Posted by: Zombi | June 12, 2010

Day 9 – Brienne le Chateau – Dijon

This morning, with the route planner telling me I had another 75 miles in plan I promised myself I wouldn’t do them and would stop short after around 60 miles. I partially kept my promise. I didn’t do 75 miles, I tagged another 14.97 on the end. Let me explain.

I slept in due to my alarm still only being set for weekdays. I ended up rolling out of the campsite by 10.

As soon as I had left I knew this wasn’t going to be a good day. I felt quite weak following the lack of food the previous day along with the accumulation of two big days in the saddle. After the issues with food yesterday, my plan was to pick up lunch at the first opportunity. Village after village passed and, just like yesterday, not one had so much as a stale baguette for sale. Eventually I managed to find a tabac open but the best they had was a can of coke and a packet of 20 Marlborough, I was tempted, they must have some nutrients.

The further I went on, the slower and more disheartened I got. After a couple of Garmin and Map stops to see if there was anywhere in the direction I was going that would definately have somewhere open I was left dissapointed and with no option but to press on to Essoyes which was 25 miles in to the day. Looking down to see how far I had gone in 2 hours I was underwhelmed with the 17 miles blinking back at me.

Finally by around 1.15 I dragged myself in to the lunch stop and was mightily relieved there were a couple of shops open. Topped up with one of the most needed meals I have ever had I felt a little better as my feet clicked back in to the pedals and the ground started moving again. As I had been sat, recovering with my sandwich, watching the ducks sploshing around in the small river I had neglected to think what a river being their meant. Rivers need water and water is provided by hills.

As the afternoon progressed, I was still not feeling great and hoping my final destination, 17 miles before Dijon remember, would arrive sooner than later. With 60 miles on the clock I decided I would stop at the next suitable campsite. In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t know I was only just over half way!

With there amazingly being a distinct lack of campingrounds I eventually reached Lesmont, which was my planned end point. With little surprise but a lot of frustration it was soon clear there was not going to be anywhere to stay and, despite being shattered I had to select tomorrows route in my Garmin and press on, knowing Dijon was coming up and I was guaranteed a place to stay.

No sooner had I left Lesmont and the largest of the days climbs started. I had already passed over a couple of 2 or 3 mile gradual ascents but this one, in my state was just what I didn’t want. The road started with a 5 or 6 mile false flat (the road is up hill despite looking flat. Very demoralising to ride on) before turning sharply south through a village and heading up a 15-20% gradient. Stupidly, questioning if I was on the right course I had stopped at the bottom. As I tried to set off, probably due to being too tired to think (read stupid) I tried to clip back in the pedal going up the hill. Due to the gearing and gradient I wasn’t able to get my 2nd foot in and before I knew it I was flat on the floor again. This time embarassment was not on my mind. Fortunately nothing worse than a couple of cuts to my elbow and ankle were aparrent. The climb was already laughing at me.

Eventually, after hauling nyself to the summit I was provided with another couple of miles of false flat before the road fell away below me into a wonderful sweeping descent. If I hadn’t been so tired I could have really gone for it but in my position I was happy to let gravity take hold and simply rolling I reached the mid 30’s (mph).

As the saying goes, what goes down must come up (well, nearly) and again, as I looked at what the road was like to come as I descended I could see some ominous zig zags which you only get on climbs, usualy steep ones to gain height quickly.

The climb that arrived was simply excellent. It danced it’s way up the hillside, gaining height quite quickly and all I could see behind were the forested hillsides I had just ridden through. After a couple of miles I reached the top and was pleased to see I couldn’t see any more hills in the way. The roadside signs waived at me showing I had only 9km to Dijon. Nothing could ruin this could it?

No it couldn’t. I must have had about 5 miles of constant down hill right in to the centre of Dijon. Even the traffic lights were in my favour. The smooth descent was just what I needed.

Arriving in the centre at 7.30pm, that was 9 hours after leaving and over 7 hours actually moving, the tourist information was shut and eventually after finding a wifi signal I was able to have a very breif search for a cheap hotel. Ibis was pointed out and looked cheaper than a couple of others I was stood near by the train station so I headed off. After getting slightly lost a couple of times I eventually arrived. To tired to argue I just handed over my bank card as she took the 84€ from me. Even Dick Turpin wore a mask.

Finally I was in my hotel room, yes all hotels have the same sized lifts, with 10 minutes to go before England kicked off.

Showered, I phoned down for room service which was the same price as eating in the bar, excellent, kick off in 2 minutes, all set.

“yes, room service is availabe, you have to come to reception to order. Thank you.”

In disbelief, I walked down to order my overpriced and no doubt tiny meal. Nobody to be seen. Annoyed, and weary of the potentially tiny meal I headed out in search of somewhere else. Fortunately a pizza hut was 10 minutes away.

I missed both goals but was back for the second half. It’s now 12:05am so I must go and get some beauty sleep, I really need it!

No day off tomorrow now as I can’t afford another £75 on a hotel room bur the miles are going to be cut, I promise! (that’s 285 in the last 3 days!)

Thanks for reading.

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