Working our way up
A silent anticipation nestled within as we set off this morning. Firstly, because the day before was hilly enough, and today’s was going to be hillier. Secondly, and more importantly, because our bums took a beating the day before, and the idea of spending another six hours in the saddle was not an overly inviting one. But excuses get you nowhere, and so we wiggled back into the padded Lycra, scoffed a carb-heavy breakfast (you guessed it, croissant and jambon baguette) and perched back into the saddle (well, kind of hovered over it really).
We set off early, adamant that we’d do a sizable chunk of the 65 miles before the 30+ degree heat hit. Which we didn’t.
The first chunk was described in the book as uphill, albeit one “so gentle you barely notice it.” Well, perhaps our powers of perception are superhuman, but we sure as fuck noticed that for thirteen slow kilometers there wasn’t a single moment where we could freewheel as the road climbed stubbornly and continuously.
After a rejuvenating café stop in the mouth-wateringly beautiful town of medieval Sarlat-la-Canéda, we finished our morning ride at Souillac. Has its charms for sure and was no hardship to rest a while and take in views of its two ancient churches and pretty main square, but it is no Sarlat. If they were starring in the classic movie Twins, then Souillac would defo be Danny DeVito.
And so we thought we were halfway but had unknowingly saved the hardest climbs for the hottest part of the day. Don’t say we don’t like a challenge.
We pedalled with perseverance (and pain) steeply up to Rocamadour. A stunning little village that is built into the side of the cliff. Originally discovered as the rocky (roc) tomb of St Amadour in the 11th century, it became a beacon for pilgrims from across Europe and a town grow up around it. Up close today it is over-crowded with tourists, but from afar it is truly stunning.
With lunch break over, the heat against us and no views in sight other than the rising road, we grit our teeth and finished off the final hour getting to Gramat. A relatively picturesque town (if there was a classic movie sequel called Triplets, it would be in between Danny DeVito and Arnie), it is also home to the Maison des Vins Cahors where a very fun and football-obsessed Frenchman laid on a dégustation of the bold reds of this Malbec-dominated region, with which we gladly toasted the fact that we are now exactly halfway on our cycle across France. Salut.