This New Year was spent in a small town in North Eastern France, visiting Tim, an old friend from Tokyo. Belfort, bordering Germany and Switzerland proved it’s reputation as of one of the wettest places in France by raining practically non-stop for the four days I was there – apparently it had been doing this since November. Little scope for outdoor activities then, so most time was spent very pleasurably in spas and saunas, including both a visit to the German spa town of BadenWeiler as well as the Swiss spa and sauna resort of Rheinfelden. However, we did manage to fit in a leisurely New Years Day hangover-recovery ride around Belfort on a couple of creaking, old shopping bikes.
But this begs a question – should such modest activity even merit a mention in a cycling themed blog ? Surely there should be some basic criteria to pass before time spent on a bicycle constitutes a proper “bike ride”, and not just any old jaunt down to the shops. A minimum distance, for a start ? Tim’s cycle computer showed 14km (rounded up…) at the end of it, and that alone would deserve to fail. Or tough weather conditions, perhaps ? This time last year I heard it was minus 17 degrees outside… this year it was a mild plus 13, although it did rain for the most part, pelting down pretty hard at one point. But then again, we took shelter in a cafe, enjoying an exquisite cream frothed cappuccino while we waited for the worst of the showers to pass. Hmmm, no qualifier there either, I imagine.
Which left adversity: and maybe was something on which I had a chance. Only hours before I’d kissed a man for the first time… actually over a dozen of them in succession, this being the accepted greeting for the French to celebrate the start of a New Year… or so I’m told. And I’d also exposed myself multiple times to dozens of good German and Swiss citizens of all ages, in mixed sauna and naked thermal baths, which was a first for me as well (at least for those nationalities…). But strictly speaking, as I was neither riding nude nor snogging Tim while I did it, that probably couldn’t be counted either.
So why have I mentioned it at all ? Simple: Belfort will be a stage town on this year’s Tour de France, actually for the 30th time in it’s history, and as I have now cycled through a few of those same cobblestone streets that the peloton will roll through this summer, I do believe it qualifies as a valid “cycling blog” update – just !
I only hope they have better weather than we did.