The team then headed east on a country road toward Basel. This is what we look like taking our next break with our support vehicle! (After Sylvie found us).

The changing countryside scenery was consistently beautiful. The first picture is of “pretty trees” in Bob’s vernacular, “magnificent Lombardy Poplars” in Steve’s.

The three groups -Sylvie/Dave/Susie – – Charlie/Steve – – Lisa/Bob – all entered Basel on different roads. Lisa found a 20km downhill into town, which she led at her fastest pace ever (35mph down-hills, 25mph flats) and then chose the “interstate” highway into the city. She was then lightly reprimanded by the Swiss border police for riding on a highway, but they also graciously gave us directions to our hotel.

Then we rode into Basel and to our hotel. This is Lisa, less than a block away.

The Hotel BidungsZentrum21, pictured below, is a unique combination of old world and avant-garde. It’s a combination hotel / evangelical mission headquarters building (really). 2/3rds of the building is devoted to missionary training and work, which the hotel helps fund.

The hotel is an oasis of calm in a contemporary European city. We enjoyed post-ride Swiss made light white wine from screw top bottles in the garden. Charlie and Sylive practiced some yoga.

Tomorrow’s our one and only day off and this hotel is perfect for it. More to follow.

Bio of the day: Dave Perkowitz. A 40ish guy who is a terrific father to two great daughters, Whitney and Lane. He’s VP Operations, or something like that, at B&W Manufacturing, which is likely the largest manufacturer of woven woods in the USofA, among other things. This is his first big bike ride, and he did a great job, setting new personal distance records each day. He doesn’t drink beer and goes to bed early. We all like him.

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