French Cycling Saunter – July 2022

Day 2

La Souterraine to Issoudun – 81 miles & 885m climbing

The next morning I received a text advising Anna has Covid! Given the proximity to the wedding it’s as well I was away avoiding the risk of infection. More pressing was the imperative to start eating and find a gas canister. Until I sorted that out I couldn’t boil water or heat up food on site. That had to wait until I ate something more. A typical French breakfast outside in the sunshine is a delight. When I left the site Reception was still shut and so I couldn’t pay. One way or another a criminal tendency was developing.

How to dismantle a tent

I found this as I pedalled around the attractive La Souterraine.

Perfect

Whilst still lovely weather the heat had miraculously gone and the weather was cooler by 10°. The legs should have had no weariness on the tour yet, but residual cramp persisted, I hadn’t got the lactic acid out of the muscles.

Despite this I was quite chipper. The route was undulating to the next major settlement of Chatereaux but I took the bigger roads with less steep gradients. They were an easier way of progressing. I’d never noticed all the sunflowers before, they are prolific in all the large arable fields, they greet you as you pedal past them.

A lunch of chicken and chips was found and then I detour off the route to visit Decathlon, the sports store, for a gas canister.

Tasted better than it looked!
Interesting name!

The bike’s chain kept slipping on the rear cassette/gears. I reckoned I had a stretched chain that needed replacing. Decathlon did this quickly and cheaply (€30) in 20 minutes. I communicated with the mechanic over these technical matters via the Google Translate App on our mobiles. I know trying to book the bike into a UK bike shop and expecting an immediate repair would be difficult. Vive La France.

However, the French now speak English. Going back a few decades they would not speak English to the point of being awkward with you. Most now admit to knowing quite a lot and will help you out as you start a conversation in butchered French. As always English pop music is in supermarkets and how can any business that buys or sells internationally or use the internet not use English? It’s safe to say we’ve won that war!

Next I found a supermarket for provisions. Usually this involves bread, a tomato, cheese, milk (for my porridge), a large calorific cake as a treat and bananas. Mission accomplished I pressed on for a municipal campsite I’d found on Google Maps in Issoudun. Baby Jesus now rationalising that I’d had too much go my way on the day threw down heavy rain. I got to the site sodden. The lad on Reception was at the time on FaceTime with his girlfriend. As he’s wading through the festival of pointless forms we need to complete for my €8 stay I get in front of the camera on his phone and ask “Parlez-vous anglais?” Cue much squealing and merriment. I’m don’t think she expected an old bloke, generally drenched, donning a cycle helmet asking about her language skills.

Room to spare
Useful for hanging washing off
Always pleased to find a bench

The site was basic but the washrooms were fine. However it was just off a busy roundabout and the late evening and, it transpired, early morning traffic was impossibly noisy. Motorbikes or trucks would work their way through the gears angrily as they pulled away from the junction.

Still attempting to recover from the first day I embarked on lots of eating. A call home discovered a bored Anna. She was confined to barracks and even speaking to me proved a highlight of her day. The rain stopped, laundry was done and hung out to dry and it was time for some kip. In line with my luck ending I discovered a slow puncture in my air bed during the night and nearby campers may have wondered about the heavy breathing in the early hours of the morning. I was re-inflating my air bed!

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