Basel

Last night, I was trying to make up time, so I was riding late. At around 22:30, it started raining. I was on a fairly busy road with a shoulder that kept disappearing. I decided to ditch it, as riding at night in th rain is my limit. I happened upon a forest and a underneath pine trees, I found absolute darkness. And peace. 6 hours later, I was back on the road, eating up tarmac on my way West.

Little things like that.

For the past few days, I’ve been traveling with little rest to Basel, Switzerland and hanging out there. So many things to mention, so little time. And I am again scatter-brained. Some photos:

A few attempts at a fix.

My handlebar bag is a little broken. First tried to glue it back (fail), then epoxy it back (fail), then bolt it back (Fail)

Bolted it back with a bigger nut and a *washer* and we’re in business.

The border of France and Switzerland is a little uneven, and you keep entering and leaving both countries en route to Basel

Finally got lost in a small Swiss town, perfectly preserved with an art exhibition with an artist with a similar last name to mine:

Artist exhibition for,

Didn’t go, though;

Looked for a map in town to figure out how to get to Basel – the road I was on sort of… stopped at the point my Google Map directions said, “Turn right on, UNKNOWN ROAD”, which should have been a clue I’d have trouble.

Long story (and I’ll get to writing that) short, I broke down and ask the tourist office how to find the road I was looking for and she gave me a (friendly but, ) strange look at went, “What? Look, you’re in Switzerland, we have BIKE HIGHWAYS”. Take #7, it starts around the corner, across the ancient ped. bridge. Hazzah!

The crossroads

That’s right. Switzerland has bike highways – just very well marked bike routes that go through the entire country.

It’s not just that, there’s routes for mountain bikes *and* road bikes, as well as hiking routes and,

Inline skating routes. And I’m serious.

Hike, bike, rollerblade, etc Switzerland!

(also, canoe switzerland!)

The problem with these paths, is that usually they never give you an easy go to where you want to go, but throw in things like, oh, MOUNTAIN PASSES, which can get annoying if you just want to get to a warm bed.

And, sigh, this one was no exception,

My apologies about that, I was very tired and the last thing I wanted/needed was YET ANOTHER mountain pass. I’m at around 20 for the trip. FEEL MY LEGS!

Sorry, I was a bit displeased about the pass.

I ran into 2 of them on this bike highway. The second one also turned into a dirt road for kilometers, which is another thing I wasn’t really thinking I’d like to try fully loaded and exhausted, but you get what you get:

Not lost, but my road turned to dirt.

Not lost, but my road turned to dirt.

Notice the, “7” sign? I’m not lost at all!

It was raining too, so the dirt was quickly turning to mud. Sigh.

But! Got to Basel a little before 17:30.

Now, the problem was, I made directions from where I thought I was coming from, not this crazy bike highway.

A little looking around and I realized I was in the area I needed. What luck!

Following my own directions

Following my own directions

Called up Evan and… he was there! So hazzah! I got to hang out with him for a few days.

A HUGE thanks has to befall Evan for giving me the random and much appreciated email to let me know if I’m in the area that I have a warm place to stay. Yeah! Thanks Evan, and I owe you a beer if you’re ever again state-side.

Basel is a terribly bike friendly city, here’s some interesting finds (I’m a dork, yah know)

A free-locked Colnago bicycle

free locked Colnago bicycle

You could probably get away with selling the frame alone for about $1000

Old School Swiss Army bike!

Swiss Army bike in Basel

Forget exactly the type of bike this is:

Hammock Bike in Basel

But the saddle works much like a hammock – supposed to be very comfortable.

Basel is also very expensive – behold:

The price of a burrito in Basel is almost 30 Swiss Francs

A burrito costs almost 30 swiss francs. The conversion with US dollars is almost 1:1.

I also checked out some Contemporary art spaces and the architecture museum. Some very interesting videos from Mr. Guido van der Werve –

the day I didn’t turn with the world

guido van der Werve - the day I didn't turn with the world

(On the north pole, turning with the sun)

Everything wi
ll be alright:

guido van der Werve - everything is going to be alright, 2007

(Walking along an ice sheet, while an icebreaker follows)

Ruled.

After hanging out in Basel, I went back into France to go to Colmar, mostly for this:

Isenheim Altarpiece, Matthias Grunwald.

Bad photo, sorry, but this is the Isenheim Altarpiece, by Matthias Grunwald. It’s quite amazing and worth seeing. There were some amazing woodcuts as well. I’m happy I went to this museum.

