Flat-Out Across The Dordogne: Vayrac to Bergerac. - Lookin For John Fairweather - CycleBlaze

April 11, 2014

Flat-Out Across The Dordogne: Vayrac to Bergerac.

There's that man over there standing in the Intermarche car park, dressed up like a cowboy; complete with, white Stetson hat and cowboy boots. What is the meaning of it? There isn't any horse that I can see, so most probably he drives a big pickup truck.

Well, this morning that cowbell is still ringing somewhere out there, as I breakfast on this crunchy chocolate granola I bought yesterday; it is a nice change to muesli, especially since I mistakenly picked up cream instead of milk: a nice wake-me-up energy boost. It's hazy, so there isn't much point in waiting for the tent to dry. I push the bike away shortly before nine, leaving behind just a patch of flattened grass, and the clanging cowbell on the cow I haven't seen.

Its rush hour and the first five kilometres to Vayrac is a busy road. Then the D804 onwards is quiet and meandering with only locals passing. The countryside is vibrant green of Springtime and there's an elongated wooded hill ahead with exposed grey rocky crags below the tabular top. The hill is the backdrop to a scene which perhaps hasn't changed much since the nineteenth century, as I draw parallel and look across train-tracks at an old fashion railway station. The road then swings right, bridging the tracks, then right again through a narrow street of shuttered-window village houses. I see no cars, nor people, though everywhere is neat and tidy, so there must be unseen inhabitants about somewhere. The road further straightaway rears up the hill behind, zig-zagging up through the trees, pass what is a free-time house in a large garden with two friendly looking donkeys turning their heads to gaze as I pass.

I had just put the camera away, when a nice old, well maintained Citroen 2CV sped pass and leant heavily into the left fork. If captured, it would have made such an interesting photo.
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I reach Souillac around noon and lunch on the way into town on a slice of pizza sat on the deep windowsill of the boulangerie after purchasing. Then turn off the main thoroughfare and freewheel down a narrow street into the old town square where there is a street-market, with well-stocked stalls of cheeses and stalls of chorizo as well as fruits and vegetables. The clientele speak rudimentary French; indeed, at the café where I take a seat, the group at the table next me are German, and the couple at the table on the other side are English.

Entering a quintessential French village.
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Old: the railway viaduct: and new: the motorway.
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A neighbour's table: Delicious belgium beers are widely available on-tap in France.
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I spend an hour at the café catching up on diary writing, before the afternoon continues with a thirty kilometre ride following the river to Sartal De Canadon. I spot sheep on this stretch; its a change to cows. And at one point I ask myself, What's that in the field over there; it looks like a herd of goats. You can distinguish goats from sheep at a great distance by their long-legged purposeful stride.

At Sartal I'm faced with a dilemma, whether to continue northwest, eventually to Poitiers, or west to Bergerac. I chose the later, preferring to remain with the valley. But, on turning from the roundabout, pass a sign "Bergerac 74 KM". It is now gone three and I'll have to ride extremely hard in order to make it, a fact not helped by the first few kilometres being a tough uphill. Its one of those hills that you hope that the next bend will reveal the road levelling out, only to see on turning the bend, the road continuing its upwards slope to a next bend, and so on it goes.

On crossing that final hoped for crest, the road sweeps back to the valley and for the remainder of the day follows the Dordorgue river where I'm unhindered in keeping a rapid tempo; though, the final ten kilometres through a string of villages into Bergerac has a patchy broken surface; in which, my front wheel jars into canyon like potholes, knocking all the fight out of me.

A chateau on the Dordorgue river.
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This one is well-known as there were lots of visitors.
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The hotel across from the railway station looks pricy. Then there's a street of modern glass fronted hotels in the centre. Looks like the type of Hotels which are the venue for conferances. Prices are displayed on the window: 65 euros for a single. I find in the old town, a row of centuries old half timber houses. One with flower pots and an old freshly painted bike outside for decoration, has a "Bed & Breakfast" sign. I knock, but there's no reply. Then see that the next house along is a guesthouse too, so I move along and ring the bell, but there's no reply; though there is a notice in English saying, "inquires in Rue Notre Dame 25. The yellow gate." Just as I push my bike away, the door opens at the first house I tried and out pops a lady and begins to take in the flower-pots and bicycle and close the shutters. I rush over and ask, she replies with an English accent that the house is full, but next door most likely will have a free room; then goes on to give me directions, telling me to ask for Horward.

Horward's house next door is empty except for one other guest who is out. Seems strange when the woman next door told me her house is full, as if she doesn't want a sweaty cyclist. I rinse out my sweat soaked clothes and by the time I'm organise and go out to find a place to eat, it is nine-thirty, the restaurants are closing, but then I find a pizza place. The room by the way is seventy euros, making this the most expensive day yet. The pizza place is another fourteen as I have a glass of Ruby Belgium beer. Its a little sweet and syrupy. Then I have a blond beer.

My room in Bergerac.
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Today's ride: 133 km (83 miles)
Total: 14,026 km (8,710 miles)

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