Estaing to Conques
What started out to be a flat, along the river ride soon turned into one of the toughest rides so far this trip. Steep up hill and rocky. sometimes having to pass the bike as we got sure footing. Lots of sections that went straight up rather then follow switch back pavement that we had no idea if by staying on the road would have worked at all.
This was truly that lesson we learned as children that what goes down, has to go up sometime. The big payback for yesterdays ride of mostly all down hill!
We eventually reached the top with spectacular views. Into the woods and out again all morning long. The Pilgrims we meet along the way I think seem to think that we are only riding on the road until they see us in the woods and tires covered with mud.
We have had to walk the bike a lot. the trail is loose, wet and covered with rocks. Sometimes it looks smooth enough to ride for a while, but always, soon we are dismounting to safely pass through another unrideable section. A single full suspension mountain bicycle would be best for this, but not for the long hauls on pavement the Chemin has us doing.
Its always nice to get a rest, but steep downhills are always a worry because of the thought of what size hill climb will be ahead.
Times of total exhaustion come many times a day while riding in this part of France. We rarely see other cyclists. Only once in the past 5 days have we seen anyone riding on the trail and they looked like locals out for a mountain bike ride.
We hopped off the trail to find lunch around 1:00 pm. We found a nice, clean place with hot food filled with Pilgrims. Backpacks at the door, no one was talking, just head down, eating.
After lunch we decided that we have had enough bike pushing and thought it best to follow the pavement to Conques.
Conques is one of the most beautiful places we have been to. The first time we visited, we rode in. That was 2001. The second by car.
Our trip by pavement turned to be much longer then if we had stayed on the trail. Long down hills followed by longer up hills.
It never rained all day, but at times, very heavy drizzle as if riding through a cloud. Cold and raw. I actually saw my breath at one time.
The last 9km's to Conques was all down hill. 30mph, twisty, turney narrow roads, but down hill. D42 to be exact, The back way into town. Hardly any cars.
We got to Conques safely. There were many tourists walking in the street. Our plan was to not stop, but to go right to the Hotel and get out of our wet clothing. Dinner, and bed.
We had the most fantastic meal last night. Nothing like you would expect. Hard to explain, but 6 courses of small portions of artfully arranged plates of combinations of flavors. Many had local spices and flavors we had never had. There wasn't one bad bite!
Sleep came easy. The next thing I knew, it was morning!
I no longer aks what the weather is going to be for the day. It will rain at some point. I do know that this is better then hot sun just simply for the fact that we don't have to carry a lot of water.
Off to Conques first thing after breakfast. Here are some of the photos from today's ride