Sorry that this is a little late. I’m back home in sunny England now and trying to catch up with everything.
Day 9 already!….. Time’s passing by. After another gut-busting breakfast, I hauled myself onto the bike and freewheeled down to the Saone river North of Lyon with the first job being to negotiate the city via its many cycle ways. it looked pretty simple on the map when I plotted the route. What the online map failed to tell me about was the vast myriad of roadworks that were going to be happening once I’d crossed via the Pont Robert Schumann (It’s a bridge). It appeared that this entire area was being dug up for major sewer renewal works. Temporary traffic lights every 50 yds or so, no lane segregation and several thousand Lyonnaise trying to get to their work. This commotion of car horns, japanese scooters and buses continued down the East bank of the river until I could at last divert east away from the Saone for the last time. The idea was to take the tunnel (cyclists have their own one!) across to meet the Rhone river just before these two waterways merge. However, due to a moment of confusion, the whole tunnel thing didn’t register with my then-addled brain (probably due to the large breakfast). I instead continued and weaved my way through the traffic and streets, at last finding the Rhone – and probably a little quicker than the original plan.
Continuing southbound, I then came away from the river and pedalled along through some of the less picturesque areas that will never appear in the guide books. It’s also nice to see that the city of Lyon boasts a pretty impressive selection of fly-tipping sites on its outskirts. Some very impressive ‘exhibits’ were to be viewed in various lay-bys en route featuring a vast array of white goods, building rubble and old carpet.
At Serezin-du-Rhone, I nipped off-piste into the village to find a bakery (a daily feature on this ride) and also a pharmacist for some factor 50 lipbalm as my bottom lip was feeling as dry and ragged as a Tunisian’s sandal. Another few miles alongside the A7 motorway (not on it, but a road beside it) and then I crossed west to a more peaceful road where I caught up with a German couple who were cycle touring. Their bikes were well laden and it looked as if they were overnight camping. When I say their bikes, I actually mean more like his and not so much hers. Herr Carthorse was pedalling what looked to be a low-end of the market mountain bike that was a size too small for him. It was fitted with racks and attachments for carrying various bags, panniers and rolls and all lashed down with trusty bungee-cords. Frau, wife of Carthorse, conversely was on a super-cool lightweight hybrid (top of the range) with a small bag up front and one behind the seat and held a massive advantage in terms of power-to-weight ratio. Also, they never seemed to be together unless it was when he caught her up at a red traffic light. As soon as it turned to green she was off like a mustard-daubed greyhound whilst he wheezed and puffed barely getting above 2nd gear. I also noticed at times that in some cases, Frau would dodge the red lights by mounting pavements and continuing unhindered. The poor man really had no chance. She clearly wore the lycra trousers in this relationship and you couldn’t help but feel sorry for the man. On one occasion where Frau had jumped the lights and buggered off, I sat at the red light and along beside me rolled Herr Carthorse, his face had the ruddiest of complexions caused no doubt by sunburn and blood pressure. He immediately proffered the question,
“<wheeze> Spik English?…….<splutter> Verr are yu go-eng? <wheeze, cough>”
I offered a positive reply with something like,
” Good Morning, yes. I’m cycling to the Mediterranean. I’ve cycled from London for…….. are you ok?”
The poor man was exhausted. I shudder to think what weight he was carrying both on the bike and himself. Whilst his wife was by now, 200yds further up the road having a lovely relaxed spin in the sunshine. He replied,
“< wheeze> yah…… <rasp> yah! Alles ist……<cough> gut!” in his own language this time with blood flow to the brain being at such a rate thus rendering a simple translation impossible. If ever you wanted a cycling analogy for oppression within a marriage, this had to be it!! He went on to explain they were also going to the ‘Zee’ also and had been cycling everyday from Hamburg averaging over 100km a day!
At last, I found the Via Rhona, a cycle route that I think meanders its way from Geneva in Switzerland to Sette on France’s south coast (right near my destination). The surface was excellent as it skirted the River Rhone for miles affording the user some of the most beautiful scenery. However, a little unwelcome visitor was also in the Rhone Valley today and this was Monsieur Le Vent du Sud (the southerly wind)! For a few days, his cold-hearted cousin had been howling down from Scandanavia pushing me along nicely with good daily average speeds. Now, as they say in America, it was ‘payback time’. The wind was increasing into the afternoon with more effort needed to maintain any sort of respectable average. This continued and made for an arduous second half of the day and then just after 65 miles had ticked by, I had that heart-sinking feeling as the back wheel felt very spongy. Getting off the bike and checking, confirmed my worst of fears…. a puncture!
Still with 17 miles to go on an 82 mile day. After much swearing I set about affecting a repair. Off came the tyre with ease and I quickly found a shard of glass that had found its way through. A new tube was sought but I then found that the tube (supplied by the local bike shop) was actually for a road bike with much narrower tyres. I had no choice but to use it so put it in and then attempted to put the tyre back on. When I first bought these tyres and fitted them, I had a devil’s own job getting the last 3 inches of beading on and almost broke my thumbs in the process. This time was no different and after filling the air with various profane mutterings, the job was done and I was off again. The tube seemed to be doing its job and the last headwind-steeped miles finally passed by. A long day in that wind with the forecast tomorrow being much the same with a few hours’ rain being thrown into the mix for good measure! But, that’s tomorrow. Time for food and sleep now!
Many thanks to those who have donated today. Much Appreciated.
Bye for now.