Having spent the morning bumbling around Chaumont’s streets, searching out a phone shop and a pharmacy I headed south once more around lunchtime.
I had planned a nice easy 40 mile ride down to Villegusien-le-Lac as a rest day. The riding was actually quite tough, badly broken under wheel and hot, very hot. So I was quite relieved when I rolled into the campsite at around 5pm and glad that I wasn’t planning to go further.
On the way I passed a Dutch pair who eventually rolled up at the same campsite as me. We spent a pleasant hour or so sat out in the sun with a cold beer or two, chatting to another Dutch lad who was on his way to a monastery at Tizer – swapping road stories and discussing the peculiarities of the English language. All good stuff.
Dinner that night was carpaccio of beef. One of my favourites;
After a really good night’s sleep I was up at a good time and hit the road early, having decided to really push on and make some space in the trip to dally later. 93 miles was the plan, but turned out to be further than I’d ever ridden in a day before, to Chalons Sur Saone.
The ride started really well, passing up tree lined lanes with good surfaces and some more time on my friendly canal pathway.
The first thirty miles were great and I knocked them over in a couple of hours, thinking by this time that 93 would be no trouble. That was my downfall as the canal path gave way to riding pathways alongside the river Saone itself. The river Saone and its banks can only be described as stunning.
Passing along the river bank would have been absolutely gorgeous were it not for the ‘off road’ experience offered by Voie Bleu. Having spent several pleasurable miles on Voie Very over the past couple of days, I had no qualms about picking this as a route – Voie Vert is mostly tarmac with a few well flattened gravel tracks (or at least the part I was on….).
Voie Bleu was tough, very tough and the next 30 miles took a lot out of me. I stopped off at a random village, which seemed to have an overly elaborate church for the half a dozen houses surrounding it, to buy supplies.
The surface had markedly improved by the 60 mile mark however and with supplies onboard and regularly passing through villages where I could exchange the slowly boiling water in my bottles for free cold water, I was starting to feel a bit better about my chances. That’s one of the really cool things for cyclists in France; almost every village or town has at least one water pump which you can use free of charge to fill up.
By this time it was seriously hot. Mid afternoon, with the sun beating down and a warm headwind blowing into my face I was moving, but only just. It was hard work, but I’d set my mind to get to Chalon Sur Saone, so I kept on pedaling. And the scenery was beautiful;
Not too much later I bumped into a lost German from Nuremberg, who was heading for Marseilles. He had managed to get into a twist with his paper map and wanted me to lead him to Lyon. I wasn’t too keep on having him alongside but I steered him out of trouble, showed him a shortcut (courtesy of Google) to get to Surre, where I left him and pushed on. He said he was stopping for an hour and thanked me for helping him with directions, stating “you see, ziz is vhy ve Germans lost ze war and you won….”. I smiled and responded with “No, that was the RAF, mate” and wished him bon voyage.
The rest of the ride from there was very tough. It wasn’t getting any cooler and my legs were starting to struggle, but eventually I rolled into Chalon Sur Saone at about 8pm. I had covered just over 100 miles.
After setting up camp I headed for the bar and had just sat down for a drink when a couple of young English lads rolled in on their bikes. Turns out they are heading for Avignon and our paths cross for a little way. Needless to say, 10pm found us all still sat outside the bar when I decided to turn in for the night. It had been a long day.