Redortière to Angouleme - Livin' the Dream: France to Portugal 2021 - CycleBlaze

September 10, 2021

Redortière to Angouleme

Today we played hide'n seek with the weather.  I'm not sure who won.

With cell phones and weather apps our generation has developed this belief that a highly accurate weather forecast is available anytime, anywhere.  But in this part of rural France, perhaps it is the landforms or the wind patterns, or something else, the forecast is often wrong.   For most of tour so far this has been a good thing.  Many days the forecast is something like "60% chance of showers starting at 12pm" and we have our rain gear ready at the top of a pannier, but then its still sunny at 1 and we look again and its changed to 20% at 7pm, and then it never rains at all!  

After two days of intermittent rain while we had holed up at the Chateau, we planned our departure based on the forecast of rain in the morning, clearing by noon.  However, we woke Friday morning to patches of blue sky and checked the update - now the opposite, clear in the morning and rain in the afternoon.  The leisurely breakfast and morning I had imagined was abandoned, we packed our bags quickly, ate as fast as madame served the coffee and croissants and were on the road by 10am.  The air was still heavy with moisture and there were patches of mist among the fields and forests as we cycled through the quiet countryside.  The farms and villages are so well preserved, or restored, or generally un-modern, that if one ignores the cars, it could almost be 100 years ago with people driving horse-drawn carriages, or donkeys.  The sky was brightening, but we saw lots of cows in the fields and most were lying down -which my mother always says is a sure sign of rain.  

Energized from our rest day, we made good time up and down the steep hills and valleys as we approached our planned destination, Les Gorges de Chambon.  It was supposed to start raining but the sky was blue with puffy white clouds.  Check the weather: update was now for clear skies until 4pm.  Now there was no rush to set up the tent before the rain, so it seemed too early to stop.  We decided to continue riding in the fine weather and find a campground closer to Angouleme.  

It was positively sunny when we searched out a shady picnic table for lunch at Montbron and as we were engaged in one of favourite conversations -should we stay in this place for a month or a year on a home exchange sometime in the future; I opted for a month, Ann thought not at all- we noticed ominous black clouds.  Ann checks the forecast again and it now says rain in an hour, but clear in Angouleme.  We start pedalling hard, but 10 minutes out of town we are caught in a downpour that barely gives us time to shelter under a tree.  What happened to the rain in an hour?  The rain lets up and we resume our ride, slightly wet, looking ahead to clearing skies over Angouleme.  

At Marthon, the EuroVelo picks up a local "piste verte", or rail trail, and we float along the relatively flat, paved trail.  Although somewhat dull, we appreciate the serenity of a rail trail and are lost in our thoughts with no cars to worry about.  Then another squall hits, we are caught in the open and get soaked before we get to a tree that provides a pretence of shelter.  Clear sky ahead and the latest forecast says no rain until 7 pm.  But we are getting wise, so as the sky blackens on the outskirts of town we spy a bus shelter and take cover just before the next deluge.  As the rain poured down, we shared the space and cycling stories with a couple about our age from Holland on a two week tour of southern France.  Although we planned to camp, they convinced us to go in and see the town of Angouleme for its street art and great food.  The forecast was for a rainy evening, but the sun had come out, and we dried out and decided to head into town and find a hotel. 

Defence was a priority in choosing a town site in the Middle Ages, so the old centre of Angouleme was built atop a steep hill with formidable ramparts.  At the end of what turned out to be one of our toughest cycling days yet (76km and 758m ascent)  we somehow found the energy to climb a final hill just in time to get one of the last hotel rooms available.  Changed  into our street clothes, we walked through the lanes filled with people out for a Friday night and ate an outdoor dinner at an artsy patio, watching the stars come out and glad the weather forecast was wrong again.

Chateau breakfast.
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Montbron in the distance.
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City hall in Montbron with dark clouds approaching.
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Artworks to contemplate over dinner.
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Today's ride: 76 km (47 miles)
Total: 478 km (297 miles)

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Kathy GrebencYou guys are doing great! What an adventure for sure. Interesting stories and pictures. I am amazed at the load you are carrying each day. Have a great day, and may great weather be with you!
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1 month ago