France - Day 2 : Today is going to be flat
Yesterday it had gotten pretty hilly near the end. Today we thought it would be flat after the first few kilometers. We got up early and left before 8:30. It was pretty damp and cold. The night had been quiet, so we slept well. There still was no desk or owner to be found on the campsite, so we just left.
In Rochefort it took some searching to find the main road. The first 10 km were all uphill. At least we got warm quickly. Eventually we took off our jackets and zipped off our pants' legs. The roads we followed were small and nice to ride over. In Paliseul we visited a bakery. From there we could put away last year's maps (1:300 000) and use the new (1:200 000) ones. That made a big difference. There was a detour on the way to Bouillon. Normally we would just go ahead, because the cycling vacation stops for no one, but there was police. This was the first detour of the trip so we were not happy. Workers were cutting trees, so probably it was a good idea not to go avoid falling trees. We saw a side road and stopped for lunch. The descent towards Bouillon was pretty steep and long, it was the first real one of the vacation. Bouillon turned out a very touristy town in a river valley. We had to find a small route that would lead us across the French border.
We easily found it, but it went up at 15%. Halfway Bram got thirsty and wanted to filter some water, which was his excuse to take a break. I just wanted to climb up in one go. After another 20 meters I also felt like pumping some water. Just when we started a man walked by, who looked confused by us pumping something in a random stream. We didn't know if the water was coming from a sewer, but Bram said it tasted OK.
The road continued through the forest along the French border. The mountains remained but became lower and the road was relatively flat as we followed a river for 50 kilometers. In a store we bought some food and drinks. Also a bottle of Oasis, which is a sort of lemonade. From then on we drank a 2 liter bottle nearly each day. There are 9 flavors in total of which we tried 6. We ate ravioli on a bench and rested. It got a bit burned, but at least the stove worked well.
Back home we had planned to end up in Dun-Sur-Meuse tonight, but we already arrived there before dinner. From there we had to climb another 20 kilometer to keep the lead we had acquired yesterday, and then another 20 km to build a buffer in case we were slower in the mountains later on. From Verdun it was about 30 km to the campsite. It was a nice road through forests. On our left was a river with a small swamp around it, to the right a train track. We cycled for over an hour to arrive at on a farmers campsite in Villers-sur-Meuse. They also sold farm products. We bought a jar of plum compote to put on bread. It was made in a traditional manner, with a layer of candle wax to seal it and a flannel cloth around it.
There were also some Dutch people. A woman came up to us. She knew we were Dutch by Bram's military print bivy bag. She asked where we were from so I said Valkenswaard. She said 'oh I don't mind if you speak with a Limburg accent, I can understand that'. I said 'so do I, but Valkenswaard lies in the province of Brabant, not Limburg.' Then she asked how far we had cycled. All those conversations went the same, depending on where we were, closer to the Netherlands or to the Mediterranean sea.
'How far did you cycle today?"
"That's a lot, where are you going?"
"The south of France"
"Oh are you doing part by train then?"
"And how long will it take you to get there?"
"We think about 10 days"
"And then you will take the train back?"
"No, we will cycle"
The campsite also had good showers. I even washed some clothes in them, which was necessary.
Near Dun-sur-Muese we deviated from the planned route. The plan was to cross the river on to a less busy road. Instead we stayed on the same road because it wasn't that crowded and everything was going smooth.
Daily distance 170.63 km
Average speed 20.3 km/h
Maximum speed 63.5 km/h