Posted by: Zombi | June 11, 2010

Day 8 Reims – ?

I would love to be able to remember a clever quote about well thoughtout plans as I am sure there are many but at the moment I am struggling to remember my own name.

This morning I rose at about 8.30 after not a particually good sleep. For some reason I have not slept well in a propper bed since I left, in fairness that is only twice, I think.

After packing some of my stuff I decided breakfast was required. The youth hostel I was staying in was the sort of place you were taken on your school French trip. It was not your ‘travelers’ type of place. Long drab corridoors, kids sprinting round screaming (look, I climbed in the wrong window, I thought it was my room), a strange sterile smell.
Then I arrived in the breakfast room I thought a small dog had died and they had cunningly covered up the smell with stale yoghurt and that milk you keep in the cupboard, just in case when you are on holiday. It seemed the ‘youths’ had beaten me down to breakfast, not sure how seeing as they had clearly been fed chocolate and spent the night bouncing around yelping outside my room (of all the nights to have forgotten my cricket bat). I could tell they had beaten me to breakfast because there was cerial all over the place. There had obviously been a cerial killer loose…

Following a dissapointing breakfast consisting of yesterdays baguette and the cheapest yoghurt you can imagine I was ready to head off. My bike had been stored under the hostel in a garage where I had also managed to hang my tent up to dry. Everything was shipshape when I went to collect the bike and after my usual faffing about I was ready to go. All I needed to do was grease myself up and I was off! Seriously, when cycling any distance, rubbing can cause problems so you have a cream you apply directly to the skin and shorts to keep everything free from friction (I would post pictures but I don’t have them to hand, if you look on the crimewatch website you should be able to see them). Surprise, surprise after searching back through all my panniers I couldn’t find the damn stuff I needed. With nothing else usable (Sudocreme for example is an excellent substitute), I had no option to set off and pick something up at a pharmacy en route. Within a mile or so I arrived at a chemist and made my entrance, it was a cross between Mr Muscle meets Mr Motivator, and went straight for the “Bebe” section. Dissapointingly, short of heading out in a nappy, which was an option, there seemed to be nothing suitable. As I turned round, a rather worried assistant came my way, either to help or throw me out, I wasn’t exactly sure. Excellent I thought, I will be on my way in a flash (excuise the pun).

“Hello” I said in my best French “I would like a cream for erm… bike”

Clearly confused and with little for the asistant to go on from that exceedingly useless statement I tried again.

“I am, erm, bike”, oh god this is getting worse, “and I would like cream for my… (at this point I pointed to my shorts and instantly regretted it).

By now the assistant clearly thought I had escaped and was at a total loss of what to do so just didn’t do anything. He just looked at my with a mix of pity and fear.

Stood in a pair of Lycra shorts in a French chemist trying to tell a man old enough to be your father that you need to rub yourself with cream is not something I ever want to happen again. I don’t think it could have got any worse… then it did.

“Maureen (I forget the exact name but she looked like a Maureen), come here, this man thinks he is a bike and wants a cream for it” (I could only imagine that is was was said and I felt like I was in a really bad doctor, doctor joke).

Now stood, in a city centre chemist monopolizing two attendants left me with a real fear I was going to draw a croud.

“I need an antiseptic cream to help me cycling”. At last some workable words were coming back to me. I had a real fear I was going to have to resort to a demonstration. As I started muttering Sudocreme, the lady ushered me to a pc with the Internet and asked me to type it in. I liked her thinking. After I had checked my emails and the latest Bradford City news I was able to show her the sort of thing I was after.

Unfortunately, babies mustn’t get nappy rash in France, of they are just left to suffer. Eventually I left the shop with a tube of something that looked like it might be of use. It could have been toothpaste for all I knew but I wasn’t going to get myself arrested trying to get the perfect product.

Releived, humiliated and ungreased in equal measure I headed off down the road to find somewhere a little quieter to fully prepare myself.

After a quick stop for a second breakfast of the now standard pain au chocolate and can of coke I was off on my way and now well out or Reims. The roads, whilst exceptional in quality were starting to be quite hilly as they wound their way between the vinyards that produce champaign enjoyed across the world.

By 12ish I was comfortable that I would be ok without further food untill 2 when the shops started opening again and set about getting the miles done. With the sun now beating down for the first time since reaching France, keeping in supply of water was the problem. Fortunately, when passing through one of the villages I was able to top up my bottles along with filling a empty third large water bottle, from a public water tap at the roadside.

Villages passed and whilst I never seemed to be isolated I started to get a little nervous that I had not passed a single shop or bar. This continued and by 3.30, with no sizeable places that would guarantee somewhere to eat I was left with little option but to push on.

I had searched for campsites on my Garmin, it only shows somelarger ones but is handy none the less, and had been pleased to find one on the route I was taking. Unfotrunately, the route I was taking tomorrow. This meant adding another 5 or 6 miles on to today, which, without having eaten wasn’t great news.

Tired but relieved, and amazingly, despite slowing a little, not having ‘bonked’ I eventually found a shop that was open… 1 mile away from the campsite!

Finally checked in with my tent up I was delighted to discover the site had a pool. Sat in the cool water was a great way to relax after a hard few days and instantly made me feel better.

Food was wolfed down and I was even able to watch the French play their first game in the World Cup.

With England playing tomorrow, I think, and the need to cut down on the miles a bit, 98 yesterday, 86 today, a shortish day is in plan for tomorrow. Let’s hope I stick to it…

P.s – amazingly I’m around the halfway point!

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