Electrohoppers

Le Val Langlais Wood to La Paulière Field: Monday 14 August 2017

10:40am. Was awake at the usual time of 6:20. No journal this morning as I decided getting the route for the day down off maps.me on my iPad took priority. Was pleasantly surprised to see the E-Werk cache battery had been able to add 30% charge to the battery while we slept (well). But the app’s a right battery-drainer, so, by the time I’d taken me notes for today’s 54-or-so k, 10% had already been used; and that’s with the bez nadziejny GPS locator switched off. Don’t know why it’s so crap on the iPad. Maybe because it’s only using wi-fi and is not SIM-card enabled? Yup, that sounds feasible. But that leaves me with just under 40%, which should serve to survive till at least Tuesday evening with no economising, when, all being well, we check into a hotel for two nights, to enable us to have a proper rest-day.

Despite having had three easy riding days since setting off from Melton, Thursday 03 August, some eleven days ago, we have ridden every day since then, making today the twelfth consecutive day in the saddle; with tomorrow, too, and prospectively a tiny skip to the hotel check-in Thursday, that’ll be fifteen days in a row with some kind of pedal action; and, while we’re feeling good – great, in fact – and I’m feeling stronger each day and enjoying the spontaneity of camping ever ever more, it doesn’t hurt to rest before you’re proper tired, eat before you’re proper hungry, and drink before you’re proper thirsty; and Agnieszka has expressed that she’s feeling a little tired and wants or needs a proper rest day; so two nights in a hotel it is 😄

Still, it may give me an opportunity to have my front derailleur looked at, which is an issue that’s been bugging me for some time, and now it does seem to be becoming an issue on its own now: kicking my chain off a cog on two sensitive occasions. So, better to get it seen to as something minor before it turns into, or causes, something major.

‘Just’ a question of finding someone who knows what they’re doing, and is able to understand that minor little thing I’d like them to look at and adjust – and no more, because, apart from that, the bike is a dream, which is why little niggles maybe speak a little louder than they did on my previous bike.

I find certain bicycle maintenance things frustrating, not because things need maintaining or issues need to be resolved, but because I cannot do them on my own. I’m an independent sort, always have been, and when the power to resolve something is taken away out of my hands, I’m not completely at peace.

5C7D09ED-CE53-4CDB-B772-78878081D86C

As we rolled into an industrial shopping park today to stock up on supplies, I scuffed a front pannier on a cement bollard. An edge was caught, so the surface has been taken off that part of the pannier. Not a hole, but a weak point that I’ve hopefully reinforced sufficiently with some duct tape. We’ll see, but I’m happy enough.

Slowly but surely our equipment is betraying the signs of use, of knocks and scrapes, and wear and tear, which is fine: every mark tells a story. No-one expects, or wants, nothing to go wrong – as long as there’s a means to attempt to rectify the problem within our grasp … which returns me to my front derailleur – grrrr!

C7568DC3-EC30-4263-839B-4922D8FE72A8

Anyway, we definitely feel like we’re in a different climate now. The sky is a slightly different shade of blue, the earth is a little lighter to the touch, the trees reach a little more up than out, the bugs are more elaborately assorted, the buildings are less dense, and Monday in a business park seems a little less hectic than on a Sunday further North, which is nice to see at a time when, sadly, shopping has become a leisure and pleasure activity for far too many in this consumerist world.

67C0F5C7-0298-4E73-8F51-C4EB483F488F

Today, we head generally South. From here we’re stopping in some attractive-looking park in Chemille-en-Anjou. Great to have the choice of the World for your eating and sleeping locales – and to always be a part of it as we make our way between them. Then to Toutlemonde – I love saying that word 😃 – some 22 kilometres from the park. From there, West, South-West, to a tiny village just South of a river – about 23 kilometres further on. So, about 55 kilometres for the day, though we’ll stop somewhere before the final village at some suitable-looking place to lay our heads.

But where? we know not yet – and life is great (don’t bug me further chain/derailleur) 😀

6BE87D86-8002-4E86-AB27-EA498592CDF4

2225. Crickets, grasshoppers and electrohoppers – in fine fine chirrup. It’s so nice that you only register it as a song, but, knackered as I am, after almost five hours of upwardly undulating riding, in a Sunny 30º-plus heat, that song will not allow sleep to claim me. What the fuck are they playing at? Can they hear it? Or do they feel it? Do they have ears? Do we have ears? What we hear are only words formed from vibrations, after all, so I guess they do feel and, therefore, hear it.

