As I was leaving St Just en-chevalet, some of the people that were about, were shouting words of encouragement, leastways I think they were as a I cycled past. Some made that pedalling motion with their arms; I`ve seen it before, it`s as tho` they are frantically turning a winch. It`s meant to urge me on, I find it embarrassing, I mean being caught quite openly struggling whilst going up a hill..I don`t think I`ll ever get used to it. I mean there is no way of hiding the pain.. I must just get on with it!.
Have bought 1:250,000 (1 cm=2,5km) as against what I had been using 1;1000000 (or 1cm:10km)
that is 4 x the scale... It has been life changing really, the difference that this has made.. Why didn`t I do it before, extra weight, economy... both entirely daft reasons... I have seen the light !
Stayed that night in another municipal campsite alongside the River Boan. I remained quite at a high altitude, maybe 700 or 800 metres although I didn`t realise this at the time. I stayed for a couple of days there, It meant I could Skype, pay bills and do all that day to day stuff that still has be done even tho` I`m away. A charming young lady pounced on me as soon as I navigated the barrier, hey that stops vehicles, but not a shaven headed thug like myself. 5 euros and they had internet access too... it`s hard to get It when I want it, so when I do get it I have a feast.
Thing are becoming a little more difficult, I have this pain in my left shoulder and upward to my neck, which will not go away, it does if I have these days off, but then comes right back again immediately I return to the regimen of cycling. I guess it relates to my riding position, drop handle bars, being hunched, almost like sitting at the bar.. (Now there`s a thing of the past). Next time perhaps a more suitable bike, with maybe straight handlebars, I really don`t know the answer to that one.. Anyway where am I ?. Yes the object is to complete, and not cry off thru` injury, So if it does mean easing off a bit, so that I can complete the Ride, then so be it.. .. whadya think guys?
Didn`t leave Boen until 1130a.m. I was indulging myself on Skype. It was only the 3rd time I`d used it since being out here. - A sudden thought. For the 2nd time on this journey I have been plagued with more flies than I`ve ever experienced before. There is always that constant background droning noise that denotes flies. Then suddenly the sun drops behind the horizon, still light mind, they all stop. So Tent flat open. All flies have gone off to do more interesting things.
Look, more about flies later, I instinctively know you want to hear more about these pesky varmints.
All now packed, quick trip to the supermarket for a couple of days rations and we`re away. Considering I was late, didn`t do to badly with the mileage, started on the flat, with little hills through to Montbrison where I met some steeper stuff, then as I got into St Just Rambert all on the D8 the last stretch into St Etienne it became a little more difficult. I found St Etienne a tad unpleasant, maybe because it was a hot and sunny afternoon, maybe I was tired. It was around 5pm. It was the rush hour, it was just awful navigating the traffic. And then this grim hill to get out of the place, misleading signposts and grumpier motorists. The drivers weren`t having an easy time of it. Had to rely on the `old sun on the right shoulder trick` but with care I might add, as the right road might initially head off in the wrong direction. I have to say I was very glad to leave St Etienne behind me, wouldn`t live there for all the tea in China.
Spent that night of course, in a field, the grass was short and soft.. I`m nearly behind the hedge – but because of the sweep of the road, I can still still be seen, on this occasion it can`t be helped. The journey here was interesting, in maybe 3 to 4 Kilometres the altitude went to 1000 metres. I found that an effort, it was as I say hot.. Now, I know you have been waiting waiting, this is the bit I promised you: More about the flies..! At around ¾ of the way to the top my head became the local meeting point for what seemed all of the flies, they brilliantly kept six inches in front of my nose and I know they were behind me, even up above. Certainly hundreds of the wretched things. I know I`m sweating with the effort of cycling, and that it was this that was attracting them however, it was beyond irritating it was horrendous, I breathed in they were in my nose, my mouth and buzzing around inside my helmet. Bloody awful and they were with me all the way to the top. Now the peak is described as a Vista Panoramica, well I have no argument with that statement... The name is Guzay, and it`s about 3 miles or so back from where I eventually spent the night,, on the short and soft grass... Dusk had fallen and I hadn`t been rousted – A cold supper tonight, will I have nightmares? Not for that, or the worries associated with my increased cholesterol, I just love this french cheese.
