A bit of an epic today. Woke to heavy rain, and set off up a 3000 climb to the summit of the Grand Ballon d’Alsace, the highest point in the Voges at 4,400 feet. Heavy rain turned to torrential – like being in a power shower – an inch of water tearing down the road.
Much willpower was expended as we toiled upwards, soaked to the skin. Reaching the first summit we were frozen, as the temperature was only kust anove freezing and snow banks lined the road. It was thick fog and driving rain. Six miles of rolling road led, eventually to the summit. By now we were on the edge of hypothermia, shaking violently and struggling to operate the brakes. A 12 mile descent was out of the question, so we locked the bikes up, piled in the support van, and drove down to Cernay. The others thawed out in a cafe while Del and I drove back for the bikes (van not big enough for 5 plus 3 bikes). Since the descent would have required no pedalling whatsoever, we felt that missing it out was hardly cheating, and necessary on safety grounds. Not being able to brake and steer properly at 40mph is not clever!
Having warmed up, we set off again to complete the final 30 miles to Pfetterhouse and the Swiss border, where the front line ended.
We may have had a tough day – but soldiers on both sides lived and fought on those same ridges for 4 years.
What a great ride it was. Congratulations to John and Colin for completing it, thanks to Jane and Del for such great support, and thanks to all who sponsored us.