So can I.

That magical evening song of Southern Europe. That beautiful harmony. The insect chorus.

They rule the world, don’t they – insects. Oh, they’re not so large, individually, not so visible, but they are everywhere, inconspicuously going about their business. Meaning no harm to anything except their next meal. Almost oblivious to you and to me. Unless an odour you emit suggests lunch to them, then you are the meaning of their world – the lightbulb to the moth. Then they barely give a fuck that you’re a huge lumbering Goliath who can swat them with the nonchalant swing of a drunken limb. Or they nip you in the place they know – yes, know – they’re not going to get disturbed. Whatever they are, they’re different and they’re everywhere – whether they’re coming for you or not.

We share the world with them, but not them alone – they have their predators. We’re not really one. We may commit mass genocide on them with our sprays, our modified plants and our habitat theft, but we’re not a bird, a larger insect, a spider or a small mammal, who we’re also killing through sprays and plants and theft. And all for whose sake?

Ha-ha, not who you think.

For our insect lords to come.

And not the nice ones,
but the ones who can deal with the toxins we’ve developed,
who’ve mutated to fight all wiles.

They’re mutant insect superbeasts – and they’re coming for you and for me 😃😗

~~~~~~~~~~

next entry>>

<<previous entry

Perfectly Plotted

Alençon to Les Cassieres: Friday 11 August 2017

12:31. Alençon. 21ºC. Temperature’s shot up, the Sun’s out, and the clouds are scattered. Hopefully a nice day in prospect. Pissed it down during the night. Hopefully it pissed itself out and we’re not racing the same cloud that’s been around over the last three days.

We’ll see.

As long as we get to keep most things dry by the time we camp and decamp, it’s not much of an issue. Nice to be able to strip off the extra top and bottom layer upon exiting a finely functional Ibis hotel: nice spacious room, great shower, great breakfast selection, very friendly and helpful staff. A toilet-brush would’ve been nice – Ew! – and we could’ve done without one guest persistently trying to toast the inappropriately shaped baguette in the toaster, and subsequently failing on a number of occasions, allowing us and fellow guests to breakfast in the fine atmosphere of burnt toast. He got there in the end, by maybe the fourth attempt. By which time I think he had a point to prove, both to himself and us fellow guests.

And now our journey South continues. Very shortly we’ll be leaving Normandy, which has captured all our senses so very much – the attack of pleasure upon them all that it is. Will all of France continue to cast such a spell? People say, “no,” but experience will tell – and we are looking forward to it, so…

Today we head for Sillé-le-Guillaume – 36k, and toward the tiny tiny village of Les Cassieres, which is less a destination than a direction, as it lies just beyond a forest or wood in which we’ll hopefully make camp.

Away!

69136be4-1b1b-4b01-b653-f64085a7d839

aced427b-713c-4149-967e-15692b8b7c3d

“These are not unspoilt, unmanaged forests, but they are being managed very well, so the bits that are being, let’s say ‘unmanaged’ for the time being, or left to regrow, are left to their own devices, and look unspoilt, so, yeah, I’d say: ‘Very well managed.’ They seem to rip out carefully selected parts and use them for whatever, but then just leave the others to develop pretty much as maybe they have since time immemorial. Of course, there are the more familiar pine-tree forests, which, I would say, are not that native to these parts to be so ubiquitous, but there are still these really old-school looking forests, which are still pretty hostile and wild. So managed, yes, of course, but a balance appears to be being kept. It would seem France knows how to do these things.”

a1f9e01e-545d-4ef9-a390-d6ff58737c05

15:40. Plop! The fish are feeding. The dragonfly are acrobaticking. The island spinney rests before us. France, you are yet to cease throwing up splendid surprises as we make our continuously merry way through you.

7a34d1a4-aec9-44e8-a404-118ca7a98129

A little bit more ascending than descending today, but none has felt at all unpleasant. The extended downhills have been great, and the vistas at almost every turn of the head are the love of life. After descending out of Mont-Saint-Jean – yes, we had to ascend to get into it first – and pausing for a wee drink and an apple, before making our way to and through Sillé de Guillaume, to stop somewhere for dinner, before, again, making our way towards Les Cassieres and bed, we climbed amongst some beautiful unspoilt-looking forest.

e72a47d7-660f-4705-9ddb-f6b8e4b8bbaf

“Giver of life”

As Agnieszka put it to herself (she thought)
as we rounded a corner.

A lake. Beautiful.

Benches, too!

“Dinner?”

Dinner!

ef9e7d24-e2ab-4776-b78d-e0af0ae42a91

What a spot! I’d say: “What a find!’ but I now think that France has plotted all these things for us, on a special mission to leave us with a magical impression and destroy any negative preconceptions an indoctrinated English person may care to have. If it has done so to such cynical ends, I thank you, anyway. If it hasn’t, which, of course, I truly believe to be the case, then, “thank you, again.” It really is a pleasure getting to know you.

And, as we have exited Normandy and entered Pays-de-la-Loire, what else does this country have in store?

The nature and everything: nothing feels off limits. It’s like: it’s here, it’s there – enjoy it! Great, just great. That shouldn’t be the exception, as it is in many other places we have visited – and it isn’t here. Another reason to just be; and just be happy 😁

