Softly away by morning's light: Seche-Boue - Riberac - North to the Loire, monsieur... and home again - CycleBlaze

August 12, 2013

Softly away by morning's light: Seche-Boue - Riberac

We slip away by morning's light, having touched the world but lightly
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OH HOW dogs can bark. They were two kilometres away, perhaps further, but sound travels better at night - and they barked all night, set off by distant fireworks and never relenting afterwards.

Dogs lack conversation, I accept. When a distant dog barks, other dogs can do nothing but bark back. I wonder sometimes why evolution hasn't caught up with them, why one day a dog hasn't paused and considered whether he could make any other sound.

But then cows are content to moo and I suppose dogs see nothing odd in barking. And so they barked all night.

The meadow was good, though. Soft, luxurious grass and clover and, other than the dogs, blissful. We wriggled out of our bags at a decent time, went through our routine - Steph inside to clear the tent, me outside to make coffee and breakfast - and we slipped away in low sunlight to ride back to the road.

I've lost count of how many times I've camped wild like that but I get that same thrill every time. We have passed unknown in the night, leaving no more clue than a little squashed grass. We have touched the world but lightly and then moved on.

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Riding north, to Nantes, we had an idea where we needed to be each night. We wanted to be there for the start of the Semaine Fédérale. But, riding south, we were free to be where we chose. So we'd trace a blue line to keep us on the right bearing. But where on that line we'd stop would depend on the weather, the terrain and, if I'm honest, whether we could be arsed to go any further.

Pleasant, hilly countryside that passed commendably quickly
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And so, after lunch outside a hilltop restaurant, we completed 110 hilly, pleasant but unremarkable kilometres and freewheeled through the traffic at the end of a long, long road and turned into the first campground at Riberac.

Sean and Giselle were already there. They were riding the other way, their first big touring adventure, I think, not sure whether they'd get as far as Paris but prepared to give it a go. They did have to get somewhere, though, because eventually they had to be back at work in Nottingham.

We sank beers in a bar further into town, chatting of things that make cyclists chat, probably loudly because the patron wished us "Goodbye" in English when we thought we ought to get on with Life.

Tomorrow, we think, will be our last day. The last two hundred kilometres back home are on well-trodden roads. And, if I'm honest, we're looking forward to being home again. So, we'll see what we see, as the wild old owl used to say.

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