I’m in Amboise at the moment, taking a much-needed rest. The “half day” ride I thought I was having turned into quite a long, “full day” – about 160m at around 24km/hour, as I was trying to beat the setting sun. Such speeds aren’t what I’m trying to go for, and I’m def. feeling it today. This was the fourth day of such distances, which is again – fairly unheard of and I haven’t taken a break since Mount St. Michel – 700? or so? miles away? Yikes.
I didn’t mean to do that. But, um, I guess I’m pretty good at plowing through distances, when I want to. I do have little fantasies of doing something like the RAAM, but they seem to stay little fantasies. Time commitments and all.
Anyways, yesterday, I got up fairly early to fix the spoke, which turned out easy, since I broke it 4km from the most bike-friendly town in all of France. Bike drawings, made out of grass on the side of the sidewalks, bike paths everywhere, bike sculptures hung up in the tree and a bike shop, wherever I tried to go. Typed a bit, and got lunch and headed out, getting lost about an hour in. Not that big of a problem, but in getting lost, found a bike path all the way to Tours – about 60km away, so I took that.
Although it got me away from cars, the path itself was bumpy and twisty. Some of it was pleasant, since it was designed to be scenic, but I sort of just wanted to get to my destination in Amboise and take a shower and collapse. But, onward! I rode, through vineyards and immense plots of sunflowers, entering towns from alleyways between hotels, going between towns, using 5 meter wide farming paths. Twisting and turning.
But, when the sun started to sink and I was out of food and water and,
and then I hit cobblestones? Cobblestones of DEATH?!
Yeah, I had enough, and entered onto the rode, toward Tours. For some reason, I didn’t want to go through, so I tried going around, getting lost.
It was really getting late – I was indeed racing the sun, which seems to set peculiarly late out here – is it me? Is it just, France, or is it that the mountains where I live make night come earlier (that sounds a little naive)
The exact time the sun sets here – the limelight, I guess it’s called, is absolutely stunning. It’s just beautiful, it doesn’t cease to be light, the light just gets… dimmer – without becoming dark with stars. At 9:45 I was still racing – seriously racing myself at that 25km/hour to get to Amboise and off the road.
The French, ever to tell you courtously that you’re doing something wrong will, “beep beep” their horn if they see me without a light, which is my cue to turn mine on. Hard to explain how they always do this. It’s a country of systems and engineers I guess. I have found my iPod, loaded with Daft Punk’s “Homework” perfect for such situations, as careening down a busy street to an ancient down, at night, incredibly dirty, with 1,000kms of road all over you and finally finding the center of town.
I very nearly collapsed while finding the Loire again – people had to help me with various items that were falling off of me. I met two guys from Italy, who were touring between towns and we chatted a bit and they directed my collapsed body to the campsite. Hi, guys!
(Oh! I’m at an, “Internet Cafe”, hooked up to an, “Ethernet” connection (sooo 1999) and I fellow eee pc user sat down and we had an eee PC moment of, “hey – you too huh? Thing rules, doesn’t it? Then I helped them get online, since it takes a few steps to get it to listen to the ethernet port)
The campsite is situated on an island on the Loire – how cool is that? It also looked completely full and, of course, I was too late for the receptionist. As I’ve done for the other 2 real campsites, I just made camp, got up early, stumbled through what I did – which is hard. I don’t quite have a handle for, “I did arrive yesterday”, “I need to pay”, “I’d like to stay one more night” – but I’m close. Learning a new language does make you incredibly aware of how absolutely conceptual language itself is. Being fluent in your everyday language, you tend to forget. It’s only when you want to say something – and you *can’t* that you really begin to feel what language, as a tool, is all about.
Got that all straightened away with no problem, so I’m here for the day. Legs are now officially sore – more for racing to Amboise than anything. I went over that limit of speed and just blew out my legs. Aww well.
After getting things squared away, I got some breakfast and started my day of Eating A Lot. I don’t mean to be a pig, but I have a caloric deficit to deal with. The servings here are fine, but I still need more than… one of those servings. For breakfast, I had a chicken and egg sandwhich in a bagguette, a pain au chocolate and some sort of almond crisp thingy. Yum! I then went to the store for some more junky food and then to the chateau in town and scoped it out. Interesting, but what’s REALLY interesting is what’s not there, what got destroyed during the French Revolution. Did that and I think I have my chateau fill for the tour – unless one just jumps out of me. I then went to the da Vinci house and it was much like the chateau – what’s really strange is that there wasn’t one da Vinci original. Which is sad, just a lot of, “here’s where he ate/slept/painted/entertained”, which I like, but it would have been nice to have a, “here’s some original drawings!” room, but that’s what I’m more interested in, granted.
What they did have is a models of his inventions, from the drawings – and multiples of them! So, they had little ones and you go, “hmm, yes, interesting”, and then the next room, they have a little bit bigger ones and you go, “ah, yes, here they are again” – and then you go outside and there’s a whole damn park of them! Full scale! And you can play on them/with them/on top of them. Yeah! Tanks! Flying Machines! Helicopters!
My favorite was the Archimedean Screw, which is just a simple way of funneling water upwards. All things should be so simple.
After that it was… lunch time – and I find a pizza place and had my first hot meal in a very long time. They totally caught me at the end, when they said, creme glace?
So that’s that. This town, to my surprise has a… movie theatre! So, I’m going to treat myself to sit down for two hours and see some cheesy film, dubbed in French (badly) and eat popcorn. I think. On the popcorn.
Tomorrow, I think I’m away again, due South to Sarlat and the cave paintings my multiple Art History 1 classes have told me I should see. It’s around 450km, so 3-5 days of riding, which I think I can hang with. Dunno if there’s anything in between here and there, but I may just appreciate being no where in general, work on my French, take it a *little* easier on the bike and appreciate the countryside.
After that, I’m tentatively thinking of going into either Bordeaux – west of Sarlat to do…??? Or just keep going South into the Pyrenees and do some of the more historical mountain stages of the tour de france.
As for time, I’m making insane time, but I’m almost going too fast. I’m going to burn out.
And that’s about it. Oh! Somehow, I lost my cheap, cheesy, point and shoot, so that’s why there’s no pictures recently. I still have my dSLR, so I have some pics, but they may not be compatible with Flickr. I’ll find out tomorrow, I guess.