I slept quite well despite some snoring from one of the Americans! Having eaten all of my sweets before bed-time, this made for some interesting dreams… One of the less weird but more enjoyable ones was of cycling through some great sunshine and I woke up excited to hit the warm road. However, when I looked outside I realised it was only a dream…
After taking our time to wake up, we wandered down to breakfast. Eric and Loren, who I met the previous evening, had spent nearly 3 weeks on their bikes between Zurich, Munich and Luxembourg and were just a couple of days from their final destination of Paris. However, I was now in a group; and multiple people is always slower than being alone. Eventually we went off our separate ways and I was glad to have spent the evening with them for the company and fun stories (also we all shared a room to reduce our costs).
The mist rolling in off the hills hampered visibility to just tens of metres; the first couple of hours involved undulating hills – rising slightly as I was heading upstream. Not being able to see much was demoralising and the hills just kept rolling on. Eventually the sun burnt through the mist and an upbeat U2 song came on my iPod at just the right time to attack an oncoming gradient. I felt great. About 30 seconds into the climb I looked to the left over the fantastic hills of vineyards which make the world’s best champagne. Then, glancing to the right, I could see a much more barren field. This was a World War 1 French cemetery which I had stumbled upon. I paused the music; climbed off the bike; and wandered into the openly accessible field.
This was much bigger than the one in Desir that I passed between Caen and Paris. I calculated roughly that there must have been about one thousand headstones. Reading the names I realised that each cross (or differently shaped) headstone was back to back with another. This meant there were twice as many as I’d first thought: two thousand people were remembered here.
The afternoon saw the clouds fold over and the return of a sharp headwind. It was a Monday, so of course all the shops were closed (bienvenue en France). I couldn’t eat enough to keep my energy levels up. I stopped for another double espresso to boost my morale, but quickly slipped back into a tired mental state. Riding solo I’m sure didn’t help, company would’ve been a comfort, but no-one was around in these tiny hamlets. The mood was summarised by the surrounding dull brown fields, with some extremely depressed looking sunflowers.
With a lack of food and a significant amount of cycling today I was seriously undernourished. I needed far more calories than I had taken in and I knew it. When reaching the town that I was going to spend the night in, I headed straight for a fast food place to replenish my depleted energy supplies. A cheap kebab shop offered a 6 Euro meal deal. I got two. Pretty satisfied I managed to get to the the supermarket before it closed and stock up on supplies so this won’t happen again tomorrow.
Because of the flexibility of the trip and having had a particularly hard day today, I am changing my schedule to have a much easier day tomorrow and spend some time around Verdun, a significant battleground of World War 1. I will forgo a rest day in Luxembourg City to keep up with the 4 week plan.
The bed I am currently in feels like the most comfortable thing I have ever experienced. But then again maybe it’s just the fatigue.