We are in a very strange camp site with a run down castle in the middle of dozens of caravans. It is hot, damn hot and there is a strong wind gusting. We've just been reviewing the route for tomorrow and trying to work out how to avoid the more massive hills as today has been pretty tiring and tomorrow is 20 miles longer with two long climbs. Plus, as it's Sunday we are thinking about food!
Our hotel last night looked terrible when we arrived, wobbly Lino floor and purple walls so we we expecting a terrible dinner. Having decided that we were too tired to walk anywhere we first asked the receptionist where we could buy a drink... Here of course... So she went into the office and returned with a beer and a glass of white... Having drunk that we nervously ventured into the restaurant and were happily surprised to have one of the best meals of the trip. This is France!
This morning we set off in pouring rain but by the top of the first climb it was clearing up and we had a good ride over some amazing hills. By 1100 we were starving and happy to find St Saturnin and a cafe. The village is recognised as one of France's pretty villages and has a great looking castle and church. As we looked around, a bloke came up and told us his life history and how he lost his job, his wife, etc and has spent the last few years walking around the world and is now living in the local monastery to write up his story. I suspect his name is Forest Gump.
Here is a lesson in touring, never, ever say things like, 'well, it should be mostly downhill from here' or 'looks like an easy afternoon'. Inevitably, every time I say something daft like that the road turns upwards.
We made it to Issoire feeling tired after yesterday and instead of it being a short pootle through the town, we ended up going around and around following signs to Autre Directions but never actually finding a sign to anywhere. Eventually I had to navigate via the compass to at least get out on the right side. Then, endless industrial parks and motorway roundabouts until finally we were clear of the city. We then had to grind up a long hill to a place called Flat... Which it wasn't.
By then it was 30 degrees in the shade, a very strong headwind and the Jelly Babies had to be broken out. Finally we found our campsite and, as it's a castle, it's on a hill...hoorah!
We've had an icecream and are now waiting for the camp site 'bistro' to open so we can have a drink. Meanwhile I have spent a happy hour trying to work out how to make tomorrow less daunting.
Memo to self. When next planning a route like this, try to average 50 miles a day when it's like the BBBR, ie undulating and when it's bloomin great mountains, strictly limit it to no more than 30, preferably less. Tomorrow we have no choice but to do 50 as we have to reach our B&B in the mountains but I am at least trying to go right flanking rather than straight up the middle.... But with my map appreciation skills so far, anything could happen. All I can guarantee is that we know it will be challenging.
I can hear thunder.... Time for a drink!