Day 8 Langres to Besancon 79m(125km)

First 25m chunk. I left Langres under the most perfect conditions possible. early morning coolness, bright sunshine, the contours of the landscape now very ‘lumpy’, flowering meadows, dappled sunlight through the leaves of moist woodland…….. just like the UK really! but all this was preceded by the quintessential French breakfast: croissant, pain au chocolat and un café au lait that would eclipse the best from Starbucks.

It being Sunday morning I expected to see all churches open and people flocking for their Sunday worship. In fact, all churches seemed firmly locked, which got me thinking: have they all been reading Richard Dawkins? Then I got to Champlitte 25m down the road, and arrived at the beginning of a mass that was to celebrate the work of the volunteers who work for the Hospitalité de Lourdes (people who travel with and care for the sick). Everybody seemed to be there from this small town, and so was their Bishop, so a big occasion. These are the surprises that make this journey rather special, the serendipities.

Explicit signs! I like explicit signs like  this.  A clear message to all dog owners (and to their dogs?)

Climate. Now approaching 1000 km travelling south, the climate is changing noticeably. The mornings are delightfully cool, even cold sometimes, but the afternoons are unremittingly warm. I’m going to have to adjust my routine and avoid long afternoon spells in the saddle. I’ve promised myself to get started before sunrise and try to finish just after mid-day. Watch this space!

Saddle sores. Fortunately, I’ve had few problems in that area, but it does happen, especially when you are riding day after day. For those of you who are occasional riders and have problems with it, here are a few suggestions:

a. apart from the obvious of having a comfortable saddle (and not necessarily a soft one), shorts with a chamois insert are a must, and to be worn without underwear, otherwise the seams will create friction

b. an anti-friction or chamois cream, applied before the ride, helps a lot. Jenny gave me some anti-friction cream recently, and it works (so far).

c. if all else fails and it is still painful down below, just bellow as loud as you can at a passing herd of cows. This has 2 beneficial effects: first it gets rid of your pent-up frustration without offending anyone else, and secondly, it will give the cows something to think about for the rest of the day! But I definitely cannot recommend the bare-b approach. The saddle will get to those parts…………..;0(

Tomorrow. I’m getting perilously close to La Suisse, and the changing landscape is making that obvious. I could be crossing the border tomorrow pm.

A final note about sunshine. If you are travelling constantly in a SE direction and the sun shines every day, what happens? In short, you get toasted at the front in the morning, and on the right in the afternoon. Calculating the application of the sun cream is vital!

“May the winds of life be ever at your backs”



About Frank Burns

Looking for the extraordinary in the commonplace………taking the road less travelled……..striving for the ‘faculty of making happy chance discoveries’ in unremarkable circumstances. Click on the Personal Link below to visit my webpages.

Posted on September 5, 2010, in Canterbury-Rome 2000kms: a cyclist's tale and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Love the advice on Saddle Sores.. As for shouting at Cows- Ill remember that handy tip!

  2. Keeping fingers crossed for you! and hoping you are not having to shout to much :). Love, Niobe and Ged

  3. Hi Frank
    It was great to meet a fellow pilgrim today! Love the blog but you’re certainly doing the Via Francigena a lot quicker than we are!
    Good luck and Buen Camino for the rest of the trip!
    We’ll be checking in on your progress from time to time.
    All the best
    Keith and Pauline

    • Keith,
      I keep thinking of you and Pauline, and wondering how things are going for you. It was a chance encounter that we should meet, and I do hope we’ll stay in touch.

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