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Day 17 : A few downpours
In the morning it was dry. We went to the post office to get money and a receipt. It turned out you could only do that if you had a bank account there. That was useless. The lady told us about the ATM 15 kilometers away, 'that would only be 15 minutes'. Yes, one way with a car, it would take 1,5 hours to cycle there through the hills and back. We still didn't have money to buy food. We had 2 euros left, enough to buy two baguettes. Before we left the village we sat down against a wall to eat. Suddenly someone came out of the adjacent house. She looked confused, I think we were sitting in her garden. We just pretended we didn't know. Later someone else opened a window and looked down at us.
The first bit of cycling went well; we started with a descent followed by a steep climb. The clouds became increasingly dark. During the descent it started to rain. We could hardly see and got completely drenched, it was freezing, and there were stones all over the road that had fallen off the mountain. This was for sure the worst descent of the entire vacation. Then followed yet another climb and descent. It was dry for a while though. Because we were still wet the descent was again cold. In St. Jean du Gard we wanted to get some food. Bram often went on vacation to a nearby village, so he immediately knew where to find everything. More than half the people in the town were Dutch. There was a line in front of the ATM because it was covered and thus sheltered from the rain.
We were completely drenched and the store was nicely cooled, which made us feel even colder. Every time we needed to pass the dairy section we took a detour so as not to freeze. They sold rotisserie chicken! After warming ourselves on the machine we actually bought one. Outside it was a lot warmer than in the store. First we sat on a bench, but when it started to rain again we moved underneath a tree, across from the ATM. The people there looked confused because we were sitting outside eating an entire chicken in the rain. When it started to rain even harder we moved back underneath the overhang.
After another côte the road became level again. We were in the valley of the Rôhne and sat down under a tree in a park. There were a lot of French people playing jeu des boules. Just when we were about to leave it started to rain like crazy for the third time today. Bram had come up with a theory during the past week. The worse we felt out here the better the news from home would be. With all the rain he had already received three text messages from 'someone'. He said, 'my theory is still standing'. I said 'yes, I am sure that's not all'.
It still was 30 kilometers to the campsite. The sky looked nice, we could see exactly where the front of the clouds and rain was. We made good progress. At the campsite were signs directing us to the front desk. We followed them towards a sign saying 'do not enter'. That seemed odd, but the arrow was clearly pointing in that direction. When we cycled on someone started shouting at us. A man with long curly hair gave some primordial cry. We thought he was weird. He probably meant we were going in the wrong direction. A while later we found the desk. We parked our bikes against a wall and noticed two other cycling-vacation-people on a nearby field. I heard one of them say, 'hey, 100 cols tour'. I thought, how does he know? He had recognized my jacked, even though only a tiny part was visible. They asked if we had already earned it. No, we were still cycling it.
We finally made it to the front desk and learned that the strange guy with the long white hair was the owner. The campsite was expensive, 19 euros. All official spots were taken but the guy found a place for us. I told him it was fine, but it turned out to be pretty bad. There was no level ground anywhere and it took over 15 minutes before we found the best spots for our tent and bivy bag. There also were a lot of red bugs. The following day we would find a bunch squashed underneath Bram's bivy bag.
On our way to the showers we again passed the cyclists. They were cycling the 100 cols tour as well. It was a retired couple and we recognized their accent. They came from the Dutch town of Beek and Donk and planned to finish the entire tour in 12 weeks, starting in the Netherlands. We talked about where the directions had been unclear, what the toughest mountains were, and how they had also left from a camping municipal without paying. Then another lady showed up, who heard we were talking about cycling vacations. She was cycling the 'green road' from the FIS, south to north. She had lived in the Andes and cycled there.
We explained how we wanted to cycle 90 km and then climb the Mont Ventoux tomorrow. We didn't really have a choice if we wanted to get to the train station in time. The other two 100 cols cyclists didn't think we could make that. They asked what time we planned to get up. They had set their alarm for 5:30 and planned to cycle to Bedoin, the village at the foot of the Ventoux. When we replied that we wanted to leave before 11 they were shocked. They told us that the summit of the Ventoux closed at 20:30, so we needed to rush. If we couldn't make it in time to get a stamp we would have to camp at the top. That didn't seem like a bad idea to us, but we were pretty confident we would be able to make it. The two cyclists had climbed the Tourmalet with an average speed of 4 km/h, so it would take them about 5 hours to climb the Ventoux. If we pushed it we should easily be able to do it within three hours. That meant that if we had cycled 90 km and eaten by five o'clock, we would still reach the summit before 20:00.
Distance cycled : 117 km.
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