Thursday, 7 April 2011

France - Henry


30th 39km

Very slack start. I let the rain dry off the tent. I use the morning to chill out, do some chores, and just enjoy being outside. The facial hair gets a serious bashing – I enjoy it so much I almost forget about the compulsory comedy facial hair. I discover a rash on my chin. It could have been there for months - stealthily lurking in my nutella encrusted face pubes!

Once on the road a headwind stunts my progress. I'm learning to recognise when I'm going up a hill. Sounds stupid I know – but the landscape often causes illusions that have you wondering why your slugging away in a low gear when your eyes are telling you your going downhill.

I take a gamble and pick a “short cut” that isn't on my poorly scaled map. It's a col that looks more challenging and interesting – and appears to be more direct.

At the tiny village of La Piarre a man comes out of his house to greet me. After a brief exchange I'm setting my tent up outside his house. He says “I saw you coming up the hill, it was like you were coming from another planet. Something told me to come out and talk to you”. I'm glad he did.

My new host, Henry that is, leaves me to set-up in peace. Once that is done he invites me inside to join him in demolishing a bottle of 50% proof white rum. I meet his girlfriend Sohpia and we all talk the night away. I learn about his work as a painter, his previous drug addictions and his plans for the future.

31st surprise restday 6km

Habit of the road sees me awake before sun up. The bonus of this is that I get to watch my first sunrise in the Alps. While packing up my things Henry says it's fine if I want to stay another day. I do.

I read and do exercises all morning. In the afternoon I ride a small local mountain pass on the unloaded bike – and get to really make the most of my returning fitness. I take a walk and see signs of Spring all around me. Budding trees and wild flowers by the roadside. Lizards dart away form my clumsy footfalls as I explore shadowy woods. Several hours vanish – I spend most of the time just staring at the mountain views all around me. I love the Alps.

In the evening we play guitars, eat stew and make a million and one future travel plans.

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