Agreeable encounters - A country hidden by a large dog - CycleBlaze

August 3, 2019

Agreeable encounters

Valence to St-Albin-du-Rhône

Your correspondent records his memories of the day
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Karen CookNice Chair
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2 years ago

NICE old boy. That's the best way to describe the smiling man in the pink jersey of Giro leader. He was maybe mid-70s, lean but not thin. Shaved legs showed he was still serious about cycling, and his fluid style and even more that of his sun-tanned wife showed a lot of hours in the saddle.

In fact they'd just spent a weekend cycling in the Alps, which our Giro leader confessed with a smile had been "rather too hard."

The pair of them passed us in Valence as we puzzled about how to get back to the Via Rhôna. They looked the part but they knew they no longer had anything to prove. I'd have suggested a coffee and a croissant and  I felt sure they'd have agreed, because they saw cycling for its pleasures and not its pain, but our day had only just begun.

As it is, they rode a trifle faster than us but always within sight for the next half an hour. It was just another of those happy encounters on the road and I know that we'd pick up the same conversation if ever our paths crossed again.

As it happens, there was another meeting in the middle of the day. Steph had spotted a tap in the sadly dead town of St-Vallies. We were filling our bottles when two tandems arrived to an exclamation of delight. Water had also been their objective.

Attached to one tandem was a trailer and to the other a small bike.

"I'm six years old," the larger child said. "And I'm three and a half," said the other, making it clear that the extra half wasn't to be neglected.

"At this age," said the mother - we never did get their names - "it's fine for the two older children but the baby gets bored in the trailer."

"And you pedal?", Steph asked the older child.

"Yes."

"And so do I," insisted the younger one.

"She turns the pedals," the father corrected with a smile.

"And you like it?", Steph asked.

"Yes!", they both said together.

"It's better at the beach, though, isn't it?" I teased, anxious to start tears.

The father laughed. "Last year we rode the path beside the Atlantic and then it was beach every day."

Together, they were riding from Valence to Chambéry, in the Alps, home to one set of grandparents. The family itself lived in the Paris region.

One nice comment: "As often as we can, we camp wild. It gives the children a sense of adventure."

Other than that, nothing much happened today. It doesn't need to, does it? We rode happily and gently all day, in and out of trees, waving to cyclists coming the other way, and our day was complete.

The Rhône is a commercial waterway, with impressively long barges
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Tonight we are camping on the edge of an unmade road that runs at a soft angle from the main route. The last cyclists of the day are passing with a wave and an occasional giant barge makes its way along the river.

Tomorrow is Sunday, perfect for leaving the Via Rhôna and crossing Lyon, city of memorable traffic jams and the headquarters of Interpol.

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