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Day 24 .... Pont-St-Esprit to Valence ... part II ....Hooray!

Amazing what occurs with WiFi when you go down to reception and sit on the server. Almost instantaneous downloading of photos. I am positively giddy with joy. So today’s blog does get published with story and photos.

The Via Rhôna is a recent initiative and is a well sign posted and largely car free cycling route that runs 815 km from Lac Lehman in Switzerland to the Mediterranean. 100% of the people I passed today were heading south . Not a soul doing what I was which was ride north. All of those heading south undoubtedly doing so because psychologically they’ve figured it’s downhill. What they didn’t factor is the wind gods who today rewarded me for that ride into hell back at Port La Nouvelle . For me heading north I had a 15 knot tail wind. For those heading south they had a 0.1 inch per mile decline in gradient and a head wind that would’ve made it a very loooooong day indeed. There was some mightily unimpressed other halves trailing their husbands a few hundred metres back with heads down and furrowed brows.  

As I set off from Pont-St-Esprit I took one last look at the bridge and village. Construction commenced in 1265 under the rule of Louis IX and over the the next 200 years several additions were made to the original structure. It has 20 arches (not 15 as I counted yesterday) and is still the oldest and longest bridge over the Rhône.

The first 10km was under dark clouds with with air thick with the sounds of ducks quacking , Sunday church bells clanging , frogs croaking, dogs barking , cockerels cock-a-doodling and me huffing n puffing along quiet one lane country roads that were bound by lilly filled gullies on one side and woods on the other .

I did say wooded lanes .

The wheels of agriculture stood still on Sunday. 

In case there was any confusion as to what that large mass of water beside me was called .

The bridge at Vivier was impressive . 

So too this little swing bridge that was open to pedestrians and cyclists . 

Swing bridge II

For most of the morning I had the Rhône to my right despite criss crossing it a few times and this sort of scenery to my left. (Getting my bike up that concrete wall is a story for another time. Suffice to say it was a reminder that common sense always prevails) 

When I last passed a nuclear plant in Spain near Jalance it was hidden (as much as you can hide a nuclear plant ) in a deep valley in an isolated area. Not for the French . Let’s stick ours in one of the prettiest and most visited valleys we have and a mere 100 metres from a major motorway. 

The church of Cuas . It was at this point that my left arm was in danger of being gnawed off. Someone had forgotten it was Sunday and without exception every service station, supermarket , Tabac, cafe and restaurant was closed. On I rode with sugar hits from my quickly vanishing Smarties bag. 

Just as the left arm was quivering with fear I came across this little gem of a town called Le Pouzin. Yesterday I enjoyed the best coffee I have had on this trip in Nîmes . Today a little family run and very popular pizzeria in Le Pouzin gave me the best pizza thus far. The pizza was impressive and so too the cutting  knife. Proper cutter that.

Aforementioned impressive pizza and equally impressive knife.

As I sat down to gorge myself on that cooked heart attack waiting to happen the clouds they had been threatening all morning finally gave way. The last 20 km into Valance was a very wet one. In fact the first time I have had to don wet weather gear since 2 days out of Valencia some 13 days ago so no complaints here. Just statement of fact.

If you’re wondering why the Ray Charles look with dark glasses on a dark and wet day well that’s easily explained . I couldn’t be bothered fishing through either pannier in teeming rain to find my clear lens glasses  and figured it better to ride blind than to be blinded by road debris. 

Onto Lyon tomorrow for a date with the much better half of my life who has sensibly decided to fly. 

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