To home in dawn's darkness - A country hidden by a large dog - CycleBlaze

August 28, 2019

To home in dawn's darkness

Montauban to home

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THE train from Paris reaches Montauban before dawn. It gets shorter as it advances because parts are detached at each stop and sent their own way, as far as the Spanish border. It saves running night trains to everywhere.

There was no chance of breakfast when we arrived. We knew that and we didn't bother looking. Instead we sat on a bench opposite the station and boiled water and spread jam on bread. It was dark.

Nobody cared.

A canal passes Montauban to reach the main link between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Familiarity brings contempt and we've ridden this way so often that we come close to disliking it for its never-changing dullness. But it remains the least worst way.

It did bring back memories, though. When I was young, I used to get up well before dawn and ride across London or out into the countryside. I liked that life's rules were suspended when only early-risers were around and that strangers smiled and nodded and there was a bonhomie that melted when the rest of the world woke up.

Later I took to riding right through the night, stopping at the all-night lorry cafés that existed then, perhaps getting to the sea to doze on the beach and then ride to a youth hostel.

That all came back as we followed my front light away from the rising sun, again with that false illusion of speed you get in darkness when you have no normal horizon to give you perspective.

We rode to just short of Valence d'Agen and then turned off for the last 20km and the last two hills before home.

It's been a lovely ride on beautiful, peaceful paths, through areas we didn't know. And that was the point, not to break records or break thighs on mountain climbs. We slept in fields for their peace and isolation and, then again, we opted for hotels when they were needed.

We now live amid a kit explosion. Panniers have been emptied but their contents not yet distributed. Sleeping bags are airing on outdoor chairs. And our tent is hanging over a clothes line to make sure it's dry when it's packed.

When it's packed... ready for the next time.

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Comment on this entry Comment 8
Keith KleinHi Leo,
Thanks for a lovely journey. I’ve managed to learn a few things from you journal, and that of course is a Good a Thing, especially when I knew in advance that I would be entertained. I learned that ten days should see one safely from Burgundy to Luxembourg, and since that is a journey I want to make one day soon it is a valuable bit of info. I learned that the Moselle Velo route is open, but sometimes difficult to follow. And I learned the real reason you don’t like vineyards, namely that you don’t like wine. Odd for a Frenchman, but we are all entitled to our preferences, aren’t we? Makes me wonder if some of the gluten avoiders dislike wheat fields. Peu importe. I will be waiting for your next voyage, impatiently I suppose, but don’t do it just for me or any other admiring fan, do it for the joys that come when you’ve cheated the onset of senility yet one more time.
Gros bises à Steph.
Cheers,
Keith
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2 years ago
Leo WoodlandTo Keith KleinSo glad you liked it. We rode a little more than 1.700km in the end, much of it with an admirable lack of stress
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2 years ago
Scott AndersonThanks so much for taking us along with you once more, Leo. Rest up, ride again. We’ll be waiting.
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2 years ago
Leo WoodlandTo Scott AndersonThanks, Scott. I think maybe ten days somewhere locally next month and then maybe Cambodia in the winter and the Great Divide in the summer. How about you?

happy days
léo
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2 years ago
Scott AndersonThe Great Divide! I’ll look forward to that. We leave for Santiago n3xt week for three months in Spain and Portugal; then back stateside for two months in the southwest before returning home.

Cheers, thanks again.
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2 years ago
Mike AylingThanks for another great journal Leo.

Mike
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2 years ago
David NeaveLeo,

Thanks for a vicarious journey during this lockdown. It was wonderful.

David
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1 year ago
Leo WoodlandThanks, David. Thanks for joining me on the trip.

happy days

léo
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1 year ago