Dear Friends of the serenity, of archery, of cycling and of my humble self.
You will find the explanation to my idea and older reports further down.
Another tournament on which the organizers have put a lot of effort in setting up a beautiful course. There were 30 targets with animal pictures that you never or rarely see. what I found very cool.
The tournament here, was also organized by a museum (Maison de la Dame de Brassempouy).
The famous Venus of Brassempouy was found here. A hooded maiden-headed girl's head (23,000 years BC), who is one of the oldest carved depictions of a human face known today.
On Saturday morning, we could try to hit a target, which was thrown into the air with a spear, with our spears.
The rain did also better than everyone thought. On Saturday we stayed dry and for atlatl it rained only briefly. Only the wind made himself very unpopular with me, Elvira and especially with Luis Angel, once again. The one time we had all three spears on the target, he knocked it over. Makes three broken spears and throw Lusi Angel out of his very good run.
I was allowed to stay on the grounds of the museum until Monday. Patrice and Silvy were also there. They are some of those archers who have been with me all year round and I have shot many tournaments with them. They always look that I have enough food and sometimes a little bit of luxury. (= a chair and a table) Thank you.
After Bougon, the hills became higher again and I rode through many vineyards. The villages smelled of wine production.
I cycled to Barbezieux-Saint-Hilaire where I came back to the La Scandiberique (EV3). No other bike path matched my route as well as she did. Since I left Belgium, she has been with me most of the time.
How nice it was almost a whole week without wind. Really cool and one day with a blue sky felt 10 times better than usual.
At Lévignac-de-Guyenne on the campsite I was offered a Mobliehome as a place to stay. I accepted the offer and also get two fresh bath towels. When I wanted to pay the next morning, the camping attendant said that this was going on the house. There wouldn‘t be that many courageous people to find the way to her campground. In return I should send her a postcard when I'm back home.
From sunday the wind whistled around my ears again and the hills seemed more like mountains. Luckily they were not steep. I rode via Clairac, Damazan, Lavardac, Garbarret to Saint Sever.
Probably the loneliest days I had in France. There was only forest and birds. On such days, my thoughts are the loudest noise. Sometimes I sink into them so deeply that I don‘t notice anything else and when I look around I realize how beautiful the area really is and sometimes it is also meditation. Just cycle, cycle, breathe, how intense the smells are, cycle, breathe, oh a squirrel, breathe, cycle, there is someone else on the way too, Bonjour, cycle, cycle, I start to feel my legs, take a break, eat something , ride on, breathe...
At the beginning of the year, Brassempouy seemed very far away and suddently I am here. I can‘t believe it. It is awesome.
56. No I don’t think it is cold and why I have to continue
The weather also repeats itself. Every day a bit of rain, but since I'm moving, it never rains for more than half a day and my clothes dry on the same day, as well. Except this time, my shoes needed a little longer, because the sun took a bit of time to show up.
Actually, the weather already changed when I left for Ormesson. I did think it was cold then. I had 30 ° all the time and then suddenly 18 °. I had to get used to that first. Since that was more than a month ago and I went even further north, it no longer feels cold anymore. In the evening and in the morning it is a bit fresh and I have to put on more clothes or put the sleeping bag over me. The nights are cool, but I don‘t notice it, thanks to my sleeping bag.
At the beginning, the thought of crossing France from northeast to southwest again didn’t seem too tingling to me. All the hills in between ... should I really do it again?
The time to stop would have been in Gletterens and Zonhoven. Therefore, on the way to Gletterens and Zonhoven, I have thought about stopping but I didn‘t have a good reason to really do it. Besides, I thought, I'll know when it's time to go home. It was not the case in either of the places.
I also knew that when I go to Bougon, there is no turning back. 3 more tournaments, after 9000km and 7 months, stopping now is not a option.
I also want to go home by bicycle. That's also something I just have to do. Thank you to my mom, to Reto and Ralf who all told me after Gletterens, that it can’t get any worse than how it was when I left in March and to my brother, who understands the long-term cyclist emotions and motivations exactly. It always feels good to talk to him. (He is back home for 3 months, now. We didn‘t manage to met, but we were cycling in the same country for a few days. He was in the northeast and I was in the southwest of France.)
This tournament was carried out by the Museum Tumulus de Bougon. The staff of the museum knew that I am coming and have welcomed me very courteous. I was allowed to take a shower and could set up my tent behind the museum building. I even had electricity.
Since I was there on Friday afternoon I had time to see the museum and the outdoor area. (Including a German audio guide and the ticket, as with all museums where a competition was held, was free for the participants) The 5 tumuli, burial mounds, are from the Neolithic Age. The museum shows the finds made in the local excavations and currently there is a special exhibition about the Mamut.
The 10 targets were therefore also placed on the grounds of the museum. It was definitely the easiest tournament in terms of hiking technique and also the shots were mostly straight. So no strong up or down shots, as well as nice clear views for shooting. (Light forest and meadow) After 14 tournaments I thought that was great.
The simplicity of the tournament did not really affect my results. I ended up where I most likely would end up, if you would take the average of all competitions so far. I think. I do not know my two ranks in women. I was a little distracted because I received a great diploma. One of the staff member draw it especially for me. I think it's awesome!
Also here, I met many people from the southern part of France again, whom I haven‘t seen for a while. That was a great pleasure for me and I also gave interview number 5 by now.
54. Tours to Bougon
I continued to follow the (bicycle) Way of St. James. It is very well signposted and guided me nicely through small villages and lonely roads. Except at intersections where again from every direction a car was comeing, I saw no one.
My route now depends even more on the campsites than before. Many closed on the 30.9. or in mid-September already. So 4 weeks ago I bought, like old fashioned, a Campsite guide book. There is simply no good camping app around that is complete and has all the important information.
I rode to Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine, where I was told that yesterday (Sunday) a national archery tournament had taken place. The camping attendant almost didn‘t get over the fact that I missed it by one day. Well ...
Things repeat themselfs. The campsites are less busy, as they were in the spring. But I'm never completely alone. There are still some Britons, Dutch and somehow I have now come across a German vein. Suddenly there are many D license plates. I know how to use that and can ask for tools in German. My equipment slowly gets small defects.
After Chattelrault I left the Way of St. James and cycled towards Poitiers. In Avanton I took another break for a day and just enjoyed the sun.
It is very interesting how extremely good I could enjoy this one sunny day. Though I did not really think that the weather was bad in the last 10 days. It was more exhausting because of the wind and I needed a bit more motivation to start in the morning. Yes, there was that, but I attributed this more to my general fatigue than to the weather.
Then it was already over with the sun again. However, I only had 50km to get to Bougon.
53. Dangerous situations
Dangerous is almost a bit exaggerated. There are situations in which it could be dangerous if I did not pay attention. Fortunately, it was only once dangerous for me.
Here are a few situations that are often repeated and therefore I am always very focused, attentive and ready to brake.
- There are pedestrians who rely only on their hearing, therefore just walk into the road and when they are in the middle they look to the left and get scared because then they realise I was there. Pedestrians do this very often.
- When the doors are opened on parked / standing cars.
- Cars driving backwards out of the house entrance / parking lots.
- Car drivers who first overtake me to turn right after they overtook me. Especially in roundabouts that have two lines, they like doing that a lot. Meanwhile, I've learned that French cyclists stay on the right edge and then hold their hands to the left if they want to go straight ahead or turn left. I do that too now. Works.
The more dangerous situations are more on side roads.
- I drove on a one-lane road and heard that a car must come at a very high speed. That's why I cycled right on the edge of the street and was ready to ride into the grass. What I had to do. The car driver did not even slow down and drove on at the same speed.
- If I'm overtaken, when on the opposite lane also a car is comeing. I often thought that they will crash now and I am always ready to go to the side. Luckily nothing happend so far.
- When I cycled behind a road cleaning cart and I didn‘t realize he was stopping because I was concentrated on whether I could overtake or not. Then I realized that he also drove backwards. I could only dodge diagonally into the left lane. Luckily there was no car comeing at the moment. After that, I needed a break first. That was definitely the most dangerous situation.
Mostly, however, I am always treated with respect and overtaken with enough distance. No matter what country I was in. In Spain and Belgium, I always got right of way. (In case of pedestrian stripes or if the bike path crosses the street) In France, it depends very much on the driver. About half stops. Also if you are a pedestrian cars don‘t always stop.
52. Crépy-en-Valois to Tours or me versus the wind
This week the sky was more gray than blue and I had some rain too, but I didn‘t think it was cold and camping worked well in September.
After Crépy, the wind turned aghenst me and blew the whole week so much that I shortened my daily kilometers to 40. Everyday I was very exhausted.
I cycled around Paris to Fontainebleau. The boulders in the forest of Fontainebleau are considered the oldest bouldering area in the world.
I was not bouldering, but I rode through the woods. It is one of the largest contiguous forest areas in Western Europe.
After that it became flat. I didn’t notice that, too much. Due to the wind, I could never go more than 10km / h and the first 5 gears were enough.
My Belgiumtrip lasted only one week. The bike path network was top here, the pedestrians jumped immediately to the side and apologized that they were in the "way". Also the drivers always let me pass and it was often stoped to ask if I knew where I had to go.
The car, house and garden care is taken very seriously in Belgium, maybe that‘s way there is probably no money left to repair the roads.
I really needed the break. Also to decide which direction to take. I then decided to drive along the EV3. It is the pilgrim route leading from Norway to Spain. Somehow I am a pilgrim and for once the direction was right, too. I was not disappointed. The route along the Oise was very nice.
I left the route at Saint-Légeraux-Bois to look at the clearing of the armistice in the Compiègne forest.
In Pierrefonds I visited the castle. It was reconstructed on behalf of Napoleon III from 1857 and represents a combination of archaeological reconstruction and idealistic vision of the Middle Ages.
50. The 3 questions of all questions
- Where are you going to? Sometimes I don’t really know what to answer, here. The places where the tournaments take place usually noone knows them. (Except for Chinchon and Errenteria. This two places EVERYONE in Spain knew as well as a lot of people in France. Until today, I wonder way.) That's why I often say the first city I can think of. It is also funny to name the country in which I am going next. The reactions to it are great.
