Today has been unforgettable. I get the sense when certain things come together – smells, sounds, tastes, images – that I will be transported right back here, to this day on and off the bike.
I slept wonderfully in a friendly hotel near the station in Romans-sur-Isere and set out early before the heat really kicked in. Romans was busy in the morning rush; so was Valance, the next major town (more a city) but I clung to the periphery and stumbled my way through.
There is no direct road suitable for bicycles from my starting point to my destination, so I had to follow the ‘D’ roads that link the Provencal towns. This wasn’t always easy and I ended getting lost more than once. I swung like a pendulum between feeling the joy of being lost in the most picturesque of places in the warm weather and the desire to get on with my journey and reach the destination. It occurred to me then that where I was at that time WAS my destination, the place where I should be, should embrace. It’s not always easy to adopt this Buddhist-list attitude: but if you can, it makes all the difference.
I feared the strong-ish wind was a mistral, a devious and potentially gusty wind notorious for ruining a fine day. I am not sure if it was; all I can say was that it was behind me and it gave me an extra push. As such, the day on the bike was perfect and I once again I felt strong over my unintentionally long (80 or so kilometres) ride.
I use GoogleMaps to navigate smaller towns but it let me down badly today, telling me that my campsite was in a completely different area. But I forgot all that when I found a spot: right next to the lakeside on smooth flat ground, shaded by the trees. Wonderful.
Tomorrow I shall explore more of the smaller roads and towns. I am swinging like that pendulum again, partly looking forward to arriving at the sea and the end of the journey, partly wishing it would never end.