(Written by Dave)
Three words describe today – wet, wet & wet. It rained almost from the moment we left camp until we reached Donville les Bains some 70ks later. We put this down as a “low fun content” day. Today, along with the rain, we had a head/crosswind, giving us lots of heads down riding and plenty of time to think. We used some of this time to come up with our “fun content scale” so that we could put the day into perspective. Here goes…
Great day – 10 points – Since we’ve chosen to do this trip by bicycle, any day that we get to ride our bikes starts as a 10. From here, things can happen that lower the fun factor – generating minus points.
Minus 1 point – Rain – During the day sometime but the sun comes out and you finish the day with dry feet.
Minus 2 points – Rain – Intermittent with periods of sun most of the day.
Minus 3 points – Rain – Rain during the last part of the day that means you arrive at camp wet.
Minus 5 points – Rain – All day showers that mean you are never dry, you can’t see out your glasses, your feet squish when you pedal and you leave a lake in any shop you visit (if they even let you inside).
Minus 1 point – Wind – moderate headwinds that slow progress.
Minus 2 points – Wind – strong crosswinds that slow progress and make it hard to ride in a straight line.
Minus 3 points – Wind – strong headwinds that significantly slow progress and make you think of selling your bike.
Minus 5 points – Wind – crazy strong headwinds that make you ready to give your bike away, or turn around and go the other direction to the nearest train station.
Minus 1 point – Accommodation – dirty bathrooms.
Minus 2 points – Accommodation – no hot water in the shower.
Minus 3 points – accommodation – stuff not working. Today it is our heater. We’ve had broken lights, water mains, curtains, chairs and more – maybe we need to upgrade our accommodation. Today we especially needed a heater to try to dry all of our wet, wet, wet stuff.
Minus 5 points – Accommodation – the above, plus bugs of any kind. In SE Asia that meant cockroaches, here in France is more likely to be a slug (not technically a bug but it’s our scale).
Minus 2 points – Traffic – bad drivers or unsafe roads.
Minus 2 points – Mechanical – Flat tire or broken spoke or broken cable – any one isolated bike failure that you can fix without assistance.
Minus 3 points – Mechanical – Any two of the above.
Minus 4 points – Mechanical – Any of the above that you can’t fix without putting out your thumb and begging for help.
So, where does that leave today?
We got to ride our bikes so that means the day starts with 10 points. The rain was definitely a minus 5 day. The wind probably about minus 3. For our accommodation we ended up in a low budget chambre d’hotes (room in someone’s house). Overall, it’s not bad except that the heater is not working and when we asked about it they said that it does not come on until November. We have so much wet gear that we really need a heater. Believe it or not, we’ve had the bathroom hairdryer on full blast pointed at various articles of clothing and shoes for over 4 hours. I’m not sure if this was in the design spec of the hairdryer but it hasn’t burned out yet. We’ve managed to get most of our stuff a little less wet. Having said that, we still have to minus 3 our accommodation due to the non-functioning heater. So, the total for the day is 10 – 5 – 3 – 3. By my calculations, that’s a minus 1 day in total, thus the post title – Low fun day.
Keeping perspective, we are in France and it could be worse. On the theme of perspective, we cycled past La Roque Bridge today. In WWII the allies tried in vain to destroy the bridge to prevent retreating Germans from regrouping. There was a nice plaque, along with British, US, Canada and French flags. Our bad day is probably a lot better than any of the boys who were here in 1944.
We also managed to get out and have a look at Lindbergh Beach first thing this morning. It was not so inviting in the wind and rain. I had thought that Lindy landed here but later learned that he actually landed near Paris. The woman at the campground last night told us that he landed here. Either she didn’t really know or our French is not as good as we thought it was. Most likely it is the latter. Either way, the beach was pretty non-descript. There were no plaques or signs, just the wind, rain and grey.
So tomorrow, we don’t know where we will make it to. The weather is supposed to improve but we are not sure how we feel about riding. We have a couple of options, both of them headed south. I don’t know if a single day’s ride south will be warmer or dryer but every day we head that direction the closer we get to more Mediterranean climates. Wherever we end up, I hope we have at least a 7 or an 8 on the fun day scale [editor’s note – another minus day like today and I think we’ll be headed for the nearest train station or car rental place].
I’ll stop there as our shoes need another dose of hairdryer and my editor is starting to fade [editor’s note – picture a small room full of wet clothes, shoes, tent, etc. and a hair dryer running for 4+ hours. It’s hard to describe the smell but I think the fumes are just about to do me in!].