Thursday 2nd April
After a hefty breakfast and a nice chat with Charlotte, the owner of our B&B, we were off from Juvigny-sous-Andaine by 10AM.
The weather was overcast and drizzly, but thankfully there was hardly a hill in sight, and we spent a lot of the day on a long, straight cycle path – woohoo!
Things got a bit more interesting after lunch, however…
1. The mystery puncture
Guess what? The trailer wheel deflated. AGAIN. Even though we just bought fancy new tyres. Eric noticed it just as he was about to bite into his well-deserved baguette, ham and cheese.
I’ll describe the situation to you and you can think about what you would have done.
- Eric removed the punctured inner tube and inspected the rim of the tyre for the cause of the puncture. He couldn’t find anything, so he put a new inner tube in, pumped it up and put the wheel back on the trailer. I ate biscuits and watched.
- A minute later the tyre had deflated again. Eric pumped it back up. It deflated again. I voiced my concern that this inner tube had punctured as well (still eating biscuits at this point).
- Eric removed the inner tube he had just put in. I inspected the inside of the tyre for any bits of glass/thorns etc. I couldn’t find anything.
- We had one inner tube left. We were miles away from a cycle shop with 20 miles to go until our destination.
Here is what each of us thought we should do:
Scenario A, nickname “Scenario Eric”: put in the final inner tube. We have both checked the tyre and couldn’t find anything in it. I believe that the second inner tube deflated because it was faulty.
Scenario B, let’s call this one “Scenario Penny”: check the tyre one more time. It is too much of a coincidence that it deflated right away. There must be something in the tyre we have missed.
What would you have done??
Well. I suppose you think I’ve been leading you into another ridicule Eric on the internet situation… but no! We went with scenario A, and Eric was correct. It was a faulty inner tube. Well done Eric!
2. French diversions
Due to some building works a section of the cycle path was closed. We followed the diversion sign which led… precisely nowhere relevant to anyone who wanted to rejoin the cycle path.
Cue a long, amusing rant from Eric about French people and road signs. Then he calmed down and found a route back to the cycle path. My role here was mainly moral support.
3. “Eric, use your deadlift powers!”
The final event of interest was a big tree which had fallen across the cycle path.
Eric’s moment had come. Years of strength training, years in sweaty, poorly-ventilated gyms, masochistically lifting heavy things even though it was really hard, all distilled into the moment where something heavy actually needed lifting.
Here’s Eric preparing to deadlift.
Well, that tree would not budge.
In the end it was clear that it was easier to lift a bike than to lift a tree. I have to agree that this is a logical conclusion to come to.
Here he is post-lift – looks like lifting that bike really took it out of him (I helped of course).
I teased him afterwards by saying: “If only Adam had been here.” (Eric’s gym buddy.)
We spent the night at Argentre, just outside of Laval.
Friday 3rd April
On Friday it rained. And rained. And rained. We put our heads down and pedalled.
We made it to Angers by 4, and were now out of Normandy and in the Pays de la Loire! First observations of the area is that the villages we passed through tended to be more modern, and not as beautiful or traditional as those in Normandy. But on the plus side, the hills are a lot smaller!
We were close to our B&B and were about to take what we thought was the equivalent to an A road when we spotted a “cars only” signpost and had to do a quick pull over into the side of the road. Then a second later there was a beep of a car horn, and we turned to see the Gendarmarie (the army police)!
The man in the driver’s seat rolled down his window and said something to me. He sounded a bit like he was telling me off, but possibly he was just being a normal French person?! I pulled my best “I’m just a stupid foreigner” face, and after a couple more exchanges they quickly identified that we were English.
They told us we could have been fined 90 euros for cycling on that road (that would have been a bummer!!) but they were actually very friendly and figured out an alternative route for us. Much to our amusement they sort of followed us afterwards and kept pointing us in the right direction!
Here is a very sneaky photo I took of Eric and one of the Gendarmerie guys discussing an alternative route.
We finally reached our B&B feeling very soggy, tired and starving… luckily we were next door to “Buffalo Grill”, an American-style restaurant. It was amusing to see the French interpretation of American cuisine: for a start our meal began with a complimentary salad. It just goes to show that there’s a lot of things I don’t know about America.
Saturday 4th April
We decided to take the day off to explore Angers (and wash our clothes).
After a bargain 3 course lunch at 12 euros 80 cents per person (I love you France!) we took a stroll around the old town and went to the cathedral.
The best thing about the cathedral was the stained glass windows.
Then it was off to the Angers Chateau (for the most part built in the 13th century). This place was really cool. It was a huge imposing fortress from the outside.
But as soon as you entered it was completely different. There were ornate gardens and a chapel. It was very peaceful and beautiful and nothing like its exterior.
Some views from the ramparts.
There were also some tapestries depicting the Apocalypse (embroidery was so much more badass in those days).
Final thing worth mentioning, we bought food from a Carrefour for dinner, and Eric decided against baguette, ham and cheese! And then he had half of my salad! I don’t really know what to say about this. I will just keep quiet and see what happens.
We’re cycling along the Loire river tomorrow. Sunshine please!!