Distance: 84 miles
Total Distance: 948 miles
I left Niort with the sunrise and rode through a chilly morning along back roads, overgrown tracks and country lanes. The creaking of my chain was unbearable now and I really needed to find a bike shop as soon as possible.
As the day got hotter I was plagued by swarms of midges which no amount of batting and flailing could disperse. It was a hilly day, not made any easier by the gradual disintegration of my bike and my body.
I was only three days away from the end of France and was just plodding along, mindlessly trying to push through. I had reached the mental blockage stage, where each minor obstacle seems like an insurmountable barrier to overcome and every action and decision requires an overwhelming amount of effort. In times like this it’s the little things that keeps you going. Whether it’s the sugary caffeine hit from a can of Coke or simply chuckling at the name of a town called Largeasse, you have to take each little piece of joy where you can.
The countryside turned into a long cycle path through a greenway, a wide smooth track lined with trees that carried on perfectly straight for several miles, leading me right into the centre of Thouars. This must be cycling country because all the roads had a nice wide bike lane with plenty of room for me to cycle along unharmed. The lorries roared past me with metres to spare.
Heading back into the countryside I stopped and had lunch by the side of the road. The day would have been a lot more fun if my bike wasn’t being so shit. The chain was so knackered I didn’t want to put too much strain on it so I was going very slowly. Plus the fact that my knees were still killing me didn’t help.
I crossed the majestic Pont Napoléon over the river Thouer and followed a scenic riverside path before rolling through vineyards with the sun setting behind the fields and the reddening sky turning to purple. The country looking like something out of a painting. I followed this quiet road all the way to my final destination of Saumur. A historic town on the Loire river, the skyline is truly something special with the spires and towers of ancient buildings piercing the sky.
After a long and difficult day I finally sprawled into my campsite, situated right on the middle of an island on the river. It was packed with noisy tourists and there was just one space left but I was so tired I managed to drown out the noise and slept like a log.