After visiting Colmar, I kept trucking this time… West!

To where?!

Paris!

I have to get to Paris by the twenty eighth and I’m scared to even look up how far it is. But it’s far. And counting today – right now, I have three days to do it. A good challenge and I won’t even tell you exactly where I am *now* to keep up the,

the,

Anticipation.

West of Colmar are more bloody mountains. I could go North and attempt to side-step the mountains. It’s a risk, since it adds a little more mileage, but it may be faster than a mountain pass. Is that what I do?

One more pass out of Western France (~1100 meters)

Well, of course not!

Plowing away I did up yet another 1100 meter mountain pass and a few little ones afterwards at night. Like ya do.

So, wish me luck getting to Paris on time and I don’t know how much posting I’ll do until then. But the wishing part, please take advantage on doing that 🙂

Cheers m’dears,


Switzerland

Last night, I savauged it in the absolute middle of the town of Bois d’Amont (I think) next to a bunch of camping cars that were obviously parked there. I see this a lot, where camping cars are just suspiciously parked in the center of the ville with windows covered in reflector stuff and it’s *so* obvious what’s they’re doing.

I rolled into town around 20:30, so I went to the local bar and had a half pint, and then a demi bottle of cidre (well, I mean, hey!) and something unbelievably good, made with onions and bacon and creme sauce – all slathered on what was sort of like a beef-brother flavored crepe. I have no idea what I ordered. That happens a lot. A perk of traveling.

By the time I was drunk – I mean, done, it was dark, so I just pitched and went to sleep, woke up early (COLD! It’s COLD!) and rolled into… Switzerland!

Which is fun. And funny. Did you know that they don’t use the Euro primarily? *I* didn’t, and it took a few minutes at the bakery to figure out, first – why everything seemed *so* expensive and why the baker didn’t know what the heck I was giving him. I thought he was just sort of dim – like a savant baker, but couldn’t add 2 and 2. Nope. Just me.

I catch myself saying silly, obvious things while around here. The other day, I was in a Supermarche, getting fixin’s for a sandwhich and I honestly said this to myself,

“Gosh! There seems to be Swiss Cheese everywhere all of a sudden – I wonder why?”

So provincial. I’m sorry.

I put in my right contact this morning and it hurt like hell – usually this is because something else went into my eye, along with the contact. Easy – just flush out the eye and the contact.

But, this continued to irritate me. I stopped for some food at another Supermarche this morning and they just so happened to an optician, so in my broken French and rugged (good) looks, I apologized about barging in, but there’s something in my eye – could you check?

And she did – so thoughtfully and helpful. Nothing there, though. Wanted to make sure I didn’t have an infection. Those things can… well, blind you.

But what’s funny, is that I can see about twice as well now with whatever is wrong with my eye, than usual. I can’t explain – and I couldn’t even come close to explaining to the optician. I can’t go *without* a contact, but, I can tell you how many doors are on the cars that pass by the street nearby. Sounds horrid still, but my vision usually maxes out around where my nose ends. It’s a big old long nose and it’s been that way since I was in third grade, where my nose was much more button-like, but that’s pretty sweet to now be able to at least see details of a fast moving vehicle. To me, it’s almost religious. Dunno. Just, strange.

It’ll go away, I’m sure, but it’s a mystery to me why this is all happening. I think what happened is the Aloe (pronounced Ah-Lo-Eh in French, if you ever ask for it) that was in my bag exploded and got on everything and I got it in my eye and whatever keeps the Aloe in the bottle being cool until you use it isn’t good to get in your eye. Most things that come from plants aren’t. Think maple syrup. Yeah.

So, Basel is 150 something km away. Probably too far for today, but tomorrow, I’ll crash in Basel and say hello to my contact there and explore the town in absolute perdu-ness as they (meaning, I) say. I don’t know German, so it should be fun. Hopefully, they’ll be some must see things to… see.

After that, Colmar I’m thinking to see Grünewald’s alterpiece and the museum about the sculptor of the Statue of Liberty. And then, it’s a complete and utter challenge to get to Paris to make my hotel (using that word very loosely) reservation. If I get there *too* early (bwhahahaaha!) I’m sleeping in the sewers with the Turks (with all due respect to the noble Turks)

Allons-y!


