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This is a little spot to call my own. I'm here to blog about what is on my mind and my plate! This is a place to share my journey to becoming a healthier and stronger me!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

My Very Own Tour de France!

Hi Everybody!
I had the most exhausting, yet exhilirating Saturday ever! As I tweeted on Friday, a friend and I rented bikes for the weekend so that we could explore the area. I did some research throughout the week and was able to find a really cool path that went from Strasbourg to Sarrebourg via a trail through the Vosges Mountains. You can see the entire path here. Although the route is flat, I knew that this would require all of my energy and focus, so I stayed in Friday night to rest and hydrate (aka no beer or wine). :( It was a good decision though, because through it all we biked more than 50 miles! Final Garmin stats will be posted at the end of my recap!

My friend Kate and I met up at 8:30 AM on Saturday morning to head out. Let me just say I had on my capri workout pants but changed last minute into shorts because it was so hot, but I should have gone with my gut on that one. Bike chafing is REAL and it HURTS. Anyways,we headed out with little delay. Immediately we knew this was a great decision, as the views were absolutely breathtaking (as they always tend to be here.) I wore my Garmin the entire throughout the day, but other than that, there was no technology in sight. Only very happy, grass-fed cows.Other animals spotted throughout the day include ducks, geese, swans (!), goats, and frogs!
Around mile 10 we took our first rest break. We stretched out our legs, tried to un-numb our butts, and broke into the Nutella!Lots of exercise calls for lots of extra calories, of which I am always happy to oblige. I bought the baby jar as to keep the chocolaty goodness as a treat, not an everyday occurrence. But I will say, the sugars really helped my energy levels throughout the day. After powering up, we were off again!Seriously, I wish I had a camera that could capture the beautiful sights we were privileged to take in. Kate and I both kept remarking how great the trail we found was and what a perfect day it was for a ride! The miles went by in a blur as we were both so blissfully happy just being.

Lunch occurred just 2 hours after our Nutella feast because we were both starving!! We stopped in Saverne, France which also happened to be mile number 28. It was a very cute town with classic French architecture, a local church, and plenty of sandwich shops.
So I did what I do best living abroad, I ordered a vegetarian sandwich on a huge loaf of white bread. Paired with Powerade (which I never drink at home, but I figured I could use the electrolytes) and a shot of my Beast, lunch never tasted so good! Oh, and I almost forgot...I ordered a side of fries (which I did not finish for fear of making myself sick later), but the couple I did eat were consumed with a baby fork!
As one who tends to eat very fast, I think these little guys are a great invention! You're forced to eat slowly and actually taste the food. Okay, back to the topic at hand...we hit the trail with full bellys and a renewed enthusiasm after re-fueling. I personally believe the miles we covered after lunch were the most beautiful of the day.
Tree-lined paths, plenty of shade, and a winding canal all provided the perfect distraction from our mounting fatigue. Note the man-made brick wall to the right of the above photo. We both thought that was rather interesting because it went for miles. Very unique, to be sure.

Around mile 31 (ish) a momentous feat occurred. We biked into a new region of France! Seriously, we left Alsace, via BIKE!! I felt super hardcore at that moment, I am not going to lie. That is one of the coolest things I have ever done!
We marveled in our accomplishment for all of 2 minutes before pressing on. We knew that there was still much to see and do before returning our bikes (with a 7PM deadline!) so there was no time to mess around.

Somewhere around mile 34, I accidentally hit stop timer on my Beast instead of start. So our trek to and from this really cool unused canal was not recorded. But, I am confident that it was around 5 miles.
From there, serious mental and physical fatigue set in. The highs of the day and the endorphins) were wearing off quickly, so we turned around and headed back to Lutzelbourg, France to figure out the train schedule. We had missed a train by 10 minutes and the next one was not for more than 3 hours. Defeated, we went into town to figure out how to buy tickets. On the bright side, I was so tired at that point I was not a bit self-conscious when speaking French and was able to communicate fairly proficiently. What did I learn, you may ask? Oh, just that the train was not coming until 6:30 PM, which if you will recall, would not allow us to return the bikes by 7PM.

So we did what any good European travelers do, we came up with a plan B. Bad news bears, the alternative had us biking BACK to Saverne (where we ate lunch) to catch a train. That tacked on an extra 5 miles to our trip. At this point, Kate and I stopped talking. I told her I was cranky and just need to have my mental pout alone. On the ride between Lutzelbourg and Saverne, I seriously kept thinking about Matt who RAN 50 miles yesterday and how much more difficult his journey was. I thought of Caitlin who biked 100 miles and made it out alive. And finally, I though of Angela, who's motto "You are so much stronger than you think. You are so much stronger than you know," kept pushing me forward. It may sound silly, but it was literally all I could think of to distract myself from the fatigue.

When we arrived back in Saverne, we saw signs for le gare (train station) and literally both let out a sigh of relief. When the woman said it was only 6 euro for us to hop a ride back to Strasbourg with our bikes, I nearly jumped the counter to hug her!Mon billet is the best 6 euro I have spent since landing in Europe. No joke. After finding our train platform, we finally had a chance to just sit. This pretty much describes how I felt:
Gross, sweaty, tired, relieved, and proud. I think at this point the endorphins came rushing back, because the wait time for the train flew by. Oh wait, maybe that is because I busted out some hip-opening yoga moves in the middle of the train station because I was so sore? Yea, that is definitely part of it. Ahh, pigeon pose...my favorite :)
The train arrived on time and luckily we met a very nice German man with his 4 sons to pass the time back to Strasbourg. You see, the bikes are heavy and therefore very difficult to lift onto the train.That man was our good karma for the day, I am sure of it. He helped us load our bikes and then chatted with us (in English!) about the German education system (his sons are all multilingual!) and American politics from a European perspective.

The train had no air-conditioning by the way, so (and this is probably TMI but I like to be honest) I sweat through my 3rd shirt of the day. When we arrived back in Strasbourg, we had to get BACK on our bikes and ride them downtown to get our deposit back. I almost took out like 5 people because I was not slowing down. I just wanted to get there. Which we eventually did, and received our 200 euro (!!) deposit back!

In all, it was one hell of a experience. My final Garmin statistics (minus the 5 miles I did not record) were:
Time: 4 hours 50 minutes
Distance: 43.84 miles
Calories (which I do not believe are accurate): 2836
Accent: 4388 feet
Decent: 4295 feet

Today, I plan on doing a whole lot of sitting in soft, comfortable chairs while creating my presentation for tomorrow and finishing up my paper.

I hope you enjoyed the recap!

Until next time,
~Jenn

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