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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 much clothes as possible. While folding my tent I noticed there was 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 towards 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 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 kilo. Most of which was finished quickly. Still we were a bit behind schedule because after camping in the dirt we had to pack our stuff really quietly and had to dry and clean everything much more thoroughly.

 

We had 4 days left to get home. We figured that if we would push it we might be able to make it in two. Of course that could not be allowed to happen. We also wanted to further boost our average daily distance. 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 a good 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 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 past that day. It was grey, there was a post office and town hall, and there was nobody around.

There were a lot of people 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 in a larger scale, which made it harder to navigate and everything take longer. It wouldn't be far until Diekirch though. Along the way we needed to dump a load of plums. Of course we didn't cary 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.
 

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 direction 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.

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Today we only had big roads. There wasn't much interesting to see from Toul to Longuyon .

Daily distance 156,14 km