Click on this link and put your speakers up. Picture yourself on a bike. Going downhill rapidly, with the wind through your hair and the sun on your face. Surrounded by beautiful autumn colored trees. Small yet loud waterfalls on the background. That was me today.*
Oh yeah I’m feeling good. And I’ve listened to the song of Nina Simone almost all day long. Check out where I’ve been the last couple of days.
Where did the bike take you since last time?
Day 16: Roanne – St. just en Chevalet. 44,3 km.
A warm day. A tough day. A nice day. Pretty exhausting to cycle uphill for lots of kilometres. Yet the view was rewarding. Also a couple who pulled over to chat with me (read: keep telling me how awesome it is what I’m doing) made me realise how lucky I am. That I’m not spending my Thursday in a office but on a bicycle instead. Being able to do whatever I feel like.
Day 17: St. just en Chevalet – Job. 67,8 km.
Unlike yesterday it was pretty cold during the day. And the weather forecast for tonight didn’t predict any luck (zero degrees – brrr). At first I was quite worried about the evening coming up. Thinking about how I could ‘solve’ this ‘problem’. When going uphill – once again – I decided that I wasn’t a sissy and I would survive. Telling myself to stop worrying, I did and enjoyed the rest of the day.
Set up camp at a free campsite (yes!) and was about to make a round around town (in Job – speaking of which I need one). Met a very friendly couple who just took their dogs out for a walk and they kindly invited me over for a cup of tea. Ended up with a very happy stomach (tasty dinner and even tastier dessert), being inspired to build a new life in Barcelona (they moved from England to France years ago and kept telling nice stories about their experience) and with some extra blankets to take with me for the night. Again, no words for the kindness of strangers and yet another experience showing me not to worry. Not to mention the ride all alone in nature was breathtaking today.
Day 18: Job – Le Puy en Velay. 95,8 km.
A day with lots of cycling. This because I really wanted to arrive in Le Puy before sunset. For this reason. It was a stunning ride, passing through the volcanic landscape of Auvergne. It reminded me of the good times in Pucón (CHL). Turns out you don’t need to travel the world to see stunning nature. Actually, I also strongly recommend the Veluwe, where I spent a lot of Sundays going for a walk with the family. “Are we going AGAIN?” – “Do I REALLY have to come along?” were some of my regular comments when mum/dad suggested to get out and enjoy nature. Turns out I’m starting to look more and more like my parents. Thanks to them I now (shamelessly!) walk around in a pretty pretty zip off pants. Actually they don’t even have one of those. So where did it go wrong?
Day 19: day off. 0,0 km.
Thought I would deserve a day off. Didn’t have one since day four and my bum was ready to not be on a bicycle for at least one whole day. Was sleeping in. Meaning: hanging around in my tent until 9. Meaning: just laying still in my sleeping bag. Don’t have the space to really sit up, or do anything else than reading.
Did uninteresting stuff like groceries and rewarded myself with an afternoon-nap. Made friends on the campsite as well. Felt a natural connection with the only two other people in a tent. A 65+ couple of which one of them is cycling parts of the Iron Curtain Trail in summertime. Impressive.
Got offered some French homemade red wine made with walnuts and oranges as well. I keep saying “Oh I prefer to not consume any alcohol on this trip. Staying healthy you know.” Keep failing. On a daily basis. Delicious.
Yesterday I was being lazy for dinner and didn’t have veggies. So made up for it today. Culinary highlight: couscous with mushrooms, green beans, tomatoes (YES I prepared them for myself. Those who know me do realize from how far I’ve came. Pat on the shoulder – anyone?), carrots, fresh herbs, nuts, cheese, olive oil. People in fancy campervans were even jealous.
Day 20: Le Puy en Velay – Le Besset 65,3 km.