- Do you have an electric bicycle? No I don’t. So far, I have never wished that I had one. I rather wish that I had less luggage. That's why I often think about what I could change about my luggage. However, I can never think of anything that I could spare, so only one thing remains. Continue pedaling vigorously.
- Can you speak French / Spanish? I could speak a bit French. The few things that I could remember from school. I can’t speak Spanish at all. The languages are / were somehow never really a problem. All persons involved know out of the situation what it might be about and you just have to speak / answer. No idea how many times I answered "wrong". Also you need to have the courage to say that you didn’t understand. In both situations, people simply ask again with different words. Worst case if you still don‘t understand, google translate will help.
Yes, English has helped a lot and often, too. I can speak it fluently. There are also some archers who can speak it, even though they usually say that their English is not that good. Which is usually not true. As well as some Spanish archers can speak French and vice versa some French archer can speak Spanish. Ah yes, and not to forget Eric speaks very well German. That helped a lot in the beginning. Now I met a few Belgique archers, they could speak French, German and Dutch. Sorry I dont know about the German archers. I think its more likely that they can speak English, rather than French or Spanish. Same counts for Swissgermans, but also some might speak French.
Otherwise you can win people a little bit for yourself if you say Hello and another sentence in the national language first. The people then realize very quickly that you do not speak French / Spanish and ask if you want to speak English. Sometimes I could trick people into English a little too. If I said yes English or German, then they rather spoke English.
The tournament is organized by the community of Zonhoven in cooperation with the campsite and takes place only every two years.
When I signed in on Saturday someone called my name. It was Freddy. He used to help to organize the tournament but due to illness he can‘t do it anymore. He saw my blog on the prehistoweb site and was extremely pleased that I also came to Zonhoven. He was also sad that he can no longer participate in the tournaments. That’s what he thought. As you know, the prehistoric archers are awesome. So his friends have organized a kind of wheelchair for uneven terrain which allows Freddy to still participate in Ramioul and Zonhoven.
Once again there was a German, Belgian, French and Swiss group. I always like that. It was great for me too. 30 hits and 115 points.
So I still have a long way to go in atlatl, but the group was very, very funny.
I met some new people here. It is the northernmost tournament and accordingly to that, there are different archers, here. Incidentally, this was also the case in Ormesson and Samara. The people who come to Gletterens wonder every year who I am, too. Although I was there about 6 times, already. Maybe now, they'll remember me next year.
48. Samara to Zonhoven
The last week was more tiring than I thought. So I was glad that I was allowed to spend another night in the park. I was surprised how big the whole park was. The Parc Samara is dedicated to prehistory and there is, among other things, a pottery and a weaving mill, a swamp, a botanical garden, various buildings / tents and you can watch the people do stone or woodworking. On Friday afternoon I still had some time and I joined the guided tour through the museum.
On Monday it was time for me to head off, towards Belgium. Patrice and Silvie also go to Zonhoven and we laughed that they can wave at me when passing by. Without planning we really met on the road and I got a lunch packet.
Here it is flat, with hills of 230m, the wind has blown for once in the direction in which I had to go and about every 5-10km there is a village. The villages are more elongated here and not so interlaced. Almost every house has a big garden and they are mostly made of brick.
I drove past many fields and herd of cows to Boiry Notre Dame (east of Arras) past Douai and was once again able to follow a canal. La Scarpe Canalisée. There was a lot of nature here and the path was one of the coolest to ride.
Then I was already in Belgium. I noticed that only because there were suddenly more B license plates than F and the streets were different.
At the campsite near Bernissart I got an other animal visit.
I have never been realy fond of cats, but I made a little effort to befriend her, until she found out that if she uses her claws, she can climb up to the top of my tent. I didn’t think that was cool at all and I ended the friendship immediately. My outer tent now has a lot of small holes. Actually, I only like goats.
Since my first day in Belgium was characterized by a lot of traffic and many bumpy roads, I used the cycle paths over the country on Friday. There are many cycle paths here and almost always a bike lane. I attract no attention here. There are so many different bicycles. The Spanish policeman would certainly get the crunch.
The 10 targets were set up in one part of the park. After each round you had to shoot from another stake. That was interesting.
46. Gletterens to Samara
The trip to Switzerland was cool. How clean everything was. Even the tractors gleamed. In addition, there were at least 3 wells in each village with water that you could drink.
From Gletterens to Samara I planed to take the train for some part. Of course, I've considered whether I could make the 600km or not, but I didn‘t really feel like doing it. Leaving Gletteren by bike was one of the things I had to do, though.
However, only until Yvonand. For once I was able to enjoy a hotel room and a delicious dinner. Yes, dad has paid.
On Monday my parents drove me, respectively I drove myself to Langres.
From Langres I followed the Canal Entre Champagne et Bourgogne. The bike path was relatively poor but signposted well and it was nice. He led me through Chaumont and Joinville to Vitry-le-François.
From there I continued along the Canal Latéral à la Marne. There was no bike path and I disregarded about 40 prohibition signs.
That's why I didn‘t meet many bikers, but there was a lot of traffic on both channels. The people on the boats were always waving at me. That surprised me a lot. They did not do that in the south. In general people still often greet here.
The last two days were hard. Flat, as I was told, I didn’t really think it was here and the wind was trying to make himself as unpopular as possible.
I cycled along the Marne for a while. At Vandières I had to turn off into the hills towards Soissons. The first climb was also the steepest. The winemaker said with a laugh, "C'est dure!" It was fortunately the only steep part.
In Champviosy it said the street was closed after 1km. Cool, I was pretty much in the middle of nowhere and would have had to ride a long way back over the hills, so I kept going, maybe I can pass anyway. The construction was on the bridge that led over the highway. Luckily there was a gravel road to the next bridge. It was not even a detour.
The camp site stuff in Carlepont asked if I carry a sail. Would also have made total sence.
Around Amiens, it then slowly became "flat". The wind was still strong and there was also heavy traffic, I felt the last 380km and somehow the kilometer just did not get less. I was already a bit annoyed and had to cross the city.
So I came to the most annoying obstacle ever. On bike paths, there are sometimes these barriers that protrude halfway from the side. One from the left and one from the right, offset, so that you have to meander in between. __— No problem for me anymore. I don’t even have to get off my bicycle, but there were 3 in a row and I was on a bridge. So turning around was also difficult. The first two I managed ... luckily, there was a woman. She helped me immediately and then offered me a place for my tent but I continued.
On the way to Gletterens I thought about what to write about this tournament. It's the tournament that seems the most normal to me because I've been here before. But the team around Doris has decided to change a lot this year. So I was prepered to start with the bear (26m), but the first target was the lynx (14m) which I found very cool. The targets were all set up in the forest. So there were a lot of trees ...
I managed to get 30 hits for the first time in this tournament. In addition, I had a 5 at the bear and reindeer (24m). Yes!
In the end I had 97 points and the 4th place. The Village Lacustre team made me something cool.
Of course there was fondue for dinner here.
When I arrived on Friday, there were a few archers here. Among them Jean, Alex and Vera. Vera greeted me with the words: "You’ve got ideas." Manuela and Reto also arrived later. It was nice to see them all and tell somethings in Swiss German.
44. Someday I will cycle to Gletterens
In Ormesson I have received a few more addresses. I think that's very nice, because I just don’t think about quitting yet and later on I'm sure I will be glade about a warm accommodation.
But first it is time to go towards Switzerland.
I followed the Canal du Loing a bit longer and after the first few kilometerers I had to unload everything and carry it under the obstacle. After that, however, I made rapid progress along the Yonne to Migennes.
Here I decided to follow the Canal du Bourgogne. It is one of the most beautiful canals and one of the most beautiful cycling regions in France, I read. I wanted to see if that is true.
Sometimes canal rideing is not so spectacular but I always get on fast and of course it did not only look like the above.
The houses are also made of stone but different, with flatter stones. In the region around Aubrac too, but also differently with misshapen dark stones. I've been wondering for a long time where all the stones come from. I have not yet seen any quarries.
I only drove 60km per day, but they seemed like 100km. I am tired. Not only my body but also my mind. I feel the three weekends with tournaments in a row and the two hard weeks in between. It was high time for a break again. This is the answer to why I don’t think about quitting yet. I plan enough days to stay in the same place and do nothing. Especially if you're on the road for a long time, that's important.
Venarey les Laumes was the perfect place to do so. There was also a bike shop here. My bicycle has got a new chain and new brake pads at the front and back. Nearby happened the Battle of Alésia. Romans against the Gauls. Yes Asterix sends greetings even if the Romans around Caesar have won here at the end. I visited the museum.
Yes it is a really nice area here. I really enjoyed the week. The weather was sensational. The mood is different somehow. The wind is cool, but it is still warm. The sky is bright blue, some trees are already yellow or brown. I can ride all day again and start a bit later in the morning. I look forward to the time to come. Autumn is my favorite season.
Now my question where the Swiss are going on holiday in France has also clarified. I have seen more CH-plates in one day here than on my whole tour together.
I followed the canal until Dijon. Here I took a stop to go on the Owl’s Trail. The little arrows with the owl on the ground lead you to all the places worth seeing in the city and with the booklet you learn the most important things about the buildings and parks.
If you touche the owl, which is cut in the stone on the left side of the Notre-Dame, with the left hand, it is said that your wish will come true. I also wished something and stayed there for a while. The people (not just tourists) really touch the owl very often.
I was lucky, no that's not what I had wished for, and just got the last ticket of the day to climb the 316 steps of the Tour Philippe Le Bon.
On my way back from the city I passed a cyclist who took a break on a bench. According to his gear and cloths he must have been traveling since a long time. I did what the people here do and wished him "bon route". Later I met him at the campsite again and the next day he droped by on my plot. He was riding for the WWF along the Danube and other rivers.
After Dijon I had to find a way myself again. The path along the canal became a gravel road. I thought that was only cool for a few kilometers, then I switched to the mainroad.
At Saint-Jean de Losne I reached the Saone. There was a bike path again. Here a father with two sons came from the opposite direction. He stopped immediately and told me that he had overtaken me 30km ago by car and now of course wanted to know what I carry.
