September 16, 2015Riding in France: Reims to Châlons-en-Champagne and a train to Strasbourg
It rained overnight but the sun shone warmly again in the morning as I packed the tent away and loaded up my bicycle. I’d been an object of some interest around the campground the night before and this continued in the morning until I finished packing and rode away around 10 am. (I’m still struggling to master this early start thing.)
Back up the hill I’d climbed yesterday afternoon to Hungry Head but, this time, stopping to take in the view – the first of the Pacific I’d enjoyed on this ride. The north looked sunny and beautiful; the south – where I was heading – overcast.
The trouble with these blog posts is there’s actually not a lot of ways to talk of roads, views, and riding that doesn’t vary that much: undulating country roads and highway verges – there’s just not much to say about them.
There’s also not a huge amount to say about what I was thinking about – what was I thinking about? Well, the thing with riding – for me anyway – is I tend to do it from a fairly deeply mindful and present place. I’m looking at the road ahead, listening for the traffic coming from behind, noticing the smells and feeling the direction of the wind.
My mind wanders to contemplate various things … I’ve been thinking about Trust – and may write something separate about that – and on this day I was thinking rather a bit about Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, Australians who had been executed by the State of Indonesia while I slept in my tent in Urunga.
The two issues relate, of course, trust and the executions – the betrayal of the trust that the system will recognize reform and reward it with life. A betrayal of trust not dissimilar to that suffered by young black Americans who – while I slept and Indonesia was executing – were rebelling in Baltimore.
Life should simply be fairer and more just for more people – we should recognise that we are all in this together and that we all benefit when more of our fellow human beings are thriving than are suffering.
Anyway … when I’m not watching for twigs or cringing in the turbulence of a Double-B, this is the stuff I’m thinking about. That and what I’ll eat next.
I left the highway at Nambucca Heads and took the backroads to Macksville. Seven kilometres out of town it was clear I’d just missed a rain shower: there were wet patches on the road and that fantastic rain-on-hot-bitumen smell. As I passed the showgrounds the heavens opened, seemingly from nowhere, and hammered me for just long enough for me to get wet, get my jacket out, put it on and ride on. Then it stopped.
I had set my mind on a vanilla slice from just before the rain and I was on the hunt for a bakery as soon as I hit town. Quickly found one, and my vanilla slice, then a café for a matching pot of tea. Such civilised bicycle touring!
The highway from Macksville to the Scotts Head turn-off is shit – busy and with a narrow verge – but it was only a few kilometres. Then I was back onto rolling country blacktop again for the final hour or so into Scotts Head. A bit of a brutal climb greeted my arrival into the town but the top rewarded me with a stunning view of the ocean, headlands rolling north, and orangey cloud diffused sunlight illuminating the whole of it.
My Warm Showers hosts for the night, Jacky and Stephen, are recently retired and tour locally mostly but have made a couple of jaunts to Europe and other, non-bicycle, travel in Asia and South America. They were hosting me in Jacky’s mum’s house – she has passed away and now it’s shared as a holiday/beach house amongst Jacky, her siblings and all their kids.
It was another enjoyable Warm Showers evening: eating, drinking and socialising. I slept in a single bed in a room decorated with an old wall map of Australia showing a circuit journey around the continent. One of many such road-trips Jacky’s parents had enjoyed making.
Again … Google won’t let me embed a map with my changes (if anyone knows how to do that, let me know) I rode from Urunga to Hungry Head, Nambucca Heads then the backroads to Macksville before rejoining the highway to the Scotts Head turnoff.