Stuffed Ballons d’Alsace

Ballon d'Alsace marker (borne)During my first ever trip to the Vosges, I got a little more ‘Stuffed Ballons d’Alsace’ than I was able to swallow.

I anticipated ‘friendly’, green and quiet climbs, which is what most descriptions show/promise you.

Don’t get me wrong: the scenery was very nice, although traffic was a little annoying at times.

However, I really chocked on the more than frequent bits of 11, 12% average, with extra spicy chunks of 15, 16% which – as usual – are not visible in those nice profile pictures.

Obviously, I may also have been a little overenthusiastic when I tried to fit in as many of the ‘known’ ballons into my only 3 days of cycling.

I did get on the bike on Monday afternoon too in the end, but I doubt that was a very sound decision after some 10 hours en route…

And to make things worse, the weather was not very cooperative.

I first rode in drizzling rain and near-uncomfortable temperatures of around 10 degrees Celsius on Monday afternoon and all through Tuesday, when all of a sudden the weather changed and Wednesday threw a blistering sun and 36 degrees Celsius at me.


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Prepping for the Vosges

Climbs in the VosgesNext month, we’ll be heading for Colmar, the self-proclaimed capital of Alsatian wine.

While I’m sure that this title alone will make some of my readers go wild, I’m actually just going there because it’s an excellent place to start cycling trips through the Vosges mountains.

Gérardmer – or La Bresse – is probably the more popular choice among cyclists to set up their base camp, but I also want to squeeze in some rides in the Black Forest on the other side of the border, which makes Colmar the better choice.

The Vosges mountain area can be divided in three areas: the High, Middle and Lower Vosges, basically corresponding to the height of the summits in each area.

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Planning Short Trips

Although I stopped meticulously planning my season after everything got messed up in 2012 and 2013, due to unplanned short holidays in the hospital, I still do plan short cycling outings abroad.

These are typically aimed at humiliating myself in ‘mountainous areas’, or at least anything that involves something more challenging than what the south of my country has to offer.

For this year, I have not planned anything as spectacular as a ‘Tour de France’ or ‘Giro d’Italia’, but both the Vosges and Hochsauerland offer (more than) enough challenges…

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