An Aynac Morning
If I weren't in such a hurry, I would have taken the morning off today. This itinerary has gotten to me a bit, and although the meal last night was very refreshing, I was a little slow this morning. I also wanted to check on my bike some, to make sure that it wasn't as worn out as I am. I took the backpack and everything off, road it around a little, checked out the hubs. I could have sworn that I felt something rubbing, not to mention all the noises that I hear. However, my thorough inspection yielded nothing. I shifted some weight around in the rear bag and loaded it all back up. I am a little surprised that the whole backpack cum paniers trick worked, but so far, so good. Nobody was around (besides the fisherman) as I rolled out of Aynac, so I got a free night out of their municipal campground. A nice place.
The Dordogne Valley
I thought that I had earned some reprieve from the hills when the morning started off easy. However, I found that the easy sojourn along the river wouldn't last long. Soon I was climbing again. In order to
enter Tulle, there was a long climb of at least six kilometers at at least six percent. Then the usual descent into the centre ville. This time I achieved a record 70kmh on the descent side. It was cool, but hardly fun. I am always worried about all the cars and all the stuff I have strapped on the back. My 10kg bike loaded with 20kg worth of stuff, still managed to survive the amazing descent. However, I wish they would build the cities on the bluffs, or leave the roads in the valleys. I am tired of racing up and down these huge hills.
I took a bit of a break in Tulle, avoiding the city center partly by accident. Instead, I took advantage of one of the many picnic areas alongside the road. A bit noisy, but nice for lunch and a break. After lunch, I bought some more stuff at one of the wonders of France: Intermarche.
When Americans think of France, we think of class and style with plenty of culture. We think of quaint brick streets with local bread stores or something like that. However, the fact is that many French people do the majority of their shopping at the equivalent of Walmart. I once read that the idea of the hypermarket (grocery store with clothes and everything else) started in France in the 60's and not in the States. So why is it that people accuse Americans of being cultureless, money-hungry people who prefer quantity over quality? In general it is true, but Intermarche, Super U, and E Leclerc are interesting to think about too.
In Search of Water
A biker needs water. I carry about two liters on my back in a camelback with a little extra in my bottle below. In Japan it was always easy to find a house with a spigot out front, practically on the road. In America, usually I filled up at restaurants. In France, there are lots of fountains in the city center. However, I missed the city center of Tulle, and I forgot to fill up at Intermarche. I was starting to worry a bit when I saw a nice man out in front of his yard. He seemed at least slightly impressed or interested in my trip, so I inquired about water. He was more than happy to invite me around back of the house and give me a seat at the table. He could speak a little Spanish and English, so I tried to give him my story as best I could. He didn't flinch too much when I said I was from the US, and he even offered me advice about a good campground up the road.
I passed up the place he recommended, because I was behind schedule for
the day. I started getting worried though, by the time I pulled into Lacelle. Found another deserted municipal campground and another local restaurant. However, I soon realized that I had forgotten to get more Francs that day. I was down to US7 for dinner and camping. I suddenly recalled the lyrics of a Paul Simon song: "Stranger in a strange world. Maybe it's the third world, maybe it's his first time around. He doesn't speak the language. He holds no currency. He is a foreign man." I managed to get some sardines and bread with the cash I had, but this left nothing for the morning. We shall see.