Day 3 of cycling saw us leave St. Die early doors and head north..we had no hotel booked, and planned to travel as far as we could during the day, as day 4′s trip up to Verdun would be a long one..
We thought we had seen the back of the Vosges, but the little smashers had one final leaving present for us… a ruddy great climb as soon as we left the pretty town of Raon-L’-etape which had a moving memorial to its past mayor who had been executed by the Nazis in 1944. The town may have been nice, but the holl the other end of it was a b*&!h, that exhausted us before we had even begun.
To be honest I struggled for the first 10 miles or so, the mountains were still in my legs so to speak, and Steve shot off like a rabbit and left me huffing and puffing away at my own pace (slow). The day started dry but by lunch time the heavens opened and my did they open. We cycled through 20-25 miles of open countryside buffets by howling gales and horizontal rain….which was nice. Once out of the countryside we slipped through numerous small villages, although we are cycling the Western Front of 1914-1918 this part of France also saw plenty of action in WW2. Most of the towns we passed still had their battle scars for all to see..bullet holes in walls, memorial plaques to the Allies and information as to when the town was liberated. and the odd tank..We were really traveling in the footsteps of heroes.
Mercifully the rain let up around mid afternoon, which allowed us to dry out a bit…and we enjoyed some great cycling (albeit hilly – why cant the French build flat roads?) The roads were dead straight but resembled the Loch Ness Monster with big humps as far as the eye could see…until we arrived at a little town called Chateau Salin. We had knocked off 55 miles we decided to stop here and found a little bar/hotel called…something (I forget). Anyhow, this hotel was run by Jean-Claude and his wife, Marie and it had a whole 1 star. But it was dry and warm and we were wet and cold, so I said to myself, Scott my ol’ son, this will doo-hoo…you.
Our host with the most asked us if we wanted dinner, Steve declined as he had just bought himself a gourmet delight from the local Aldi (ham sandwich and a huge packet of crisps), but I said oui…although I had no idea what ‘dinner’ would be.. Our room was ‘cosy’ but it had two beds and he put the bikes in his garage, which was nice. The dinner surprise was served at 7pm…and consisted of eggs for starter, and lasagne for mains….ooh la la! Just what the doctor ordered after a hard day pedaling! Washed down with a couple of petit biers and Scott was a happy chappie..
And so ended our 3rd day cycling the line…Verdun tomorrow..