I drove on to Dole and Ounans. It was even more or less flat here but in the distance I could already see the first hills of the Jura. At Salins les Bains, I opted for the steeper but traffic-free road. The Route de Lausanne was very busy and especially there were a lot of long trucks. So I now have the steepest (7-20%) and longest (4km) climb behind me, too. The landscape gardener in Salins has looked at me very strange. He certainly thought how stupid. Later, I thought so too. Once again, my opinion about something has changed a lot. Every other ascent after it was ridiculous. Ah yes, riding was not possible, I pushed about 3.5km. Good that recently I changed my bike bags to the front wheel. It was a little easyer to push.
From Levier I took the Route de Lausanne to Pontarlier again. In the morning, I tolerate traffic a little better. Around the town, it was built like there‘s no tomorrow. I have never seen anything so extreme befor here in France. In the area near the cities there were sometimes new houses, but here it seemed as if a new town was created. The traffic was also large, so I turned off to Lac de Saint Point.
By the way, the houses are mainly plastered here. They seem huge to me and have more roof than walls.
Now the big day was here. At first it felt like every other day. I had to deal with heavy traffic for the first 10km. At least, it was going downhill to the border.
Then I decided to follow the Jura route, got the part with the gravel road and got shaken the first time today, so as quickly as possible I went back to the main road until Yverdon. From there I continued on the Mittelland route and again a long piece of gravel road.
The Swiss do not use the stones to build the houses but to pave the streets with them. So for the third time today, I god shaken by riding through Estavayer-le-Lac.
I was therefore more busy coping with the current situation and thinking, "why can‘t it just be easy, for once?" rather than the fact that today I will achieve my big goal.
After Estavayer I turned back to the main road. From there it was easy, little traffic, flat, the goal already very close and Gletterens finally sign posted. Now, it was not a normal day anymore. I have really done it, put my idea into action and achieved my goal. The last 3 kilometers I rode in tears and it was particularly cool that it went downhill for the very last kilometer. So I could really enjoy the feeling.
43. People and animals
Of course, I still have encounters with people and animals.
One morning, a mouse visited me and had breakfast with me. I was sitting in the tent entrance and she inspected all my things. She especially liked the Nutellaglass and the remains of my Muesli. I also saw rabbits and deer many times and a falcon once was sailing a short distance ahead of me, from tree to tree.
Not cool, I found the dog who run out of a driveway and came very close to my trailer and my leg. Good, it was going down. Another dog found it quite funny to circle around me as his owner tried to capture him. The man had to lean over my whole vehicle and he only managed to grab the dog on the collar when the dog jumped on me.
There was the racing cyclist who started at 7am in Nevers and went to Paris. Just before ten o’clock he had 110km. The next day he would cycle back again, the German couple with whom I could rave about the charm of the French stone house villages, the cyclist from Tours who overtook me again and again, or I him and who was very glad that I could tell him where the nearest camp site befor Dijon was and the four older people who were on the way to the Dune du Pilat. They had to push their bicycle up the short hills. One of them happily told me that his friends were on the bike for the first time, again. Cool, I went on, but that their wheels had almost no air and so it was even more hard for them, left me no peace. I turned around and pumped their bikes.
42. 5 more questions I get asked
Have you already done other cycling tours? Since about 6 years I spend my vacation whenever possible by bicycle. They were 2-3 weeks long and in Europe, as well as one 2 month bike ride in New Zealand. I cylced mostly in summer but also did a trip in winter.
When did you start archery and how did you get to know the prehistoric championship? In 2012, I joined the Bogenschützen-Club Chur. Manuela and Reto were there as well. They introduced me to the prehistoric scene, which makes me very grateful to them.
Did you build your bows and arrows yourself? Yes, with the help of other prehistoric archers. (This causes some surprise, which I find strange.)
Tu é dormir bien? At the beginning of my tour I often could not fall asleep fast or sleep through the night. I think it was because I had to sleep in a different bed every day and because I could not handle the whole tour so relaxed. Since I'm just camping, I'm sleeping very well and of course I'm also a lot more relaxed now.
Do you sometimes have to push your bike? Yes, it does happen. I’m better at it now and it's not that hard anymore. I also get off faster than at the beginning, unless people watch me. No matter how tough it is just pretend that it's easy and continue.
41. My equipment
Mossgreen Tout Terrain bike with Rohloff gearshift. I have it since 6 years. Bobyak trailer provided by Pietro's Veloshop. Bow tube holder made by Reto. He is also a prehistoric archer. Plastic drainpipe with screw-on lid made by Sanitär Plüss. I was allowed to paint it white at my former employers company, Noldy Wyssen. Everything has proven itself so far, so at this point to all the people who helped me with the preparation a very big thank you.
Ortlieb front, frame and 89l rack pack bags, Falcon UL Robens 2 person tent, Thermarest Evolite sleeping mat and a The North Face winter sleeping bag. Optimus Vega gas cooker with windscreen, 1l pan, frying pan, Espresso maker and my Victorinox pocket knife. All things that I have taken on my bike tours, befor.
Multitool, spare tire and hose for the trailer, insulating tape (of course in green), cable ties, cord, small WD-40 spray, bicycle pump, clothes pegs, 3m x 3m tarpaulin, Black Diamond lantern with flashlight function, first aid kit, power bank and an E-book reader.
Two bows (elm and yew), 12 arrows, quiver, armguard, shooting glove, 2 spare bowstrings, oil and wax, 2 spears with slingshot, small plastic target that also serves as a seat, climbing shoes and magnesium bag.
Rain jacket and pants, poncho, thick neoprene shoe covers, 1 pair of short and long cycling gloves, windproof gloves and hat, bluffs, pullover, thin softshell jacket with removable sleeves, thick softshell gilet, Albright hoodie, 3 pairs of long pants, one pair of shorts, 4 Pair of socks, underpants, sports bras, T-shirts each and pajamas. Contact lenses, glasses, sport sunglasses with interchangeable lenses, fishing hat and 2 pairs of shoes.
In Ormesson there is a prehistoric site. It is interesting because it contains finds of several times. The place was therefore always visited as a hunting and or resting area.
When I arrived the tour has already started. However, I would not have understood anything anyway. Maren greeted me first and also took care of me immediately. I probably looked a bit exhausted. I could rest in their van until the tour was over. I was very glade about that. Here I also met Isabelle, who writes for the Tir à l'arc magazine.
The Friday evening was a bit quieter than in Mas d'Azil. We were only 4 already here.
On Saturday it rained almost the whole day. My first few shots were still good, then my arrow sank deeper and accordingly to that, my points also. 68 and 25 hits I had at the end. I became 4th anyway. I think here it turned out that I still lack the experience.
I did not find the rain so bad and Jerõme said that probably only I could say something like that.
The announcement of the ranks and the dinner were held in the community hall. Jean-Luc did mention that I have 6600km by now, ride around with 40kg and that he has to give me just 2kg more. There was a big, thick book for everyone.
Actually everyone always says something about my tour. So I always know before my name is said when it's my turn. All participants are called and all receive a diploma. I put mine in the tube where I keep the arrows. The two books go a different way, though. Maren and Jürgen bring them to Gletterens for me and my cup from Saint Cesaire went from Eric to Jean in Mas d'Azil. He will bring it to Gletterens, too.
The dinner was personally served by the mayor and the Tahitian dancers (family of Jean-Luc) brought the sun to us through the music.
We stayed dry for atlatl, but that did not affect my performance. 10 points and 4 hits.
The archers from Auney were also here. Whether they believe me now or not, that I will come to their competition by bicycle I didnt find out. I first met them in Fajoles, where they did not really believe that I came by bicycle and also planned to ride to Auney. Their tournament is in mid-November. They even considered it unlikely. Of course that cheers me on.
The reactions have changed as well, now. When I meet new people, they say "Ah, you're the cyclist."
39. More to my last week
It's really cool that I've mastered the challenge this time, but I'm also very happy that I planned my tour at 60km a day. Over 100km per day I still find hard to do and I am always 7-8 hours in the saddle. I got up at 5 o'clock so I could start between 6 and 6:30am. I prefer to arrive at my destination at around 4pm.
I planned my week, that on Friday I only have to cycle 90km (yes, my relation to the kilometers has changed a bit) and the last few kilometers on Saturday morning. But sometimes reality bugs me. So the camp site in Bagneux-sur-Loing was no longer in operation. After 95km that's a bit frustrating. Since I did not know if I could set up my tent in Ormesson on Friday, I went to the museum in Nemours. Another 5km. But they could not really help me either. So I checked my mails again and fortunately Jean Luc had answered me. I went to Ormesson which added 7km more to my day.
38. Le Mas d‘Azil to Ormesson
Sorry guys. I was a bit busy with cycling...
Le Mas d'Azil is the first tournament I did not leave by bicycle. I could prepare myself for a long time and persuade myself that it does not bother me because I did not have Ormesson in my plan. When I sat in the car, it was a bit strange, but I definitely can not do 700km in one week. That's why a few weeks ago I asked some people if they could take me with them. My request then landed with one of the organizers of Mas d'Azil and he sent a short message to all participants. So in La Chapelle, Jean Marc offered me that he could take me. He lives near Rodez.
I met Jean Marc a few times already. He also brought the beer, I won in Errenteria, to La Chapelle. So I could share it with him and two other archers. I was at the right place with Jean Marc. When I entered his living room, I first saw a road bike, then many bows and quivers full of arrows.
There was a good dinner and I could sleep in his van. On Monday he drove me to the highest possible mountain (1340m). Near the village of Aubrac, which is located on the Way of St. James and gave the name to the whole region and the cows, I was able to start my day with a descent.
There were mostly cows and not much traffic but I had a lot of bike travelers (I guess they were pilgrims). The bicycle pilgrim from the Allgäu would have become jealous. I met him almost at the end of his journey in the steep hills of the Pyrenees. He was a bit disappointed that he had met almost no cyclists and so he was happy that at last he met me.
I rode to Saint-Flour. (70km)
On Tuesday I searched for roads with as little uphill as possible. So I followed the Alagnon for a long time to Lempdes-sur-Allagnon, on to Issoire and Orcet. (114km)
I only saw Clermont-Ferrand from afar. The hills were a bit flatter from here and I could see far in any direction. The day's destination was Bourbon l'Archambault. (120km)
There are things I just have to do. At Nevers, the Loire cycle path starts. I rode along it in my second France vacation from the Atlantic to Briare. Now I can cycle the part that I have traveled by train, back then.
