Day 7 : Encounters on the road
We woke up in Cluny. Already for the fourth time we paid for a campsite only after sleeping there. They should stay open longer; this one already closed at 7.
From the relatively large village of Cluny, we took some backroads to a tiny town. The description said we needed to take a left turn after the village. It was very steep, about 8%. When we reached the top, we realized the description wasn't entirely correct; we had taken a wrong turn. It took us more than 15 minutes to find the right road.
In a small epicerie we bought more food because we hadn't had enough breakfast. They didn't sell sunscreen, which we really needed. Bram's arms were red, and so was his head. His forehead was swollen by about a centimeter, his nose was twice as wide, and his eyes were nearly shut. He looked just like the elephant man. We didn't know what it was exactly, but it probably was caused by the sun.
After we cycled some more we suddenly heard 'hundred cols'. It turned out to be a father cycling with his 11 year old son. We started talking; if I remember correctly, his name was Dirk. He had already cycled the 100 cols tour twice before. We asked what he was doing now. To our surprise, he was now cycling it with his 11 year old son. That was pretty impressive. If they made it, we wouldn't be the youngest people to ever finish it.
We continued cycling together. Dirk thought our bikes were not really suited for the 100 cols tour. We would never make it across the Pyrenees with them as they were too heavy. They each had light aluminum bikes with hardly any luggage. They were surprised when Bram told them that this was his third cycling vacation with this bike and that we climbed the Mont Ventoux twice with it last year, carrying more gear. Although not as surprised as we were when they told us that his son Mishka last year climbed the Mont Ventoux from all three sides on the same day, as the youngest person ever.
On top of the mountain we said goodbye. They left to do groceries. Likely, they didn't go for groceries because they needed food, but because Dirk didn't think it was a good idea to descend with us. Three climbs later, we arrived in another village. In an epicerie we bought some groceries and saw them again. They had bought us each an apple and banana, hoping they would catch up with us.
We took a picture together. Dirk asked where we planned to go for lunch. I pointed to a nearby wall and said we would eat there. He didn't seem to understand. They cycled on to see if there was a place to eat in the village, which I didn't get because we were next to a store. After we ate we continued and saw them at a restaurant. Now I understood why they didn't understand why we were planning to eat near a wall and why I didn't get why they went to find food while we were next to a supermarket.
After the encounter, we covered some good distance. Of course, we couldn't be overtaken by an 11-year old. Actually, Bram asked me not to put in this story that Mishka was only 11, because then everyone would think the 100 cols tour is easy, which is absolutely not the case. Like us, they planned to cycle for two weeks now and then finish the route in the summer.
It was pretty hot and the elephant man and I cycled another dozen cols today. We also managed to buy sunscreen somewhere but needed to wait in line for half an hour. Because tomorrow would be Sunday, we bought an extra large bread. It was a gross pain, half a meter long, 20 cm thick, and 30 cm wide.
There was some kind of party going on in the village. There was a fun fair consisting of a carousel with four carts, a cotton candy stand, and a popcorn cart. There was also one bar in the town, which was built on top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere. That's where all the youth was. One guy asked if we wanted to join, but we were having lunch, and he was super drunk. Later they came over to ask how far we were cycling and where we were from. Then they all sat down in the trunk of a car and then drove around while blasting the horn. There were about three groups of kids in cars driving like that. I guess there was not much else to do in the village.
It was Saturday afternoon, so all the post offices and town halls were closed. That made it hard to get a stamp with the date on it. Instead, we went to an ATM just to obtain a receipt with the date and location. In the end, our stamp booklet, which we needed to prove we cycled the 100 cols tour, had just as many receipts as stamps.
We got to a very long climb, but at least we would have a 20 km long descent afterward. During the climb, a black Ferrari overtook us. When we descended, over one of the busiest roads in the entire 100 cols tour, it drove by again while stepping on the gas. At a certain moment Bram was overtaken by a van. At the same moment, the Ferrari came around the corner. He had to break hard and his rear wheels slipped away. They barely missed each other.
In Feur was a campsite and another 20 km further. We decided what to do in our remaining days. We had four days of vacation left, but there were only train stations along the route after one, one and a half, or three days of cycling. We decided to keep cycling for one more day so that we could take the train home on the second. If we kept cycling for one and a half more days it would certainly take more than a day to get back home and we would have to sleep at a train station. That wasn't worth the extra 50 km of cycling. As a result, it didn't make sense to push the extra 20 km today so that we would take the nearest campsite. Just when we got on our bikes, a car stopped. There were four French people inside. They asked for directions to the nearest butcher. After ten seconds someone in the rear noticed our panniers and realized we would have no clue. We carried so little gear that on multiple occasions people didn't realize we were on a cycling vacation. Of course, the campsite in Feurs was already closed when we arrived.
Distance cycled : 134.78 km