Crossings and canals - Kiwis fly - CycleBlaze

September 2, 2019

Crossings and canals

Basel to Montbéliard

Borders can be a big deal if you are a citizen of a small island nation. Not having any land borders of our own, some of us become quite excited by the idea of passing over an invisible dotted line to another jurisdiction, another way of living, another tongue.

And, of course, I am a child of the 50s so I grew up with John Le Carré novels and BBC Cold War dramas. Nefarious things happen at borders, always in black and white, apparently.

In my twenties, I experienced border crossing tension firsthand when we drove our Kombi van through the Iron Curtain from East Germany  to the West in the mid-eighties. Armed border guards with mirrors checked the base of our van for escapees as we left the West some days later. On a grey  (if not monochrome) day trip to East Berlin, we handed over our passports for a Checkpoint Charlie stamp (an actual, Cold War stamp, not today's souvenir version) before being allowed to experience the empty streets and shops of East Berlin. So, yes, I admit to a highly romanticised attraction to border crossings.

Paying our regards to the Rhine before leaving Basel
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This morning, I have a hankering for a photographic record of the Swiss/French border as we depart Basel, but am so underwhelmed by the actual dotted line that I make no effort to stop Tour Leader in his tracks for the obligatory pic. 

So, before we know it, we're in France and rolling along quite happily on what proves to be a very easy and productive day of riding. (Check out that triple digit number below...another century milestone!) Leaving Basel early and unfed, we keep company with the unprepossessing but soothing Canal de Huningue as it takes a sharp turn from the Rhine. A local provides excellent directions to a boulangerie in Village-Neuf and we make a breakfast stop en plein air.

Our sleepy wee canal at Village-Neuf
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We farewell our little canal when it flows lazily into a confluence of three canals, including the Canal du Rhône au Rhin. Our journey along this much more grandiose waterway takes us to Mulhouse, where our mission is to buy local SIM cards for our month in La France. By now, we should know better. Nothing is straightforward in the telecommunications industry in this country.  The planned brief stop at an Orange boutique store stretches into a 90 minute marathon session. We eventually leave this beautiful city with a detailed knowledge of the store's décor and with functional phones but with time for only a cursory inspection of the old town. 

There possibly is more to see in Mulhouse than the Orange store . . .but not this time
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It is a long afternoon of spinning the wheels from Mulhouse to Montbéliard but the weather is pleasantly warm and there are enough approaching cyclists to ensure we stay alert enough to remain on the correct side of the path. We arrive at the front door of the Ibis hotel with 99 point something kilometres registering on the GPS. The locals are too polite, or perhaps too world weary, to show alarm at the sight of an old lady careering up and down the pavement on her bike until the magic number 100 shows up on her screen.

Apropos of nothing, today was a three-croissant day. 

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Dawn HunterFair bit in one day! Excellent going I'd say!
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2 years ago

Today's ride: 100 km (62 miles)
Total: 338 km (210 miles)

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Rachael AndersonGreat job on the long ride!
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1 year ago