I cycled and cycled. Not even the strong headwind could stop me. I finished in Beaulieu-sur-Loire. (134km)
My last day was easy, because it was flat. I am very tired, though. So this time only pictures. (112km)
It was definitely the tournament you had to walk the furthest. There were 30 targets placed around the cave in the forest. The first two targets were set up in front of the entrance. For the other targets you had to walk through the whole cave and then up the hill over the cave and then back to the start.
On Friday evening there were already about 40 people here. Everyone I said hello to, I have met at last once so far. That's really cool. It was also nice to meet some of the Spanish again and I received greetings from Spain and from some Swiss archers. Luis Angel and Elvira were for two tournaments in Italy and have therefore met a few Swiss.
The tables and benches were set up outside and the food was taken out. I think that's something very French. Everyone always sits down and everyone shares their food. It's like in the Asterix comics, except that the musicians are not hung in the tree.
I've been told that it's either very hot or raining here. It was only cloudy and therefore very pleasant to shoot.
People who look up the places I pass on a map, have certainly recognised that I have mostly stayed in the southern part of France. When I was planning, I realized very quickly that I have to limit myself to one region because otherwise I would have to take the train too often or could not take part in as many tournaments as I can do now and I ride pretty zigzag through the area.
La Chapelle is in the same region as Fajoles and Mas d'Azil is south of Toulouse, but I’m in France. There are many ways to get where I wanted. I do try to not have to go the same way. From La Chapelle I cycled to Grezès where I could stay at someones house. From there I rode through the valley of the Célé and once again crossed the Lot. Here again there was almost only forest, river and hills. I had one of those days where it feels like I'm alone in the world.
I passed Montauban and followed the canal of the Garonne to Toulouse. Here I visited Isabelle and Claude. Since I've been riding over 80km a day for the past two days, I had a day off in Toulouse. Isabelle showed me the city in the morning and for lunch we met with Claude at the Garonne.
Toulouse has just over one million inhabitants, making it the 4th largest city in France. The buildings are mainly built of brick and often very large. They date back to 1450-1550, when there were many traders here who became rich with the plant, dyer's willow or pastel, which at that time provided the only consistent blue. Toulouse was one of the richest cities in France at that time. Today, it is considered the aircraft and space capital of France. The headquarters of Airbus SAS is located here.
I had my personal escort out of Toulouse at 6.00 o’clock in the morning. Claude drove with me from the city to the Garonne with his scooter.
I followed the main road for 48km towards Foix. It therefore had a little more traffic and since a very long time I had to fight against the wind. However, it was flat until I turned to Carla Bayle. The road became narrower and the village lay on top of the hill. The traffic had suddenly disappeared, it was getting warmer and there were only fields and forest. I still find that very exciting. How it seems to me, as if no one is near me anymore just because I have turned into an other road or valley. It was worth the climb, though.
For once I found a well in the village and I was able to make my towels wet.
The last few km I had a downhill ride to Sabarat and along the L'Arize to destination #10.
35. The prehistoric archers
I'm on my way to my 10th tournament. That's really cool. High time to write something about the archers.
Many of them have a long friendship. You just know each other. That's why I think it's super cool that they've accepted me so easily into their community, as if I've been there for a long time and I'm always greeted warmly at every tournament. That's one of the nicest things on my tour. I meet most people more than once and this makes me feel more and more comfortable in their social atmosphere.
They always ask me if I need anything or if they can take something to the next tournament for me and that I can call them if I would have a problem.
When I knew which tournaments I would go to, I sent an e-mail to all the people organizing the tournaments, asking them if they could give me the exact location. They all answered within 3 days and would even add some extra information. I now always have to suscribe by e-mail too and it never is a problem.
Thank you for the many small gifts and doings you have made for me, your warmth, hospitality, takeing the time to talk in English to me and listen to my limited French. You are awesome.
34. La Chapelle aux Saints
Olivier welcomed me by clapping his hands on Friday. He was about to set up a target. I was able to pitch my tent on a meadow and I was the first one to arrive. In the afternoon, I visited the Musée de l'homme de Neandertal. They had a French guided Tour I could join. Unfortunately, I still understand very little, but I received a laminated German translation. I have had this here a few times befor and I think that's great, because at the end of the day you usually just throw away these brochures. This way it can be passed on to the next person. When I came back Patrice and Sylvie were there. Thanks to Patrice, my bow patron has a new bow and quiver now.
It was again a very nice tournament with 30 targets. Some in the forest, a few in the open field and in the streambed.
Here I joined some of the archers from Aunay for archery. It was a very relaxed group. I wanted 30 hits and a score over 100. I had a lot of 3s, 4s and a few 5s, so I actually managed to make 108 points and 30 hits. Therefor I was very happy about the 5th place overall and the 3rd place of women.
Virginie had to laugh very hard about my price and said, „that's not a price for you at all.“
For the atlatl we were a German, Swiss and French group. It turned out to be very funny because the languages got mixed up a bit, as all knew a few individual words of the other languages as well as all could speak a little English. Jürgen and Maren later made me aware of the fact that they understand Swiss German, so I don‘t need to speak German to them. I could actually have thought that since they are now and then in Switzerland (Yes there is a difference. Someone once said to me: „Oh so you also speak that language which you speak but don‘t write.“ That is a very good description. If we speak we use the dialect of Swiss German, but everything that is written, is written in German.) I had 6 hits and 13 points. I also had some good throws, but not on the target. So I'm happy with the result, because I see my throwing technique is makeing a little progress.
33. Valence d‘Agen to La Chapelle aux Saints
After Valence I followed the Garonne for a bit. Since it was a bike path, there were more people on the way. At my breakfast on a bench, an 80-year-old woman started talking to me. She could speak a little English. At the end, she wished me "viva la Suisse" and "viva la piss". Until I understood that she meant "viva la peace". You should make more connections and talk to people more often. She walks here every day and talks to the people.
At Agen I left the bike path because I wanted to go to the Lot. I went through hills and a lot of forest. So I always had some shade.
In St. Sylvestre-sur-Lot I took a day of. It was a small campsite. Many came every year and everyone knew everyone here. On Thursday there was a dinner party. It was very funny with the sociable retired people. They probably thought that if they poured me enough wine I would not continue the next day. However, since it was raining and the last few days were very hot, I left at 7.00 am.
The day was great. I gave the bike route "Vallée sur Lot" a try. Cahors was signed and I wanted to go there over the next two days. It let me over the Lot a few times and through small villages.
After 34km it rained for the first time. Exactly when I was in the supermarket. I could already eat my sandwich in front of the store and I could watch how the universe works.
A man said something to me, but I did not understand him. He spoke way too fast. He and his daughter went shopping. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone driving into the car of the man who spoke to me. The driver did not even get out, turned and parked his car somewhere else. His side was already badly damaged. He probably did not care about an other dent. I've waited to see what he does next. He also waited. Maybe he was waiting for the people from the other car. He then went to the shopping center and at that very moment he went in, the people from the other car came out. So they crossed each other and had no idea. I found that amazing. The woman burst into tears when she saw the dent. I told her which car it was and then waited for the other man. I went to him and told him it was him. He didn’t deny it and the police could leave.
I went on and got into a thunder storm but just after 100m, I found a good shelter. After the storm, I also moved on.
Since I was a little unsure to which campsite I wanted to go, I made another stop at the next store, in case I stop somewhere outside of a town, but it was closed and it started to rain again. The sun blinds of the store were extended and so I was able to stay dry for 3 time today.
Finally, I ended up in Cahors. It was too beautiful not to cycle.
I've been to Cahors in May. The receptionist of the campsite asked me if I was on my way back. I answered her, no, there is another tournament nearby. She wanted to know if it was in town. While I answered her, no, about 100km from here, I realized that this must sound very crazy for her. "Nearby". For me, 100km are really not far anymore.
I stayed 3 nights, took a look around the city and rode to Mont Saint-Cyr to enjoy the view.
The Fontaine des Chartreux was once a place of worship for the goddess of waters that gave its name to Cahors (Divona Cadurcorum). As one found many Roman coins on the ground in 1989, one knows of the cult at the source in the 1st century BC and in the 1st century AD. In the Middle Ages, a mill used the water of the fountain and in 1360 it was given to the Chartreux Monastery, hence its current name. The spring still supplies Cahors with drinking water today.
The medieval bridge (Pont Valentré) from the 14th century became the landmark of Cahors and is part of the French Way of St. James.
On Monday I cycled along the Lot to Vers, where I turned into the valley of the Vers. There was practically no traffic here. Only forest, river, hills and now and then a small settlement of houses.
I really enjoyed the quietness. In Labastide-Murat were all the people, it seemed. It felt really busy. If you are alone for a while and only with nature, it always feels like a shock if you enter a town and it was just a small village (650 inhabitants). So I just went to the store to buy something for lunch and moved on quickly. After the village, the landscape was a bit more open and I had a wide view over the country. I followed a section of the main road and then turned off to Rocamadur.
Again there was only forest, hills and quietness. Some steep climbs wheren‘t missing either. Especially the last two kilometers to the campsite were hard.
In Rocamadur I was a tourist. Very minimaIistic, though. I walked along the wall of the 14th-century medieval castle, which is on top of the hill, then down to the 12th-century holy city. Here there are seven houses of God and finally I strolled through the medieval village. It really only consisted of a street, lined with restaurants, art shops, souvenir shops and many other tourists. That's why there are no pictures of that part.
In fact, I have already seen many very beautiful villages on my tour through France.
At Meyronne I came to the Dordogne. A few years ago, I also rode along the river by bicycle during my summer vacation. It was my first France holiday and I liked it so much that it was a simple decision to visit many tournaments here. Because I had enough time and out of pure joy of cycling I made a 24km detour to Martel.
Yes and then I arrived in La Chapelle aux Saints.
32. This and that
Things I like:
- Cordial French
- Helpful Spaniards
- If I can help people
- If people do something good to me
How I cycled over the Pyrenees. Not at all, or just a bit on the edge. After the 150 km to Pau I am glad about it. First time: From Perpignan to Lleida by train. Second time: from Girona to Le Perthus and to the west past Perpignan. Third time: From Saint-Jean-de-Luz via Irun to Errenteria. Fourth time: From Errenteria via Irun to Ascain.
...but of course I have to pee every now and then. It is not very difficult. I just do it where I have to, usually no one else is around. The other thing, I do on the camping site.
