Sorry to you all that this is so far behind but I cannot believe the levels of tiredness and fatigue I am suffering.
So day six started at the rather lovely B&B mentioned at the end of the last post.
I went to the bike which was stored in the massive shed or barn or workshop adjojning the premesis. I was loading the bike when I was joined by the host and a guest who both wanted a better look at this special machine. The parts that made them ‘koo’ the most would be the GoPro and the very useless Garmin GPS. Its unfair to say its useless, I have no doubt it is brilliant in the right circumstances. Anyway they insisted in seeing me off as I clunked through gears heading away from them shouting “au revoir” with a hearty wave. Im sure they looked at each other and said “He’s gone the wrong way!”. Obviously they were right, but I was being led by Sally satnav in my pocket, she led me up no less than 3 absolute killer hills that ended in dead ends. Eventually I was forced to go back past the B&B head bowed and pedalling for all I was worth. What followed was a fairly simple return to the canal and more torturous long canal vistas.
I’m not sure Ive mentioned the non too inconsiderable pain my arse has been suffering, but for a gel saddle I would expect more and I was now sporting some pretty sore chafe markings. I cycled on without too much trouble but aware of the low water levels in my backpack and bike bottle. At each intersection with a road I checked for signs of a shop but nothing. I was munching my way through the last of the Moaom mix. Hunger and thirst does weird things to you and I started getting angry that the villages had nothing and at the endless canal. I did find a little shop that sold nothing more than water and an Orangina, obviously they sold more but I didnt need half a pig or a garden tool for pulling up weeds. On I cycled, walked, cursed and moaned. Greeting but not actually meeting anyone. It was very hot and I was pretty grumpy,
(Google considers this a cycle path)
when I came to a canal intersection with a road, the little sign post suggesting a supermarket. I was sceptical but took a look and hey presto out of the searing hot sun into an air conditioned supermarket with huge cafe and chemist. Into the shop I went picking up Orangina, water, Moaom mix and some dried fruits. Then into the cafe for a slice of pizza and a huge slice of custard tart. Then into the chemist for suntan lotion. As I walked back to load up the bike I noticed, in the supermarlket, they sold bicycle tyres. I had previously noticed that the bike was already wearing out the rear one so I decided to take a look. Forget the tyres they had Gel saddle covers.
For about £12 I could be carried in comfort. It was a no brainer, Im paying reasonable amounts for a decent bed to sleep on, why not buy a saddle cover. It was a done deal. The bike was loaded up and again I set off in a little more comfort. The second part of the day was another round of canal tow path and sunshine but I was feeling much better about it. At about 5.30 I started the search for somewhere to stay and located a challet on a camp site about 6 miles away. Having booked, I headed off knowing that within the hour I would be in my little hut at Lake Leiz getting cleaned up for a meal. What actually happened was that the canal path turned into a track and then into a grassy overgrown embankment. Annoyingly I was directed to this by the satnav which insisted the only way to reach the bridge I needed to cross was to plough through this overgrown wasteland on the opposite side of the canal to the perfectly paved tow path. Eventually the bridge arrived and I could clearly see that there was access to it on the paved side. Having crossed the bridge it was a gravel path that just got steeper and steeper, eventually giving out to a tarmac road which was equally steep for the last 500m. (85km for the day) By the time I reached the reception it looked as if i had riden from the UK in a day. Sweat poured off me, I expect I was unpleasantly odourous and I was grumpy. The young girl who booked me in was very kind and even offered to let me get settled before attending to the paperwork. Subsequently I was given challet number 5 with enough room for six people it really was very nice, even if the melamine laden challet was straight from the 1970’s. The shower was fine the room was fine the kitchen was excellent and the views out over the lake amazing.
Plus I had all that hill to ride down first thing in the morning. Washed and refreshed I headed to the resteraunt for dinner. A huge tuna salad for starters followed by chicken supreme and fries, concluded with praline ice cream floating on a cold coffee.
I went to bed that night very contented. Little did i know how much I would need all the food I ate that day.
I may have gone to bed contented but for some reason sleep didnt come easy and I remember seeing 3am. Eventually I slept and woke about 8.30, this wasnt going to be an early start. I went to the shop and purchased 3 croissants, a pain au chocolade and some cheese. I only ate one croisant the pain au chocolade and two slices of cheese. I was having a clear out of stuff I no longer needed. I ditched the sachets of coffee I had brought along, some dead batteries that I couldnt dispose of before. I threw out some clothing that really didnt need to laden my panniers. Then I packed up ready to get going. The bike felt no lighter but that helped as I hurtled down the tarmac road heading for the nearby canal. I was still pretty tired, my legs felt drained before I started. Google was telling me that today would be a mix of trails and roads which I have to say I was quite looking forward to. I was slow out of the starting blocks and it was after 11am that I set off. Whisking down the hill from the campsite I was directed into a gravel path that required me to cross a live railway line. I could have done it but it would only have taken a small slip to ruin the day quite badly, so I opted to cycle a little further by road. I set off with the first real hard pedals of the day and instantly felt drained. I was off and walking within 20 minutes. I was annoyed as it had been a late start. I struggled for quite some time and the route seemed to take me through many twists and turns before dumping me back on the canal only 2km further up the road despite it having taken an hour to get there. I think that set the mood for the day. What followed was a long day of trails and canal paths in searing heat, with a saddle sore arse and lack of energy.
(Trying to keep the heat off and head cool)
The weather was set to become stormy so there was that oppressive heat in the air. I had managed to get water from the camp site and chill it in the fridge overnight but that soon lost its chill. I seemed to continuously end up on huge long straights of canal that took forever to complete. I was not a happy bunny especially when the bike decided I could no longer have the third and largest chain ring at the front. That limited the top speed on any downhill, of which there seemed few. The rear set of gears were fine so I disregarded that and carried on. At lunchtime i started to look for somewhere to eat. Endless excursions proved fruitless in the search for anywhere to buy even the simplest of foods. I was furious at leaving uneaten croissants and cheese back at the campsite. I couldnt even brew myself a coffee as I had thrown it out. I took one last look as the signpost looked genuine and pointed me to a cafe on a campsite less than a kilometer away. I headed off to the gravel path that led through a gap in the trees to a campsite at the side of a small stream. Instantly as i rode through the gap I could tell the site was closed and probably had been for some time. I stopped and sat at one of the collapsing picnic tables. In my bag I had some dried fruit from the day before and some water which was warm. It would have to do. Back to the canal for the last few hours before finding a home for the night. As the clouds rolled in I found a quiet hideaway as the first drops of rain fell. I used the time to book a little B&B at a place called Athee about 10km away. I didnt really look at it ,as it was the only thing in my price range. I was back on the roads and headed through some small villages, not finding one open shop or petrol station. I had less than a kilometer to go and I was seriously hoping the landlady would have something for me to eat. But then, a vision on the horizon, a small white van parked on the verge, could it be? Oh yes a mobile pizza van! I was very restrained, apart from the whooping noises, and only ordered one pizza, I mean it was a large one, I’m not a crazy person.
From there it was a 500m wobble, pizza ballanced on the bars, to the B&B where I was greeted by Sandrine the hostess. She was pleased I had managed to get food as she had nothing other than the next days breakfast to offer.
I went to bed having clocked up another 85km