Rolling With The Colours: Passrac to Niort - Lookin For John Fairweather - CycleBlaze

April 13, 2014

Rolling With The Colours: Passrac to Niort

The time I wake-up at while camping is in sync with daybreak, presently around six-thirty; which is when, I hear a car pull in off the road and stop. I hear the car door open against the ticking-over chug of the engine and classical music oozing out, as there's a footfall crunch and a rustle of plastic by the recycling bins; then the door slams shut and the car drives off. There's peace again, listening to birdsong and a distant cu-coo cu-coo from a migrant bird that occupies other bird's nests from April onwards, and a haw haw of a local woodpigeon.

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There's no stopping me today. Its Sunday. The best day of the week for cycling a long distance and today I'm hoping to get as far north as possible. There's only one thing, there must be a supermarche en-route during the morning, as they are shut Sunday afternoon.

The hazy mist laying in hollows soon burns off the rolling verdant green cereal crops and rows of vines as I reach Barbezieux Saint Hilaire by ten, where there's a long queue of people stretching out into the street at the boulangerie. Further along the street I pass a stooped old man lurching homeward, his arms purposely trust behind his back with hands clutching a baguette.

I have already bread and the remainder of the gouda cheese left from yesterday. At the big Intermarche on the way out of town I stock-up on a two litre bottle of carbonated water, a can of Kroneberg, crisps, a carton of Cote Du Rhone and some vegetables for lunch and evening.

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I reach Cognac at twelve-thirty and lunch sat on a bench in what is the main square, though almost deserted except for two teenage boys on skateboards, rattling over the flagstones by the monument in the middle. But once I finish and ride on, I come to a smaller square with a green and cafes with tables of diners along two sides; at one, I take a seat and when the waiter comes over, order a Café Crème, then unfold the map. There's one clear direct route north. A yellow D road to Saint Hilaire de Villefrance, then a long straight red road, D150.

Although red, D150 isn't too bad to cycle on. Whether it is Sunday or what, the traffic is only a trickle along straight tree lined avenue, rolling up and down over regular undulations, pass fields of verdant green wheat and bright yellow rapeseed.

By the time I reach Niort, it is after six and I've done what I consider enough for the day. Its a large town and I follow the "Toute Direction" signs around its circuferance and follow the road for Fontenay Le Comte. Its a busy road, but there's a cycle-path separated off by steel crash-barrier. It crosses a river with park embankment; which, would be a good place to camp if, it wasn't for its close proximity to housing. The path further becomes unpaved along a crop field, then joins a by-road which bridges the main-road. At the other side I come to an area of level wasteland to the side. There is a row of overgrown spoil where I can hid the tent from the road.

I am putting the tent up, when along come a man walking his dog. He smiles and then asks in English where I'm from. Later as the dog-walker returns, He stops and asks, "is there anything you need?" I reply, no, I've all I need, but thanks all the same.

I should reach COGNAC by lunchtime for a well earned aperitif.
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Self-sufficient kitchen garden; typically French.
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Early afternoon.
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The yellow stuff (Rapeseed).
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D150.
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Carrefour.
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A side road.
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The Light Side Of The Moon.
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Today's ride: 134 km (83 miles)
Total: 14,236 km (8,841 miles)

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