Monthieux, France: As the Tour de France geared up today, my tour of France winds down. Switzerland is within striking distance tomorrow, though I have not yet decided on which side of the border I shall sleep. I’ve been on the bike for a month now, cycling over 2,180 kilometers and crossing the Iberian peninsula and France in the process. Kilometer by kilometer, day by day, I get a little further eastward. All the pedal strokes begin to add up and translate into some material distance. But it’s still a helluva long way to Istanbul.
The past two days have been good, after my rest day in Brioude. Most of my cycling in France, and especially over the past two days, has been on very quiet Departement secondary roads, denominated with a D. Yesterday I climbed three mountain passes, winding through the Livradois forest and several comatose villages. I also finally finished passage across the Massif Central, which was much more of a challenge than I expected. I now get why the French refer to it as massive.
The mountains have tapered to mild rolling hills. Today, as I skirted Lyon, I crossed three highways and two major rivers. For a change I decided to rely on GPS to guide me into Monthieux on some back roads for the last fifteen kilometers. To my surprise the GPS worked, routing me through a maze of off-road corn and sunflower fields, over gravel and dirt roads. I even spotted Ryan, the skiing penguin, in a sunflower field [see Go Green for more details].
There was a conspicuous absence of any drama today: no weird weather, no navigational issues, no Uh Oh moments. It’s been such a long time since I’ve had an easy day I am suspicious; there must be a curve ball coming, somewhere.
Here are my highlights from the third stage:-
TransEuropa 2011 Stage 3: San Sebastian, Spain – Monthieux, France
Highlights: The middle-of the-night hotel fire alarm. The beautiful Dordogne and Perigord region. Camping. Cycling on part of this year’s Tour route. The overnight weather change from heatwave to cold front. All those menu du jours, and the magnificent meals and wine.
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Daily and Trip summaries:
Days 27 – 28 (Friday and Saturday, July 1 – 2): Brioude – Savigneux – Monthieux, France
Distances: 110.76 km (Day 27) and 96.28 km (Day 28)
Ascent: 1,689 m (Day 27) and 570 km (Day 28)
Weather: Just right. Not too hot, not too cold. Blue sunny skies.
Terrain: Mountainous yesterday, tapering to rolling hills today
Distance: 2,186.14 km
Climbing: 16,056.28 meters
Rest days: 5
Police interactions: 1