Many months ago as we thought through our route, we wondered if we could make it from Paris to Strasbourg in one week. Riding on the Eurovelo routes this transit would be 600 miles. Given our desire to avoid riding on Sunday, this was a little out of our range. We adjusted our arrival day and planned to get an 80-mile head start on Friday and Saturday. That would put us at six 87 mile days – right at the edge of possible for us, if only there were perfectly spaced accommodations. Well our plans fell victim to reality in multiple ways, including a run in with the police who noticed it wasn’t a good idea to ride directly out of Charles de Gaulle Airport (thank you kind officers for the same), a rear-end collision while getting out of the airport in a taxi, and a taxi driver who decided to take us somewhere away from our route. However, we made some adjustments to our plans and started riding. Shifting to the south by 20 miles on Sunday, while initially not designed to save our itinerary, did just that. It put us in a position to ride right to the edge of our endurance for the next 6 days, arriving in Strasbourg today around 4:30 PM. Some of the miles were extra hard, some were extra beautiful, but in the end each one counted the same in getting us here. 500 miles in one week is the most we have ever done. It is probably the most we will ever do.

Our arrival was with some fanfare, as I didn’t see a small curb while looking for our next turn in busy downtown Strasbourg. We went down hard and fast. Natalie had been holding my phone in her hands at the time in an attempt to help navigate and somehow managed not to drop it down the storm drain where we crashed. That would have made it hard to communicate with our Airbnb host, besides losing one of our most important tools… thanks Natalie! It was amazing to see a handful (more than 5) people drop everything and run to our rescue. So many nice and concerned people devoted everything in an instant. Gratefully we were not hurt (nor was our bike). My ego took a significant hit in the process, but wasn’t critical to our success.

We rolled into our historic Airbnb and were welcomed by kind hosts who helped us store our bike and carry our luggage up to the 3rd floor. Seriously, they are so nice. Our apartment is quite large, 2 bedrooms, sitting room, dining room, kitchen, and bathroom. We have room for visitors tomorrow if anyone is interested. The house was built in 1910. 

We did our normal foraging for food at local grocery stores, ate dinner, and are now fighting sleep while writing this.

Natalie may have more to say about the ride. Pete’s short version: we left extra early to try to beat the heat, rode mostly through the countryside, had a few roads with light traffic, and found a cool place to eat right when we really needed it, which deserves its own paragraph.

It was about 1 PM and we had been riding for six hours with very few breaks and no opportunities to get food except a stop at a bakery early on (which we totally happened upon and which had the best chocolate pastries or “pain au chocolat” we’ve had yet, incidentally). We were feeling haggard and still had 2.5 hours of riding in the hottest part of the day ahead of us. Our lunch menu was looking like a Gu gel pack and a Nuun tab in a warm water bottle. Yeah, it would be as magic as it sounds. Plus I needed a water closet… in the middle of a forest in the middle of what seemed like nowhere Natalie saw a sign indicating there was a restaurant nearby. A quick look on Google maps showed a super small village about a quarter mile away on a small dirt path. We committed to it hoping for the best. The town was there. The restaurant was there. And the lady serving us was right out of the Emperor’s New Groove movie – the lady at the diner. The conversation went about like: would you like to eat? If so your options are #1 the lunch special. There was no #2. She told us to sit down and brought us food. We ate what she brought, partially out of fear but mostly out of hunger. It wasn’t vegan. It wasn’t vegetarian. But it was exactly what we needed in the moment we needed it. So grateful!

Few notes from Natalie: 

Didn’t sleep as well at the previous Airbnb for some reason. Hope tonight’s better. Very good to get an early start (7am) with hotter day. Began with some city navigation, but soon got back on EV6 (Eurovelo route) and then later EV15. Well marked, usually dedicated to bikes and pedestrians, sometimes small roads shared with cars too. Peaceful! Hottest and sunniest day yet, beautiful rides sometimes in fields, sometimes in forests, sometimes in small towns. Many people fishing in canals.

What a huge long hard week! Almost can’t believe we did it. As Pete said, some parts were really hard and some parts were so amazingly beautiful. Glad we are on to the next part (and glad we have two days to rest now in Strasbourg).

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