The beard is getting a little too savauge, I ‘m thinking. I may have to trim it soon – it’s either that, or keep it, and when I get home, go through an, “Old Man” phase, where I wear tattered clothes from the thrift store and walk with a cane everywhere, attempting to focus on things with coke bottle glasses. Being in the best shape of my life at the moment, that may just be the funniest thing I can possibly think of doing at the moment.


La Marmotte

Oh, there it is.

Yesterday was a wash. I went about 60km absolutely dead.

The day before though, I did the Marmotte ride.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Marmotte

From Wikipedia:

La Marmotte is one of the toughest one-day cycling events in the world.

The route is 174 km long, but features more than 5180 metres of climbing. The event goes over the Col du Glandon, Col du Telegraphe, Col du Galibier and finishes at the top of one the most famous Tour de France climbs; Alpe d’Huez.

Yes.

Here’s the altitude stuff I stole:

Quite the itinerary. The mountains here are nothing like the Rocky Mountains. These things are heroic in of themselves.

Started the ride at 8:30 am. My guidebook says it takes around 7-8 hours. OK – I left early to make sure I have some fudge time. The route is a big loop, so I was able to keep most of my stuff at the campsite, which was nice – this was a ride for the joy of riding.

The first pass Col de la Croix Fer, was difficult – very very steep – but made it – cafe on the top – so, had coffee.

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The second major pass, Col Du Telegraphe, I went very very very much too fast and for some reason, decided to go *down* the pass without my windbreaker on.

Bad idea.

It had started raining and combined with the altitude, I became so cold, so quick, I almost put myself into shock (I’m not kidding) and had to take 5, before going for the big one, Col du Galibier.

Galibier kicked my ass. It is gigantic and after the major amount of km’s before it was a tough one. What I was thinking before this ride was, “You know, I could be a long-distance athlete – in time”. What I was thinking during this ride was, “People *race* this?!”

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Going *down* the pass was akin to playing, “Survive This*. Narrow Roads. Nothing between you and the side of the mountain and steep – around 10% grade. Couple that with Camping cars going the opposite direction – needing more room than the entire road really allots and it’s so very insane in such a good way.

By this time, I was very much tired and getting to Alp d’Huez wasn’t hard per-say, since Galibier’s pass on the other side is about 20km – almost all the way to the start of the mountain.

There was a clock at the turnoff to Huez – it says it was 19:30 – 13 hours since I started.

7-8 hours my foot.

I had about an hour and a half of daylight. Do I do Huez and finish off the ride?

Of course I do.

It was Sunday, so I didn’t know where I was going to get food afterwards, but I persevered going as fast as possible up the 21 hairpin turns. Which, was very very slow, as I was very very tired.

By this point I was beyond empty with energy and my body did not like me that much. It allowed me, just because I wanted to so much. I finished the Tour de France route with my head on the handlebars, blindly going up the grade until I hit the finishing line.

Snapped a few pics

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(yes, I look a little miserable – I was!)

and then –

well, then it was dark. And cold. So, I put everything I had on and went *down* the hill in pitch black. It was cold. So, very cold. Teeth chattering… It’s August? I guess I got my wish of cooler temps than what was in Arles…

Went to the Kebab (It was open! YEAH!) place and bought two (last customer – the owner is a very hard working man with a wonderful voice) and went to the campsite, zipped up, ate Kebabs and anything else in my way and passed out.

Probably the hardest one-day ride I have ever done. I can’t even describe it in this post (I have a bit of a cold, so I’m not the best at writing at the moment)

The next day, I took it pretty slow, slept in, made a picnic lunch, had that, got some coffee, planned the route out of the mountain range, etc. Did that 60km on absolute empty and it seems every bag and pack on my bike broke. I’m trying to fix it, but you know the tour is getting long in the tooth when everything is being held together with a bungee chord.

Again, I’ll have to write the above over again when I’m not so numb and not still in the moment, but I’m not joking at saying that was an extreme effort to finish. Props to those who race it. I also have a boat load of pictures to add, but they’re on the other camera, etc. I may have to do a internet dump session while in Basel, as lame as that sounds. Sigh.

Anyways, on to Basel! I’m skirting the Swiss border which is so very awesome. There’s a gigantic lake to my left, Geneva is kilometers away and North of me, the direction I’m going looks desolate of towns. I have a small cold and am plugged up, my gear is failing – Hell Yeah! For adventure.

Missing my friends and working on art though. Paris in a week or so sounds appealing, the tourists don’t. The day or two of flights I may just drug myself through.

