Jun 8, 2010

Montpellier-Maastricht: hitch-biking

Day 8: Bored to death

On the eight day of journey, the road started offering some serious climbing again. I was pedalling up and down the hills in numbing heat and without the compensating vista or fast downhills of the mountains. To be completely honest, after the first 10km I found a village with a nice restaurant, where I sat for too many hours, recharging my own batteries, while also slurping their electricity and internet to feed my little electronic helpers. The gourmet section of my trip started with a demisalad the size of a football, decorated with salmon and potatos. Do I need to say it out loud that I suddenly found myself in love with the region(al specialities)?


Reluctantly, in the late afternoon, I peeled myself off their couch and cycled on, trying to pick the roads, that offer potentially interesting views on hilltops and cooling shades in the valleys. My expectations about hilltops were met, while the molten tar on the roads kept my speed down. The shadows did not exist.

Aha, that's where they grow food for the hungry bikers! was the only phrase crossing my mind whenever I opened my eyes to look for the marvels of the landscape. The countless cows to whom I spoke in cat language - because it is the only animal language I know - gave me compassionate looks and chomped on. I couldn't help but stop for another lunch break in a lovely tiny village called Saint-Père. Before climbing on to the next hilltop, I sat long time on cool church steps and delighted in beautiful choir music coming from the inside. Then I cycled through Avallon, hoping to meet druids and elves and misty mysteries, but I was deceived once again.


I raised my thumbs a few times this evening, after the bigger hotter half of the sun had set. It was late and I wasn't too convinced that it would work. Of course, it didn't. I pedalled on in cool evening air, aiming to find the only river noted on the map in 30km radius. I couldn't imagine going to sleep without washing off the sticky film that covered me from head to toe. When I stopped a good hour before the nightfall, refusing to continue on, it wasn't because I had found a nice place to stay (I hadn't). I stopped, because there was no more hope of reaching another body of water in near future. The "river" was "deep" enough to cover my ankles and generally very disappointing. I went to sleep on a random field, determined to leave this place as early in the morning as possible.

Kilometer-counter said "73".

Day 9: Patience, young Padawan, patience...

Everybody knows that sometimes, very often indeed, one must do things one really doesn't want to do. Because this is life and life is hard. A sudden sense of freedom arrives when you realize that, actually, you don't! You don't need to to things that you really-really-really do not want to do. Doing what you want is not always an easy way out. Going with the flow takes much less effort than struggling against it or swimming to the shore, but the results can be oh-so-satisfying!


This morning, I packed my bags fast and early (I call 9:20 "early"), left without breakfast, positioned myself in a shadow next to the road, half way uphill, told myself "Patience, now...", and raised my thumb with fresh confidence. I didn't have to wait long for the first car to stop. Then I helpfully offered to take my bike into small bits, and off we went. A similar procedure was applied about 6 times over the day. Seeing those dreadful endless fields fly past faster than ever filled me with content over the decision I had made about accelerating my movement.

It was a very enjoyable day indeed. First, we had a lunch stop in a fancy road-side restaurant with a friendly French monsieur. I can now say, that I have eaten some famous french specialities I never dared to try before. The snails cooked in garlic butter is definitely my new favorite entrée. In the evening, we stopped for coffee and cakes in an elaborate Belgian restaurant with a nice Dutch lady.

As a perfect ending for the day, my bike flew from Liège to Maastricht so lightly, that I had to keep checking whether my luggage is still attatched! Finally, I was welcomed by a friendly face on the steps of a squat after a successful day trip of 580km of hitch-hiking and 27km of biking.


Total distance cycled: 622km;
Total time cycled: 41h50min;
Total elevation gain: 5600m.

2 comments:

beth said...

:)

vana naine said...

Kui ma suureks saan, siis hakkan ka sinuks.
Mõtlen nõnda praegu.