The day started off idyllically. This is the view from our bedroom window at Chateau Matel. The view is towards the Loire River which borders the Chateau property.
We were staying on the third floor. The Chateau is like a maze, with multiple stair cases (some with barriers saying not to enter). Then near our room was an ascending staircase to the top floor and a curtain half way up. No security cameras were obvious here, so I could not help myself….up I went and peeped behind the curtain. It appears that the chateau is not fully renovated.
Breakfast was a very pleasant affair with the same French guys present as at dinner. They were happy and chatty and curious about our ride today.
Bidding all au revoir, off we headed, knowing today was tough as we had previewed the climbs. There were four that were over 4 km long, with very steep sections (ie above 15% gradient).
Heading into the city of Roanne there was a bit of traffic as you would expect at the time of day. We arrived back at the Loire, having last seen it over a week ago as it discharged into the Bay of Biscay.
Here the river was much nicer and prettier.
The first 50 km today was far, far tougher than we had envisaged. We were mentally prepared for another tough day but we were not prepared for some things that had not showed up mapping.
There were four longer climbs today (4-5 km each) with a couple having an average of around 8%. That is tough going for 4-5 km, particularly with a loaded bike.
We found ourselves faced with climbs in excess of 20% pinches, and on narrow paths. That is a thumbs down from me. I know my limits. I walked the steepest sections today (not easy to do pushing a bike).a few of the sections pulled Tony up too.
Worse still were a few of the descents. One we could not believe. It was over 20%, unsealed, rocky, cow pats and as I walked down it, lined with stinging nettle which swiped against my leg. Not happy.
It is these kind of challenges that define you. You do not go into a 3000 km unsupported odyssey like we have without expecting that there will be shite days. It is your reaction to such physical and mental challenges that builds character and strength and resilience in ways you did not necessarily know you were capable of.
If we wanted less challenges, we would do a supported tour, or use ebikes. The strength we gain as individuals knowing what we achieved in challenging conditions is what we talk about down the track.
So we climbed a lot, and the camera did come out.
The bonus was this sign. We laughed as we are pretty sure we did not get there by the conventional route.
After stopping at a supermache for some food supplies, we decided to ditch the route planned and take the road route to Villefranche sur Loire. Yes there were some climbs, but less severe gradients.
This turned out to to be a great decision as we knocked off the last few climbs and our confidence returned.
There was also an awesome 400 metre descent. I was riding my disc brakes very hard all the way. The elevation shows the descent from around 57 km to 70 km.
We were able to ride easier after that, despite a now present headwind. Our confidence was back and we pushed on to get to our destination Perouges, a medieval city.
Perouges is regarded as a perfect example of a city of the Middle Ages, existing from the 1200’s. Movies have been filmed here including the Three Musketeers.
Arriving at our accomodation ( walking again as the rocks were very difficult to ride on) I was despondent when told there were no food options in the village, and we would need to cycle or walk to the next one.
The look on my face….I questioned the pizza and galette places we had seen entering. Galettes were sweet only and about to close. Pizza though…oh yes, they are open.
So this was dinner. We were joined by one old dog looking for offerings, and four seemingly stray cats. Then the owner asked…did we want glacé? He had little tubs for 4 euro each.
After eating we wandered around the small village. Having walked through quite a number of old villages, this one is particularly interesting.
Our bikes are stored in this building behind the large door.
Guess who has their washing hanging up on the curtain rod in their bathroom? No shame, just a desire to wear cleanish and dried cycling gear each day.
We have climbed over 5000 metres and ridden over 400 km in three days, and each of those days have had reasonable challenges.
Tomorrow is another day and what adventures and challenges?
Until then, off to bed I go. Thankyou for reading, stay safe, smile on 😊