This post covers our ride on Sunday from St Mihiel-sur-Meuse to Neufchateau, and our rest day today at Neufchateau.
We treated ourselves to a lie-in, after a poor night’s sleep near the world’s noisiest neighbours (see previous post).
We set off around 11, after stocking up with a picnic lunch. Stowing a fresh, floury baguette on a bike is a delicate matter. Most of our panniers are so full that our baguette would have been flattened by lunch! Our cunning baguette storage scheme involved breaking it in two and fitting it into our front bar bag, suitably wrapped to avoid getting too much flour in our passports.
The riding was very warm in the sun (a cloudless day) but very cool in the shade. It was odd to find the temperature drop about 10 degrees when we passed into the shadows cast by trees.
We tackled our meatiest climb yet- about 2km in gear 11, one of our lowest (the very lowest granny gear is 14). It looked intimidating from a distance, but was ok when we got going.
The roads were much quieter than on weekdays, and we hardly saw any cars go past as we ate our lunch on a sunny bench. Not long after lunch we set another speed record, a hair-tousling 66.5kph down a steep straight section. That’s over 40mph in old money!
The last section of the day took us along lots of sunny, tree-lined straights, the quintessential French country roads. We whizzed passed the birthplace of Joan of Arc, but decided not to join the tourists as we were only a few km from Neufchateau, making a 70k day by 4pm a good ride.
At Neufchateau, we found a small and sunlit campsite, complete with loo paper (a rare find in France!) – ideal for a two-night stop.
A rest day today. We had a late breakfast, slightly in awe of the early departure of some fellow cyclists, who were on the road before 930. We did the usual laundry, with a heart-stopping moment as John misread the instructions and set the machine going without any powder.
We walked around the older parts of town a little, but all was very quiet and closed. So, in the spirit of rest days, we sunbathed on our sleeping mats, reading and eating cake. No doubt we will need the calories tomorrow! Our route planning is getting more complex as we try to find the flattest route to Zurich, threading our way round the bottom of the Vosges.