100 Miles - Valence - Avignon!
Having accomplished the longest day in the saddle to date - up around 100 miles, I now find myself somewhat trapped by the throws of “normal” life and the fact that I am waiting on the delivery of a parcel. A very mundane annoyance which has left me marooned in Avignon for the passed 6 days!!!!!!
I’d previously had a great few days in Lyon and standardly left the city a little later than intended.
After a cacophony of issues and errors with maps, motorways, security, power-stations and un-made paths I was on back on-route and following the Rhone River south towards my current location of Avignon - at the time, it was around 200 miles away, which is not too bad across 3 days.
However, as a result of my hiccups departing Lyon I only made about 30 miles or so before I needed to stop for the evening.
I’d done a little reccy of the area and decided that my best bet was a white water rafting centre, figuring they’d at least have some sort of toilet facility I could utilise in the morning, fortunately the young lad I spoke to said camping for a night wouldn’t be an issue! Sometimes a bit of Brucey Bonus not having to be so stealthy when camping!!!
The following day I made sure to utilise the facilities before departing - as if prompted by my mother! It’s actually quite amazing how much we take for granted the simple “pleasures” in life, things like just being able to go to the loo when you want - it’s not so easy when you’re cycling &/or camping, particularly if you’re doing these solo!
Anyway, another day, another later than intended departure time, so I decided to challenge myself to a power-hour! - a term coined on a lads holiday in Magaluf, but for vastly different reasons - it would be just me and the sound of the Regal Beagle, no music, no stopping, no eating just pure cycling for the first hour.
Struggling for the first 5-10 minutes I soon settled into my pace and decided to push it to a two-hour power-hour, a technique I’m definitely going to use going forwards, I ended up doing just over 40 miles in less than 2 hours, which I was actually pretty chuffed with, turns out my altitude training through the alps may’ve actually been a good thing!
I was limiting my water intake on the ride, thinking solely about ‘distance vs time’ and little else, quite a therapeutic/meditative technique.
When I reached Valence and ended up stopping at a McDonalds - solely for the internet! I necked my litre of water in record time, to the amusement of two lads sat out-front of McDonalds, I laughed at them, laughing at me, then saw their heavily loaded bikes, the state of their clothes and the state of their beards. Recognising the trials and tribulations that had lead us all to be there and without a word spoken, we instantly formed some form of cycling kinship.
We ended up chatting for a while, it was actually very refreshing and nice to find a couple of equally crazy mofo’s to talk shop with and exchange situations, locations and stories! Something which prior to the trip beginning I thought would be a regular occurrence, but as of yet it has not been the case.
Turned out the lads had basically done my trip through Europe in reverse, meaning these crazy German mofo’s took on the South Coast of Spain and Portugal in the midsts of summer!!! Something that I’m intimidated by doing a couple of months later, when it should be “cooler”.
To complete the quartet we were also joined by a Dutch lad who had seen me in my cycling clobber and followed me outside to speak shop, we sat there for a couple of hours waiting for the rain to pass and as is compulsory in such a situation, we got a cheeky snap together before departing ways!
The Dutch lad had mentioned a cool place to camp at Chateau De Crussol which was across the river and evidently at the top of a large hill. Seeing as I had nowhere else in mind and night was closing in, seemed like as good an option as any. However, with no supermarkets open, I had to resort to a footlong from Subway, not too bad, but following on from the Double Big Mac Meal I’d had but an hour or two earlier - not great!!!!
If nothing else, I think I burnt off a fair few calories on the ride/push/struggle to get to my evenings camping ground, but I was very much rewarded by my endeavours, I stayed in one of the most surreal, if not spooky locations of the trip. Within the ruins of an old property, inside an abandoned fortified village, pretty cool, but also quite a strange place to find yourself completely alone, that is to say you hope you’re completely alone!
I’d left myself around 130 kms or near on 90 miles to accomplish the next day, plenty feasible, but it would also be the longest single trip of the ride, baring any issues/errors and all in scorching heat - as is the way in the south of France!
It probably would’ve proved prudent to have left slightly earlier than my 12pm departure, given the duration of time I’d need to ride, but evidently it isn’t within my capabilities!
I was rather fortunate in the fact that despite the ridiculous heat, it was quite a still day, this particular river and valley are notorious for their strong and unrelenting winds, something if you time wrong, can put a considerable length of time on the ride, as it was, I put a considerable length of time on the ride myself through errors and issues.
Still, it was a beautiful day for riding and a beautiful route to boot, which took me a long the banks of the Rhone River, passed fortified ruins, old towns, along beautiful (if not unneccesaarily long) cycle paths, main roads and even at one stage I think a motorway, which was a little sketchy to say it was late evening.
I saw my first snake of the trip, albeit a little’un, whom I ushered off of the road, whilst I was on a “short-cut” - the overall distance was undoubtedly shorter than the proposed main road alternative, however, I’d certainly not taken any sort of topography into account and I think I must’ve lost a litre of water in the midday sun, on the ascent and feared for my life a little on the descent!!!
I made another minor booboo, putting roughly 10 or so miles on my total distance, however, this booboo also meant that just a further 5-10 miles detour and I could go through Chateauneuf-Du-Pape, which is one of my dads favourite wines - figured it’d be rude not to pay homage.
Niaevly I was just going to cycle through the town, until I got into the centre and thought to myself I probably should have a cheeky glass whilst in the viscinity - Porqui Pa (as they say in France!)
However, having cycled around 90 miles by this stage, being covered form head to toe in sweat, with dryed salt literally falling from my clothes, I was in no state to enter any of these swanky establishments - they were all well above my pay grade, so I instead popped my head into a wine cave.
“Parelz Vous Anglais?”
“Maybe, for business!?!?!”
I explained my predicament and situation and that I just wanted “a glass of your cheapest red to tell my dad I’d drunk it in the region”.
The fella who had appeared a little distant and wary initially, seemed to warm to me, possibly as a result of seeing the bike and realising I wasn’t trying to blag him, either way, he ended up giving me a class of the most expensive bottle ($79), on the house, which after 90 miles in heat was an incredibly refreshing, delicious and delectable treat, I’m sure it also gave me the extra motivation and power I needed to make it the last 10 miles.
I arrived into town late and by the time I’d showered off the previous 100 miles’s worth of sweat, salt, dirt and flies, my only option for food was a couple of pints and a baguette, not quite the dinning experience I’d dreamt of whilst on route, but certainly better than nowt!!!!
I’ll save my days in Avignon, which annoyingly now stands at EIGHT for another post, ironically however, I have actually now received my parcel, although its not helped, at ALL!!!! Which has amused me considerably, if not been equally annoying!!!
Anyway, I am “SOON” to be departing this beautiful city, FINALLY!!! Even if it is only briefly, on account of having to return yet again for the same parcel!!!!
Peace out!!! X