Love you all, thanks for reading (esp. Nikki, well of course)


Alive

Sorry, no time for a *real* post, since I can’t find an outlet in this place, but I’m in Aix Les-Bains, en route to Basel, Switzerland.

Cheers,


Bourg d’Oisans

I’m currently outside the office d’tourisme in Bourg d’Oisans, at the foot of the legendary, alp d’huez, nicking their wi-fi and checking up on things – like ya do.

It’s too sunny and my battery too low and a full load of excuses to tell, but yesterday’s ride was one ofo the most exhilarating of the trip – the beginning of the day was rainy, and I had taken a hotel room – first of the bicycling tour, since it was so rainy the night before and there wasn’t a campsite in sight, in the idea of ditching in the dark, in the rain wasn’t very appealing – and I needed a recharge of spirits, so I took the night and rolled around in my underwear watching movies dubbed in French – Batman and Robin, Memories of a Geisha and, surprising, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance – one of my all time favorite movies.

I left the dry, warm hotel room in the rain and started a slow ascent into the highlands again. The rain kept starting and stopping and starting and stopping and I kept changing clothes to match the weather. It got a little absurd and I shook my fist at the sky, oh, once or twice. As dinner time rolled around, I had done about 3 or 4 mountain passes and was a little tired.

Too tired to really order correctly at the small restaurant in Mens and I made a giant ass of myself doing just that. I had to order at least 15 Euro of food to use my credit card, so I had dessert and coffee – a BIG coffee and just barely made it over the limit.

I got out of the restaurant at around 21:30. It wasn’t raining anymore and I wasn’t tired anymore, so I just decided to ride a bit longer. It kept not being rainy, so I just kept riding. One more mountain pass, and then another. I had lights, and when a car came, I just waited on the side of the road.

Then, the moon came out – a full moon! and I still felt great, so I just kept going. There’s a 1700 km pass in my way, until Bourg d’Oisans. I thought I could do it. I turned off my headlight, since the moonlight was so great.

The temperature was around 10 degrees – it was easier and warmer to cycle in the night than to freeze in my tent – my bag is a summer bag and isn’t rated anywhere near these conditions.

At around 2:00am, I had made it up the pass and the weather creeped in as well.

A frigid descent down, but I made it into, Bourg d’Oisans! I found a parking lot and ditched near it, wearing everything I had to sleep – using my arm warmers as socks to… to boot.

I woke up to a more temperate climate and a beautiful few of the Alps all around me.

And, here I am. Today, I just did town, the open air market and had lunch and coffee. Tomorrow, I’m doing a 170km loop around the area, with I think three mountain passes? One’s around 2300 meters I think and another one is l’alp d’huez, with 21 hairpin turns up to 1800km.

One day, I’ll have to extrapolate yesterday night’s adventure into an entire story, but sometimes being in the moment is all you get I guess. Taking on a mountain pass during a full moon in the middle of August in France is sort of a once in a lifetime experience that I can’t really fully express. It also has to do with The Cult of the Bike – *wanting* to that in the first place. Touring is something you can truly set your limits to your tastes. In France, you can cycle 60km a day, following the Loire river and it’s very comfortable, but I just can’t do comfortable for too long, I guess.

I’ll talk to everyone soon, I’m sure,

Bon Route!


Reserved

Yesterday, at around 21:00, I decided to just stay where I was. I scoped the town and found a McDUH and a Decathlon. One can get my on the intarweb, the other… a new wheel? The old one was on its last legs – imaging pedaling, but not having the wheel engage for about one full pedal. No good. One day, it’s just never going to engage. So it needs to be addressed. This town is also right next to one of the New-clear power stations of France:

Power station

Which everyone seems to have a bad opinion about.

They also had a campsite and erm, poney club. And the name seemed right:

I stayed at a poney club

I did not ask if the poney rides were cheap (or a quarter – har har), but it did get that song stuck in my head

Today, I Got Some Things Done.

The guy running the campsite spoke…English! And told me of a bike shop in town, not 3 blocks away from the Decathlon I had scoped out the night before. Which, strangely, makes the town I’m staying in right now, similar to the town about 80km that I Googled yesterday.

So, I checked out the shop.

A good bike shop. Two thumbs up!

I knew enough French and he knew a little English that we decided the wheel was, se fin. So, I got another one, at an OK price. Don’t know anything about the wheel except it has 36 spokes and that the hub says, “Shimano” – which should get me out of the woods.

