August 22, Lyon France

Well, today was one of those really frustrating days.

Yesterday, for the second day in a row, I found myself at a really high-priced campground. One ought to be able to get by under 10 Euros a night, but these were costing me twice that. I vowed to break the cycle. Many of you know that, if I make it to the end of this ride, I will be quite broke. Every Euro counts, and this is why I have not stayed in a hotel, nor eaten in a restaurant, since I entered France. Yet.

 

I got up early this morning, as I needed to make 80 km to stay on schedule. Then, I remembered that my rear tire was almost completely bald, having lost all of its tread. I generally carry two spares, so this was not a problem. But, by the time you remove all of the bags, flip the bike upside down and change the tire, 45 minutes have elapsed.

During the first leg of the ride–about 300 miles into it–I picked up a small piece of wire in my front tire. It created a pinhole leak, meaning that I had to repressure the front tire about every two days. This was in early April. You know, I still had not fixed that problem? So, since I was changing the rear tire anyway, I figured that I might as well replace the front tube, which I did.

A much needed trip to the store and an ATM, meant that I did not get on the road until almost noon. I picked up the bicycle route and, as soon as it left the town, it turned into a bumpy dirt path.

13,000 miles of THIS?

13,000 miles of THIS?

 

Enough of this! I moved east towards the highway to avoid it all. But, on the way, I passed a really nice 1-lane country road that served the local farming community. That road took me south for MILES. Why the route planners would put a rider on a muddy, bumpy, tire-destroying path, just so you can be near the river, when there is a very nice country lane just 1/2 mile to the east–boggles the mind.

This kept up for a while. Every time I would return to the path, I would be disappointed with the  condition (or its lack of existence. At one point I was supposed to ride through the river.) So, I gave up and moved to the local highways, which were not that bad and I made good time. Along the path, a passed what could have been a school. And though an open window, I could hear a jazz band playing “Birdland”–a song that I played when I was in high school. I think it was written by Bob James; the same guy that did the them song to “Taxi.”

About 50 km into an 80 km ride, I generally pause and look for campgrounds. There was one that was only 12 km away, which would make for a very short day. And there was another one about 40 km away, which would make for a longer than desired day. Further, this distance meant that I would also have to ride through Lyon, which can be very difficult–and it had 4 stars, meaning that I would likely pay through the nose. So, I decided to ask Siri to check on google for any nearby campgrounds. There was one with just a couple of stars 30 km away! It would make a perfect ride for the day. It deviated from the path a bit, but I decided to give it a go. It worked so well last time. I took me into the city limits of Lyon and some of the buildings were incredible.

Near the Lyon city limits

Near the Lyon city limits

 

Google found a perfect cycling route! None of this path stuff–good roads with their own bicycle lanes. I made great time and felt good. About a mile before the campground, google warned me that I would be turning left. Uhhh–there was essentially a cliff to my left. This did not look good. When I got to the road I was supposed to turn on, I saw that it did indeed go up a very steep incline. The incline started on the other side of a barred gate. This was clearly a private community of sorts, and I was not getting into it. I doubt that there was any campground. I went back to the google screen for the “campground” and called the number (probably a 10 buck call–thanks T-Mobil). I got a recording in French and then a dial tone. My guess is that whatever is there had something resembling the word “camp” in its name and that is all it took.

I continued down the road until I got to another left turn; one that wasn’t gated off. This was a 20% grade up hill, with a narrow road and no sholders. Lights were set up so that each direction–up or down–would take turns using the road. Me, I just kept pushing it up the hill.

My thought was that, one way or another, I was going to have to get over this hill. 30 km away was the distance campground that I had earlier dismissed as being too far. But now, I had put myself in a very bad position to reach it, owing to the terrain. But, no matter where I went, that hill was in the way. So up it was. I began looking for a graveyard.

When the route finally flattened out a bit, I caved. I asked Siri to find me a hotel. Dangit! Browsing through the list of suggestions, I found one not too far away that looked cheap. Following the walking directions on google maps, lead me to a driveway with a gate in front of it–and that was not even all the way to the “Hotel” yet. At this point, I was getting desperate. When you have no where to stay in the country side, you have all kinds of options. But the same situation in a city, will kill you. So, I scrolled down the list and found one that had the words budget and IBIS in it. There was a phone number and I got a nice woman in India that would help me. In the end, 103 Euros was the quoted rate, and I set off towards the hotel, a bit wiser perhaps, but quite a bit poorer.

This route took me through some serious city rush hour traffic. But, by now, I could care less. Let them get around me, drive past me, or whatever. I’m cycling in heavy traffic through the center of a large city. At one point the road went through a tunnel.

About 1/2 mile before the end, I passed another IBIS hotel! And this one had a sign on the outside that said single rooms for 67 Euros. What? Those people were charging me 103!!! So, I rode my bike right through the automatic double doors and into the lobby. The women behind the desk were horrified. I explained the situation to them and said that I would much rather stay in a hotel that charged 67 Euros instead of 103, and could they please make that happen. You could tell that these folks were looking for any reason to make me go away. You have to understand that, at this point, I was not thinking–nor behaving– too rationally.

They explained that they were not able to make the call for me. Some funny rule. I suggested that perhaps I could punch the numbers in for them, but I did not want to use my phone because it would be very expensive. Then one of the women had a stroke of genius. She said that there would be nowhere to put my bicycle, since they used only a public parking lot. But the 103 Euro hotel had its own parking place–very secure. Rats–she had found my weak spot, and I said that, OK–I would go to the expensive hotel, one where perhaps I would not bicycle through the lobby upon arrival.

When I arrived at the new IBIS, the front desk staff was great. They arranged a special locked room for my bike, and gave me a cart for the bags. Here they are!

Friendly IBIS staff, holding my business card.

Friendly IBIS staff, holding my business card.

 

Well, lessons learned. Today I broke one of the rules of cycle touring–never start out on a day without knowing where you will be sleeping that evening. I have been getting away with it, but my luck ran out. Tomorrow should be another 80 km day. See  you then!

 

Scott

 

Scott

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