I could list many favorite things about La France. The graceful language, fun to speak and even more fun to listen to, the relentlessly edible food and drinkable wine, the long history and beauty of the country. The joie de vivre par-tout.
Every day we pass through many small towns, and I’m always struck by how well cared for the homes are–even a crumbly hundred year old stone farmhouse will be dotted with flower beds and decked out with colorful shutters, blue and orange and red. It warms my heart as I pedal past.
Arriving in and exiting towns, however, is decidedly not one of my favorite things. Many people all trying to get somewhere on teeny, tiny streets. The leisure of the lunch hour is nowhere in evidence. It’s dog-eat-dog, or car-eat-bike. You muscle through, with a little prayer that you will emerge intact, pointed in the right direction.
Leaving Sarlot Le Caneda, after staying two nights to work around the rain, we managed to ruffle the feathers of a numbers of drivers, getting in their way as we tried to navigate to the bike shop for some air in our tires. The bike shop was closed, and just for good measure, a bee stung my ring finger to bid us farewell. Ouch.
Our days in the saddle have been great. We typically start around what we call “the crack of 11.” We ride through gorgeous countryside on relatively quiet roads. Castles pop up everywhere. Cows watch us, chewing their cud. Sometimes cars, or other cyclists, pass and give a thumbs up. Yesterday I rounded a corner and came upon a puddle of sheep, lounging in a pile, heads resting on flanks. I stopped to take a photo and they watched me cautiously but then decided I couldn’t be trusted and dispersed, to my disappointment. Once one of them turned tail, that was it, they all did.
I have a rear view mirror that attaches to my helmet–very helpful when touring. I’ve been thinking how it’s always important to see both in front of you and behind you on the road, and in life. You can’t just look in one direction. Well, you can, of course, but why would you want to? You’d miss so much.
Tomorrow is the last day of riding in this region–the Dordogne, Lot and Cele valleys–and then we return to Toulouse to meet friends and head to the Pyrenees! Woo hoo!