From time to time I hear that I'm crazy. Sometimes I think so too. Mostly, however, I find everyone else is crazy. Starting with the prehistoric archers. They are all a bit crazy, because who else gets so excited when they see a piece of stone, line drawings in caves or carvings in a bone?
Other reasons why I'm not crazy:
- because my brother cycled halfway around the world
- because I know Caroline and Migg, who take part in extrem cycle races (Tortour Gravel, Race around Austria, Navad-1000, Trans Germany, ...)
- because on one of my other cycle trips I met Nicodemo, who cycled with his one-gear bike (fixie) from Verona over the Alps to Amsterdam
- because somehow everyone is a bit crazy in their own way
Since about 400km my saddle is quiet. Juhu finally!! I put rubber, that can be glued to the bottom of chairs between all the contact points of the saddle structure.
Mostly I don‘t know how steep the streets are in %. Up to 3%, it is easy, up to 6% is more difficult but I can do it. Everything above 7% finishes me off. I hate it. One would be alright but after the 5th I am getting a crisis. That's when I switch from cycling to race bike settings on my app. The race bike track often follows main roads. Main roads are more busy but usually less steep. You also get to your destination faster and you do not have to constantly check, in which direction you have to go.
And the answer to the question, if I am fine.
31. Errenteria to Valence d‘Agen
From Errenteria I cycled the same way back to Irun. By the way, Errenteria and Zegama are in the Basque Country. It is spoken Basque here. Meanwhile, almost all can speak Spanish, too, except for the older generation and depending on the place where you are, it may still be that only Basque is spoken. I was greeted here again less often. I was back in the north of a country, or maybe it was because I said "buenos", if it was actually called "egun on", which Paco has taught me later.
This time I took a bit more time before leaving Spain. At a gas station close to the border, I made a stop and thought about the many, small and cool adventures that I experienced in Spain, and just to enjoy the feeling. Does not sound very comfortable. Gas stations, however, were often small oases for me, where I could fill up with energy in the shape of cold coffee, Powerade, chocolate sandwiches or ice cream (the ice cream was just for the fact that it was ice cream).
Errenteria was my last tournament in Spain. The last of the year would be in Burgos. It was rescheduled, which now means 1000km in 1 week, so I'll probably not go there. However, together with Luis Ángel I figured out a plan. With his and Elvira's help it would still be possible to reach it. So I have not fully given up on it, yet.
Spain really impressed me. It was fantastic.
I have 3 weeks to go to La Chapelle aux Saints. I am already registered and Olivier from there I have met in Errenteria also. He greeted me with the words, "Ah, you're the one with the bicycle."
From Irun I went to Hasparren and Narravenx. The area reminded me a lot of New Zealand. I cycle through the department of Pyrénées-Atlantiques. It was very hard and I need a lot of sunscreen, at the moment.
The 50km to Pau were hard. I had to give up and push my bicycle a few times. There were just too many steep roads. In Monein I made a little detour to Abos. It was a bit more kilometers but flat and I could follow the bike path along the Gave de Pau.
No, this time I'm not in town for bouldering, but because I can enjoy French hospitality once again. Yves, Michelle and Anne-Marie gave me their address in Fajoles. Yves and Michelle used to travel by bicycle too and Anne-Marie cycles around with an e-bike. Therefore, we did the citysightseeing by bicycle.
Pau is a sporty city. There is a Formula 3 race through the city and a bit outside there is an artificial kayak track.
The biggest spectacle is probably the Tour de France. She also stops here very often. Also this year. Where the only time trial race of the tour takes place. It is precisely on the day where the tour celebrates the 100th year of the yellow jersey.
Anne-Marie and I went to see the time trial on Friday. We took our bicycles again and because Anne-Marie knew the city, we changed places several times. So we had a cool day at the Tour de France.
I could enjoy the luxury of a private house for 3 nights at Michelle and Yves place. Michelle also found that my pants were too long. She was right because the pants were already torn at the back of the legs. I was constantly standing on them and sometimes they got caught in the front pinion, which is why I had to mend them once before. Slowly they looked a bit bad. However, the pants are great for cycling and so I haven‘t bought any new ones. Michelle made my pants shorter and also put new pices of fabric on the back of the legs. Now they will last to the end.
On Saturday I first had to drive 5km to the meeting point by bike. I once again relied on my bicycle app. It somehow always finds the steepest possible roads. Doesn‘t matter, it is only 3km. I can do that. For about 1km it went extremely steep uphill. My legs felt great, I felt great too, until I stopped. I was a bit dizzy and had to take a longer break. After that I countinued a bit more slow.
It is very cool that I meet many archers again and again. Here was a reunion with Virginia, Josefa, Paco and many others.
Like all tournaments in Spain that I attended, the place where you eat and sleeping was not the same place as where we shoot. Here we went by car to the Cuevas de Aizpitarte and then you had to walk little. Until two years ago, they were allowed to set up two targets in the cave, but since they found prehistoric traces, the cave is closed. I thought it was cool anyway. The targets were set up in the forest and one shoot you had to do from a bridge. I am also satisfied with my 96 points and 28hits. Spear-throwing was not that great again.
Of the approx. 11 tournaments I participated in, before this year, I felt like I was twelve times 7th, (in real about 8 times), so I am very happy that I was able to successfully avoid that place this year until now.
29. Zegama to Errenteria
I have never been at the next destination so fast. Errenteria is only 60km from Zegama. So I made a little detour via Zumaia on the coast. It would have been nice there ...
... but 38 € for one night I found a bit harsh. She then told me that they are an ecological camping, but I had to pay the same amount as the caravans. Yes, yes. Maintaining the place takes the same effort, whether I'm here by bicycle or by car. Nevertheless, I never find it cool when I have to pay the same amount. It does not happen very often. Only since I'm on the coast and it‘s high season, the prices are much higher. To be fair I have to say, I find it already "expensive" if I have to pay € 15 for a pitch, because I usually only pay about 8 €. The campings for under 10 € are often just as nice as those for 20-25 €.
Back to Camping Zumaia. I was also told to separate the waste. So well written, in 4 languages, what you have to throw in and where as here I have not seen anywhere else but what are the people doing? They throw the leftovers with plastic in the container for leftovers. I do not understand that at all.
They do exist, the cool bike paths in Spain, but they are more often used by pedestrians then by cyclists. That's why there were these signs.
They really like walking or jogging. Also, there are often permanently installed fitness equipment in parks, which are also used.
From Zegama I cycled back the same way I came, for a bit. At Beasain I branched off to Zumarraga and from there, there was a bike path to Azokitia, which was laid out on an old railway line.
It does rain in Spain, or I've brought it (from Switzerland), as a woman in Almería jokingly accused me of. But I thought it was great for cycling, so I rode straight from Zumaia to Errenteria. First I went along the coast. Here were all the pilgrims. I've already wondered where they all are, as often as I have already crossed the Way of St. James in France and Spain, I have never met hiking pilgrims. By this view, no wonder. It was once again fantastic.
In case you wondered, no, I have never had a flat tire. I almost started to think it is impossible to get a hole in these tires. In total I cycled 10'000km with the same tires by now and never had a puncture. Therefore, I use the self-adhesive stickers to fix my tent and the duffle bags. Works great.
But then, in San Sebastián I had to make a stop.
To the tunnel San Adrian. The tunnel and the road of San Adrián are the most important points of the old Camino Real (Royal Route). The tunnel is the extension of a natural rock breach at the pass between Aizkorri and Aratz. The entrance is at 1000 meters altitude. The place served as a customs station and was guarded by soldiers. It was left and occupied again and again. Today, only the cows use it, which was easy to smell.
One target was placed in the cave, the others around the entrance and a little further down. As usual in Spain spear was thrown on Saturday. Once again, I was minimalistic and improved by just one spear and one point. The weather also played along until almost the end.
On sunday we had a good view of the fog.
I really liked it here. It was like a weekend on the „Alp“. Mountains, cowbells and cheese. (Every summer my parents would go to a farm in the Alps and take care of cows. My dad was a cheese maker for over 30 years. I spent all my summer vacations there until I was 16. After I started to work I would often go to visite my parents on the farm for the weekend and I spent one summer with them, to take care of goats. Yes like Heidi in the story. So beeing in Zegama/San Adrian reminded me of that time.)
I was 4th overall, which I find very cool and 1st among the women. We were two.
And for the end, this:
27. Saint-Césaire to Zegama
This time, my journey has been belated by a whole day. I stayed with Sandrine and her children until Tuesday. It was well taken care of me, once more and I was glade I could do Sandrine a favor by freeing the garden gate from the thorn bush and repaired it, so it could be closed and locked again.
After Saint-Césaire I went once again over the Charente and through hills with wheat and sunflower fields, towards Bordeaux. There were only vineyards near the Dordogne.
On the way to Bordeaux I had two encounters with cyclists. The first one proudly showed me his scallop shell and asked me if I would go the way of St. James. I answered 'no' with determination. He was very shocked about that. Why not he wanted to know. I'm traveling with a weapon and I do not think Brother Jacob would like it if I made his way with it, that was my answer. He was suddenly in a hurry. Yes, I was just not in the mood for company because I was busy with the frog situation and a broken egg in my bag.
The second was a racing cyclist. He drove past me first, but then turned around, when I once again took care of my saddle problem. (My saddle is always cackling, which is one of the things that annoys me extremely. I've already dealt with him with cable ties, tape, WD-40 and a lot of curses.) So I described the cyclist my problem. He lived 10km further in the direction in which I had to go. I got a coffee and in the garage the problem of the saddle was seriously tackled. For now, he is quite. I'm still a bit cautious about my joy, because I've thought, I've managed to silence him before.
The excuse that it was too hot for a sightseeing tour in Bordeaux, I do not have to bring up here.
Besides, it's the hobby that I share with my younger brother. He's really good now, so I have to make sure I do not lose my bouldering skills.
After Bordeaux, I came across another miracle of nature. The largest dune in Europe.
The moment when I stood on top of the dune and realized once again, I am here by bicycle and that I have already done 6 tournaments, is not easy to put into words. It was simply good.
After the Dune du Pilat it looked like this:
I enjoyed a lot that it was mostly flat and that I could fly through the woods with 20km/h for once.