To all those people who saw me helicoptering my flourescent jacket furiously at them on their way down, I can only apologise. It were the flies - they were cause of my manic behaviour.
An eventful night that night on the short and soft grass, the increased likliehood of being spotted from the road raised my pulse, and unusual animal sounds throughout the night. What were they these big doglike sounds, barks are clearly defined by dogs, these were rolling ragged sounds which became muted – much like throat clearing.. Very odd.. I wondered much later whether they might be cows?..though why I say that I`ve no idea.
Left next morning at 0815, bag of rubbish on the back of the bike. I have this thing: When I`m at home, I might pop into Raynes Park for, lets say a newspaper. On, the way out however I`ll drop my rubbish off in the bin area of the flats where I live.. Well I`m sure you are way ahead of me. A similar thing happens with the bag of rubbish on the back of the old Gal, I end up taking it on a journey. Wait a minute I`ve just thought about those flies again. No - Couldn`t be could it !
It`s the 24th of may now. Through Planfoy, then a village called La Republique, onward to Col de Republique, eventual height of 1200 metres, and downwards pretty much all the way to Annonay. A very exciting 5 or 6 kilometre ride. That night Camping Communautaire de Voure in Annonay.. hosted me at 5 euro`s I think.
The following day became the day of `Day of the Stove` It`s spluttering and gasping. It now had become to much to bear for it and for me, it had to deep cleaned. Took it all to pieces those that I could. The pump mechanism defies me to this day, with its quite clear instructions to – align – twist – and pull. Sounds simple enough.. It`s quite beyond me. Everthing else, fine. It`s american a Whisperlite single burner (MSR) tube from the bottle connected to the burner via a tube. It`s multifuel, burns white gas, which is a kind of extra refined petroleum, burns very hot and clean. This was the fuel I started off with as I bought a litre with me. Now, no one has really heard of white gas, thats fine it is after all a multifuel stove, there are others I can use, there`s diesel for one, and dried elephant droppings for another, but I have opted for sans plomb, unleaded petrol, change the jet and bob`s your uncle, cleaned all the bits and bobs, reassembled, pressurised with the pump aaaaaaand it wouldn`t work. Fault find chart says clean it again. So did so, 4 times, and yes It then worked..
When I first bought unleaded petrol for the stove I didn`t know how the whole deal would work. What I mean is at the petrol pump. For instance can you buy petrol in amounts of a single litre, well I`ve never bought a litre before. I remember the days (I`m my dad now) when the minimum amount would be a half gallon, Anything less, well the meter would not have kicked in. And then there`s the queue, I`m on a bike on a french petrol forecourt, I park up, that`s difficult, is someone going to make off with it. It`s quite busy, lots of back and forth. I`m behind a lady, who`s looking at me with a deep sense of unease, The driver behind me thinks that he`s next, I`m thinking I am. But I don`t appear to have a car, but I do have a bottle. Can`t they see I have a bottle. The lady plainly relieved drives off, I plant my self firmly in front of the pump, I won`t let this car encroach on my space, I need room to operate. You know, the pump has a huge nozzle when you compare it to the small aperture on the bottle, it took ages. However , after all that, it all worked quite well really, and I gave the cashier euro 1.68 ..
There`s a moral here somewhere, oh here it is - if something doesn`t work the first time then clean it 4 times, it will then work –
This will be for no apparent or logical reason. It did work in a shabby fashion before I cleaned it. I then clean it 3 times, so it is cleaner and will work in a less shabby fashion. But no. It stubbornly continued not to function at all. Inanimate object wanted the fourth cleaning, before it then innocently sparked back into perfect working order.
There endeth the `Day of the Stove`
I`d better move on a bit I think otherwise I won`t get this in the post (Modern day interpretation of losing my internet connection)
Since Annonay, the cycling once I`m in the rhythm, has become a little easier.. It`s a state of mind. I Just keep going.. So then I went through or passed nearby - Tournon Sur Rhone, Valence, liked that city life, Charmes sur Rhone (overnight) Montelimar, and tonight I`m at Bourg St Andeol, (They are connected by the route D86 - mostly) liked the look and the feel of the town centre there, but that`s all I get, cos I`m leaving.. Heading off tomorrow for Orange and Avignon.
We shall see what we will see.