Early morning pretentiousness as I’m about to set off…
My longest day does not start well. According to the on-board computer I have less than 40 miles left in the tank. I should have filled up yesterday but wasn’t thinking straight. Now I’m 30 miles into the ride and the only petrol station I’ve seen is on the other side of a dual carriageway.
In the end fear gets the better of me and I get off at the next junction and go back to the fuel station to find only 17 litres are needed meaning 5 litres (at least 50 miles) were left in the tank. I decide the on-board computer is best considered “advisory”.
Having taken an unintended detour I decide to forget my original route and make for Fontainebleau via Meaux. Not my best move as I seem to hit a never ending series of road works and diversions which all result in being caught in slow moving lines of tractors and HGVs with no opportunity to overtake.
It’s also getting very hot and the vastly expensive Triumph Navigator suit, with more more ventilation panels than you can shake an aircon unit at, has seamlessly transformed into a mobile sauna.
Fountainebleau comes and goes but the Garmin is still trying to take me back to my planned route. I’d later work out why but I’m too hot and tired to sort it out and I head for the motorway.
I must have done bad things in a past life as my ability to find road works and diversions has reached spectacular proportions and I spend the next 50 miles behind a caravan of caravans and even when I reach what I expected to be a motorway I find only one lane open and the caravan continues.
Finally I’m free. The A75 gives me a chance to get some air flowing through the suit but I appear to be following an invisible hairdryer. A special feature available only to motorcyclists I believe.
A brief respite at a fuel stop and I meet a woman on a 900 Diversion with a small dog in her tank bag. He goes everywhere with her apparently. Pretty cool (although I don’t imagine the dog is in his fur coat)
Approaching Le Puy I am nearing breaking point. The most comfortable motorcycle seat in the world has been an instrument of torture for the last 4 hours, my body feels like I’ve been hit by a bus, the thermometer on the bike is reading 100, and the bottle of water I’ve got is nearly hot enough to make tea with. I’ve stopped several times to take a drink from it. I know logically it’s rehydrating me but warm water does nothing to refresh a tired mind.
At last! A sign telling me Le Puy is 5km and the roundabout ahead has an exit for Le Puy. Yay! Oh, fuck me, they’re ‘aving a fucking larf ain’t they? The fucking road is closed and there’s another fucking diversion. I want to cry.
I hate France, I hate this road, I hate this bike, I hate caravans, I hate roadworks but most of all I hate myself for setting this stupid route and having stupid ideas of following some long forgotten book.
My wife says I over-dramatise. I think she over-exaggerates. Then again, can you over-exaggerate? If I say I have 10 grand in the bank it’s an exaggeration and if I said 20 grand that would also be an exaggeration, or would that be an over-exaggeration? These internal dialogues can get quite heated and sometimes I have to stop talking to myself until I apologise.
My thoughts of simply stopping the bike and collapsing in a sobbing, argumentative heap are brought to an abrupt halt as I suddenly realise that, somehow, I’m outside the Hotel Bilboquet. The Zumo reckons 11 hours to arrival at destination. “Shows how much you know” I silently sneer.
Plus point for the hotel, it has a closed garage so I only have to take one pannier off.
Minus point for the hotel, I’m on the second floor, it’s stinking hot, I’m dressed in my sauna suit and I still have a pannier, tank bag, helmet, gloves and a bottle of warm water to carry up the stairs.
A quick shower and I’m off into town in search of cold beer. A pharmacy sign is flashing 37 degrees.
Eric says a lot about Le Puy but my plans for a spot of his recommended sight seeing are abandoned as firstly I’ve arrived much later than I thought and secondly I’m just too tired. This comparison business is not working too well is it? Sorry Eric.
The first cold beer after a long day in the saddle has the curious effect of both relaxing and invigorating me so I have another just to check. Yep, invigorated and relaxed. So, invigorated and relaxed I head back to the hotel for, what turns out to be, an excellent dinner and I offer a silent apology to Le Puy for missing its remarkable history and a promise to come back one day.
Some pics I bagged getting back to the hotel.