Not such a great day. Mindset was off and Achilles was saying hello again. Misculculated the amount of kilometres and was pretty grumpy. Did already choose for the Le Puy version of the route (versus Lyon) and now made the choice for extra kilometres and more climbing again. Seems like I have a strong sense of FOMO when it comes down to beautiful views. Haat/Liefde…
Did end the day nicely though. Looking for a place to sleep I ended up at another family’s property. (Do I already bore you with these stories? If so, please tell me.) Such a beautiful house, on the edge of a hill with only three other houses in town. Tasted a new sort of homemade stock, flavoured with red wine. Pretty interesting. Learned that they also give three kisses when saying hello/goodbye over here. So us Dutchies are not the only ones.
Day 21: Le Besset – Les Eynes. 76,4 km.
Mastered the highest point of this trip: 1240 meter. Seems pretty dull when thinking of cyclists like Jono, who master big heights in South America. And when thinking back of being at the top of Huayna Potosí, 1240 meter does indeed feel like peanuts. Still, any kind of achievements should be celebrated I believe. So I gave myself another piece of chocolate. And the descent back to 300 meters was truly amazing. See introduction. Ended up in an oases of warm weather (with this typical dry air), waterfalls, ruins, cute towns and silence. Short bursts of happiness all over today.
Best route so far. From La Bastide – Puylaurent (D151) to Malarce (D113) is truly recommendable.
Day 22: Les Eynes – Mejannes les Ales. 68,6 km.
* Wrote this blog entry yesterday so will tell about today in the upcoming one.
Women and sense of direction. How’s it going navigating around?
No surprise, in my opinion this whole ‘women have a bad sense of direction’-thing is overrated, outdated and silly. Willing to discuss the topic in person – while enjoying French wine?- but for now I leave the reasoning and discussion viewpoints out. Anybody who has ever trusted me to be chef-navigation knows I hardly get lost and do like to know my way around. So the navigation during this trip is going nice and smooth. Mostly following the guide and only use the digital track when in larger cities. That are the few moments when things sometimes go so fast that I need to double check if I’m going the right way.
When looking around for a bakery etc. I prefer to ask people instead of using the internet. Actually this trip -again- shows me how I prefer human interaction over digital convenience. Greeting people along the way, small chats when having a break and getting random tips of locals make me feel good. And most of the time the other person has a smile on his/her face as well. So I guess it makes everybody feel better – most of the time. So please, ditch the phone when walking/cycling around and make contact with the people around you. Even when they give you wrong directions or tell you irrelevant information. It’s worth the smile if you ask me!
- Marlous is gonna visit me in Figueres. JIPPIE! A couple days of holidays within the holiday within the holidays.
- On the road for three weeks now and found little ways for many things to improve my current way of living. Had some trouble keeping my sleeping bag in place (it’s made out of down – tent is damp. Bad combination). Brought a small spanband with me. Wrapped it around my waist so that the sleeping bag doesn’t get of the mattress anymore. Works perfectly. Result: I look like a (cute?) little sausage when going to sleep.
- The management of washing my stuff is somehow complicated. Most easy way has been to just downgrade my sense of hygiene. My bike-boyfriend didn’t complain yet so I guess I’m still doing ok. And now the days are getting warmer and sunnier again I can wash (and especially dry) my stuff more often again. Happy me – happy people around me. I hope.
- Just like the French feel unbeatable when it comes to wine, the Dutch feel unbeatable when it comes down to cycling. As stated last time, I didn’t use my helmet so far. After racing downhill with over 40km/h and chatting with the lovely couple in Job, I decided I should be a responsible person. And not act like a youngster. (Ok don’t really agree on not acting like a youngster so will think of some other behavior – which is less unsafe but rather joyful.) So another new rule: everytime going downhill for more than 5 minutes, I put my helmet on. I know, going up hill while being on roads with cars should be even better, but one step at the time.
- Received some nice tips about staying warm at night. Thanksss. One of them was to create a kruik (hot water bottle) before going to bed. As I don’t want to carry around with too much weight I sometimes need to be thoughtful about how to use my water supplies. Found the solution of reusing the water in which I boiled pasta for the hot water bottle. It does the job.
- Spotted some large salamanders today. List of seen animals is getting longer and longer, whoehoe!
Have loads of beautiful photos but almost running out of internet, so just a couple of ones this time.