Friday, 3 July 2009

Leg 4, Paris to Strasburg

Weds 17th June to Tues 23rd June (inc one rest day), 374 miles

Started off from Paris with a murderous hangover. Fortunately getting out of Paris proved to be quite easy. A series of good days saw me heading out through the champagne region and then towards and through towards Verdun. This was a major area of conflict in WWI and cycling across miles of undulating countryside one could how it would become a bloody battlefield of mass carnage, degenerating into a series of pushes for ridges. There were various momuments to the fallen, a few WWI battlefields left as memorials, the trenchs, bunker complexes and shell craters still visible in the ground. Also far too many war cemetaries of the sort I'm sure you've seen in photos or on TV... staggeringly long lines of identical back to back graves holding a large part of a generation. Sobering. All very sobering. By the time I reached Verdun I decided that I didn't want to visit the fortress there but ploughed on instead.

After crossing through I ended in up in Metz, where I took a quick rest day... that day I'd been planning on doing about 50 miles but ended up having to plow on an extra 25 miles when the campsite I was headed for turned out to be a caravan park, no tents allowed... grr... by the end my knee was hurting like hell so I took a day to explore Metz. It then took a couple of days to reach Strasburg, my final taste of France.

France had been fun. Great country for cycling, where people went out of their way to be bike friendly (UK take note you bunch of miserable car loving scrotes!) and just generally friendly. Lovely food as well, my god do they now how to do bread!!! Downsides... Firstly and most importantly, no pubs. Try them, you'll like them but sorry, the bar tabac just ain't the same. Secondly, closing times! Country shuts down for lunch and sundays. Lastly, cycle path signing was poor, very poor. Thank goodness for the compass. Mind you, they know how to sign and do a good campsite.

This stage was also the start of a series of kit failures. First to go was the air bed which picked up a puncture that gaffer tape could not hold (the shock!), then the compass started to develop an air bubble and the burner packed up (not ideal when you're in a campsite in the middle of nowhere, have just done 70 miles, only have dried food and NEED TO EAT!!!). More on these later when I do my kit reviews.

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