Day 23

Fri 10th May.
Moving on Bordeaux.

Overnight it had rained. Not a lot, but enough for a damp start. The mud field I had crossed to enter the trees and set up camp had now soaked up the rain and become a 50sq metre dead zone of thick brown mud that I had to cross.
I looked at it and thought about it for a while, but decided with no alternative to just go through it. I put some plastic bags on my shoes so they didn’t get covered in wet mud and started moving. it was slow and ugly, but working, until about 20m through, when mud had filled the mud guards and stopped any movement. I had to stop and push the mud out with my fingers. Between the mud guards and the wheel is about 2cm and quite an awkward gap for pushing curious brown sludge.
I pushed out what I could from the front and back, moved a few metres, then it had filled up again. This continued, making it extremely frustrating. Again I only had myself to blame.
I knew I was on someone’s land as there were vineyards and a tractor driving around. I got thinking that if this was warfare and I was trying to flee from the enemy, I would be toast, being that I was so exposed.
I finally escaped the mud, did one last clean, dumped my bag shoes and was thankful to be on the saddle and pedalling.

It was clear from what I could see, that I was nearing the Bordeaux region, arguably the producer of France’s best wines, producing wine since the 8th century. There were many, many vineyards, shops and producers scattered around and it was normal to see sign after sign advertising the local produce.

I went through a strange small town that I don’t know the name of. Again, everything was shut, strange for a Friday, but not strange for France. I decided to treat myself to a coke from a vending machine, favouring cherry for a change. The machine hesitated and I feared it had swallowed one of my precious euros, but then it let go of two cans. A pleasant occurrence from the world of luck.
I sat down to enjoy one, saving the other, had a banana and some bread, and watched some of the local kids cycling round on bikes.

As I can only charge the GPS once every three or four days (with a host), I have to be selective about when I can use it as it’s life is about 14hours, so I try to do most of the basic navigation maps on the ipad, notes or using the compass.
I usually use it if I’m in a hurry, entering and leaving a city, or simply lost. But it’s used sparingly, not all the time as a stat machine, like I had assumed I would at the start of the trip.
I had been using it a lot towards Bordeaux and decided to keep it on all day to get me there for a good time. Progress was good, but a few km out of the city, the GPS confessed it was low in power and gave in shortly after.

I crossed the Point Gustave Eiffel lattice bridge over the Dordogne river and thought was there, but it was a false illusion A little later then I suspected I entered Bordeaux and stopped to get a bit to eat. I treated myself to a Magnum and ate it too quickly. I continued to enter the city crossing another bridge with a magnificent view entering the city.
I crossed and headed towards the section of the city where I was staying, Bégles in the south east sector of the city. Technically independent to Bordeaux, but intertwined nonetheless.
I past through a shady area with dingy clubs that looked like they had been shut for a while. Shortly after in the right direction it was fairly obvious there were female prostitutes hanging around. Saddened that my high hopes for this city as a haven of nice things–away from cycling and Paris–had already been shattered by reality. I got lost, but before too long, found the exact location where their house should be.
I couldn’t find any names or evidence of my hosts in the houses I found. After five minutes I decided to knock on one of the doors, but a split second before, a slightly perturbed looking Frenchman on a bike in high-vis gear approached me:
“Alex?!?”
–”Yes?!?”
“I am your host Sebastian, (I chose him based on how good my host of the same name had been in Tours) we realised our house was mapped in the wrong place and I thought I’d come to see if you were here”
I was literally amazed “Good timing” I responded, wide eyed. I took a breather at the chances of us both arriving here within a few minutes of each other, had much more time have passed on would be on the hunt for internet and the next best option. Someone or something may have been looking out for me.

We cycled back to his, it was about an 10 minute cycle. I was spooked by how far this was, and how I would’ve got there if it wasn’t for him coming to find me.
I should explain that I use an app called WarmShowers (connected to the site), people plot their home as a point on the map. Potential guests interact with this point, contacting them and referencing this point on the map to navigate. n my experience, most of the points aren’t accurate and since I have taken the precaution of asking for an exact address and looking it up beforehand.

When we got to the house it was lovely. They had a sign on the front door for me and Anne, Sebastian’s partner made me feel like I was her own son. Food, shower, good wine (Bordeaux of course), grapes, nuts, tea and plenty of good advice (grape juice is good for energy and sparkling water hydrates you quicker). They really took care of me.
I had made Bordeaux in the time I needed to. I was slightly amazed, and glad I could haul it when I needed too. Roughly 340km (211 miles) in three and a half days. After dinner, I lay back on my purple and pink bed for the night and took it all in.

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