The view out my window tonight

This morning was a late morning for me. I needed to finish yesterdays ride report - always a problem after a hard day - and I needed to get my digestive system working properly again. I ate breakfast early, then worked in my room till nearly 10 AM, making several trip to the bathroom. When I left, I still was a little under the weather, but feeling much better than a few hours earlier. I think my basic problem is that French meals, which I enjoy, and hard bicycle riding, which I also enjoy, don't work well together.

I started today by riding through Tulle, looking for the Cathedral. Traffic was really bad in this town that is built along a river in a narrow gorge. When I found the Cathedral, it was a challenge just to get near it, because of the traffic, and I could not get to where I could take a decent picture of it because of the traffic and the fact that there was a busy market area immediately surrounding it. After checking with my computer, I rode on out of Tulle by continuing my ride down the river. My software didn't show the 200 m climb that was required to get up to the expressway, nor did it show that the expressway climbed for the next six km. Ah well, it was 'only' about 500 m of climbing. Then there was actually a flat part before it started climbing and descending, over and over again, for the rest of my ride. My average speed today was 10 mph. That is about what I do on the Blue Ridge Parkway with a mile of climbing for every fifty miles of riding. I only rode 60 miles today, but my legs feel like I climbed a mile. That - the Plateau du Limosin - is hilly country!

The climb out of Tulle

Starting out on N89

N89 just after the autoroute parallels it

Extending the autoroute to Tulle - it should be done in 2003

N89 going through a town

It took me an hour to do the first seven miles of riding with half a kilometer of climbing. Then the riding improved a lot when 90% of the traffic went over to the autoroute and the hills became much shorter <grin>. From then on, N89 was mostly peaceful riding, but it was still hard riding where I spent most of my time climbing at 6 mph and almost all the rest of my time descending at 20 to 30 mph. Over the next 30 miles, it climbed, with lots of ups and downs, gradually to over 800 m. The weather was not great. It was chilly starting out and it got chillier as I climbed. I don't think the temperature made it out of the low 60 F (15 C) range. The sun did come and go, but it was mostly gone. This evening, just before I stopped at 7 PM, I got sprinkled on a bit, but there was no real rain. Just chilly damp weather with little sunshine. Now, at almost 9:30 PM, it has cleared and I hope the last two and a half days of dreary weather will not continue tomorrow

A Drivers Ed car passing me by some of the morts along N89

Speaking of dreary, or better sad, things, there are several dozen life sized cutouts of people along U89. They are black with a red/orange slash from the top of their head down to their neck. I learned today that each on represents a traffic fatality at the point when the cutout is mounted. Some of them are in pairs, but most are alone. In Montana, they put crosses at the sites where people have died. I remember one site with seven crosses.

On a more pleasant note, there are no dead pieces of truck tire or truck tire wires on the shoulder on N89. I've often wondered why the US allows trucks to litter the roads with tire carcasses and bits of wire. Tires coming apart on trucks must represent a significant safety hazard, both to the trucks and to the other vehicles on the road, yet we do nothing about it. Apparently they do in France since I saw no tire debris in more than fifty miles of riding on an expressway with heavy truck traffic.

I stopped for lunch in Egletons. I was going to be good to my tummy and not have a real French lunch, so I stopped at a Pizza place. Unfortunately, they had a full lunch - Menu is the word - that was just too good to pass up. I really enjoyed it and, now I hope my digestive system will finish digesting it. Since the riding was hilly all day, there was no period of rest for digestion, other than the hour it took for lunch. I guess I shouldn't have had that dessert, but it was sooo good... On a positive note, I can ride for a long time after a French lunch without feeling hungry!

Sheep along N89 after Ussel

After Ussel, N89 feels almost like a rural road. There is still some big truck traffic, but not a lot of traffic in general. I would ride for five or ten minute without being passed by a car or truck. My planned route was to stay on N89 past Ussels and then make my way by smaller roads north to Pontamur. I initially intended to take a shortest path route - the kind that my Autoroute software does -- but decided to stay on N89 till Bourg-Lastic and then head north following D987 to Pontamur. That meant I didn't have to worry about getting lost on those little roads and, I think, a minimal amount of climbing since D987 goes up a valley.

D987 - a pleasant, hilly road with nice wildflowers along the banks

D897 initially goes through a military camp area, then farms. The first town is Lastic, which had no services, but an older man there did smile broadly at me. Often folks just stare which isn't enjoyable, but the one who react positively are nice. As I headed north out of Lastic, it started to sprinkle. I decided I was tired, it was relatively late, my legs had done enough climbing, and I would stop at the next hotel. I didn't have any idea when I'd find a hotel, but there were small towns at three to five km intervals along the road. When I saw the next town, Herment, I figured it would have at least one hotel. It is a pretty town , located on a hill with great views of the area for many miles around. It has two hotels and I'm at the fancier of the two. Bed - a very nice room with a private bath - and Breakfast - the standard is coffee, fruit juice, good bread with butter and jam - will cost me less than 40 Euros.

Herment as I was riding up to it - that wall surrounds the graveyard

Graves in Herment's graveyard - I've seen lots of similar graveyards around here
the above ground vaults and the icons on them are interesting

A telephoto shot of the mountains to the west

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