When we got to Montluçon it was the third straight day of rain. Now EVERYTHING is WET. There's condensation dripping off the ceiling in the barracks, the floor is wet. The bathrooms are soaked. I notice there is a cheap hotel right next to the paddock area. Before I even get out of my riding gear I trudge over to see about a room. "Non, monsieur, nous sons complet" I'm half way back to the paddock feeling like the dirty dog, she comes running out after me. Wait we have one room but the TV is broken. Even better I reply. Ahh, nice shower, dry bed and a blow dryer for my boots and gloves. I even got the wifi to work! No, I'm not feeling the slightest bit guilty leaving my pals behind.
Here's the view from my "dry" room!
Now we're into the fourth day, Wednesday. Montluçon - Belleville (334km)I've had my baptisms by fire, learned my limits, figured out it's the same if you ride fast and end up riding in circles to figure out where you missed a turn as slow and not. You know, the old tortoise and hare routine. Save the speed for the special stages, oh, but it's so hard to resist temptation.
I resolve to ride with Oliver
who I met in the sweep truck. We are both close to being on the same minute because of our previous misfortunes. He's ridden the event before and is very good with navigation and has a better feel for a good pace to maintain. We are supposed to maintain an average speed of 55 - 60 kmh and adhere to the speed limits of 90kmh and 30 kmh thru all the little villages. I know you're all thinking, why, that's nothing! But I'm here to tell you, get lost, stop for gas, thread thru tiny villages, get lost, and next thing you know you're having to crank along at 9/10ths. Always amazes me how easy it is to lose time and how hard it is to make up.
Once in a while I get to grab my camera and take a few pictures. The funny thing was, for me the scenery was amazing and I was always wanting to stop and have a quick look around. But if I was hooked up with a good riding partner I'd loose him if I did. They'd look at me, like, what's the big deal, haven't you seen a 14th century chateau before? We are heading into the Beaujolais wine country. Every village has a terrifying crucifix at it's border and a simple church. Here's an example I found striking in it's simplicity.