I then, like the little idiot I am, took the old wheel to the Post.

The wheel is finished.

I showed the wheel and went. Je une probleme. Le Roue alle a Etas Unids.

The woman running was patient enough to quickly explain to me I need a box. Une Carton. I knew this of course, but I was hoping they’d have one. No such luck.

So, I dumpstered the bike shop for a box, found one and then, to my luck, there was a… HyperMarche! a block from the Post, so I bought some tape and made a makeshift box in less than 15 minutes in the middle of everything and made it back to the Post with 5 minutes to spare before lunch (where I would have to wait a few hours until *after* lunch.

Again, I knew enough French to fill out the necessary paperwork and had the wheel sent to myself. I pondered on sending it to the bike shop, but you know? They’re probably really busy and I can deal with this when get back, as cheeky as it would have been to have it delivered to them with a, “ne marche pas!” note.

After that, it was back to the Hypermarche for actual food, as I hadn’t eaten and then to the McDUH, where, being lunchtime it was packed.

On the grass outside of the McDUH, I got the wireless connection and made reservations for hotels in Paris and a flight to Dublin and that’s all set now.

A very funny sight though – the McDUHs here get completely packed. If I took a picture, I’m sure everyone here would be embarrassed to be seen in it. I spent half the time as the weird guy, underneath a table making my hotel reservations, as that was the only place I could be and still see the computer screen.

So, away again in a little bit. Wish me luck.

Beard update:

Oh, and finally proof of Frances obsession with Nutella

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There are 5 jars of peanut butter and 25,000 jars of Nutella. I counted them all.


Photog.

Hmm. I lied, here’s some photos from the little camera – the big camera has Arles stuff but it takes forever and a day to upload (And sort and all).

Yesterday night, the encampment was covered in…

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snails! Which are everywhere, after dark. I kill about a thousand a day on the road – you’re going along just fine and you hit these… rocks or something – bah, dum, bah dum, bah dum… and you realize it’s snails on the road. Sometimes I find them in my tent. EVERYWHERE. Slugs, more often than snails, especially if it rained at night.

Today, I went to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Avignon – I know! I know, I go to a town full of history to see art made in the last… year, so kill me. The artist was Douglas Gordon – here’s some info:

http://www.collectionlambert.com/

and his stuff was… pretty good! Lots of video pieces. He had one room that was just a bizarre array of all his video pieces, ever. Some stuff:

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A video of a fly, stuck to its back, trying to get up. It sounds disgusting, but the movement of it’s arms was… I dunno. Know I have issues with it!

For reasons I didn’t quite understand, he was showing some old footage of The Cramps (a favorite) at about 1/8 speed:

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Good ol’ Lux. If you ever get a chance to see the Cramps, they’re still amazing and Lux has lost it completely. And he’s kinda old, now, so when his leather pants fall off, it’s, well, it’s like that fly stuck on its back, I guess.

There was a giant room, filled with, well, giant projections of a elephant in a space. The camera would sort of pan around the elephant as it did its thing. There were other monitors that were small, showing the same elephant in the same space

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Hard to describe, but I like it.

The entire, well, building was completely surrounded by text, like this:

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His use of light and neon, was interesting:

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The room here was playing, “Baby baby baby you’re out of time” by the Rolling Stones at about half speed (again… don’t know why)

he had another room, filled with skulls with stars carved out, called something like, “Birthday wishes”, which had red lights, filling the space.

And lastly and strangely, there were movie posters in the halway:

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This one is for Genet’s Querelle – but a movie adaptation by Andy Walhol. One can only imagine.

So that’s some photog. I know everyone likes photog.


Direction

Yesterday, I scanned around Arles – I read they have a little tour of the places Van Gogh painted – there’s a reprint of the painting, right next to where he might have stood.

This was sort of fun, but there really were only two places that actually still exist that you can see – the rest of the spots are seriously, in front of a tree, which hides an intersection, on the other side of a big store full of dumb stuff no one wants – or, there’s one of the river and the painting is a bridge, but the bridge is long gone (same with his house)

Arles has sort of an identity crisis – it tries to be the van Gogh thing, it tries to be medieval, it tries to be Roman, AND it tries to be contemporary. I had a headache, but found a quiet enough campsite and got a much deserved and needed rest. Felt a lot better in the morning.

For whatever reason, I’m not uploading pictures today. Tomorrow, though, I will.

