France - Day 2 : Today is going to be flat
We slept well as it was quiet at night. It was pretty damp and cold out, though. Yesterday's route had gotten pretty hilly near the end, but today, we expect it to be flat after the first few kilometers. There still was no desk or owner to be found, so we just left the campsite. It was still early, around 8:30.
In Rochefort, it took some searching to find the main road. The first 10 km were all uphill. At least that allowed us to get warm. Eventually, we took off our jackets and zipped off our pants' legs. The roads were small and nice to cycle 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 were police officers. This was the first detour of the trip, but as workers were cutting down trees, it was probably for the better. A while later, we saw a side road and stopped for lunch. The following descent towards Bouillon was pretty steep and long. Bouillon itself was very touristy and lay in a river valley. We had to find a small route leading us across the French border.
We quickly found the road, but it went up at a 15% incline. Halfway up, 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; he looked confused that we were pumping something from 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 a forest along the French border. The hills remained but became lower, and the road was relatively level as we followed a river for 50 kilometers. We bought some food and drinks, including a bottle of Oasis, a sort of lemonade. From then on, we drank a 2-liter bottle nearly every day. There were nine flavors, of which we tried 6. We ate ravioli on a bench and rested. It got a bit burned, but at least our camping stove worked.
We had planned to end up in Dun-Sur-Meuse tonight, but we had already arrived there before dinner. From there, we had to climb another 20 kilometers 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. 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, and on our right was a train track. We cycled for over an hour to arrive at a campsite in Villers-sur-Meuse. The campsite was on a farm, and they sold local farm products. We bought a jar of plum compote to put on our bread. It was made traditionally, with a layer of candle wax to seal it and a flannel cloth on top.
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 roughly the same, depending on whether we were closer to the Netherlands or 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 ten days"
"And then you will take the train back?"
"No, we will cycle."
The campsite also had good showers. I even washed some clothes, which was necessary.
Near Dun-sur-Muese, we deviated from the planned route. The plan was to cross the river onto a less busy road. Instead, we stayed on the same road because it wasn't crowded, and cycling went smoothly.
Daily distance 170.63 km
Average speed 20.3 km/h
Maximum speed 63.5 km/h