This was it, I had to make a decision: Forward or back?

I hadn’t really planned to come this far: Yesterday evening a good friend had called and got me all motivated about going for a ride this morning. I’m not sure how, seeing as we’d mostly talked about his job, but nonetheless, after getting off the phone, I’d decided I’d go on a ride.

But not too far; let’s be sensible here.

A quick 50-60k around the Kaiserstühl, a very extinct volcano in the middle of the Rhine valley; yes, that sounded good; it was flat, I knew the route well, so I could just trundle around in my usual way and get back by lunch with plenty of time to tidy up the apartment, which was frankly getting right out of hand, and sort myself out for important things like work the next day, followed by an appointment to view an apartment.

So why was I in France, deciding whether or not to go exploring right across to the Voges mountains?

I’d woken up that morning with the feeling that following my usual route would be a bit dull, a bit lacking in adventure.

Why Not, I reasoned as I tried not to burn my toast on the grill, go over to Neuf Brisach in France and then find European Cycle Route 15 north, and then follow that to… I consulted Google again, spraying crumbs liberally on the keyboard… “Merckolsheim… and then cross back over into Germany?” it’d make the route a bit longer and a bit different, and it’s a canal, canals are flat and you can’t go wrong easily. My leg muscles registered disquiet, and my map only went as far as the Rhine, but undeterred I checked google one more time and made a highly detailed topographical representation of the route:

Two years studying for Geography A-Levels well spent, I think, not to mention GCSE Graphic Design.

Off I went, through the local villages, reached the border and crossed over the Rhine into France, through the curious concrete labyrinth of the planned French town on the other side and into Neuf Brisach, a Vauban fortified town and UNESCO heritage site. It’s also a normal town so there were great monuments and grand gateways next to the plumbers and post office.

Following the highly accurate map and some handy signs, I found Route fifteen and headed north.

The distances the signs showed to Colmar were shorter than I’d thought. At first I ignored this but as they kept getting shorter, my Sense Of Adventure began to agitate, whispering:

“it’s only a few kilometres, and it’s flat…”

“Excuse us” answered the Leg Muscles, “But we’ve not done anything like this for quite some time, so we’d like to just keep going and head back home, thankyouverymuch.”

The distances kept going down: 24km to Colmar… then 20km, then 18… and suddenly the junction of the canal turned up and the sign said “Colmar 15km.”

“Look” said my Sense Of Adventure. “15km, dead straight and dead flat. On Tarmac by the looks of it…”

“That’s 30km there and back” Butted in the Committee For Being Sensible, “It’ll take at least two hours longer. And there’s washing up to do, and the bedding needs cleaning, and have you seen the state of the floor?”

“Yes, and we would like to lodge a formal complaint at the treatment we are being given” added the leg muscles. “We are not used to this sort of thing, and…”

“Only 15km…”



At this point some cycle tourists passed heading for Colmar.

You can guess what happened next.

Back to EU Cycle route 15 and north to Merckolsheim. It wasn’t far from the junction.

“Strasbourg 49km” said the sign.
“Don’t even think about it” said the legs…