Crossing FranceWell, despite that the full tour is now lost to memory and the sands of time, I can recall much of this great trip.
There I was at yet another Badminton tournament, this time in France, with lovely French and Swiss women around. It's maybe why I frequented so many events. I'd rode over from the North coast and played for the weekend, when at the dinner party, my accompanying friend engaged himself with this lovely French girl and I trying to get somewhere with the Swiss. Whereupon, I received and invitation to play in Switzerland. The idea appealed to me, for obvious reasons. A few ales had passed my lips and I said I'd cycle over, from London to La Chaux-de-Fonds, 450 miles, or so. And they thought I was joking!
With my cousin, we prepared over the coming months with long country rides and plenty of Badminton. Now ready, with the bags loaded, and the rackets, we set off, taking the ferry from the UK coast, arriving in Dieppe on a chilly Autumn morning. Money was short, so accommodation, apart from the one, in-reach, hostel would have to be found as we went. Skirting around Paris we headed south on good roads through Beauvais, Compiegne and Soissons for our first night at the hostel. And on next day through Chateau Thierry, the Champagne region and the Massif Central to, Chaumont. The roads now long and straight, with gentle long inclines across endless wheat fields and glorious sunshine.
Evening found us still remote in the countryside, interspersed with the occasional country village, though no barn found to doss down in. After taking a nighttime hot chocolate at the local "Bar", we set ourselves down on the church steps and without sleeping bags. A chilly and hard surfaced night dragged on, awaking to sore and stiff limbs and ready for that elusive big breakfast. Dawn riding led us to a cafe' stop with more hot chocolate drink and the road to Bescancon. Our 4-day target now becoming harder to achieve with less accumulated miles than required, and then to be tooted by some maniac in his car, and making gestures at us. I thought we'd need to get the rackets out and do some practice on him. Though, the gestures were in fact an invitation for roadside coffee, no less, as there he was a couple of miles up the road with stove out and the coffee on. Such charity, a Dutch guy and fellow cyclist. The several cups and the heavy shots of caffeine sped us on our way against a headwind, and into 35 miles of darkness, to arrive in Bescancon, where I slumped into a feather bed at a cheap hotel and slept like a log, ending a 135 mile day.