Yesterday (I’m writing this in the morning, having gone straight to bed last night) was a day to forget.
Hot and strong from the south, all day like the unrelenting sun, the wind has been, according to the weather page, in excess of 40mph. All day.
It’s not safe going uphill at 6mph, and it’s just dangerous going downhill at 20mph. It didn’t let up all day, and it was just too much.
I have some rules of my own on these roads – aim to go one-third of the day’s distance before a proper coffee and cake stop, and two-thirds before a proper lunch stop.
But on some days that’s just impossible. I’d already had one unscheduled recovery stop before coffee in Brienne. I found myself in the Rue des Livres, a street of secondhand book and music shops, all spilling out onto the blustery pavement on a Sunday mornng.
I was setting off again, when the next table – one of the booksellers and his friends – said they’d hoped I was going to play. I didn’t need asking twice – the prospect of getting back on the bike was unattractive. Something French, some Bach, and by special request God Save the Queen.
A short diversion, for cheese, and the garlic fried potatoes I’d bought earlier at a village fete, beside a lake that forbade swimming and “all kinds” of boating, for safety reasons. I swam, of course. I didn’t feel too unsafe.
Then McDonalds, the only option for more coffee at this time on a Sunday. Would you believe that only America has more McDonalds per head of population than France? Yes, really.
Then the inexplicable silver roadside chicken the size of a house, and now here I am in Bourg-en-Bresse. I’ve seen nothing of the town, which I believe is worth seeing. I’ve had 9 hours’ sleep. I’m stiff, and tired, and today the hills start. Onwards and upwards.