So the journey south east towards Chamonix continues and it’s Wednesday 18th May. Having left home in Pontypridd on Monday 9th May I’m well and truly into my second week of biking and things are going pretty well. There are so many words I could use to describe the trip so far. Here’s a handful that spring to mind: brutal, challenging, rewarding, tiring, thought provoking….and for some of the places I’ve seen: beautiful, historical, pretty, stunning. On the whole, all good.
So today started with grey skies and almost the need for gloves as I set off from Montbard after a better night’s sleep. We’ve been kipping in the van and my 5ft6″ frame just squeezes in the width of the rear cab pretty well. Last night was a bit milder so it was nice and cosy for all three of us.
My journey took me through some nice villages and I came across this lovely place, but I can’t remember where it actually was. The terrain has started to change now quite visibly. That means more hills but I’m taking each one as it comes. Not far out of Montbard I met an old friend called Headwind. I met him before on some of my training rides and he’s not a very nice chap. For the first 20 miles he pushed me about and took the enjoyment right out of my ride. He lingered all day and at times he really pissed me off. Nothing I could do except grind out the miles at a slower, more frustrating pace.
Hill of the Day Award went to the never ending climb into a town called Sombernon. Time for a pit stop and to admire the view. Setting off again from the car park with heavy legs onto the D road didnt quite work and I keeled over with one foot clipped in….in front of Amy. God dammit! I thought I’d got over falling off by now. The grind of the uphill was rewarded with what felt like the longest ever downhill all the way towards Dijon and back to one of the Canal ways. French D roads are probably equivalent to our B roads but they’re so much better maintained. Lovely smooth tarmac, no potholes. Bliss.
The second biggest challenge of the day was navigating around the outskirts of Dijon’s ring road. With only my Michelin map and an ok-ish sense of direction I made it to where I wanted to be. There was extremely heavy traffic on this part of the journey with HGVs speeding past. I was happy to get out of dodge. As I rolled up to a set of traffic lights a little old man rolled up next to me on his Brompton-type bike. He must have been 70ish and was wearing his slippers. He spoke to me in French, we exchanged a few pleasantries and I pedalled off as the lights turned green. I turned my head and he was right at my side again chatting away. I was thinking “God I must be tired if he’s catching me up”. He spoke a bit more then shot off ahead of me with literally no effort….”Monsieur votre bicyclette est tres vite!” I shouted after him…”C’est electrique!” he shouted back. Smoked by and old guy in slippers on an electric bike. Funny highlight of my day.
Mr Headwind decided to throw his toys out of the pram on my last 20 miles, just to pee me off a bit more. My ipod was a welcome distraction. At last, I rolled into St Jean de Losne where Amy had found a great campsite on the Canal.
After a quick shower and a bit of route planning for tomorrow we ordered dinner at the campsite bar. There was just enough time before dinner came for Dizzy to fall in the Canal. She did her usual try to walk on water trick which always fails. One soggy doggy to go. She needs to get dry pretty quick otherwise she can sleep in the shower block.
Tomorrow’s aim is to get to a place called St Claude. It’s about 71 miles which is kind of what I’ve been averaging on a daily basis. But, I’m heading into mountain country so I’ll see how it goes. Wish me luck!