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Day 31 ....... Montbeliard to Neuf Brisach ........102 km ......(total 2,628 km)

Leaving Montbeliard this morning I did so in the company of Gareth.W

He had joined me last year for the northern France sector of my ride from London to the Vatican and clearly a sucker for punishment has returned to join me for another 5 days. His trip to get to Montbeliard was nothing short of epic in its planning. Leaving home in southwest London at 9 am he caught a train to London Waterloo. He then cycled across London to Kings Cross St Pancras and caught the Eurostar to Paris’s Gare Du Nord. From there he rode through the midst of a large anti Macron demonstration to Gare du East where he caught TGV train (think really fast train) to the eastern French city of Besançon. There he caught a local all stops train to Montbeliard where I greeted him at 10.11 pm France time. Almost precisely 12 hours after he walked out his front door. Truly epic and much appreciated by myself.

The first 10-15 km towards Mulhouse were along teee lined waterways. With blue skies , negligible path traffic, and beautiful scenery it was a lovely way to start the day.

Pretty soon we were in serious canal fisherman’s territory. These guys were basically sitting in an inflatable tube with the legs in waders acting almost as their propulsion as they drifted downstream.

At about 30 km and without realising it we had crested the small divide that seperates the Le Doubs Valley from the Rhine. Instead of climbing up to every lock we were now descending along the pathway toward the Rhine.

We passed all manner of craft. Here a catamaran (sans mast) makes its way from Le Doubs valley towards the Rhine. Hard to fathom but ostensibly you can take a boat from land locked Basel and by navigating the various tributaries of the Rhine and then the Rhône you can get to the Mediterranean. Have a look at that on a map. Quite incredible really.

As we descended down the canal way towards Mulhouse we came across various water side eateries and it soon became apparent we were getting closer to Germany.

At Mulhouse we lunched in the shadow of the largest Protestant Church Spire in France.

Nothing wrong with the clarity or quality of the public water fountains in this part of the world.

From Mulhouse we pushed directly north through deserted stunning forest ways with the Rhine river about 10 km to our right most of the way as we headed towards Neuf Brisach.

Once we left the forests and with about 30 km to go we encountered a few things... wide open spaces , a headwind to rival headwinds ....

And ......

Meet Alain and his wife and sister in-law. Alain and wife life in Montpellier. Her sister lives in Beaune. (North Eastern France). It was from Beaune that they started their road trip hoping to cycle to Amsterdam and then completing a circle back to Beaune. Like others they’re doing just because they can. Two of them had electric bikes too.

Alain’s carrying load was pretty impressive . His use of a trailer is an increasingly common sight I have witnessed on this trip.

This close to the border the German influence was clearly evident at every turn.

On arrival at Neufbrisach we were welcomed at the gates of the town by a rhinoceros made from hay . The second bizarre sight of the day ...

The first being a zebra in someone’s front garden just outside of Mulhouse ...go figure.

Hard to believe that this time a week ago I was just south of Lyon and heading to meet my lovely partner in life, KSR, the following day for a days rest. Since last Sunday night I have cycled 638 km. Slowly but surely it adds up. Was only 5days ago but seems longer. I dedicate tomorrows ride to KSR.

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