Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Eurovelo 6: Miscellaneous from castle country

Interesting sculpture
The weather has gotten so bad (and I so soaked) that I decided to take a train to today's destination Nevers. I am waiting for my train now and found a internet place. So now miscellaneous from castle country: I have seen a lot of cyclists so far, but they are all on racing bikes - nobody is bicycle touring, not even other Germans. They must have been smarter than me and looked at the weather forecast. Everybody on a racing bike is a) male, b) accompanied by a group of similar males and c) dressed like a parrot in really kinky racing outfits. There are a lot of them, but I don't understand why nobody is touring.....

Morning mist at my Loire camp site
Camping has turned out to be a bigger problem than expected: Stealth camping is usually not a big problem while hiking because you are in the woods on foot trails - and that makes it easy to disappear. When cycling on the other hand you are usually close to roads and civilisation and it has been difficult for me to find stealth camp sites that are quiet and out of sight. The best one so far was directly on the banks of the river Loire and very scenic - especially in the morning mist. But unfortunately I had camped on the site of an old fire place and when I packed the tent in the morning the bottom was all sooty - and after packing it I was sooty, too.That cried for a hotel stay the next night when I had the rare joy to take a shower together with my tent - rather messy affair to say the least.

Not quite a Formule 1 hotel...
Accommodation wise my biggest discovery is Hotel Formule 1 - they are even cheaper than Etap (just 30 EUR), you can book them on the internet and they are everywhere. They even allow you to take your bike into your room, which can be quite a challenge considering that the rooms are really small. Unfortunately, they are usually situated in some commercial zone in the middle of nowhere, so I have become quite efficient in navigating industrial suburbs in pouring rain. You can also check availibility and book rooms online which is really useful for my limited knowledge of the French language.

Bike path along the Loire
My rain gear is absolutely inadequate: I have been cycling in light rain for half a day and I am absolutely soaked. The problem is that it is very cold on top. The biggest unforeseen problem are my feet. I am cycling in normal trailrunners that are not waterproof at all. In all that rain they get soaked very quickly and result in wet and cold feet. When hiking this is not so much of a problem because you are constantly moving your feet and this keeps them warm. But cycling does not keep the blood circulation going in the feet like hiking and soon they feel like ice blocks. My attempts to buy better rain gear in a local Decathlon have only been sort of successful. I could not get any waterproof shoe covers, only neoprene ones that are intended for wear over cycling shoes. But my trailrunners are much bigger and wider than cycling shoes and I had to buy the biggest size availabe to make them fit. They are not perfect but at least my feet are a bit warmer now. But if this rain goes on like that, I don't know what to do....

French keyboards are very different than German ones and this drives me absolutely crazy while typing....

One last good thing: There are a lot of Lidl in France!

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