After the chichi aloofness of the south, the mountains of the Massif Central came as a relief for the soul and a refreshment for the mind; people was sincere, cordial and honest again, and the landscape was just beautiful.
Only once, the day after Ascension day, I got into the traffic jam out of Apt where I had observed a man in the middle of the crowd, explaining with wild gestures his daily morning procedures to two others, ending with the apparently true statement „J’suis débordé“ („I’m completely confused“). I left the caravanes behind and headed for the Mont Ventoux, the famous Mecca for cyclists from all over Europe. I enjoyed their respectful or pitiful gazes on my burdened bike, but I was by no means intending to burn energies for nothing on that mountain. I cycled round it and got into hills soon enough, when the road climbed to the quite relaxed bohemian village Die, and, after a rest day, further to the Col de Rousset at 1254m. Surrounded by these white-capped mountains, cycling through the freshly green, flowery meadows, life felt just alright.
In the late afternoon, I crossed the Gorges de la Bourne, remembering the peruvian Canon del Pato and deeply impressed by this masterstroke of engineers in the early 19th century: hanging down from ropes, they put dynamite into small holes and pushed off. Some paid with their lives when they swung back too early… But I was in trouble myself: the steep hillsides were no camp spot and the plateau afterwards with pastures in a beautiful twilight no place to hide. It got later and darker, too late to ask for accomodation in this rural area and too dark to find a good spot. I somehow knew that something would happen when I cycled onwards into the darkness, and it happened: at about 10 p.m., on a side road, I met a man who got aware of that glint of despair in my face – the evening with Cathy and Didier, exchanging travel experiences and ways of life, was one of these unexpected, undeserved encounters which sometimes occur in moments of need.
Day became not day the other day. It kept raining when I descended to Grenoble, when I crossed one of the first tunnels in the Alpes, Les Echelles, when I passed Chambéry, until I reached Aix-les-Bains. But I could not have felt better.
From X to X, I cycled for 437km and 5.335 height meters.