Friday, 22 March 2013

Tandem tour 2

Wow, ok. Day 3. It got off to a terrific start. Our lovely chambre d'hote hosts filled us up with a fantastic breakfast and off we rode, bathed in the morning sunshine. It was simply gorgeous. Beautiful terrain, nice trails.

The beach at Les Sables d'Olonne

The beach at Bretignolles

Vendee coastline

It was so nice that after an hour or two Sonja piped up, "This is the best day's Velodysseying yet!". Now, I consider myself to be a rational man. A man of science. But whenever somebody says something like that, well before the issue has been decided, my skin just crawls. I didn't say anything, I just hoped the curse wouldn't decend.

It all held together for about the next three hours. Then, IT struck. Around a bend on a forest trail, a patch of mud. We went down hard. My thigh somehow connected with the brake lever on the dismount, bending the lever in a rather surprising way and leaving a small contusion and a gratifyingly spectacular bruise on my thigh. Amazingly, nothing was broken on body or bike. The curse-bringer was unscathed. A plaster was applied to the thigh, two aspirin swallowed and we rode on.

The injury, one day later
It started to rain. Heavily. Then, a bit of good luck. We found an open cycle shop and picked up a couple of things we needed. Heartened, we rode on, branching off the cycle route to cut out a big detour. After another hour of rain cycling, we started hunting for a room for the night. We entered a pretty village and rode around a bit, looking, before asking in the boulangerie and then at the Mairie, which does duty as tourist information when there isn't one. Armed with suitably dodgy directions, as it turned out, we bravely pedalled off. It was still raining.

Long story short, we rode around for two hours, finding either no chambres or ones closed for refurbishment or due to some family catastrophe. The rain was finally easing off, but we had only about another half hour before dark and we were in the middle of nowhere. A wrong turn down a country road, a desperate appeal to a woman standing outside her house. The setting sun broke out under the rain clouds and (I'm not making this up) painted a last minute rainbow across the sky.

The wonderful woman we'd spoken to grabbed her mother's bike and took us to a nearby chambre d'hote. It was closed for refurbishment. Undeterred, she told us that she has a holiday house in the village that's normally let by the week, for 15 people. If we didn't mind the fact that the heating is off, we could stay there. Immediate acceptance, effusive thanks. Yes, it is cold, but it's also beautiful and feels like paradise to us. We just need to drop the key off in the morning. Hey, adventuring is all about taking the rough with the smooth.

Aux Quatre Saisons, St Gervais, sleeps 15 and ours for the night

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