Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Black Forest 2012: Day 4 - Steinfort, Luxembourg - Ostwald, France

Firstly, I would like to start by saying Merry Christmas! It is the 25th December 2012 and I decided to start writing this post as nobody else seemed to be awake. Also, it is the first day I have actually managed to write a blog entry for quite a while now so I will continue with the trip information :).

I am also in the process of planning our 2013 trip across the Pyrenees which I will start blogging once I have finished the Black Forest trip so keep checking back for updates :).

Day 4: Steinfort, Luxembourg - Ostwald, France - 29/08/2012
Miles: 153 appx.

The plan for today was to head to our overnight stop at the Misterbed in Ostwald, drop of all our luggage and head out for a ride across the Alsace region of France. This wasn't to be however as I will confirm later in this post.

This is the point where I planned to get to wherever we were staying before heading for our rides out. Our journey to the Misterbed was based on the fastest route as you can see here:

Unfortunately I can not remember how long this took us but I think it was in the region of 2 and a half hours. We stopped at our planned petrol station to fill up, some 20 or so miles from our destination. After paying for the fuel and grabbing a couple of sandwiches and snacks for our afternoon ride out, we wheeled the bikes to a parking spot to re-organise our tank bags. It was at this point that Emma discovered an odd grinding noise coming from her bike. On closer inspection one of the front brake pads had disintegrated right down to the metal, causing it to wear against one side of the right-hand side brake disc. How this had happened and why only on one side we didn't know as everything on the bikes was checked before leaving the UK (as you would expect). 

Luckily, Emma brought cable ties so as a temporary solution she undid the right-hand side calliper and cable tied this to the frame of the bike, essentially running off one set of brake pads on the front instead of two. As we were tackling the Black Forest the following day and were only half way through the trip we decided to find somewhere we could buy some pads from.

After finally reaching the Misterbed and lugging our gear up another two floors to our room (a common practice on this trip!) we headed out to Strasbourg, with Emma jumping on the back of my SV as the safer option. Strasbourg was only 7 or so miles from Ostwald but due to the rather residential route this still took us around 15 minutes.

View Larger Map

Strasbourg itself is a lovely city. The cathedral is stunning and the market square is huge. There is a river that wraps around the city with tourists taking in the sights by boat. I would recommend coming here to visit if you get a chance and we will definitely come back too at some point to take a closer look.

Prior to this trip I downloaded an offline world map for my iPhone and this came in handy today when attempting to find somewhere that sold brake pads. We managed to follow signs in the city to the tourist information point where a lovely woman did a bit of searching for us and found a couple of scooter/cycle shops on the other side of the river. We headed over to one of them and Emma asked the guy working there if he spoke English. He initially said no, but after realising that we were bikers and had a problem he was more than willing to help (as well as suddenly being able to speak English!). Although they themselves didn't sell the pads, he did give us the address of the nearest Suzuki dealer just outside of Strasbourg and kindly gave us a map of the city. We stopped at the second store as we walked back to the bike but they were busy with a customer. I would suggest storing some motorcycle dealers on your sat nav if you are going to be doing a trip like this as you never know when you might need them!

We arrived at the Suzuki garage and with a bit of pointing and matching up we finally got some brake pads. There were no SVs for sale here and we also didn't see any SVs on our entire trip. I think in mainland Europe they must sell the Gladius instead, but personally I find the SV far more attractive!

Getting back to the hostel, Emma set about putting the new brake pads on her SV. There was no copper grease to hand so the pads had to be fitted without, which would at least get us through the rest of the trip. We weighed up whether we would have enough time to do at least part of the route in the Alsace mountains but decided there wasn't. 

Instead, we walked into Ostwald and bought some fruit and drinks at a small supermarket we passed earlier. The walk was pretty and the weather was good. In fact, it was the last day of the warm weather on our trip. After checking out Ostwald we headed back to the Misterbed, dropped our stuff off and headed to KFC for a quick dinner.

For those of you who are interested, the route I planned for the Alsace region is this (as before, if you would like the Garmin files then just let me know):
Miles: 242 appx.

[Next Up: Day 5: Ostwald, France - Basel, Switzerland]