Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Day 10- Bar sur Aube to Langres- 87km

After yesterday's effort, today was massive!! Less km but MUCH harder terrain, with some climbing to boot! The first leg of the day, Bar sur Aube to Clairvaux was my favourite section we have done thus far! It was also probably the hardest, but with the most reward. We started out climbing up through the vineyards on the outskirts of Bar sur Aube, quickly onto rocky ground, up down, up down, but with beautiful views. We had a little difficulty navigating through the vines. Ben is a champion navigator now. Between the book, his GPS on the garmin and an iPhone ap he has "view ranger" which you can download maps to, it has been seamless! But this morning was difficult as many of the trails through the vines were on none of the maps. Kudos to Ben he got us through, with one detour up a mega steep hill which I got a "sorry" for as he realised we had to ride back down it. I didn't really mind... He has been a champion with his efforts. I could hardly breathe at the top though....it was so steep I was scared I was going to roll backwards so was pedalling as fast as I could possibly go!!! Back on track and the dirt got even steeper! We saw a hill coming towards us and we both looked at each other "surely not" but yes, that was our route. I went for the "don't look up, just look at the ground and keep pedalling" approach and....it worked!! I got to the top, looked at Ben and said "did you think I would make it up that?" And got the response "no!!!". Yay for me!!!! We got some amazing views from the top, but I think the reason I enjoyed this section the most was because of the accomplishment I felt for not getting off the bike once, on what was super difficult riding, even without panniers!!

The morning chain lubing ritual
Bar sur Aube
Back to the vineyards
Beautiful views
Up we go!


Ben is still able to take photos while climbing.....


Worth the climb for the view


THIS is the hill. You can't really see the steep part, but it was massive! Chin the the bars.



On arriving in Clairvaux we spotted a cafe. We have made a deal with ousrselves now. The parts of france we are passing through do not have many opportunities for food or refreshments. They are predominantly agricultural areas, and you can pass through many towns with no chance for a break. So we now have a deal that any time we see a cafe we stop for a coffee, any time we see a shop open we go buy food. So we had our first, and only coffee for the day ;) lucky we stopped!

From Clairvaux we were treated to a delight as we took a backroad for the first section to avoid some muddy tracks. The road was spectacular and cut right down the middle of the most amazing forrest. It looked just how I would imagine the forrests in fairy tales such as Hanzel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, and Robin Hood. It was dark, dense and deep. You could hardly see through the trees! We saw a baby deer with its mother, two hawks, several rabbits, and some wild cats ;) as we passed the forrest I was hoping that up ahead our route would take us into that dark unknown! Well I got my wish!! We headed straight towards a wall of trees which looked impenetrable! Then at the last minute a small clearing, and an electric fence to navigate! Eeeek! I was a bit scared as Ben untied the fence, opened it up and pushed our bikes into the dark, but all was ok.... No one got electrocuted ;) It was incredible riding through the forrest! For the first 5 or so km!!! Then I just wanted to get out of there! It's one thing riding on nice hard packed forestry trails.... It's another riding on bush walking trails with sticks, logs, leaf litter, rocks and ruts to negotiate! By the time we emerged we were both knackered, and we still had a lot of distance to cover before we arrived in Langres, our stop for the night.

Road of the day!


Gorgeous riding
Wall of forrest ahead


Electric fence


Our trail through the forrest


Before it got rocky and steep

The rest of our trail for the day was on backroads, which would normally be a delight, but this afternoon we had a horrendous headwind, when coupled with our big day yesterday and the hills of this morning resulted in two very pooped cyclists just chugging away to end the day. We had some mega climbs to contend with to get into Langres which is a fortified hill town. One of the final climbs was seriously the steepest hill I have ever ridden up, I didn't think I could ride up it, but I was too tired to push (30kg of bike is hard to wrangle) so I just put my head down, deployed the granny and just chugged my way to the top much to the amusement of two elderly locals who I'm pretty sure have never seen cyclists climb their hill. There was a car behind us that hardly made it to the top. Today was pretty spectacular. Some amazing off road terrain, spectacular views, and great climbs. I can't believe I'm saying it, but I actually enjoy climbing now. Not the climb in itself, but making it to the top and realising just how strong this body can be. It's pretty cool. We are now in our hotel room enjoying a picnic dinner (nothing open in town) and a VERY good bottle of Côte du Rhone which set us back a total of €3.70. Wine is ridiculously cheap here. We have gotten used to having a bottle every night! Had a great day. About 1/3 of the way through our trip. Feeling very lucky to be having this adventure :)




The first climb into langres. No photo of the mega climb....it was even too steep for autophotoBen


At the top!


Our ridiculously small hotel room which we are allowed to have our bikes in!
Cathedral of Langres


Interior of cathedral of Langres


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