Lacelle Muni Campground
Twas a rainy morning, so I slept in as late as ever. When I arose, there was a man down at the office, waiting to take my money. I hadn't used the shower, so my bill came to 13.30F, he showed me. I offered him my charge card, travelers checks, cash. I laughed a bit as I showed him my impressive collection of cash: 11,000 pesetas, 100marks, 20dollars, but only about 0.30F which amounts to nothing. I was ready to pay him triple the bill in pesetas or something, but he declined. It's free he said.
Up the Road
I made sure to change all of my pesetas to francs at the next bank I found. Continued up D940. Same hills. More forest. Same noises. Wait, that is a new noise. Something that started developing yesterday, perhaps... I discoverd that my new 35mm rear tire from the
shop in Spain is crap. I had suspected as much, but it was wide and looked rugged. The problem is that it is more like a discount store rubber tire than a bike shop nylon job. It was only rated for 45psi, but the mechanic had told me that they use a different system in Europe, or something. I now realized, as I looked at the bulges and wear, I had made a mistake. I tried to adjust the tube a bit, so that it wouldn't pop out of the side of the tire where the breaks were already rubbing a bulge. I let some air out and headed for the next big town.
Luckily there are lots of bikers and lots of bike shops in France. However, the one in Bourganeuf was closed for its siesta. In Gueret, I had to ask three different people before I found the shop. The next problem is that nobody carries touring bikes. Lots of day racers and some Giant and Mongoose mountain jobs. The guy found me a pretty hefty tire that was rated at 700×38mm, but measured at about 31mm. It looked well-built, and I liked the smoother traction too, so I went with it. What choice did I have?
The man in the shop that did the translating for me also advised me on my route. He promised that the mountain-like hills would end in about 30km. I filled up on some mini pizzas and bread, and headed out of town in the rain at 5:30. An off-duty policeman pulled alongside me to warn me about riding through the light at some construction zone. I don't think he realized that I had no idea what he was saying. Anyway, I had other things to worry about.
Although I had expected to fly with my new tire all aired up, I was still crawling on what seemed a flat spot. I pulled over and messed with my bike for about a half hour. Turned it upside down and started checking the rolling of my hubs. The rear one wasn't too smooth, but then the front wasn't either. Maybe that was normal. All I know is that I couldn't do more than 10 or 15kmh on some pretty flat surfaces. I was about ready to ditch the bike and take the first taxi to Rome.
It turns out that I have just been climbing a lot more the passed few days than I thought. All those agonizing kilometers were elusive hills. And I almost gave up 200m from the top of the last. As the man said, the huge hills finally ended, and I came out to something more manageable. Still not flat, but I was rolling. I made it all the way to la Chatre and even managed to get good directions for the campground. Perhaps things will finally turn around.