I made a decision to curtail the Rivera for some pretty good reasons:

It’s getting hot and humid and that cute sounding, “Minstral” wind is quite hard to cycle in. To give you an idea on how hot it is, yesterday was overcast and I still managed to get sunburnt.

It’s also high tourist season and EVERYONE wants to go to the Riviera. It’s going to be packed. A headache. If Arles is any indication, it’s not going to be fun to cycle in. These towns weren’t really designed for the amount of people that are in them – imagine Disneyland in the middle of your downtown, AS WELL AS the parking lot to Disneyland in the same area, and you get a good idea on what’s going on. It’s sort of hilarious, unless you’re tired and then you just want to lay down and wait till morning. Cycling out of Arles, north I saw about 20km of straight traffic trying to get into Arles.

And, I’m sort of running out of time. So! Another trip, one outside of the high season, where it’s not as warm and not as crowded. I think doing Italy on the same trip (all of Italy) would be fun as well. The only thing I regret is not seeing the Marc Chagall museum in Nice and getting into Italy – Lucca, the town my Grandfather is from is WAY off the charts for me. Like I said, it’s a whole ‘nother trip.

So, what instead?

North! Into the mountains, to a little town called, “Le Bourg d’Oisans”, which sits on the foot of the famous, Alp d’Huez.

So, a few days of traveling to get there and a few days to hang out and ride some pretty rides, for the love of riding a bicycle.

After that?

Well, I got a tap on the shoulder from a friend of a friend who lives in, of all places, Basel, Switzerland (or is it, Germany? – France, Germany and Switzerland sort of collide, right there) and he’s offered a warm bed and a roof. Basel is close to Strasbourg, which is on my radar (that crazy alterpiece that lives in a museum – must see), so I may just take him on that offer. After Strasbourg, it’s onto again, Paris! but let’s not get ahead of oneself.

Sadly again, I may have to nick out Ireland as a place to play, as I’d like to take a little bit of time in Paris. Again, my eyes are bigger than my mouth. If you see me in person, you’ll see, I do have big old eyes 😉

Anyways, my back wheel is on it’s last… legs. I just been to the third bike shop about it. The first said, “Ah, you need this part, but I don’t have it”, the second, in Avignon I don’t think… repairs? bicycles – or he didn’t want to repair mine and pointed me to Orange, where I am now. The guy at Orange said, “It’s internally destroyed” and was happy to sell me a new pair at some incredible price. The bike wheel of the pair he wanted to sell me had 20 spokes. I need something with 36, so that’s a no go.

So… there’s about 1 or 2 big towns before I’m lost in the Alps. I’ve done teh Googles and there’s a Decathlon and a bikeshop about the same address away and if one of them can’t get me a new back wheel, the other will. I am sending the old wheel to the bike shop back home with a, “ne marche pas” note – I do believe the manufacturer has a guarantee, so at the very least, I get a new wheel I can Craigslist (’cause, I don’t want it)

Anyways, wish me luck! My legs are a lot better after that short, 80k day of no hills yesterday and I feel fine. One of the problems here IS eating enough. Restaurants are expensive and not open all the time, supermarches are crowded and hectic AND close at 19:00, nothing’s open on Sunday and I’ve found my usual, “in emergency” foods aren’t available here. For example, Peanut Butter. Peanut Butter – the cheap fuel of choice for millions of cyclists the world over is a rarity in France and about 3 euro for a very small jar of. I haven’t actually bought any.

I HAVE bought about a jar of Nuetella about every day. It’s nutritional content pales to Peanut Butter, but goodness gracious if it ain’t frickin’ lip smacking good.

Anyways (again), wish me luck!


Bon Anniversaire!

Well, yesterday it was a full month of touring.

I’ve gone from Paris, to Brest, Amboise, Sarlat, Bordeaux, Spain, the Pyrenees and now I’m a day or two to Nice and then, well Italy.

Current mileage is: 3742.4 km (2,325 miles)

Current mood is, stressed out at French tourists (and a really bad place to be that)

Current physical condition: Good! Although my legs need a rest. Don’t know current weight, so can’t tell you if I’ve lost any.

Bike condition: Good! Although the back wheel continues to give me problems. The bearings in the freehub are about toast. After a month. A month. That’s ridiculous. So, as soon as I find a, “corps de cassette 9 vitesses”, I’ll get that fixed up. Expensive little wheel of trouble.

