Saturday, 11 July 2015

Day eighteen (Thursday) Saint Dizier to Chalon-en-champagne 82km 5 hours 20 mins

Cakes: 2 x croissant each; 1 x pain au chocolat each; 1 chausson aux pommes (shared); 1 x eclaire each; Coffee 1 x each

We had a bit of a chat about the nature of perfection and excellence today, especially around the notion of perfection as something that is subjective and fleeting - something that, in that moment, for a specific person, could not be improved upon - although John felt perfection was something where a line is drawn in the temporal sand that could not be improved upon going forward. Excellence on the other hand, we both felt there was an element of agreement around what factors comprise excellence, as well as comparison between things or skills.

This is a really long way of saying that, while yesterday's cycling was verging on excellent for both of us yesterday (although some factors were missing), some elements were (for me) were perfection. Today, however, if asked, I'd say there were moments of perfection (the reflection of the wild flowers in a still moment by the canal for instance), whereas the cycling was distinctly mixed.

For the first 20km we headed alongside the canal - which was perfectly straight...and directly into quite a brisk head wind. We passed the air base and watched a couple of jets take off (quickly and noisily); we avoided the folks walking their dogs and commuting cyclists; and we pushed into the wind.

A couple of highlights for the day included cycling past a tiny potages (veggie garden...more to follow on this subject soon), and cycling into a village that, apart from the cars, looked as though it had been transported intact from the 15th century.

Once we reached Vitres the cycle path abruptly stopped and dumped us in the middle of quite an industrial landscape (chemical industry), with large graffiti-ed apartment blocks, and a distinctly down-at-heel feel to the place. We made our way through the town and on to Chaumont along a really busy main road for the first couple of kilometres but then dropping onto the D52, where we stopped for eclaire.

We found a path that followed the canal again but the surface varied from lovely smooth tar seal, to pot holes with strips of tar seal sort of visible, to gravel path, to beaten earth (both with potholes). The surfaces where what John called 'interactive'! Made for a long 80 kilometers.

All the more grateful, however, we rolled into Chaumont, found the campsite, set up camp and then headed back into the town...which is glorious!! Jaw-dropping. We've decided to take an extra day here to explore the many layers of history (and cakes). Can't wait.

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