Tuesday, 30 August 2016

On y va! Maybe? Really? I'm moving. But not South. EAST! Riding off into the sunrise.

2:45 am.  

That's 5:45 pm Vancouver time and I'm wide awake again.  What bloody time zone am I living in?  

OMG, it's 7:45 am in Phnom Penh.  I'm living in Cambodian time!

Anyhoo, an early start is probably good Karma to finally leave my hotel close to CDG .  I'm starting to feel like Tom Hanks in the movie The Terminal ;-)

Of course, I may not be going anywhere today. During a short ride last night, I realized that when I installed my left pedal a week ago at CDG airport, I had installed it slightly tilted, which resulted in a buggered-up thread in the crank.  I did my best to rectify the issue last night, but never rode the bike afterwards, so this morning I might just find out that the bike is not rideable.  And NO, since the pedal threads are made of iron and the crank is made of aluminum, it's not as simple as replacing the pedal.  And the crank, like so many things on the MGM, is a special order part.  Oh Boy, what kind of mess have I gotten myself into this time? 

But the route I've chosen (the Champagne, Metz, Verdun, then my birthplace in Germany, and then to Frankfurt) should be interesting.  The hotel and even the town that the hotel is in aren't even listed on TripAdvisor.  I'm travelling where the TripAdvisor map only has white areas ;-) 

I also discovered some pictures from yesterday afternoon, from the ride when I discovered that my pedal wasn't  in what one normally would call the best of health.

Yes, that actually is what it looks like ;-)
Back to the present:

6 a.m.  A short test drive to ascertain whether the buggered-up pedal thread might make it for more than 10 kms.  Oops. my left pedal is wobbling.  Not only that but the brain surgery that had increased the top speed from 32 km/h to 45 km/h seems to magically have been reversed overnight.    O.K., I'm down on the ground, kick me more !

A variance on a theme. Almost my signature image now ;-)

And then it's actually happening. I'm riding out of the hotel with packed saddle bags attached !   Riding off into the sunRISE ;-)

Of course, nothing is without problems, not even in France ;-)

This gate blocks the bike route that Google Maps insists I take.  Good thing I'm capable of reading maps and finding a detour.

They do like their power lines in these parts

But they also like their bike paths !

And I'm starting to LOVE these bike paths too!

mistletoe ;-)

Oh, what punishment, having to ride 10s of km along a canal ;)
But even the best canal-riding times have to end:

After 40 kms (30 kms along a gravel or paved bike path following a canal), I reach Meaux.

Meaux (NO, it's NOT pronounced like the cat's meow) 

I checked Google beforehand and there is a bike shop here. Bike'n'co it's called.  And they don't just sell stuff, they fix it too.
pic stolen from their web-site (they could use a decent photographer, n'est-ce pas?)
After wrenching my old pedal out of the mess of the crank, he gets out a thread cutting set and a threaded insert.  Wow. let's hope he knows how to use them; I don't want to watch him cut an oblique new thread, so I go get some food. 

Well, I try to get some food. But any 'decent' restaurant in France will refuse to give you food or drink before noon.  Even if the staff is already in there, they will just give you this look "Did you just arrive from Barbaria or America?"  But I do find something to eat.

It's called Quick Burger Restaurant and of course TripAdvisor only knows about the one in Paris.  Here I am only 40 kms from Paris and TripAdvisor is already whistling through its last hole Pathetic !   But their fish burger ain't half bad; way better fish than McD or Burger King.

Not a promo shot. This is the very food I ate ;-)

When I come back to Bike'n'co, the bike is ready.  He tapped the new thread, installed a bushing and 2 NEW pedals. Together with the 2 brand-new inner tubes I'm buying just in case I have a flat along the way, the total comes to Euro 41.50, about CAD 60. The bike guy in North Van charged me $12.50 for one inner tube alone !   I leave 50 Euros and refuse the change.  

In the first moments after I hop on the bike and start pedaling, my left foot is signalling me that it's sitting on a spiraling pedal. But I think the foot has been getting used to the old pedal for the last 5 days and now thinks the straight bore is spiraling.  Feet are funny that way !  At least I can now put my full weight on the left pedal without having to fear leaving the pedal on the pavement (That happened to me in 2013 and is responsible for my quite detailed knowledge of Horley, UK).

My first battery is empty about a kilometer after I leave the store (I should have charged it while he was working on the bike). Good thing I brought a second one.  Charging a battery whenever one has the opportunity is always a good thing, because now the constant headwind makes me think frequently whether I am going to make it on this charge or not.  Bike rides along roads void of people and cars are ideal to rummage through all the unprocessed stuff in one's head.  One can get a lot of cerebral cleaning done on those trips. But NOT if one is constantly worrying about battery levels. So charge your battery!  Pedal and learn ;-)

Strange bush ...

One of Alan's favourite hang-outs ;-)

Another one of those strange plants
I'm about 8 km away from my destination and the battery is going to make it, but to make sure it does, I don't use any assist levels above 2 (out of 4). And the headwind is still there. 
So when I see a bar (French for cafe with booze all day and food some parts of the day; This is where the families of a town hang out together with their kids. No strange liquor laws in this country) in a nice street in Villeneuve-sur-Bellot, I don't hesitate to lock the bike and order a glass of Rose.  I even remembered that an electrical outlet is a 'prise electrique' and after asking one am directed to the wall. Rose and a charging battery. What else can I ask for ? 
Then it's the final leg to my destination over some paved roads but mostly rough tractor-tracked paths with construction fill for leveling the washed out holes.  Google's cycling suggestions sometimes are to be taken with EXTREME caution.  

But it's worth it. Just look at that view ;-)

 I arrive in Vaumartin, which has one street with 12 houses. Of course I had missed it because nothing looked like a guest house and already had cycled to the next village.  Having been directed back, I finally find the place.  

It's a largish farm estate with chicken running the yard, where the mother owner breeds horses.  The space above one of the old stables was converted into two guest rooms.  There is an about 10 year old son, but no husband in sight. The owner's manners seem a bit hard at first, but if she has to run that whole show, that would be expected.  After I make sure that she has a computer printer and a work desk with chair, I renew for another night. I also book two dinners and two breakfasts.  The total is not quite that cheap anymore, but then I'm eating what the Lady of the house and her son are eating at a communal table below my room.

So why am I staying two nights?  Because I can not hear a single thing besides roosters and chicken and the wind.  Try as I might, I can't hear any cars, not even from a far away highway.  The effect is mind-boggling.  It's like your head is turning itself inside out ;-)

During a smoke break at 2 am this effect is even more obvious. I just step outside, look up, and see the Milky Way. OMFG, the beauty that the people of Vancouver have lost. And they don't even realize what they lost.  In addition, the silence is overwhelming. There is not even wind that could make a sound. It is just dead silent.  I sneak back in inside after my cigarette, afraid any noise would be audible for miles.

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