France - Day 19 : Putting in some more kilometers
In the morning it was hard to get out of our tents. Everything was wet and it was still raining. Staying inside wasn't nice either. I put on as many clothes as possible. While folding my tent I noticed about a liter of water inside. When we nearly finished packing we heard someone hammering close by. We drove off as silently as possible. The path we had come from took us toward the man. It turned out to be an old guy working on a fence 10 meters from our tents. The muddy trail towards the village made our bikes horribly dirty.
In Toul, we would surely find some food. Before we even entered we had already found an Intermarche. We hadn't had a real meal since yesterday morning. Bram got all sorts of stuff: two raisin buns, sixteen chocolate buns, two baguettes, garlic butter, and as ultimate cyclin-in-France food: a jar of jam weighing 1,2 kilos. Most of which was finished quickly. Still, we were a bit behind schedule because we had to pack our gear quietly and clean everything much more thoroughly than usual.
We had four days left to get home. We figured that if we pushed it, we could make it in two. Of course, we could not let that happen. We also wanted to boost our average daily distance further. We considered taking a detour via Diekirch, in Luxembourg. In a couple of weeks, we would be cycling a race starting there, so this would be an excellent chance to check out the terrain.
Later that day the weather got better. It stopped raining, and sometimes the sun came through. After Toul, we cycled over big roads but there again were no villages to buy food. We did make good progress although there was a strong headwind. At lunchtime we only had a piece of baguette left. Not until Fresnes-en-Woevre could we buy more. That wasn't a big deal, because we had eaten well before and still got candy, chocolate, and drinks left. We sat down on a bench, in the middle of the village. It was nearly identical to every other village we passed that day. It was grey, there was a post office and town hall, and nobody was around.
Many people were sitting in their gardens, some of whom waived. The last part of today's route went through Belgium. Our campsite would be in Tintigny where we would likely arrive late. The map of Belgium we carried was made on a larger scale, making it harder to navigate and take longer. It wouldn't be far until Diekirch, however. Along the way we needed to dump a load of plums. Of course we didn't carry toilet paper. According to Bram, the moss that grows near trees was much better. I didn't want to end up with plums in my pants so that was the best alternative.
In the last 10 km we entered the hilly Ardennes. As it was dark by the time we turned our lights on. After another hour we finally found the desired village. There seemed to be no sign indicating a campsite. That was the first time in the entire trip and I didn't want to cycle much longer. In a real Belgium bar I asked for directions in my best French, the people I asked turned out to be English. Someone else explained we needed to turn right and follow the signs, when the waitress pulled in a Belgium guy who spoke Dutch. He was also given a piece of paper to draw the route. The French guy was drawing the map, while the Belgium one repeated three times that we needed to turn right and follow the signs. There was another campsite down that road as well. After 10 minutes I was allowed to leave again. If we would take a wrong turn after all this... Fortunately that didn't happen.
We ended up on a 3-star campsite. The bar was still open and the staff told us to just pitch our tent somewhere and pay in the morning. There were only Dutch people and after pitching and drying our tents we took a shower. It were nice showers in which our clothes stayed dry. The toilets even had hooks to hang our jackets, a rare luxury. Their only disadvantage was that you could only shower for 5 minutes, after that you needed to freeze for 5 minutes before being allowed to continue. I tried to dry my sleeping bag in the bathroom.
The night was dry and quiet, the enormous jar of jam still wasn't finished.
Today we only had big roads. There wasn't much interesting to see from Toul to Longuyon .
Daily distance 156,14 km