A long day on the road today 560km (350 miles) from Reims in France to Einstein's birthplace, Ulm in Germany. A nippy morning put the heated jackets to the test as we blasted down the Autoroute.
The road crosses the disputed border region. Signs beside the road told the story: Alsace, the Saar coal fields, Verdun (France's equivalent of the Somme), the Maginot Line and battles back to the Franco-Prussian war.
Then we were off the Autoroute and on smaller roads over the Rhine and up, up into the clouds hanging over the Schwarz Wald (Black Forest) mountains. Picture postcard timbered houses, onion domed churches, cows grazing in orderly little farms. And a black glass office block looking more like the lair of a James Bond villain than the headquarters of a Mittelstand wood processing company.
And then down along clear, smooth roads to Ulm. Schnitzel, wurst and dumplings for dinner washed down with fine Bavarian beer. Back to the rather posh hotel for an early start for THE BIG ONE tomorrow.
PS Deefor got the prize for the first dropped bike today when it over balanced moving off from a junction. A rather elegant dismount and paratroop roll I thought but a sprawling pratfall to everyone else. Nothing broken apart from my duck.