over the hills

today should be the hilliest day of the whole tour: we will leave the canal and cross the hills to get to our next stop. there is an alternative route, but we’ve decided we won’t know if we can do it until we try it and tell ourselves that we can take all the time we need.

we slept in a business hotel near the highway so there is a big breakfast buffet: I have pancakes with Nutella and banana, Arne sticks with sausages and bread. it’s funny to see that the restaurants here are not into vegetables or fruits, breakfast lunch or dinner.

we cycle back from the hotel to the track, but are quickly forced to turn back: we’re on the right road but there is no actual road, just a grassy canal bank with a sign Interdit au public – Danger. after a detour along the busy D road we get back on track. we’re following the Canal du Centre downhill today, since we just crossed the divide between the mediterranean and atlantic watershed, so it’s pretty easy going the first ten kilometers of the day to Saint Julien sur Dheune. the weather is cloudy and they promise storms, but right now it’s not actually raining and we enjoy it while it lasts.

we leave the canal for a 15 kilometer stretch over the hills. this is the only place where the book actually mentions how many slopes there are and that they’re steep enough that you might want to consider a detour, so we’re mentally prepped for defeat, but we both manage to make it to top each time, without stopping. we do need our smallest gear, the average speed is about 6 km/h and we need a five minute break at the top to get our heart rate down, but up we go. it’s nice to see a bit more of the landscape, though today you can’t actually see that much since it’s so foggy: we can see the next hill over, but the one behind that is just a vague outline. the villages are small and cute, there is almost no traffic and the roads are decent, so pretty much ideal conditions. we stop at a bakery to have lunch at the end of the hilly stretch and replenish ourselves with quiche and brioche bread with pieces of chocolat.

we leave the canal for a 15 kilometer stretch over the hills. this is the only place where the book actually mentions how many slopes there are and that they’re steep enough that you might want to consider a detour, so we’re mentally prepped for defeat, but we both manage to make it to top each time, without stopping. we do need our smallest gear, the average speed is about 6 km/h and we need a five minute break at the top to get our heart rate down, but up we go. it’s nice to see a bit more of the landscape, though today you can’t actually see that much since it’s so foggy: we can see the next hill over, but the one behind that is just a vague outline. the villages are small and cute, there is almost no traffic and the roads are decent, so pretty much ideal conditions. we stop at a bakery to have lunch at the end of the hilly stretch and replenish ourselves with quiche and brioche bread with pieces of chocolat.

now back along the canal, we continue to Santenay and are starting to see some vineyards. the promised storm announces itself with thunder, so we have plenty of time to gear up for the rain: Arne goes for the covered-from-top-to-bottom-look, me I just put on a rain jacket and take off my socks with the idea that I will get wet quickly but also dry quickly. from Santenay we follow the Voie des Vignes, which is a bicycle route going from village to village, passing all the famous wineries. we don’t stop for a tasting, but have regular breaks to drink water, since the sun now occasionally comes out from behind the clouds. I’m down to two merino layers when we arrive in Pommard, where we will stay for two nights and take a break from cycling. breakfast is only at eight thirty, we’ll be forced to sleep late!

  • total distance: 420,6 km
  • distance today: 55 km
  • cycling hours today: 4 h
  • average speed today: 13,5 km/h

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