Marlenheim to Colmar, France

Distance: 45 miles
Time on bikes: 1 hours

Another relaxed start but this time with breakfast on the terrace for the first time this year. The temperature just comfortable enough, but even if it wasn’t, it’s so much nicer being able to eat al fresco when the opportunity is there.

The night before, we’d found out that Bene’s Dad has wifi so this meant we could work on the laptop in the garden. We managed to get another page added to the website and Bene updated the site with the French version of the diary. As we now had internet we did some searching for somewhere to buy new tyres locally and should be able to get these organised by the end of the week.

We also brought the trip statistics up to date. This is something we’ll be adding to the website as a few people have asked about budget and costs for doing the trip. We’ve been making a note of all petrol, food, accommodation and other costs. This will help us know how we’re doing and whether we need to plan more camping or can stretch to a few more hotels further down the road.

The great news is that for the first 35 days on the road, our total spending including everything has come out at about £1,100 each, or averaging £30 per day. We’ve done 7,000 miles in total so far and the bikes have both averaged 80 mpg overall. The total for the Morocco part of the trip, including the expensive ferry and all the hotel accommodation was £500 each for 12 days and 2,200 miles.

I remember being told about the Time Cost Quality triangle by Simon Latson when I was at DJ, and this is something that has always stuck with me.  I thinks we were working on the Linen Hall project at the time. What we’ve noticed on this trip is that having the luxury of time has certainly helped with the budget and also the quality of the trip.

We’ve been very good so far and the camping through Europe and in particular opting for picnics rather than restaurants for lunch when in Europe have really helped. Actually, we’re really pleased with how it’s gone so far – everything has gone so well and we’ve been really lucky with the weather, accommodation and the bikes. Bike trips in Europe would normally chew through about £80 – £100 a day for food, drinks and accommodation.

Our attention is now turning towards the bikes. Carl noticed that there were a few drops of coolant collecting under Bene’s bike in the garage. It looks like this is due to the seal between the water pump cover and the engine, rather than the rubber seals of the water pump. We’d had problems sealing the casing when we replaced the water pump about 15,000 miles ago, but it should be a straightforward job to fix.

After lunch on the terrace we then get ready to head out on the bikes as we were collecting Bene’s niece Claire from her school in Colmar, about 45 miles south. Claire didn’t know we were turning up so it was a bit of a surprise for her. Now, probably about 20 years ago it would be fine to wait outside a school for an 11 year old, but I’m not sure if it’s the same these days. We waited near the entrance, but far enough not to raise any concerns to any onlookers.

With Claire on the back of Carl’s bike, we then headed to Claire’s home to met up with Bene’s sister Florence as we were going for a picnic in the forests of the Vosges at the Lac du Grand Ballon. We left at about 6 pm and were a bit hungry when we arrived, so sat down for a picnic next to the Lake when we arrived.

We had planned on doing a swim, but as it was getting a bit late and we had wanted to go for a walk we set off into the forests for a circular tour of the area. By the time we got back it was nearly 10 pm and it was getting quite dark. We were all shattered and collapsed in the car while Bene drove us back to Flo’s house where we were staying the night.