Day 6. “Spoke” too soon. (Friday 3rd October)

Today Total
Distance 91 miles 431 miles (694km)
Height gain 549 metres 5115 metres (16781ft)
Calories 3000 16300

While heading though Paris yesterday I happened upon a bike shop to find a couple of spokes. I discovered this morning that while cycling around Paris another one had also snapped. Happily the shop found one with the right length but unfortunately not girth, a common problem it appears when comparing the larger Imperial measurements compared to our fellow Europeans. It looked pretty unlikely that I’d find the right size so I took some of the thinner size and then went to a hardware shop to get some PTFE plumbers tape. If I wrapped this around the screw thread it may just give enough grip to hold. Both seem to have held for the whole day so far, so fingers crossed.

Before setting off I programmed the destination into my GPS and got the following image! I now believe Garmin are taking the piss out of cyclists as not only does this route double the distance, it’s also clearly a massive cock! I’d laugh if it wasn’t so frustrating trying to figure out a non phallic based route across France.

Checking the more useful google maps which provides terrain info for France, it looked like todays cycle would be quite flat so I decided to make it one of my longest distance days. The headwind was still very frustrating but just about bearable and I made slow but steady progress. I tried to avoid the main roads until I got a bit further out of Paris and by doing so the route today took me past some pretty little villages including Janville-sur-Juine were there was a pretty little chateaux.

Further on I came across numerous French Military cemeteries with thousands of those who died trying to prevent the Germans from taking Paris back in 1940. Then in the late afternoon as I entered Orleans there were a number of high speed bumps which jolted a bit but luckily my spokes held out, however, after taking in the sights I headed out of town then crunch…

A loop holding one of my panniers to the frame tore out of its socket which made it twist into my spokes. I managed to hold the pannier in position against the frame with a spare strap I’d been carrying but this was clearly not good enough as eventually it would come loose. But luckily I cycled past a large out of town supermarket which seemed to stock everything including DIY stuff and I managed to find a bright orange tension strap and bound the pannier firmly to the frame. I’ll have to have a go at fixing the loop properly later, but at the moment this will hold it.

As it had taken a couple of hours to sort out the pannier, I was nowhere near where I’d planned to be tonight which meant cycling on the narrow but busy roads at night. As rules dictate in France I put on a fluorescent bib and cycled on through a very swampy, cold damp area which went on for about 30 to 40 miles.

The air was cold and damp and progress wasn’t helped by my GPS insisting that the only route there was, was through a military site! A little later after finding a way past the site and through the little town of La-Ferte-Saint-Aubin I was cycling down a very dark road with dense woods on either side when I heard a sudden grunting and snorting coming towards me. To my right I could see the bushes shaking as some kind of creature was trying to find a way through. As I cycled along, the progression of shaking bushes seemed to keep up with me, a slight feeling of panic came over me as I cycled harder to out-speed whatever was chasing me. As the shaking stopped I turned in shock to see the silhouette of a charging wild boar, luckily for me the road was flat so I could keep the pace up and I think it was just bravado on behalf of the boar. Animals do tend to chase animals that are already running but think twice when the animal is stationary. But this shook me a little so when I found the next village, Chaumont-sur-Tharonne, I stopped and looked for somewhere to sleep. Sadly nowhere was open but there was a nice looking park bench next to a cemetery. I figured I’d be safe from wild boar as being a cemetery there was no food or cover around but not quite the lovely hotel room I’d planned so I cracked open my sleeping back and carry mat laid down and slept!

For more detail on route click HERE.

(© google maps)