The weather and how I deal with it
Since there is not much to say about the Landscape I write something about the weather here, because it is the question that is most frequently asked from home.
Of the 7 weeks in Spain 6 of them were always beautiful. Except for the week around Murica where it was extremely hot, it was always pleasant to cycle. I could ride in a T-shirt. Until and with the first week of Spain a cool wind was mostly blowing and it was changeable. I always rode with a windbreaker. Since I'm back in France I had to give up t-shirt-riding until a few days ago. It was just too fresh for me. Sometimes I felt like the Spanish cyclists, who were riding with hats and gloves when I was already short-sleeved. Now I could understand them and I had to smile each time when other cyclists in shorts and T-shirt passed me.
Last week there was a warning on the radio, to not go outside because it will be very hot. That's why I thought I'm riding along the coast because there's always a bit of wind blowing. Actually, I could have thought so. France never treats me with more than two days of sun and blue sky in a row. It was extremely hot for just two days and I spent one of it climbing, then it was cloudy again (perfect for cycling) and it rained at least once a day which has always been the case so far and I'm starting to think that's normal here. Fortunately for the tournaments it was always sunny. At least the rain is friendly to me. It rains mostly at night, then stops punctually in the morning when I get up, so that I can pack my tent in the dry, when I barely finished packing everything it rains again, then later in morning it stops and at some point the sun always comes out, I can dry everything and also set up the tent, then it rains again. As long as it does not rain for several days I find everything okay. Only when my things don‘t dry anymore it becomes grinding.
Cold and wind: put on the thicker trousers, sometimes also rain clothes, they are great against the wind, long cycling gloves and windproof thinner gloves (these were also handy in the morning to pack everything together) Bluff hose around the neck and on the head. When it was very cold I wore a softshell jacket, rain jacket and a vest. Takeing a shower as quickly as possible after arriving and put on dry clothes. Sleeping in the tent was not a problem. To take the winter sleeping bag with me has proved to be the right decision and at that time, I often had to stay at hotels, so I could always dry my clothes.
Rain: wear as little as possible under the raincloth because they make me sweat very quickly, shoe covers and poncho over it. I do not wear gloves because I don‘t like it when they're wet. The poncho has also proven to be a good decision. It is attached under my saddle, so I can put it on quickly if I did not expect rain. That I don‘t have the annoying problem with the fogged and wet glasses, I ride with contact lenses. Sometimes I change clothes on the way and always take a shower as fast as possible after I arrive, put on dry clothes and walk barefoot. That keeps the shoes dry. I do not like wet shoes either. I can also cook by sitting inside my tent but the cook is outside, so yesterday I parted from the tarp that I took as a rain cover or shade dispenser and sent it home along with a few other things. I have not used it for a long time because it was too much effort to stretch it over my pitch and was one more item that I have to pack and dry in the morning. I had no patience for it. I have a second tarp which I put under my tent. I could also use it to stretch over my pitch, if needed.
Warm and hot: wear the thinner pants and sports T-shirt, wear a Bluff around the neck, short cycling gloves and sunglasses. When it is very hot, sometimes I have to take off my helmet because the heat builds up underneath, put on a wet Bluff so that it covers the back of my neck. I always wear one around my neck, too. It also helps to prevent insects from flying into my nose or mouth. I leave two hours earlier, only stop in the shade and don’t ride between 14-16 clock if possible. When I arrive, I always take a shower as fast as possible, put on dry clothes and walk barefoot. Plots almost always have shadow.
In any weather: take it as it is and adjust to it, enjoy it and at the end of the day, always wash the things I've worn.
Even though I took the longer route to the Dune du Pilat and a day off at Sandrine‘s, I was still too fast in Bayonne but cycling 60-70km per day was just too tempting. I stayed 3 nights here and cycled along the beach and through the city center.
Of course I also went bouldering.
One of the nice things about bouldering is that the people there always help you if you are stuck on a problem, so it is very likely that you always meet someone to boulder with for a bit. Also interessting I find that at every place I went I get a little instruction about the rules and the levels of diffculty and they always tell me that I can just leave my bag in one of the boxes because it is very safe there. Nothing gets stolen. Sometimes you can take your bicycle inside, too.
After Bayonne came the most beautiful part of the bike path. He led along the cliffs and I always had sea views.
The flat terrain was over and the bike path led twice to stairs.
Both times it would have been possible to continue cycling. However, I would have had to unload all my things, which I didn‘t felt like doing, so I had to back track a bit.
Then I was back in Spain. In the north, there are many more cyclists and the cars may not always be as respectable as they are elsewhere. I was told and also because the roads are very winding and not always so wide. So I looked at the route to Zegama very closely. The security of the campsite was a local cyclist and explained the route to me also, but there was a cycle path that I could follow for almost the whole 60km. Maybe thanks to Brother Jacob. His path leads right through here.
26. Annoying things
Of course, there are also stupid moments and things that annoy me extremely.
In Spain I once ended up, after 80km and 5km before my destination at an underpass through which I had to go. It was filled with water. After the experience with the mud, I did not want to risk anything. I was on farmland and had to go back about 5km and then 10km to the campsite. At first I find that very stupid. Here and in other situations like that, I also had to laugh because it was very funny at the same time. Until then, there was NEVER water in Spain.
Or a day when it seemed as if every other street which I had to take was closed because of construction work. At the same time, all the stores I went to, were also closed.
Most annoying, I find motorists who honk. It is completely unnecessary and I do not see any point in it, unless they do it on narrow roads to warn oncoming cars. But most of the time this is not the case, so I totally do not understand it. Every time I am very shocked and do a jump to the side. It is not funny at all and dangerous.
Also annoying is that the object I need is always at the bottom and I never find it in the duffle bags. So I always have to clean out the whole bag, or if it has more air than anything else in the bag, or if I always put things in the same bag, unless I just need something specific, then I've certainly packed it somewhere else.
Often, I am annoyed because of myself. For example, if I have a huge parcel for myself, I place all my items too close to the tent so I constantly stumble over the pegs, or my compulsion to always close all my bags just to notice that I forgot to put in something or I need something out of it right after, or when I stop to take a picture, ride, realise I forgot to wear sunglasses, so stop, put on the sunglasses, ride off, sunglasses are dirty, stop again, clean the sunglasses, ride off, at which intersection do I have to turn, again? Dosn‘t matter, keep riding, then stop later, anyway, seeing I rode too far ...
Meanwhile, however, I have found ways to avoid these annoying things. I gave up closing the seabags a long time ago, my phone is in the bag attached to my frame and I can operate it while riding and the sunglasses are cleaned in the morning before leaving just with my glasses and the phone.
25. Paléosite, Saint-Césaire
Good, I've decided to buy new shoes, because you had to walk a lot for the 30 targets here. I was not satisfied with my 25 hits and 78 points in archery. About the 3 place, I was very happy, though.
On Saturday morning Eric came to me with a very nice present. He brought me a spear, I can take apart and therefor he fit into my tube. That made me very happy.
Slowly, there is not so much excitement about me anymore and the invitations for staying at someones house on my way are piling up. That I did not have to stay alone in the parking lot I was allowed to put my bike in the garage of the Paléosite and stay overnight at Sandrine‘s.
Now I will go to Spain for two tournaments. I'm looking forward to seeing some Spanish archers again.
24. Cyclists and cycleways
In the meantime, of course, I have met other backpacking cyclists. I will mention a few here. Interestingly, I met them all in Spain. Maybe just because there were not so many there, it was nice to met others and because they had exciting ideas.
- A Japanese who was traveling for exactly a year when I met him and cycles around the world.
- A French family with two children, traveling from April to September around Spain and Portugal.
- Jaime, the road cyclist who connected London with Cartagena in two weeks. I have mentioned him before.
Then there are also local cyclists who sometimes ride a bit with me. So a woman in Toulouse, who trained for her bike tour on the Way of St. James and Stefan in Rochefort, who asked me as the first person in France, at an intersection if I needed help and then showed me the way to a supermarket.
Road cyclists I have not seen so many here, yet. Only once there was a day when suddenly there were a lot of them. It must have been a good and well-known training track. Since my name is on one of my shirts, they sometimes cheer me on with "Allez Heidi".
Bike paths are something else. I'm not looking for them. If it turns out I use them. But sometimes they make unnecessary detours and lead over steep hills. For example, La Rochelle was displayed on the signs with 33km, on my cycleapp it was only 22km. After already 50km on my counter I did not really see why I was supposed to do the extra 10km just that I can ride on the bike path, so I left it.
Since a few days I can follow the EuroVelo 1. It is the longest route of the European cycle route network and leads from the North Cape along the Atlantic coast to Sagres.
Why do I always mention the EV routes here? After I started cycling, I decided to ride all national routes in Switzerland and as many parts of the EV routes as possible. That's why I'm always happy when I meet EV-signs. But again, I do not plan it. It sometimes just happens.
23. La Chaize to Saint-Césaire
On Sunday there was a discussion about where I am going today, until I asked Yannick with the help of Google translate whether it is possible to stay one more night. He had to laugh heartily. Finally we were four in the yard, who stayed.
On Monday morning, my departure has been delayed a bit. After a breakfast together and after the others were gone I had to pack the rest of my stuff. The landowner came and did not want to let me leave. He wanted to make sure that I had everything. So I got another coffee and 6 eggs on the way.
At first, I couldn‘t decide which way to go, because I had enough time, until I checked if there was a boulder gym in La Rochelle.
The city was nice too.
On I went to Rochefort. Here I stayed two nights too, because I had enough time and because the camp site was very cyclist friendly.
Rochefort is located on the Charente. Because of the favorable location, a naval base was built here in the 17th century and the largest naval arsenal of France was built. Within 250 years, about 350 ships were built, upgraded and maintained here. The Royal Rope Shop can still be visited today. In the harbor is also the replica of Hermione with which Admiral La Fayette 1780 sailed to America to assist the Americans in their fight for independence. Now she was not there ....
And all good things are three. The transporter bridge is also closed due to renovations.
Since Luçon it is flat here. Which is nice after about 600km of hills. The further north I came the more houses were plastered and on the coast were almost all white or slightly yellow painted. The last city I drove through was Saintes. It is also on the Charente.
Exactly after 4500km I arrived at the entrance of the Paléosite.
