Saturday, September 1, 2012

Day 5 - Bapaume to Laon

123 km

Wind at my back!
Ooh you lovely people. When I hopped on the bike this morning it was freezing cold with a strong Northerly wind blowing right through me. I donned my raconteur's (thats my new French word) cape and headed for Peronne.  I was amazed at how well I was cycling. averaging over 23kms over hill and dale. That Superman Cape was starting to look good Christine! Peronne came and went and i'm racing towards Tergnier which was my planned stop for the night, when I saw a sign directing towards the South African Delville Wood Memorial. I turned to go investigate and hit the full force of the wind head on. Suddenly I'm battling to ride 10kms per hour. Anyway much to my disappointment the memorial was too far off track. How fantastic though to turn again with the wind at my back. I arrived in Tergnier at 14:30 and decided to press on. Took me 2 hours to get out of the town and on to the right road. There is a nice highway between Tergnier and Laon but cyclists are not allowed on it. No one, it seems, knows the back routes. Fortunately a lady running a betting shop seemed to know and she set me on the right track. I then followed the guide book route through some farmland and forest track and then on the tarred country roads and I made it to Laon around 19:30. The last 10 km's were exhausting as the hills become very steep and Laon is on top of one! So bad I gobbled my last pack of jelly babies completely :(

So What's it like?
For most of the time, fascinating and delightful. There is no way you can experience the rich majesty of the fields and forests, the smells, the sounds, the excitement of seeing hedgehog or a baby rabbit scuttling away through the undergrowth if you're in a car or even on a motorbike. I travel relatively silently and slowly (being the old toppie I am) so nature shows herself so much easier. FTH:K have a tagline "Listen with your eyes" and I have been so aware of that. The hundreds of varations in green of the trees, the beautiful flowers - even glorious red poppies on the road to the Delville Wood Memorial. You can drink in the smells and sights of the forests and woodlands and somehow, it fulfills you and makes you feel alive and truly connected to the Earth and her people.
Good night from Laon. My plan is to get to Reims tomorrow evening so that I can spend the whole day Champagne tasting and leave on Monday morning on schedule :-)  Oh by the way after asking and practicing a lot I now know that Reims is pronounced "RES" with a very serious Malmesbury bray on the "R".


  1. ah, so if that was last night, you should be tasting now.. lovely, and so well deserved!! ENJOY!

  2. Enjoy your champagne tasting and may the wind be at your back on Monday.

  3. Love your blog on the progress you are making on your journey. What wonderful experiences you are having and a journey that you will no doubt remember for a lifetime. Good luck for the rest of the trip and keep us posted in the days to come. Erna Vause

  4. Wonderful that you are enjoying listening with your eyes!

    Maybe you should be making notes about the route problems and publish your own guide for others. You can't possibly be the only one having problems with the guide book and directions.