Monday. Hardly seems possible that a week ago I was freewheeling down through Hyde Park at the very start of this ride.

The sun was out today! Still a tad chilly but with plenty of blue sky around, everything felt rosy as I bade Au Revoir to my hosts and rolled off down towards the ‘centre ville’ where I then promptly got lost. Tournus is a very old and pretty little town with a maze of streets and thoroughfares. All very lovely but a sinch to get lost in and a pig to get out of. Oh, have to say at this point that this morning my ageing GPS unit started to play up with the screen freezing on numerous occasions and taking an age to update as you proceed forward. A right pain in the arse when you’re in unfamiliar territory.

Anyway, once out of Tournus I quickly found the Voie Blue cycleway on the west bank of the River Saone. Excellent surfaces, signposts aplenty and the optimist in me thought this was going to be a great day!

After stopping off at Maçon to find a bakery, I resumed the Voie Bleu only to find that south of the town, they’d ran out of signs and the whole thing just reached an abrupt end. Looking at the Google-navigated route on the GPS, it then routed me over the river and down the east side. Once again, the ghost of Saint ‘Gravel-Rue’, French patron saint of shite cycle-paths thwarted my quest and handed me several miles of hand numbing, arse-hurting, crappy, awful, poor-quality roads (you can tell I’ve had enough can’t you?). If I had the time and money I’d make it my life’s work to pedal around France and document each and every one so that others that venture in my tracks dont have to suffer the same fate as I (and can avoid the bloody things!

Although very picturesque in places, you can actually have enough of river views and countryside and as the novelty dwindled to nothing, I diverted off to find tarmac and although much hillier, progress was far better and more enjoyable as I passed through the quaint little villages, all nestling along the River Saone.

Apart from the occasional crappy cycle path, the day was pretty uneventful until the penultimate mile in the suburbs of Lyon near Fontaines sur Saone. Traffic was heavy with it being around 4-430pm. As usual there was a good provision of cycle paths. The road was long and straight with a series of traffic-light controlled junctions every 100yds or so. On approaching a red light, a car overtook me, then veered into the cycle lane and braked suddenly to a stop. This caused me to brake hard and I stopped 12 inches from his bumper. I saw him eyeing me in his rear view mirror and I calmly gestured with both hands, why? On this he bolted from his car, and approached me with a look of thunder on his face as if I’d insulted his wife. He was about 5ft 4, late 50s and of Arab descent. Judging by his clothes it appeared that he’d been thrust naked into the rejected/unsold clothes room of a charity shop and told to get dressed… the dark! He walked up and stood 6 inches from me shouting something at the top of his lungs. His body odour and breath were no better than his dress sense. I got off the bike and being 6ft, had a little advantage in the height stakes. Trying to diffuse the confrontation with this malodorous little man, I quietly asked him to go, “Allez à voiture”. He continued to shout and then to my surprise, he raised his hand as about to hit me. On this I grabbed his scrawny wrist and squeezed it as hard as possible. Now it was my turn to bellow in his face and gee-gods didnt I just! His expression of rage immediately turned to one of complete submission. He then promptly took himself and his odours back to his car and departed the scene without another word. Thinking about it though, I’d just pedalled 60 miles in the warm afternoon sun so couldn’t have smelt that nice either. I was absolutely furious and a little bemused at what had just occurred. As kids say these days…”What the actual hell?” Onlookers in the surrounding cars I think, quite enjoyed the spectacle. A little something to brighten their afternoon.

15 minutes later I arrived at the Airbnb after the shortest day of the trip. Capitalising on the the time available, I gave the bike a mini service and cleaned the chain and gears. Tomorrow it’s a morning battle thru the middle of Lyon before heading on to Valence- another 75 or so miles closer to the sea.

Thanks to all of those who have donated and for messages of support. They’re much appreciated.


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