They already knew that a Swiss woman arrives by bicycle. That's how it works here in France. Henri summoned the president here and I was allowed to take a shower and pitch my tent here today.
22. Women, men and other strange things
In Switzerland, I was mainly addressed by women, in France about equally often by both and in Spain almost only by men. Men also express their acknowledge verbally more often, while women tend to give a recognising smile, nod their heads, or give me thumbs-up. With actions, I receive help everywhere about as often from women as from men.
Neither in Spain nor in France, people drive with light, not even in bad weather, since it is only recommended for cars. I find that a bit strange. Cyclists have to have (in bad visibility) a light and wear a safety vest and in Spain it was not allowed to ride in bad visibility and at night. (for me, because I have a trailer) Only the Spanish racing cyclists are exemplary and always have a red tail light.
Sometimes there are cyclist hotspots or days, then I am suddenly surrounded by cyclists at the campsite. The next day everyone is gone and on another campground I am all alone.
There are also British and Dutch colonies from time to time. Campsites on which it has only GB and NL license plates. They are mostly older couples with huge caravans.
Nationalities to which I have already been attributed, Dutch, Irish, Scottish, Finnish, German. Admittedly, I do not make it easy for my fellow human beings. The explanation why Irish and Scottish I can save myself here. Finnish no idea, maybe my Swiss German French accent sounded Finnish. When suddenly many thought I was Dutch, I was a bit surprised until I realized that maybe my orange Piranha T-shirt (the womens floorball team of Chur) would suggest that.
No matter which shop I entered in Spain, an other customer has always considered me a store clerk. Since they started talking very quickly I listened to each one, maybe I understand what they want. Haha, yes right. Of course I never understood anything and in the end I had to say "no hablo español". Again, I wondered why. It was not the color of the t-shirt. I tested that and after a while it annoyed me, so I started to interrupt them by saying „no“ and shaking my head.
Everyone greeting everyone is something southern French do. I can not quite judge that, because it rained so often and I rode through very rural areas, there were fewer people on the way. I still get greeted often, but not as often as in the south. Maybe it really is southern thing, because in Spain I was greeted more often in the south than in the north, too.
21. La Chaize le Vicomte
The targets were set up in a small grove. It had some very cool shots. Between trees, over branches and half over the water. The group was great too. Shoot quickly and pull through the three rounds. I had 30 hits again and 98 points. Which got me the 10 place overall and the 2nd in women.
Again someone had an atlatl for me. It was 3 rounds of practicing.
4 hits but thanks to one 5, I became 3th.
On Saturday evening there is always an aperitif and a dinner with specialties from the region.
Since the Spanish archers were very shocked that I knew none of the famous prehistoric caves with significant drawings and rock carvings, let alone visited, I have now changed this in Les Eyzies-de-Tayac and visited the caves Font de Gaume, Combarelles, Rouffignac and Soicer as well as the National Museum of Prehistory. The caves belong to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
From Les Eyzies I drove on to Périgueux and Angoulême. Always on side roads, over many hills and through small charming villages.
After Angoulême I continued to Niort. There were really many ways to get to my destination. At each intersection the same villages were written for a long time, only the direction and the kilometers have changed.
Just when I asked myself if you can ever get enough of nature, the landscape has changed. It has become flatter and my path has taken me to the National Park Marais Poitevin. I could only marvel again.
Because I had enough time and it was so beautiful, I followed the bike path along the rivers Garette, Bazoin and La Sèvre Niortaise for as long as possible.
I had to top up my supplies, so I went to Luçon. It turned out that Yannick, who organizes the tournament in La Chaize and Catherine live there. They invited me without hesitation to their home. I was finally able to see one of the French stone houses, which I find so beautiful, from the inside, was allowed to wash my clothes and came to the enjoyment of delicious Breton crepes for dinner.
But from the beginning. I had alteady set up my tent at the campground near by for Wednesday night, but because it was only a few kilometers to La Chaize anymore, I gladly accepted the invitation of Catherine and Yannick for Thursday.
In the morning, Catherine showed me her little quiet town, which has a comparatively large park for a small town and a big cathedral. This is because Luçon is one of two cities in France where a bishop lives. As Luçon was by the sea there is also a harbor. He was rebuilt to a swimming pool. However, a canal still leads the 20km to the sea.
In the afternoon we drove to La Chaize to start setting up the targets and in the evening Yannick and I trained in the garden for a bit.
On Friday morning I could sit at a covered breakfast table and was allowed to stay in the house as long as I wanted. At 13.00, with sun and for once with only a few clouds in the sky and with a little less luggage, I started the last 30km to Tournament # 5.
I once again took the path across the fields and enjoyed the 30km very much. Even after 3 months I sometimes can not believe that my idea works so well.
France is a bit stingy with the sun, but generous with rain and cloudy sky. So I added a poncho to my rainwear. My tent has survived a first endurance test well. 24h rain and a heavy thunderstorm.
I dont mind riding in the rain. More annoying is, if it rains only partly and then not and then again, because then you never know which cloth to choose, so you are either constantly changing, or sweating or get wet, if you have decided wrong. The atmosphere in this moments, however, I find the most beautiful.
Riding in France on main roads and in heavy traffic is far more unpleasant than it was in Spain. Simply because there is never a side shoulder and it seems to me now as if the French have a riskier way of driving. I had to get used to it again and also drive much more attentively, because cars dont stop for cyclists. Nor for pedestrians. There are a lot more signaled long-distance bike paths and much more opportunities to dodge on small roads, though.
Camping in France is great. One place is more beautiful than the other. Mostly it is about 9 € and then I have electricity, sometimes water in the square, the plots are huge and overgrown with grass. I can put the herrings into the ground by hand. There are noticeably many campsites with mixed sanitary facilities and more and more there is toilet paper. Sometimes you have to bring the toilet paper yourself or there is a role in the middle of the room. So for safety's sake, I always check first whether it has it or not. Otherwise it can end a bit shitty.
There are also dogs here. I just always hope that none of the aggressive house keepers ever get the chance of an open gate or a hole in the fence. By the way, it does not matter which race it is. All of them are against me riding past.
Phenomena that have been with me for some time. They are somehow funny, sometimes annoying and one is also helpful.
- I'm traveling alone for kilometers, but when I get to a crossroad, a car comes from every direction.
- The same applies if I am overtaken on such lonely roads, then a vehicle comes in the opposite direction and they pass exactly when all three participants are on the same line.
- No matter in which of the 100 small roads / dirt roads that branch off the road, I stop, someone has to turn into it or comes out of it. Always.
- If I'm unsure whether I'm allowed to ride on a road or not, surely a cyclist will come in the opposite or ride in the same direction as me.
On Friday, some archers were already on the farm and they also received me a bit disbelievingly but warmly. In the afternoon we could visit the small prehistoric museum and received a lecture about the finds of this area. Not that I understood a lot, but at least a little more than in Spain. In the evening the instruments were taken out and there was a little jam session, including singing and dancing. Everyone also brought something to eat and so music was played, eaten and drunk until late at night.
On Saturday morning we could visite the cave of Cougnac, which contains some prehistoric murals. After that there was a small reunion with the archers from Seyssinet-Pariset and also with Luis and Elvira from Spain. As promised, Luis brought me the atlatl.
Many found it exciting again that I came by bike, as did a film director who did a little documentary about the tournament. I was immediately introduced to him.
The targets were set up around a field and although it was flat, there were some interesting shots. I had a great time and had as many 5s as never before, but unfortunately also two zeros. Because of that and because the competition was a bit bigger, I was 6th. Atlatl was not my thing again, but one of the participants gave me some good advice. So at least I could improve my throwing technique.
16. Toulouse to Fajoles
Hahaha yeeeees, just awesome!!! I did it once again and reached my fourth milestone. The last kilometers before the finish are always the most emotional because I realize what I managed to do and that I really succeed. The joy is overwhelming and I have to let out a yell.
Somehow, the whole week was a Sunday trip, because my destination was only 150km away and I had 5 days for it. The wind has found other cyclists he can annoy, the day off for bouldering and doing nothing was great. After Toulouse I could follow the canal for another 50km, then I went to Cahors and Gourdon through the hills of the Lot department in the Occitania region.
At the campsite in Gourdon I was greeted with the words: "Uiui. What do you have with you?“ Me: „My bow.“ The camping attendant: „Aha all right. You go to the tournament in Fajoles. There are other people here, who go there too." So I would have had a ride for Saturday, but then I got the answer that I get a bed in a barn of a farm in Fajoles and after 1300km it somehow also bothered me that I have to cover the last 10km by car.
15. Three frequently asked questions
Why did you decide to do the tour by bike? Many expect a philosophical answer, which I dont have. I just like cycling, because it's a cool idea, because I've always wanted to do a longer bike ride, because I have more exciting experiences, because it's a bigger challenge, because you experience the moments a lot more intense and because it is simply fun.
Are you traveling alone and why? Because many think it is a cool idea, but by bicycle they would not do it, because I like to be alone, because I can be selfish, because the short encounters on the way and the weekends of the tournaments are enough social contact for me. I'm not completely alone, though:
How many kilometers a day are you doing? Diverse. 50km I manage easily but somehow it feels as too little. I like to do 60-70km because, despite many photo stops and breaks, I still arrive at my destination before 4:00 pm., can ride leisurely and yet make good progress. 80-100km I can do too, but are just a torture and are no fun at all.
14. Girona to Toulouse
On my last day in Spain I had a good driving flow and at midday I already had 50km on the counter. Because I was still fit I decided to take the col over the border too. As soon as I was in France, the "Bon courage" calls becam often again and the bike path signs piled up.
Camping should not be so difficult now, as France is the country with the highest density of campings in Europe. I thought...
After Maury I knew that I had to cross two cols. I still planned 70km because I saw that after the second col a 30km downhill will follow. So I started motivated in the morning. The cols were very nice to cycle, the climbs moderate, a lot of forest and little traffic. Fine drizzle accompanied me to the second col. The descent was very cool and I really enjoyed the day until I was in Limoux, my planned destination.
On the way to Limoux there were about 6 campings. Of course, I chose the campsite, which wasn’t open. No idea how many times this happened to me on this tour and every time when I already had a hard day. So it was either 10km back, 14km in another direction or just continue until I found something. I cycled on. There came nothing, except that the road got very hilly and the wind did everything to make my ride as difficult as possible. Every kilometer I had to fight hard and they seemed to be twice as long. I had to curse and it‘s just very annoying. After 30km more I finally found a hotel. So a cool day turned to a very, very tough 100km day.