~~~~~~~~~~

next entry>>

<<previous entry

The Breath Within a Verse

Forêt Domaniale de la Londe-Rouvray to La Chapelle-Hareng [Part 1]: Monday 07 August 2017

5:50am
The silence as night turns to day. The call-and-response harmonies of the owls are silenced for another shift from the Sun, and they return to their hallowed chambers of repose and security, secure from the terrors we diurnalites welcome with glee. How we take for granted the joy of passing into day and into the hours where there is less darkness for the imagination to illuminate.

The daylight shift tentatively begin stretching and warming their vocal chords. The lazy chatter from the far-from-yet fully roused winding themselves up. Only the cockerel sounds like he woke as a Jack released from its box (only, we all know they have a cheeky warm up about 90 minutes before the curtain’s due to rise). The soothing lethargy of the other members of the Dawn Chorus, though, is still coming together as a spring being gently wound, harnessing the energy required to release the most joyful ode to life.

6:30am
The night-shift has truly gone. The day-shift is returning, amongst it I am one. That 40 minutes of silence, a deathly hallowed pause, I felt the life that filled it, the energies it binds: full of all we are and what we’re meant to be.

Life goes on eternal. Shift and change. Repeat.

With no more rhyme than reason
That is the form we take
One note amongst the man
One breath within a verse

~~~~~~~~~~

next entry>>

<<previous entry

3:56am

Biskupice to Zlechov [Part 1]: Friday 07 July 2017

Awake. Intensely awake. Immersed in the sounds of a world cautiously waking up, and the sounds of the nocturnal creatures revelling in their dusky kingdoms before secreting themselves away as if they were never present; or almost as if they don’t exist at all.

Footsteps outside. Snapping twigs or breaking branches? Leaves rustling or jackets catching? Our curious interloper could be: former WWF Champion Slavek Švejk, down on his luck and looking to loot this potential goldmine of an overnight campsite, and woe betide either of them if they wake and try to prevent him from going about his foul business; or Henry the Hedgehog, coolly but cautiously ambling his way from a meal well-fed to a place well-bed – without the need to exercise excess caution as the tarmac assassins are mainly silent at this hour.

A light-footed hop and a skip tell me this is maybe a fawn.

It doesn’t really matter: we shared some moments, these creatures and I.

And as the morning chorus rolls in as if from a distance, over the seas, and over the horizons, in tune with the Sun, I’ll ignore this well-lunged cockerel getting some mid-night practice in while he thinks no-one’s listening, and pursue a few more Zs.

But, like the cockerel, I cannot sleep – though the cheeky bugger has fallen silent for the time being, making out he’s Mr Timekeeper, with no need of tuning to fill those pipes with cock-a-doodle.

I’m submerged in a chorus of song, featuring a dazzling array of the most beautiful harmonies and rhythms, the likes of which I have never heard before – at least, not altogether like this – being performed especially for me. Their fierce yet fragile beauty is melting my heart: it’s dissolving into the Earth around and being drawn up into the morning air of life.

Other more discordant sounds join in – some humanmade, others buzzy and waspy, others raspy and partridgey. And a gun! I think. In the distance. A hunter celebrating their mastery of all that is life, all that is beauty, all that we are a part; blind that their savagery removes all of the above and tears all apart.

And now the songs seem subsumed to the sound of a truck, a diesel engine, winding its way

away

Away from my heart, as mine once again rises with the life-invoked chorus of our true blooded cousins.

~~~~~~~~~~

next entry>>

<<previous entry