Bike Touring Journals by Neil Anderson and Sharon Anderson Bicycle touring journals
April 20 Thursday Bicycle touring France from Lake St Croix to a vineyard past Riez France
The reflection in the lake this morning of the surrounding rocky mountains and pine forest was superb. The town on a hillside was obscured by clouds, but its church bell clanged eerily through the mist.
Last night I wasn't too sure about our bicycle touring camp spot, exposed to the wind and people across the lake within sight of a campground. But, fortunately, the only annoyance turned out to be the flapping fly on our Kelty bicycle touring tent.
Too tired to have supper last night. With all the climbing on our fully loaded touring bicycles and lack of sleep at Madeleine's we had some catching up to do. Sharon said her legs and butt hurt -- too many days off the bike in a row from staying at Madeleine's.
In Riez I bought three crusty baguettes (still warm!) and tried out a flat bread that looked like a salted type in Sardegna Sardinia, but discovered the "salt" was actually sugar. Yeah, Frenchies! They really do have the calorie requirements of touring cyclists in mind when they do food. A little square of the bread cost the same amount as a baguette -- but definitely worth it for a touring cyclist's belly!
Bought groceries at an Intermarche. As I returned to where Sharon was waiting with our touring bikes, she said, "Gee, you were quick," as I reappeared from the exit doors.
"Yes," I replied, "it's a lot faster when you can get your own fruit and cheese off the shelf yourself, rather than wait in three different lines behind droves of gossiping women." Like we endured while bicycle touring in rural Italy.
Have I mentioned that chocolate is cheap in France? I can buy five bars of flat chocolate for the price of one that we were paying when we were cycling in Italy. And that's when and if I could find chocolate in Italy.
The cycling terrain was much flatter today. We cycled 110 kilometres. Sharon says the cycle ride felt easier than yesterday.
Cycled past some tulip fields of red, yellow, pink, purple, and white. Magnificent! They smell great, too. We are also cycling past rows and rows of lavender fields which have just a beginning hint of purple ... but they don't bloom until June through August.
"You'll have to come back and see them. They're so lovely, and the smell is delightful," a woman at a tourist office informed us of southern France's fields of lavender. I imagine bicycle touring in France would be even more lovely then.
Cycling along, we came across a field full of blooming yellow canola. A little hut stood in the middle of the blooms. We pulled our touring bikes to a stop and plopped down in the grass to have lunch and admire the glowing stalks. We sat behind an old building with a cat door cut into the wood. The view was terrific with trees growing along a river and a mountain behind. Camembert is readily consumed in such a tranquil atmosphere.
A car stopped for a picnic lunch with two German occupants. They were getting ready to leave as we were packing up our bikes. The man was pouring from a wine bottle into the radiator. "Blanc wine?" I asked.
It was cloudy all day as we cycled along. When I bought groceries, it was 10º C. Rain occasionally spit on us and our touring bikes, but nothing serious. The sun tried to peek out near the end of the day as we set up our bicycle touring camp.
We've set up our Kelty bicycle touring tent at the back of a vineyard, right next to where brambles and trees start up a steep hillside. A swamp is next to a hill and smells marshy. I saw a frog earlier, but he must have had a guest appearance elsewhere as I haven't heard him sing in this locality lately.
Lots of little bugs though -- the kind that delight in flying up my nasal passage and tickling my nose hairs, so I snort to expel the little beggars. Sharon, after dozens of bugs have dive-bombed and bit her, said she remembers what she liked about cold cycle touring nights. (Besides that, she meant, I think.)
Sharon, as she washes up with half a pot of cold water, says she misses Madeleine's bath tub. I miss peeking through the key hole. She says the pot is like a very tiny bidet. And the water is about the same temperature, too. For a towel while on our cycle tour, we use a floor mop cloth. They're great -- soft, light, pack really small, and are wonderfully absorbent. Just wring them out and they're ready for more action.
For a lot of today we were cycling along the river or canal. We even saw our first train track in a while -- so you just know it's more flat than usual from what we had been cycle touring in the mountains. And bike lanes too, running along the side of some roads. For as much as cycle purists say they hate bicycle lanes, they sure are nice when the traffic is heavy.
For supper we had rice and fruit de mer with clams, shrimp, squid, and baby octopus. It wasn't bad as long as I didn't look at it.
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