But after every hard day, a nice day followed so far. So did this time, too.
For about 60km I could ride along the Canal du Midi until and through Toulouse. It was a nice Sunday bike tour. Ah yes, Toulouse is very beautiful, I was told somewhere along the way. I think, it's cool that there are 3 boulder gyms here and thanks to the unwanted 100km day I have time to visit one of them.
I experienced it as very cycle friendly, thought the Spanish often told me to be careful, I never had a dangerous situation as the car and truckdrivers were very considerated. Even when I ended up on the highway in Madrid I did not get honked at.
The cycle ways always had a stop sign but I got waved through pretty much every time. I also never got called off by people because I used the walkways and they are often not so good here either, meaning very narrow at times.
The streets were super good and had wide shoulders, exept as more north along the coast I went, as more narrow they got or disappeared.
At the Hotels/Hostals the staff was sometimes a bit overwhelmed by my vehicle but it was never a question to leave it outside. They would always find a place where my bike could stay overnight. Their restaurant, office, behind the reception, in their private garage, laundery or even in my hotelroom.
The Spanish are very punctual and seem always in a hurry, vamos vamos, but at the same time they are also a bit chaotic and laid-back. They were very patient to talk to me slowly, clearly and repeaded everything, if necessary. A lot of them could speak English and they always liked to stress out, that their English is bad, which was mostly not true. From Valencia up north people would answer me directly in English or (Swiss)German, which I found pity, but also understandable since there are more tourists around.
Two things that impressed me very much:
- Even though the civilisation was never far away, I often felt like I was the only person on earth. I fully enjoyed that. The freedom was infinite, the feeling of happiness exploded, the satisfaction complete and the calmness absolute. Hence, I have now answered the question why I cycle.
- How helpful the Spanish were. If I only took a break or was standing with my phone in my hands, I very often got asked if everything was alright or if I am lost. The descriptions of directions were super exact and I could count on them every time. They know their surrounding area in a range of 60km pretty well. Was it too complicatied they would just lead the way with their car. They might not say hello all the time (exept racecyclists always did and cheered me on with venga, venga shouts or thumbs-up-signs), but they would always keep the door open or lift up chains so I could pass, or help me get everything on and off the train. (This is just my experiance and the reacting differed, depending on which area I was cycling in.)
Muchas gracias a todos los arqueros prehistóricos que me recibieron calurosamente ya todas las personas que se cruzaron en mi camino.
I look forward to be back in the Northwest of Spain later this year.
While my bicycle got a check I took a stroll on the mediaeval city wall and through the alleys of Girona.
10. Vinaros to Girona
In Vinaros I was told that the next two days the weather will be bad in the north. I was really curious what bad weather in Spain meant. With the strong wind she was right. I got around the rain mostly. The wind became a bit my friend though.
From Almería to Valencia it would have been way too hot to cycle without him. From 11 o‘clock I only stopped in the shadow and took a longer break in the afternoon, using the parking lots of stores or nice parks.
At the moment I cycle mostly on mainroads, which have more traffic but less barking dogs. Sometimes my app finds alternative roads and I think, where the heck am I going, because no other people come my way, the roads get smaller, have more holes and many steep hills to climb. Some feel like an oversized pumptrack but suddenly I am just astonished because I see a beautiful place.
9. Valencia to Vinaros
Now that I finaly understand what the Spanish ask me and even more now where I can ask what I want I right away get the answer in English.
After Valencia I could ride on cycleways most of the time. The traffic on the streets got a bit more busy and I had to cycle through an industry area.
Sometimes there are this „The walking dead streets“ where it‘s only me.
It realy feels like in the series. The reason is that the government build a lot of new highways and now the traffic is somewhere else. There are also a lot of closed hotels, restaurants and gasstations along the old streets. For me these streets are nice.
From an other camper I got the advice to follow the Via Verde Oropesa-Benicassim. I did and was very slow because I had to take pictures all the time.
After the dry land around Almería the area before and after Murica seemed so green and the rivers carried water. For once I could follow a nice cycle way out of Murcia. Spanish cycle ways are mostly suspect to me, because they often have obstacles, like trees, parked cars, pedestrians and high shoulders or just end with barriers. So I mostly stick to the streets.
From Elche I took up on the direction to Sax. The landscape got more hilly. My navigation app took me on side roads and the racecyclists got replaced by mountain bikers, which scared me a little. Luckily the street stayed asphalted.
In Bocairent I found a beautiful campground and the next day started with a 10km downhill.
Later I felt it was time for an other adventure and I followed a signposted cycleway. First it was a nice road but after one kilometer I mountainbiker came my way...
It got a little bumpy and sometimes I had to push, but fortunately it was only for a short distance.
There is not one day where I dont have a little talk with someone. Cyclists mostly want to know where I am going, where did I come from and how many km I make a day. Other people want to know what it is what I carry. Sometimes I show them my bows and arrows. Often I also get asked if I am alone on the road. This seems to be even more impressive than that I am with a bicycle and then there was this boy, who didn‘t believe his mom that I am a woman, because someone with such a big bicycle can only be a man.
In Valencia it was time for a boulder session and a bit of city sightseeing.
I like the short encounters I have along my way. Since I mostly get asked the same questions I am good at answering now. Sometimes I just say something, so I see very fast if it was right or not and if I am being lazy I just say „no hablo español“ then mostly I get asked in English or they speak more slowly and clear.
Once I told a man that I want to be in Almería tomorrow. He started to laugh: „No, no, tomorrow in Almería, with the bike, no, its not possible, it is 170km, no, no.“ I did it.
Also I got stopped by a police officer in Murcia. First I used my two most favourite sentences in Spanish: „no hablo español“ and „no entiendo“. He then seriously told me that it is forbidden to have a tailer on a bike in Spain and that I was too long. I was a bit surprised. I dont know how many times the police has seen me so far and I did get stopped twice before. They only wanted to know if I am okay and which way I was going. So the traffic light turned green and he made a gesture. I thought I have to follow him, but he just rode off. Vale. So did I. It is good he didn‘t know that I cycle in Spain since one month. He would probably have gotten a heart attack.
Dogs really dont like me. Must be someting about the trailer. I dont know how they always see me, even if I am very far away, they ALWAYS see me, start to bark and go crazy. If they are in a cage it is just annoying but if they are not it is realy scary. Some follow me barking and attacking the trailer. I have tried different things to shake them off,
- cycle away fast, but that only works if it is going down,
- walking and pushing my bike pass them, needs a lot of self-confidence,
- carry stones to throw at them, but I never know when a dog is comeing and I already have a lot to carry
- barking back at them, my favourite thing to do, they get so shocked, forget to bark and the look on their face is priceless.
6. My older Brother
While I cycled South, my brother is on the way to the North Cape. It is very nice for me that we cycle at the same time. He understands exactly what I feel and has many similar experiences along the way.
Today I received a video call that he reached the North Cape. It was very cool that he sheared this special moment with me. Together we have now crossed Europe.
5. Rioja to Murcia
After a two weeks break from cycling, were I had time to relax my mind, I was very exited to start cycling again. Miguel the president of the Rioja archery association accompanied me with his mountainbike to Tabernas.
In the area, I cycled through, a lot of Western were filmed and also there are a lot of fossils to be found. The greenhouses got less and the orange and lemontrees became more. Also the loneliness I encountered by cycling down in the middle of Spain is gone now. A lot of Spaniard warned me about the traffic. I still find it okay to cycle on the busy streets, though I do try to get around it and find less busy streets, but I learned very fast, that in Spain the streets often become gravel roads and since I had the experiance of the mudroad, I choose my route with caution.
Ten years ago I was on a road trip (by car and with 3 friends) in Australia. We had an awesome time and I still often think about that time. I celebrated my 25th birthday in Alice Springs. Now I am on the cycling tour of my life and can celebrate my 35th birthday in Murcia.
1. The idea
I ride my bicycle to as many tournaments of the european championship of prehistoric weapons as possible. I will manly be in Spain and France. I also planed to make a stop in Switzerland. Since this idea grow at the tournament in Gletterens, it is very important to me to make it to that competition at the end of august.
2. Chur to Seyssinet-Pariset
I started in the snow and followed mostly the cycleway ViaRhona and along the Lac of Bourget to Grenoble.
The first tournament was much fun and despite the fact that my french was poor I had a great time. I got 3. place at archery and atlatl.
3. Seyssinet-Pariset to Chinchón
For this part I had only two weeks for 1200km. Other than planed, I tryed to make it without takeing the train. So I rode 80-120km per day for 5 days, but I realised I can not make it. In Perpignan I decided to take the train to Lleida.
From Lleida to Daroca, I choose to take the less taken routes and it got very lonley. As if I am the only person on earth. By accident I came along the camino de santiago and I had my first encounter with dogs, who followed me angrily. Luckely it was going down so I could get rid of them.
After an other train ride from Calatayud to Guadalajara I reached Madrid and had even a little time to go bouldering.
The ride to Chinchón was only 50km but I had to fight untill the last kilometer. I am very proud to have been able do ride 1000km in two weeks.
The competition was very small and familiar. Everyone tried very hard to make me feel comfortable and made sure that I understand as much as possible. With the atlatl I got 4. and with the bow I became 2. I was very happy about the second place, because it was the first time I had 30 hits and the points (95) were also very good.
4. Chinchón to Rioja
Some how, the nice things are just along the way. I rode on the Ruta de Don Quijote to the Molinos of Campa de Criptana,
to the Lagunas de Ruidera,
through the Desierto de Tabernas,
to Almería, where I met two of my friends and took a little bicycle break.
After a camping vacation in Cabo de Gata,
and a ride through a lot of greenhouses
I arrived in Benahadux where I got intvited to dinner and later to stay at someones house over the weekend. Saturday morning people showed me the settlement of Los Millares. An enklave of the copper stone age and later there was atlatl. I was very bad and only had 4 hits and 6 points, but it was still good enough to get 4 place. Sunday morning archery took place. This competition had 30 targets, which I liked a lot. I am happy with the result as well. 29 hits and 86 points and an other second place.