May 31, 2010

Montpellier-Maastricht: across the Massif Central

Day 1: Learning to ride a heavy bike

I started very late (17:30) and pedalled 57km.

The best moment of the day was, when I hit the brakes without thinking longer than a fraction of a second because I saw an uncapped water bottle next to the road. Someone must have dropped it from a shopping bag, I guess. I have taken up the French habitude of keeping an eye open for stuff lying in the streets - it is there for anyone who wants it. They don't just throw things away: they throw them out. It's like second-hand shopping and not only for hobos. You can imagine how happy I was to see this 750ml bottle of cool water waiting for me just when I had started to worry about running out of water.

This evening I learned to drive my fully loaded super heavy and super slow bike. Most of the time right into the wind but at least not uphill. I started looking for a camping spot when it had already gone dark, so I slept (not very well) on grapefields.

Day 2: The horrible climbing day

How can one ever fully appreciate racing down the Northern face of a mountain - in wind and rain - without first climbing up the Southern face for hours and hours and hours in scorching sun? I seem to forget the pain of climbing up on the lowest gear every time I violate the speed limit on bike. I'm ready to do it again!

I'm way behind my schedule and the mountains are to be blamed (and obviously not bad planning). The road started climbing in the morning, with the gradient ranging from motivating to masochistic, and continued doing so the rest of the day. I managed to pedal for 78km this day. I had to take a nap at 18:30 in the evening, when I literally collapsed on a marble picnic table in a road-side parking. I curled up in my cozy sleeping bag and dozed off for an hour. The roaring of the passing cars sounded like a lullaby. I should have slept after lunch - when I first felt the need. The last 1.5-hour bit after the nap was a pleasure. I camped on a lakeside, forced myself to cook some simple porridge with almonds, and then forced myself to eat it. I slept very well through the night. I'm happy to have that huge soft "-13C...-25C" sleeping bag. It's perfect!

I decided that when I grow up (which is never), I will start travelling light, carrying only a credit card and a bottle of water. Or I'll travel by a motorbike. Oh, how enviously I looked at all the bikers!

The recipe of the day: pain d'epices with lait concentré sucré.

The water source of the day: knocking on the doors and asking people to fill my bottles. I did it 3 times.


slim shady said...

triin, sa oled hull :)
ma mõtlen seda kõige paremas tähenduses. edu.

Helin Loik-Tomson said...

Nii Norras kui Austrias mägedes autoga trippides tundsin ma hirrrmsasti kaasa rühkivatele jalgratturitele :D. Sa oled tõesti vapper :D.

Triin said...

ooh, aitäh. head sõnad ja soovid aitavad mind ikka edasi:)
oli raske küll, aga allamäge sõit on korvab alati kogu ülesmineku vaeva;)