Day 3

A day of extremes

As i write this i am having to think quite hard to remember day three and it was only two days ago! I rember it was wet, very very wet.

It didnt start wet. I woke up from my shelter, had a shower and packed my things. The members of the Henry 4th mcc that were up and about waved good morning, great bunch of people.

I left the campsite and headed south. After checking the map i ended up aiming for perigeux. It was on a river, was a good distance away and had camping. Id gotten into a habit of making a list of towns i had to go through to reach my final destination, with the aim that when i got to a crossroads a quick check of the list would have me in the right direction rather than having to squint at a map as i was going along. This worked great, providing the towns were signposted. The way the french seem to do it is only have directions for the big places. Which made things a tad awkward but i managed.

The first few hours were great. Small twisty roads, cute villages. Big open wheat fields had been replaced by vinyards (i was in the cognac region today) and the air moreoften had the heady smell of pine. And pig shit occasionally too. Senses on a bike are far improved and it was a delight to see and smell everything with my bike roaring away in the background.

It was hot though. Baking infact. I was feeling sleepy come midday so pulled over at the next parking place (full of campervans as usual) and had a nap. I woke up drenched in sweat and covered in flies, great. A cold double-italian-starbucks-instant-coffe-with-longlife-cream and some food later i was on the go, relishing the cooling breeze. It was still hot though.

delicious sweaty cheese

Now so far afternoons seem much more stressful than the mornings. I seem to have many more worries, where am i stopping, where shall i sleep, how much will it cost, petrol now or push it further. This, coupled with the clouds coming up overhead, brought my mood down a bit. I was sure i could outrun the rain though.

No chance, the drizzle started, then it was POURING. My raincoat, which was meant to have been rewaterproofed, had obviously had enough water from the sailing last weekend (it was probably the salt spray it cant do it any good) and was if anything soaking it all up. The boots were filling, the gloves drenched. I pushed myself on and on.

Now half my issue is my stupid camping set up. Id envisioned that everynight in the baking heat of southern europe would be out in the open in a lovely forest somewhere. Reality was going to be campsites. Now a tarp on a campsite is almost ridiculous. It requires something else to tie to (as well as the bike which was becoming increasingly unreliable at holding its self upright) and in the rain would be hugely useless. If i was ray mears (and i thought by now i would be) it would not be an issue. For me it was. So id spend all afternoon dreading turning up at a campsite, shelling out a whole days budget for a small square of dead grass and still not being able to get out of the rain.
(as i write this i am planning on going to decathlon in pamplona tomorrow to buy a tent and ill send the tarp/groundsheet home)

So pressed on in worsening conditions as that seemed the only reasonable thing to do as i could barely face up to checking into one of the many campsites is passed. Every bend i would hope i was finally turning away from the clouds only to find my final destination was into the middle. Like a fool i continued.
My thoughs turned to giving up, calling it a day, wanting to be home in a safe warm convienient bed. Even that i realised was not an easy option. With budget worries about hotels i ruled that out. I was not thinking straight at all and talked my self into a foul mood in my head.

Long story (ride) short i turned up at this mobile home park, in an appaling condition, freezing and drenched, looking for a tree to tie my tarp to. Oh and that would cost €18 for the night anyway…. Thankfully i could pay €8 more and get a deluxe tent, avec 4 bedrooms (mine was a double bed) cooker, fridge, lights, floors, chairs, the whole shebang.

The rain had stopped by now and people were out in shorts and tshirts while i was wearing half my gear and still shivering. A warm shower later i realised that it wasnt cold, it was early summer in the dordogne region afterall. All the aweful thoughts in my head vanished and the world was a great place again.

Moral of the day, dont wish for it to be less hot, and dont mess with the rain. In the future id put on a fleece under my jacket and another raincoat ontop of my first, the rain then became much less of an issue.

One thing to note throughtout all this was how well the bike was handling. Yes my arse was sore and i was soaked but i was still going at a good speed in the rain and i had complete confidence in its grip and handling, infact would have been a great afternoon ride if not for the cold wet stuff.

I layed my gear out to attempt a drying, made some supper (piri piri pasta avec sweaty cheese, sweaty sausage et long life cream, recipe to follow) and fell asleep.

ahhh bed


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