Another week on the road and I'm feeling the flow now, the routine, the acceptance of weather and relative adjustments. As the journey builds so does the recognition and intrigue of all that passes thanks to those choices made months ago. Fleeting ideals of freedom; the bike and I.
On an ordinary day a break in dark cloud near the horizon at sun set revealing a wash of light and stark contrast so vivid may seem normal, but after a day of gloom its interpreted with total rejoice. I must be in the right place I thought, despite just being lost in Dijon for an hour. A Silva compass was my route out.
Riding out of of the 5 star comfort of Mcdonalds having been using there WiFi some heavy rain set in.
Eating is so important doing these miles. The diet currently rolls around muesli, coffee, croissants, jam, tuna, cous cous, bananas and more similar; no fridge on board. Featured in the picture is a quick lunch in the rain as nothing to lean the bike against. That's some good feel food there.
Approaching the border of Switzerland I spent the day climbing through the Jura region to a town called Pontarlier in the rain. I'd only been back on the bike for a few days after taking a days rest to put the feet up and hadn't planned on a camp site but as the grey evening pulled in I was thinking of showers. Rolling into Pontarlier at 21:00 I'd left myself little choice. Luckily, one was on the other side of town. Upon arrival, I went to the communal room where there was a large group of boys on a trip I later gathered. I must have looked a state because seeing me they set work sorting me out; fanning there BBQ back to life to warm me up, bread, watermelon and a six man team made me a bowl of coffee. Such an enchanting experience, these were youngsters from tough pasts showing me the utmost kindness. We all chilled after and watched the World Cup.
The next day I rolled for the Suisse border and what a feeling. Northern France had been challenging despite ideas of it being my warm up. I wasn't checked as I passed the gates and a thumbs up from the guard was all I needed. I made it, first country crossed, feeling good. I now learn the currency is different.
Switzerland is a cycle friendly place with generous lane for cyclists but the network doesn't always follow the road. With no map of these I often felt quite blind, as I worked my way across I found my way onto a walkers path that traversed down a gorge descending in the direction of Neuchatel. It wasn't bad at first but incredulous looks from walkers gave signs of worse to come. I had a jolly chat with an older Suisse couple who took me for a crazy Englishman and offered to take my picture. Up ahead a right turn would be a good decision they assured me.
Kit review – for my travels I stretched to a Gore Bike Wear AlpX-2.0 jacket and it has been worth it. A little wet around the cuffs but when it rains all day I expect to get at least a little wet, but to no avail, this is phenomenal jacket I owe my health to.
The journey from Pontarlier to Interlaken via Bern I'd planned to do in 2 days. I was chilling by Neuchatel at 19:00 (half way there) looking at the sky's, thinking of my wet tent. Pondering on a further 80km+ to go and I decided to break for the finish line. I knew it would get tough but I felt it would be worth it. 6 hours from now I could be warm, I thought. Once I'd bypassed the motorway, I was smashing it along the No. 10 Transit road. The km's ticked down but I was deteriorating badly, I was possessed in that stage, to ride that way touring is totally unsustainable, I knew I was going for broke. My rear exposure blaze light ran dry and I backed it up with a flashing red from my headtorch (petzl xp2). The reflex mk2 ran well and on unlit roads and tunnel systems streaming water off the cliff sides it came into its own. I was traversing a one way hole. Those closing stages were dark in both ways, hallucinations were rife with a quiet conscious thought to undercurrent permeating insanity. I made it. At the end of my tunnel was a well lit reception area with comfy benches where after a shower I slept until morning.