After the bad start in France I had a day off spent at the Ladd’s – John and Chris (my sister-in-law’s grandparents). This gave me the opportunity to eat and sleep well and have such luxuries as a shower and internet. My sights were now set on getting to the McCormack’s in Salvagnac: a mere 800km from where I was. With my new bottom bracket and the weather set to improve I was raring to go.
Over the course of the next 8 days I made my way directly through the middle of France. I was averaging 100km a day, camping wild every night and the sun was out every day with temperatures in the 25-30 degrees celsius region. Furthermore the terrain became more variable with some huge climbs and long descents through Limousin and Dordogne regions in particular.
With the bike performing well I could feel my fitness levels improving dramatically. The sun and the scenery made for some absolutely joyous cycling and these combined with the improving fitness resulted in me cycling up to 12 hours a day – I just wanted to keep going! I was now beginning to realise what a sheer joy and pleasure my existence was. I was now cycling with a grin on my face and freewheeling down mountains singing and shouting; finding it hard to believe my senses were being treated to such a feast. Even grinding up long climbs resulted in huge waves of satisfaction once I reached the top.
I thought the Dordogne would be as good as it would get before reaching Salvagnac but after fortuitously stumbling into the valley of the river Lot I had a day heading mostly west to Cahors in glorious sunshine with jaw-dropping views.
On the 8th day I reached the McCormack’s in Salvagnac. It is a very special place on the trip. It’s where I got the inspiration to do this trip and is where my circumnavigation will start and finish. I arrived at a special time too: one day after the birth of Phil and Laurence’s 3rd child, a girl – Carmen.
I’ve been here for a week now and will stay for one more as I wait for some new bits of kit to arrive as the modifications continue. The next stage of the trip will be getting to Istanbul. I’ll stay in Istanbul for a week or 2 and see if it is possible to get an Iranian Visa. Regardless of the outcome of this I’ll be setting my sights on India via the “Stans”, China and Pakistan. The border between China and Pakistan will close for the winter so all going well and if I keep myself on track I’ll be in India for Christmas thusly concluding the first leg of the trip.
With regards music – I’ve been struggling to play the guitar since arriving here due to numb hands from some bad posture. Things are back to normal now but it’s unlikely I’ll have something ready before I leave. You’ll just have to watch this space.