Bike-Ride To Australia 5th-November 2011

Bike-Ride To Australia 5th-November 2011 Bitche, France to Pforzheim, Germany. 84 miles. A pleasant ride through the forests that straddle the border between France and Germany. And wait for it, no wind or rain! Plus, it was relatively flat! Although it didn’t stay flat for long. And I was soon cycling up Col du Pigeonnier at 432 metres.

Autumn trees
Autumn colours in the forest along the French/German border

I’m not too sure about these German roads! They don’t seem to have many road numbers, just where the road goes, which is fine if you know where you’re going! I don’t, or rather I do! I’m heading for Australia! But on my map, there are very few towns between one night’s stop and the next. And none of them is on the signs!

I’m staying at a huge hotel tonight, and I’m the only one here! Midweek it’s probably full of businessmen. But come the weekend, it’s dead! Supper was nice tonight. They seem to give you bread as standard with a side dip or spread. It tasted like beef dripping tonight, lovely. I’ve not had that since I was young.

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Bike-Ride To Australia 4th-November 2011

Bike-Ride To Australia 4th-November 2011 Perl-Sinz, Germany to Bitche, France. 77 miles. I took my time over breakfast this morning, knowing I’d be going uphill as soon as I stepped out of the hotel. It didn’t help that it was also blowing a gale and raining! Eventually, though, I had to bite the bullet and get on my way. As usual, the hill wasn’t that bad. The sun also came out after an hour or two, although the day finished in the rain, again! The thought of a hill is always worse than the deed! It’s a bit like going to the dentist!

I had my first puncture today! Which was made even more annoying by the fact I’d found a flat piece of road to cycle on! Which on this ride seems a bit of a rarity! It didn’t take long to fix, and I was soon back on my way, cycling beside the River Saar. I must admit that I’m finding this ride a bit harder than expected! Not so much because of the hills and wind, although they don’t help! No, it’s more to do with the length of the day. I don’t mind the days starting in the dark. I know it’s going to get light. But when it’s mid-afternoon, and it’s already getting dark, and will stay dark for the remainder of the day. I’m not so keen, especially when it starts to rain, as it has today!

At least tonight’s hotel has the internet, the first time I’ve had it since leaving England! It was heartwarming and very encouraging to see all the messages of support posted on my website and social media channels. It makes me feel like I’m not too far away from home. I’m back in France tonight, which should be my last by my calculation! I cross into Germany for good tomorrow, where I’ll be for a few days. My fourth country.

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Bike-Ride To Australia 2nd-November 2011

Bike-Ride To Australia 2nd-November 2011 Le Nouvion to Margut 81 miles. A much better day today despite nearly riding headlong into a lorry first thing! That’s two mornings on the trot now. Maybe it’s my medication!

The mornings are so dark and misty. I spend the first couple of hours cycling in the dark! And there are not many hours of daylight. No sooner does it seem to get light than it’s getting dark again. It makes the days very short! Because the days are so short, I think I’m going to give up on the idea of camping! Besides, I’ve not seen a single campsite since arriving in France!

I know staying in hotels, motels or whatever turns up is going to cost, and it’ll blow my £40 a day budget! But hopefully, I’ll crawl the extra cost back when I’m in Asia. I’m not ruling out camping. And if a campsite appears at the right time, I’ll use it. But going on what I’ve seen so far. I don’t expect to see any!

French countryside
Autumn colours in the French countryside

After deciding not to camp anymore, I’ve felt a lot more relaxed. Like I said earlier, I’m not ruling out camping completely. I’m just not going to beat myself up if I can’t! I think I had it in my mind that if I couldn’t find a campsite, I should be wild camping! But with the days being so short, that just gets miserable and lonely!

Cycling has been hard going again! Apart from being very hilly this morning, I’ve had a relentless headwind, which has been with me since arriving in France! I must make a mental note before going to sleep tonight. To ride on the right-hand side of the road when I leave the hotel in the morning!

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Bike-Ride To Australia 1st-November 2011

Bike-Ride To Australia 1st-November 2011 Seclin to le Nouvion 71 miles. Cold start to the day, I’ve had to put gloves and fleece on. I didn’t get off to the best of starts this morning either! As I cycled out of the hotel, a car approached me, on my side of the road! As it got nearer, they began tooting and flashing their lights. What the hell is this idiot doing? I thought to myself! He must be a foreigner! Then as I approached a roundabout, it dawned on me! It was me who was the foreigner on the wrong side of the road! Once back on the right side of the road! Things didn’t get much better, I’ve had a strong headwind all day, and it started to rain at around lunchtime.

That’s It

By about 4 o’clock, I’d had enough and stopped off at the first place I came across an Auberge, which seemed to be in the middle of nowhere! I asked if there was a restaurant nearby or somewhere to get something to eat. I wasn’t expecting to stop so soon and hadn’t bought anything for supper. Yes, here in the Auberg was the reply, but unfortunately, we’re going out for the night! There is a supermarket a few km’s down the road, though. Thank you, I said. I’ll see how I get on after a shower thinking I can’t be bothered to get back on the bike today! I’ll just have another night of hotel camping, but without food! Although that’s not strictly true, I always carry some basic provisions in my panniers. So I can always have pasta or noodles.

After my shower, I was just about to start getting my cooker out when the landlady came back. She’d only cooked me a three-course meal served with some beer! I couldn’t thank her enough and asked how much I owed her. Nothing, think of it as a donation to your ride. Just enjoy your meal. I’m sorry it’s not anymore! Just leave everything on the side along with your key in the morning! Not much! There were cheeses, cold meats, bread and coq au van!

What a lovely lady, I might not bother camping and just stay in Auberges from now on!

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