After a two-year hiatus, the Tour Eucor finally took place again from June 7 to 11, 2022. Matthias Mair, who studies Chemical Engineering at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), was one of the lucky cyclists to get one of the sought-after places in the tour. He talks about his personal experience and impressions from this year’s tour with us.
What is the Tour Eucor?
The Tour Eucor is a five-day bicycle ride to all five universities in the Eucor alliance. The tour is organized by an association made up of students and alumni of the Eucor universities. After a forced break due to the pandemic, the Tour Eucor could take place again this year with 130 participants.
Who can ride in the Tour Eucor?
Students, staff, and alumni of the five universities can apply to participate in the tour. This ensures that there is an interesting mix of participants, which always results in good conversations. On the second day, I was able to talk to a professor from Strasbourg for a long time, and he told me about his research in materials science. I also found conversations with alumni very interesting because they could tell me about their professional experience, which is already relevant for me during my master’s degree. So the Tour Eucor is not just worthwhile for the biking!
What motivated you to take part in the Tour Eucor?
First of all, I like to ride my racing bike, and I’m convinced that the Upper Rhine region has some of the best biking routes. Second, I believe that international contacts and conversations are very important. The Tour Eucor offers the opportunity to practice the European ideal and get in touch with young people from all three countries. Many of the participants speak German, French, and English, and people switch between languages the entire week. In case you don’t speak another person’s language, there’s always someone around to translate, and you can even learn some new words in the process. I have a lot of catching up to do with the Swiss German dialect, I realized.
What was a highlight for you?
The organization team! It was incredible how much effort and passion they invest in the Tour Eucor. The organization team not only plans all the stages and arranges the accommodation, the evening program, and much more; there is also a large team of helpers who supply the participants with food and drinks along the route and transport the luggage from A to B. I am very thankful to them. Without them, the tour would not be possible. The participants were also very dedicated. One student from Basel offered to guide us through the city in the evening after arriving there.
What was the most beautiful stage?
I liked the fourth stage, from Basel to Freiburg, the best. The quiet roads in the southern Black Forest were simply wonderful. All the other stages were also beautiful, but during the first three days, the weather was still a little rainy, meaning it was harder to enjoy the landscape. I hope I can participate again next year and see the Vosges and the Swiss Jura in the sunshine.
What is the biggest difference between the three countries?
First of all, I want to stress that some differences are hardly noticeable. For example, I didn’t notice we were in another country until a few kilometers after crossing the Swiss border, because there wasn’t a large customs building along the bike path, of course. Something that I really like about France was that many people cheered us on and motivated us from the side of the road or from their car. I think Germans could learn a thing or two from them.
Do the participants of the Tour take advantage of the mobility offered by Eucor?
Some participants have already attended courses at other Eucor universities or know people who have used this mobility. One alumnus from Karlsruhe, for example, told me that he attended a weekend seminar in Strasbourg through Eucor. The seminar was about how to apply for jobs and what you should pay attention to in the different countries. For other participants, the Tour was the first encounter with Eucor, and perhaps it will inspire them to take advantage of the mobility it offers in the future. After meeting so many nice people, I’m also motivated to use Eucor’s mobility, and I’m currently looking through the course catalogue of the University of Strasbourg. It’s easily accessible from Karlsruhe, and I really like the city.
In conclusion, the tour in numbers:
In five days, my group covered 820 kilometers and climbed about 11,000 meters in three countries. That means I spent roughly 30 hours on my bike, during which I drank about 28 liters of water and ate more than 30 cereal bars. I won’t be having any of those for a while … 😀