Monday, 10 September 2007

Day 21 - Champlitte-et-le-Prelot - Fresne le Chateau – 54km

Irritatingly or mercifully (I can’t decide which) we have another truly exceptional day’s cycling on a series of small country roads that are perfect for every kind of traveller- horse rider, walker or cyclist – but I feel like shit. Better still, we arrive in Fresne le Chateau and the Association of St Joseph Hostel administrator tells us that dogs are interdit. So can we camp in their grounds and use the facilities? No, because the hostel houses wayward boys and they are on the loose at night. And, by the way, have we locked up our bikes? But they’re only propped up on a fence some 20 metres away. The look she gives me says it all. I lock up the bikes while we negotiate a solution - a piece of grass, just outside the high walls of the institution (all too reminiscent of the Abbey Prison we had passed a few days before in Clairvaux), is found for us and we bed down, but a tent is probably not the best place to recover from ‘flu’.
In the morning I am a useless, miserable heap and Paul is left to take down the tent, pack up the bikes and somehow coax me into pedalling action – all of which he does without a murmur of complaint. I am not sure I would have been so charitable in his place.
The recommended route out of Champlitte was along an unadopted path and true to form as soon as we broke away from the used section in the township it became overgrown and indistinct. Luckily our map showed us a good series of minor roads that followed essentially the same route and so these quickly became our preferred option.
Dampierre sur Salon was a good way point with lots of facilities in a small market town. Incongruously its Hotel de la Tour is a glass block house that would not seem out of place in the Birmingham Bull-ring of the 60’s. As we had made good progress we were able to forego its appeal and press on. Again the pathways were a problem and despite 20 minutes hard searching we could not find a trace. However, the D36 worked out fine leading us to the lovely river Saone and a network of quiet country roads beyond. Babette is particularly tight lipped today and has her teeth clenched as we make 2 bad route choices out of la Chapelle St Quillain costing us a good hour and 6 or 7 kms of wasted effort. A night spent camping on the grass verge beside the Association St Joseph is just not what she needs. The saving grace is that the staff were kind enough to allow to use their showers and toilets.

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