The cyclist and the sun

Day 142, Bordeaux, 9.835 km

A cyclist who has cycled all summer,
Found himself very helpless
When the North wind came.
Impossible during the day
To warm up just one moment.
He went to yell scandal
To the Sun, this vandal,
Begging him to lend him
Some ray to subsist
Until March or April.
I will pay you, he said,
Before August, if I ride,
Principal and Interest.
The Sun is not a lender;
That’s the least of his faults.
« What were you doing during summer?
He said to this borrower.
– Day and night to all comers
I was strolling, don’t you mind.
– Were you strolling? I am delighted.
Well pedal now. « 

Jean du Bidon, Fables, Book I

Nouan-Bordeaux via the Ile de Ré. A great stage with the added pleasure of being on the bike again. The start is under the sun, the temperatures are pleasant, no wind: ideal conditions. I leave the forest to ride in the fields. And welcome back the wind. Who has the decency to be behind my back at the start of this stage. No reason to complain for now. I cross the Creuse. I, who only knew this region through the jokes about it being one of the most depopulated places in France. I will now be able to say that I have been there. And confirm that you do not meet many people there… But from time to time a dolmen or a castle at the bend of a small road…

The hot stone dolmen
Dissay castle

The next day, I realize that I broke a spoke again. I find a repairman on the road near Niort to whom I ask for some advice to avoid changing a wheel per week. He tightens the other spokes for me and also recommends that I inflate my tires a little less… we’ll see what happens. I look at the road I have left to do for the day and decide to go to sleep on the Ile de Ré. I almost need to ride a day’s distance in the afternoon but as my dad found out during the lockdown, I’m a stubborn person. So I’ll sleep on the Ile de Ré tonight. Even if that means pedaling against the wind for four hours. Or ride at night for over an hour. But it was worth it. Even though I can barely see the sea in the dark, I hear it, I smell it, and I settle down on the beach to spend the night. Even if I wake up once or twice in a downpour, I sleep much better than usually in my forest.

A night on the Ile de Ré
The beach in the early morning

The next day, I start by taking a tour of the island: it is very pretty, it alternates between small white stone villages, forests, fields, salt marshes, vineyards and even the beach. The weather is cloudy but it is not raining. I enjoy myself. I arrive at the Whale Lighthouse. COVID shut it down. Great, I wouldn’t even have the souvenir photo to immortalize my passage. Never mind. And it starts to rain. I cross the Ile de Ré bridge in the other direction. The wind pushes me. For the time being. I arrive in La Rochelle, a nice little port, but since the rain is starting to fall harder and harder, I don’t linger, not even for a photo… I lower my head and I pedal.

On the road to Rochefort, I finally have my cycle path on the seafront. In the rain. And against the wind. Not exactly the way I imagined arriving at the sea. Less pleasant you would figure. After Rochefort, I pass on an aqueduct above the Charente. There must be a beautiful view from up there, but also a lot of wind and cars brushing past me at 90 km/h. I’m not taking a photo break as a result. Conditions continue to worsen until the end of the stage: more and more wind. And more rain. And more cold. The good thing about the rain is that I can drink the water that drips from my mustache straight away. And so I hardly need to fill my water bottles… I end up finding a little patch of forest for the night. But there is so much wind and rain that I take refuge in the tent as soon as I can. A cold meal later, I go early to bed crossing my fingers so that a tree does not fall on my head at night.

I’m lucky to have a lull the next morning to make my breakfast, but it doesn’t last. Rain and wind, I find my friends from the day before. On endless straight lines. And even hail is involved. And I have a flat tire for the first time during a ride. It’s not easy to change an inner tube with frozen fingers. Luckily, most of the storm passes while I fix my tire. I am so happy to no longer have to fight against a 130 km/h headwind that I try to negotiate with the sky: “a little rain if you want but no wind. Or even a lot of rain but no wind. And I would even be ready to go as far as a big storm against the wind in the back « . You have to believe that my proposal is not so attractive because I get rain AND the wind against me. Great. And all that with a maximum temperature of 6 °. Even better. All this to say that I am very happy to arrive in Bordeaux at Vanessa and Louis. Even if my arrival in the « South » does not keep all of its promises for the moment, I do hope that the Toulouse climate will be up to it!!

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