Bad Sackingen – Neuf Brisach

Given the forecast, we were congratulating ourselves on making it through Basel with only one brief downpour. But when we passed into France, making good progress along a canal-side cycle path, all hell broke loose. Thunder, lightning, shards of ice flying out of the sky, dinking on helmets and stinging bare legs, branches falling from trees, rain forming deep puddles in seconds, visibility down to feet. Ahead, a bloke in a vest was having an even harder time of it. He sheltered under the next bridge, which would have been a good option if it wasn’t already ankle deep in water.

The good thing is, after this experience we are immune to ordinary rain, so a little drenching doesn’t bother us.

We’ve been dodging between Switzerland and Germany so much we don’t know what day it is, so when the lady in the coffee shop said ‘Prego?’ I thought we’d taken a serious wrong turn. But I think she was just impressed by my elegant cycling attire.

Arriving finally in Alsace, that part of France that, judging by place names and family names, ought really still to be in Germany (apols French friends), Caroline declared it “like East Anglia but with better cycle paths”. It’s true, since entering France the off-road sections have become harder and smoother; we had come to dread the bumpy, broken Swiss forest tracks.

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