Another long day in 30C heat, with a large uphill net movement, as I finish in Annecy at the foot of the Alps. Skirt the Jura in the morning and a great conversation with old men in a bar, me drinking coffee and at least one of them rosé, at 10 A.M. Suddenly everything is friendlier. The towns and villages have got nicer, there are more boulangeries, cafés, things you need. On the plains where life is easier and richer, people can afford not to care and you can pass the day without seeing an open shop, a restaurant or a water fountain. In the mountains hospitality and kindness become important. I divert to a place called Nantua out of curiosity, thinking I know the name from Shakespeare. Maybe that’s true, but more pertinently it is a stage start in this year’s Tour. Turns out that in so doing I manage to miss a couple of climbs. And I have a lunchtime swim in a lake, so not at all bad. Keep on, hot and uphill. The first sight of snow on the mountain tops, yet it is 31C. I say sorry to my left knee, which is hurting. Bum management. Google ‘Vaseline on saddle sores?’. On one level, nothing is ever quite right. But, on another, everything is perfect, because this is what is happening and that’s all there is to it; and the only time you really worry is when you’re stopped, because if you’re going forward and time is passing then you’re doing exactly what you should be doing. I miss an instruction from my Garmin and get funnelled on to some big roads around Annecy. HGVs, traffic. That’s the best thing about GPS – when you follow it, it gets you easily trough the towns. The last 10km are around Lake Annecy, which is pretty, hot and heavy humid. Then a bed, staying with some friends. I said I’d be here for Thursday; the target kept me focused on covering ground quickly. Now I am in the Alps I can slow down.
No more flat roads till Nice...
151km today, 784 to go >>
Coffees: not enough
The rest of the madeleines
No cherries yet: disappointing