We left Chalon to its festival and headed south along the west bank of the Saône. The campsite we were aiming for was at a place called Uchizy, not far south of Tournus. There was no town there to speak of, so we made sure we had enough food for an evening meal and some breakfast. As we neared the campsite I felt the rear of the bike squirm a little so pulled over. Sure enough we had our second flat of the tour. As we unloaded the bike of trailer and luggage a car pulled up behind and the guy said if we needed any tire or tube, he worked at a bike shop, but I thanked him and said we had spares. We were only about 100 metres from the campsite entrance.
Once pumped up and reloaded we made our way to reception. This was by far the most laid-back place we had been to – apart from the site where we saw no staff at all. Reception was run by a young chap who spoke good English – we already knew this, as now we were heading into ever more ‘touristy’ country, we had taken to phoning ahead, usually the evening before, to a prospective campsite when we could. The site only had a few motorhomes so there was plenty of places to choose to pitch. No formal marked out pitches, just plenty of space among loosely spaced out trees which provided some shade.
I got the impression none of the bar, restaurant and cleaning staff were native French and there were a couple of old mobile homes and a small brick building they were living in. The restaurant was very popular in the evening, with lots of non-camping guests arriving just for food, and the little waitresses where run off their feet!
Next morning the roads were damp as we set off. At first the cycle route followed the river along a good tarmac lane, skirting around the odd small lake or flash. We made good progress, just stopping now and then so Karon could adjust her pump or check blood sugar levels. We followed the cycle path all the way into Mâcon where we found a small Sushi place for lunch. Clearing away, the waiter managed to spill soy sauce down my front. I managed to get most of it cleared but it left me with an embarrassing wet patch in the wrong place! He apologised profusely and gave us a little box of Japanese sweet deserts on our departure.
South of Macon we switched to the east bank, as a motorway ran alongside the river on the west, which meant there was no convenient cycle route between it and the river. It soon became apparent that the tracks were more suited to MTBs that heavily laden tandems and after encountering a few barriers and some very loose surfaces, we bailed out and headed for the nearest road.
We stayed on the road all the way to Montmerle and found the campsite at the far end of the town. Just before it, we spotted a riverside eatery that we thought we would walk back to after setting up camp. As we did so, it started to rain, quite heavily. We had very little food in the tent, so carried on to the place we’d spotted, only to find it was closing. We carried on into town and by now our legs were soaked through as we only had our waterproof tops on. There was no-where to eat apart from a pizzeria and that didn’t open til later, so we had a couple of drinks in a bar and watched the rain, waiting for the pizza place to open. Karon wasn’t happy on two counts – at being soaked through and at being fed carbs!
Next morning it was still raining when I got up. I left Karon asleep and put the bike and all the luggage under the nearby wash block that was built on ‘stilts’ with a service area underneath – presumably to keep clear of a flooded river. Once all the kit was under cover I put on a brew then got Karon. I dropped the tent and dragged it under cover before wrapping it up and putting it away.
By the time we came to set off it has almost stopped and cleared pretty quickly. We stayed on the road and continued south. It meant tackling a few hills but nothing bad. At the first supermarket we stocked up again.
The landscape had changed over the last couple of days and the hills that we had seen in the distance now came close to the river as we neared Lyon. We crossed the river on a footbridge at Trévoux and ran along the west bank. Now the hills were very close and looking at the approaches to Lyon on the map, I thought we would have to manage a massive climb before we got into the city.
My fears were unfounded as we entered the Tunnel de la Croix Rousse and enjoyed a relatively easy ride into the city after all. I had chosen a hotel near the bike shop Rohloff had recommended when I got in touch with them about a wheel rebuild. They had sent a free maintenance upgrade to the shop too. I needed to be outside the shop for 8.00am the following day – a Tuesday.
We offloaded the bike at the front door to the hotel and then I took the bike into the underground car park. I was a little concerned that the bike park was quite close the the entrance. My concerns were proved right as a waterproof poncho that doubled as a sun shade and cover for the trailer was stolen overnight.