If I had one wish, it would be to just leave France for a day or two, so not to have to deal with crowds, supermarches and having people get in my way inexplicably. One can dream. I’d also like to see a good movie and not badly dubbed American action film.

Yesterday (as the day before), I managed to find MOUNTAINS again – not huge, but mountains mean mountain passes and those are slow and kill the legs.

A few days ago, I noticed cracks in my helmet and the zipper on my jersey broke, so I replaced a few things like those and was on my way. They didn’t have the part for the bike, though.

Mountain passes are fun! on the down part and the roads here are crazy – it almost feels as if one is snowboarding. The hairpin turns, like this one:

Hairpin Turn

Can be a bit problematic,

If one does not stop in time to make the turn.

Yesterday, I also happened upon a…. waterfall! Which makes for a good spot to eat lunch,

Lunch by the waterfall

There was even an aqueduct of uncertain lineage a few meters away which was wild.

Speaking of aqueducts, here’s a roman one, 6 feet shorter than the Roman Colosseum I saw this morning:

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This is the largest arch the Romans ever made:

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Some graf from back in the *day*

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So, the rest of the day is slowly exploring Arles and then, heading to Nice. If I find a campsite, I’m stopping to rest the dogs and take a well-needed shower.

Last night, I stopped after around 140km for… pizza! And then follow signs to a campsite. It turned out to be 19 Euros!n Which wasn’t happening. I just kept going on the road towards Pont du Gard in the rain and found a somewhat dry spot and made camp. Pretty loud as it was near a docking station for one of the larger hypermarches. Kind of, one of those places the French don’t want to think about having.

The night before was a similar story: I stopped after a good 100+ km (a lot of mountain climbing) and had dinner. This time it was cos cos with an undetermined meat (I just read the menu and picked something I didn’t know). Followed signs for a camp, but lost the scent, so hunkered down at a rest stop near a turn about. Loud, as there was traffic fro 3 sides, but it’s also pitch black, so I got what I got.

There was a scooter dude that kept coming in, about every hour to shine his light in my direction. I was ready for him to kick my tent, so I could kick him, but French people I guess don’t have any real gaul – they just kind of act as if they’re tough of something. Didn’t make for good sleeping, I don’t think I’ll camp in a place like that again!


Arles

Hello Everyone,

It’s an overcast day today – and the last few days have been a bit rainy, but I’m a good boyscout that has cut their teeth while pleasure cruising off the coast of New England, so it’s no worries.

This morning, I camped a few km from the Pont du Gard and that was pretty fun to check out. Left before HOARDS OF TOURISTS took away the magic. I have to digress a bit and talk about French people.

French people? I’ve found to be just fine.

French people on vacation? While at a supermarche? I’m through with them. They are horrible.

The idea of private space seems so much different in France than here and I haven’t yet figured it out. The following scenario keeps playing out:

I’m walking in a very straight path. No one is in *my* way – in fact, I’ve positioned myself so that I will not be in anyone’s way. Sometimes I have a big bike, with loads of Stuff on it, so I take care not to, well, hit someone.

Someone, will, without looking, or thinking, or even caring, GET in my way. Either, they just walk right in front of me, without looking. Or, they’ll look, and STILL GET IN MY WAY.

And then, they act surprised.

I have tried all my tricks I learned in high school to repel: I act weird, I act dirty (as in, covered in dirt – like I’ve spent 3 days straight in the woods), I puff up my chest, I act like I’m going to take someone’s skull and destroy it –

none. None of this works.

My only thought is that, it is my obligation to get out of anyone’s way. For this, I get to… get in everyone elses way? See? I can’t figure it out.

It’s horrid at the supermarches and god help me, the hyper marches. Again: Straight, logical path. A man will look at me. A man, standing still, *perhaps* in the middle of an isle. He’ll see me, and, as I approach, He’ll put out his arm and place his hand on his hip, just as I’m about to pass – so I must SWERVE to avoid him.

I’m a mannered man. I did kick. I don’t punch. I say please and thank you and help little old ladies through doors and across streets. But there’s some much of this type of passive-aggressive action I ca take before I flip.

Unless, I figure out why it’s like this and reveal, the French way of doing things.

And as I sit here, legs very much mush, I ponder why this all is. Is this just France on vacation? They act like they don’t have to act correct because it’s well, they’re time not to be imposed to the rules that they themselves have put forth?

I don’t know.

I’m uploading pictures. It will be a happier post next time 🙂 Any help with the above, please, please help.