Monday, 10 September 2007

Day 8 – Tergnier – Laon – 35km

Typical! The sun finally, finally decides to emerge on the very day that we only need to cycle in the morning. Actually, I am not really complaining, because after an easy stretch on the bikes, we are now in a hire car on our way to Switzerland and two days at the Montreux Jazz Festival (tickets for Rickie Lee Jones and Jeff Beck – having birthdays and getting older sometimes has its compensations).

I’m feeling guilty about burning carbon, but not very. After 400kms on a bike, I think we have earned the right to a few carbon miles. Anyway, using a car engine to get up all those sodding hills is a uniquely satisfying feeling, the only negative being that you first have to go through the pain to get it.

Navigating into Laon was pretty easy, although it did again need the olfactory skills of bloodhound or some other divine power to find the right tracks out of Tergneir. A number of the more obvious trails lead into the backyards of major industries or gravel pits and now without the canal or railway as guide.

In passing, the uninitiated in the wiles of French local government should know that that the national authorities who pay for the maintenance of the N roads (and generally do a good job) are also pretty adept at passing responsibility down to the departments (counties). And so what? You ask, well it just means that the road numbers keep on changing. This happens in many ways but if you can’t find the NXX, try looking for the D9XX or more recently the D10XX. They are probably the same thing.

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