Tuesday 17th May – Ride Day 5:
Day 5 of France en Velo … ‘welcome to the cauldron of a heatwave in central France’ !!
Today saw us take on almost exactly 💯 miles from Perigueux to Souillac over not mountainous but hilly terrain.
For the first time of the trip we fragmented at the start with Byrney & Nokey taking a direct route to the lunch stop (saving approx 30 miles) whilst the other six took on the meandering route (a bizarre ‘s’ shape and the least direct of any stage) through the hills, valleys and rivers of the Dordogne.
The scenery was spectacular but impinged by the oppressive temperatures we faced today, hitting the mid 30’s in places, which was so fatiguing. Having cycled in peak summer in Andalusia and Texas I’ve never experienced anything like this with the temperatures building from 11am and peaking around 7pm giving no respite.
Key notables from the day were:
– The road closure we hit early on with 3km of resurfacing in progress. Long segments where we had to walk with our bikes in the ditch loosing us a good half hour.
– Cycling by the village of ‘Le Terrier’ the day after HTAFC’s play off victory … and by a pond of the most noisy frogs !!
– More spectacular river crossings, hitting the l’Auvezere and La Vezire (where we stopped for an Orangina refuel 10km before the first ‘official’ break at Hautefort with its spectacular chateau).
The cafe was closed for the week 🙈 so once again, superb service off the van from Miles & Jonathan (and at this point, Aspey took the van option for the rest of the day given the situation).
– The next stage saw us again in changing delightful countryside (but often with heads down as we chased the clock !). Having hoped for lunch around 1pm we finally hit Les Eyzies at 2.30 but, fortunately, still in time to meet up, albeit briefly, with Mark & Debbie Cartwright and their daughter Hollie who left Highburton about 10 years ago.
Lunch was a welcome regional salad & chips (pizza for others) sat al-fresco in the sauna !!
– Fortunately we ‘only’ had 35 miles to go, now following the same route Nokey & Byrney took after their leisurely steak and chips having been at the meeting point about 2 hours previous to our arrival … this took us to the busy town of Sarlat (just after Farney & Blighthy raced each other up a 2 mile climb in the blistering heat… foolish behaviour 🤪 ) before a lovely route descending down a disused railway line to Grolejac where we again met up with the van and copious supplies of water and magnum ice cream.
– The last 15 miles were equally stunning but at this point all thoughts were on arrival at the hotel. With 5 miles to go we left the Dordogne and entered into the departement of Lot (we’re also now in the Occitanie region) and our hotel in Souillac.
The hotel is best described as ‘rustic’ with a sole double bed in some of the twins. After arrival at 6.30, the bikes were stored in an outdoor locked garden somewhere down the road that looked like a scrapyard (?😱) and we headed to a local restaurant for some much needed protein & carbs for replenishment & tomorrow!
An eventful, and memorable, day in the saddle for all !!