On the Road Again

by Paul
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I’m currently at Camping Du Lac. It’s a lonely little camp ground in a town called Palinges. Its 6pm, dead quiet and 29 degrees. The staff have spent the last two hours trying to persuade me to eat dinner in their “restaurant” – it’s a bus parked under a tree. I told them I didn’t want to because I’d be the only person there, so they came back excitedly later on to tell me there had been a booking. I’ll believe that when I see it, but they’d cancelled out my only excuse. So that’s what I’ve got to look forward to tonight.

My parents left to go back to New Zealand yesterday. I had a great couple of days recovering in Paris with them, and then an entertaining time cycling with them for three days. We weren’t breaking any speed records, but to their credit (my Mum’s in particular) we still smashed out 100km in three days, including 45 on the final leg. (I lied and told Mum it was going to be 30 at the start of the day). I think by the end of it they were sharing a few of my frustrations with cycling in general, and with the French – when we arrived to check in to our hotel in Nevers it was closed. We were ‘let in’, as in Mum pushed the door open on an old guy who I’m pretty sure was squatting there. He told us that the owner was out and that he’d show us a room if we agreed to give him our shoes and life-time supply of cigarettes. I actually have no idea what he said because he was speaking French, but it was probably along those lines. Anyway he continued to speak French a lot after we clearly didn’t understand a thing – something that happens regularly after you tell people you don’t speak French. After a while we gave up and went to find food and beer.

Since saying goodbye to my parents I’ve put another 160km behind me, and tomorrow I plan to make it to a town called Chalon-sur-Saone, apparently the birthplace of the guy who invented photography. The riding has been nice and easy and flat for the last few days. Most of it next to canals full of old people cruising through France on old boats proudly displaying their national flags (I saw a New Zealand flag yesterday!). The canals themselves are really beautiful and generally lined with big old trees which are just starting to get some colour in their leaves. Some of the engineering is pretty impressive too; due to the constantly changing gradients there are twin gates every few kilometres for the boats to park in while the water level is raised or lowered to match the direction they’re heading, and in some towns there’s a bridge for the canal to go over the river. Impressive stuff, especially coming from the nation that’ll put 2 signs up on the bike trail to point you in the direction you’re already going, when the only alternative is a driveway, and then not a single sign at most t-junctions. Ah, you’ve gotta love the French.

As of today I have less than a week left in France, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the Swiss have to offer!

P.s the photo is the little lake in a town called Bourbon-Lancy. The last 20km yesterday was pretty up and down over country roads where I had the constant feeling I was going the wrong way. It was pretty stressful. Turns out I was going the right way (no thanks to the signage), and just after setting up camp I had the most epic sunset to date!

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