Thursday, September 6, 2012
Day 10 - Briene-le-Chateau to Langres (Wednesday 5th September)
Mamma done told me......there'd be days like this.
The signs were there right at the start. As I moved my bike from the pilgrim accommodation I thought it felt heavier than before. As I rode up the slight slope leaving the town, my legs complained. Early morning legs I thought, putting in a little more effort. The day was planned, 77 kms to Mormant along the tracks and trails as the guide book said it's a good day for cyclists. Almost immediately, I took a wrong turn in the forest and tracked back and forth until I found the very overgrown path.
From then on I spent ages verifying every turn to make sure that I do not have to retrace my way in the forest. Hard riding, some pushing but eventually I make my way through the bush and onto hard ground. Only to discover that my very functional nylon bag, that I fill with my daily ration of fruit and tie on to the panniers at the rear for easy access, has slipped and dragged against the tire making a hole in the bag and tyre marks in two peaches. Irritating, that was a really useful bag. Make a plan to save the rest of the fruit and dump the bag ... in a dustbin!
As the distance was only 77 kms and my legs were still protesting, I took the day slowly
I got lost again while venturing through hectares of vineyards. The guide said turn left and head for the brow of a hill, 1600 metres. I do that and find myself in difficult terrain loose limestone gravel, very steep hill, impossible to ride so push the bike most of the way to the top of the hill only to find a dead end. From this vantage point I can see the route I should have taken to the brow of that hill, over there! It's as difficult going down as up so the retracing of all those kms is starting to tell on my body and my patience.
Eventually I top the brow of the correct hill only to find there is a steep forest road to negotiate that seems to go on forever. "The legs on the pedals go round and round...."
Stopped in Bar-sur-Aube for an Orangina and slowly rode on to Clairvaux. Interesting town, it has a huge Abbey with walls that would make your average Jhb person envious. I stopped there for another Orangina and a coffee 'cos I was tired and trying to conserve my energy. But all day, in the the back of my mind, I'd been wondering about the stop in Mormant because it simply did not ring a bell. I have studied the guides comprehensively and planned the route for months, yet I did not remember Mormant. While leisurely sipping coffee I reviewed the plan, it's now 16:00 and to my horror I find that the plan was to overnight at Langres. A quick calculation tells me I still have over 50 kms to ride and all of a sudden the weather turns, it clouds over, becomes gloomy and threatens rain.
Off I go, forcing the legs to work at pace. By the by, I left my sweat band in the tumble drier in Reims, which until now has had no effect. All of a sudden I have sweat pouring into my eyes, it's getting darker and I have one eye shut and I'm squinting through the other but I can't see much 'cos my glasses have so much sweat on them. Take glasses off and peer through squint eyes. I reach Laffond, 23kms to go. No water, very hungry, getting the shakes, rain spitting, dark, tired and despondent.
Highlight of the day....find a friendly man who provides water and remember that in the handle bar bag is a high protein bar left over from the test ride to Stellenbosch. Drink and munch and feeling better, tackle the remaining kms into Langres. Everyone of them uphill as Langres is a fortified city on the top of a high hill
Supposed to camp but head for the city centre to find a hotel, a hot shower, do laundry, have a beer and find the last remaining open restaurant in the city at 22:00 for a very nice chilli con carne.
Oh, I saw a beautiful big Badger at the edge of a corn field just before Laffond. Pity it was dead.... it was that kind of day.