Short Winter Ride (Vosges)

November 9, 2014

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I have been gloating for years about how fantastic my Gerbings Heated Jacket liner is and how can extend my riding season. So when Dan suggested a ride through the French countryside on this clear but chilly November day I was ready! Unfortunately, the bike wasn’t. This would be the first winter with the new BMW and I had forgotten to install the power lead to the battery.

We were already geared up and ready to go. I decided that we could just ride until I got cold and then come home. It might be a shorter day than planned but that would be ok. Just getting out for a couple of hours would be nice.

We zipped up the road to Mulhouse before taking some back roads. The air was brisk and the temperatures hovered around 6-9C (42-48F).

EasyJet coming in to the EuroAirport

We were both surprised at how colorful the mountains still were. I was positive that with the recent rains and winds we had that the leaves would be on the ground but instead they still clung to the branches. The Vosges looked splendid as we passed through village after village.

After a couple of hours on the bikes we mutually agreed to head home. Dan’s toes were cold and while the heated grips were helpful, they weren’t quite enough to keep my mind off the temperatures. But we weren’t doing too badly and chose to continue to take the smaller (and slower, and therefore warmer) roads home.

Parasailer almost landing

I love being able to snag pics of Dan riding behind me

We were just outside of Belfort (FR) when I saw an intriguing cluster of buildings on the side of the road. They looked completely abandoned and I told Dan that I wanted to check them out. As I pulled into the pot-holed gravel drive I noticed a bank of mail boxes and a couple of garbage bins. Someone must live here, but we had already committed ourselves to the drive. We decided to pull into the courtyard and make our turnaround there.

Entrance to the mysterious compound

As we passed under the arched entranceway I saw some late-modeled cars parked in front of a couple of the buildings and evidence of recent habitation. But overall the place had the feeling of severe neglect. Sitting prominently in the middle of the compound was a fancy shell of a building with the date of “1827” stamped boldly over the doorway. Later research showed that it was once a glass factory and then a girls’ orphanage.

The center of the compound

The outer building

The GPS insisted that the faster route home was via Mulhouse and the motorway but Dan and I had other plans. I found a nice point on the GPS that would keep us on the country roads that we were enjoying. I love having a GPS.

Rail viaduct near Altkirche

Homes are either unpainted or extravagantly painted. There is no middle ground.

We were both chilled and looking forward to getting home for some hot chocolate and lunch. It had been a nice ride. I keep thinking that it is the last ride of the season, but since I’ve had three of those already, who knows what next weekend will bring?


  1. jp - Sport Touring says:

    Love the reno project near Belfort. Spent about 1/2 hour on Google Earth trying to find it, but couldn’t. Maybe the ghosts made it disappear?!

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