I was invited, or more likely threatened, by Oz to sign up for Bertrand’s Cobbles and Corks 2017 France ride and later in talking to Joel, I was informed that this trip was hitting some monumental climbs like Alpe d’Huez and Ventoux. The tipping point came when I realized the life time opportunity to join the shaved-leg pilgrimage up some of cycling’s sacred monuments. I booked my tickets, sent Bertand my deposit, then tenaciously blocked out all informational emails, Strava profiles and any potential foreknowledge and preparation of what was in store. Other than the twelve day commitment, my goal was to arrive in France, a virgin, albeit unprepared and without any expectations or preconceived ideas of the adventure on which we were about to embark.
In the same spirit, I decided (procrastinated) to pack on Thursday, the night before our departure. While packing, I received a text from Rick asking if he could “catch a ride to Montrose” on my way to the airport. This arrangement seemed agreeable to me, however when the guy loaded a hockey size duffel in the back seat of my truck, my suspicions arose. Either he was trying out for the Pittsburg Penguins or heading on a lengthy trip. Ahhaaa! Yep, the guy signed up last minute, bought his plane ticket and was joining the select group of Joel, Oz, Ricky (who upon arrival on French territory changed his name to Richard – pronounced Reeeshaaard), Todd and "moi". With the exception of Todd, we all met at DIA but taking different airlines we planned on congregating in Zurich to take the same train to Colmar.
That lasted about 3 minutes, because as Joel, Rick and I landed in Switzerland, it took us one coffee and snack to almost miss our train. We made it but we persevered and succeeded in missing our Basel connection, our misfortune finding us on a distant train bench waiting for the “next one”. Things always work out and this became evident when, while sulking in our socks, two heavy ladened lads carrying bike boxes arrived at the same train platform. Behold! It was our long lost friends, Richard and Oz and by fate and natural selection, the species of our kind found themselves together for the last leg of our trip. We all knew each other and this common bond of cycling, humor, wittiness and sarcasm created a protective aura which continued to shield us through our travels and language barriers.
The train arrived and we were bound for the home stretch to Colmar. Bikes parked in the doorways, we occupied a couple booths and relaxed to enjoy the ride and the views of the pretty countryside. Delirious from the lengthy travel, the standard of conversation topics was sliding downhill fast and along and with it our attention span. Joel, putting his spin on current events, made it for quite the colorful, hilarious narration, captivating us and making time fly by. The spell was eventually broken when the Swiss conductor kindly asked us to move the bike boxes out of the doorway. The train had been stopped for some time and as waking from a dream, we looked around through the empty cars, then out the window to find a surely misplaced blue sign reading “Strasbourg” instead of “Colmar”. Hmmmm…
Further investigation revealed that we had missed our stop by approximately 45 minutes and now we had to find our way back. Luckily the train had a large mural on its side of the basic regional map and upon consulting it we became clear of our error. Yes, between the jokes and laughs, our combined IQ dropping into the double digits, we succeeded in missing our stop. No use dwelling on the misfortune though. Back on the same train; all eyes and ears attentive, we finally made it to… Colmar!
Arriving at our hotel, we all showered then headed for dinner in Colmar’s Little Venice. We walked around this charming little town, ate a nice dinner then blown from the long day, we headed back to our hotel.
As you would have it, on our walk back, we run into a group of ladies that looked vaguely familiar. Well, well… The Telluride girls’ group who were already of French territory happened to be in the same location. Laughs and photos.