Did I mention that it was hot today?
First off, we got away a little on the late side. It was shortly after 10 as we were loading the bikes for our planned day trip. Much to our chagrin we discovered that my rear tire was as flat as a pancake. We had pumped it up two days ago when it looked a bit soft (and I had certainly noticed that the response was a little slower than usual) but today it was really flat. So… my prince Werner changed the tube for me. Since we were still “at home” it was relatively painless, but it still bit into our travel time. And as the clock dial reached midday, the thermometer was rising and rising.
Since all of our original itinerary plans for these two days involved riding up and down lot of hills, we opted for Plan C “play it by ear”. We had so enjoyed the bike trail from Sarlat to Souillac we wanted to ride it again. Our innkeeper had told us that parts of the way along the south side were marked as a bike route so we set off and made our way towards St. Julien de Lampon.
First we rode down to the river and rode on farm roads through fragrant fields of corn and flax and groves of walnut-laden trees. For a few kilometers we were forced to ride on the main road but fortunately it wasn’t too busy. In St. Julien de Lampon we stopped and I ran in the Boulangerie and grocery store and bought a few picnic necessities and stocked up on water.
After St. Julien the way was similar, varying from stretches on the (not very well-traveled) main road and through fields and groves. It would have been more enjoyable had it not been for the fact that the temperature was hovering around 100 degrees (38 C.). And unfortunately the shade was not continuous.
At one point we were riding on the road and encountered quite a steep hill. Werner rode up on ahead while I had to stop a few times and pant and wipe the sweat off my face. By the time I reached the top, Werner was waiting for me in the only shady place in the little village atop the hill – the covered area in front of the communal bread oven. We spent about 20 minutes there drinking water and recovering – although we had barely ridden 20km, the heat made it seem as though we had already ridden 100km. Ugh. Our next goal was to find a place to picnic and hopefully swim, so we mounted our bikes and got back on the road.
Just a few kilometers later the trail reached the bridge we needed to cross to head back - lucky for us, just there was a perfect picnic spot / swimming hole. We found a fairly even log and spread out our picnic stuff and made ourselves at home and spent the next three hours snacking and taking turns playing in the water. One couldn’t really call it swimming, because at this point the Dordogne current was so strong one could barely stand up in it. Werner is an extremely strong swimmer and even when exuding full effort, he couldn’t swim more than a meter against the current.
At about 5:00 we packed up our things and headed back towards Souillac. The ride back was even lovelier than it had been two days before as the sky was no longer overcast and there was no humidity in the air. The downside of the bright and sunny weather was the fact that it was 40C (over 100F) and we were sweating in rivers. We stopped under practically every tree to drink water but in stopping one gets warmer because at least when you're moving there's a breeze. We had expected the 22km to go fairly quickly but what with all the stops, including one longer stop at a campground cafe, we didn't get back to Souillac until 7:30.
Luckily we arrived just in time to make it to the big E. Leclerc grocery store before closing time. There we had fun picking out picnic provisions for the evening's dinner. Tomato salad, olives, tabouleh, tex-mex chicken wings (!), bread and cheese. Wine of course and flat peaches for dessert. Yumolah.
We arrived back at the hotel at 8:30 and after a quick shower we enjoyed our picnic in the garden, with the beggar-dog for company. (Werner is such a softie!)
We can see the big dipper out our bedroom window.