Curiosities of the Mind – Day 2

I fear I might have short-changed you yesterday: no photos; and not the slightest reference to my chosen title. Absolutely no philosophical musings (ramblings?) My excuse is a long day and my late arrival at Fayence.
Well, the photos I have belatedly been able to add. And the philosophical ramblings? Fear not dear reader – I will not let you down. “Oh no!” do I hear you groan?
Today I have been reflecting on a theme: “Long distance cycling – a metaphor for life”. I have distilled my thoughts into what I will call “The twelve pillars of CE42”. For those of you who don’t understand this reference, I will explain at the end of my final day’s blog. These can be summarised as follows:
   – Focus on the journey, not the destination
   – Try to keep moving forwards without continually looking/going back. We get further on our journey
   – Uphill is a necessary and integral part.It can be productive; try to enjoy it
– Do things while you can. Loire Valley, Netherlands etc can wait: today it’s Alps, Jura and Pyrenees.
   – take time to pause; enjoy the rests, overnight stops etc.
“What is this life if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?”
   – Learn to focus on the little things, not just the grand sweep – especially when going uphill:
            the single flower by the side of the road
            the intoxicating scent of a pine forest
            a singing nightingale.
We do, by the way, have to learn how to do this
   – If the going gets tough, set a sequence of short-term targets. It doesn’t matter how short-term. “The greatest journey starts with a single step”
   – Don’t overplan: the best things are often discovered where we least expect to find them
   – View barriers as opportunities: they often come from within and are rarely insurmountable. Overcoming them can become a satisfying part of the journey
   – If in doubt – do it: it is better to have the occasional small regret, than to never know (split infinitive!) what fantastic things you might have missed along the way.
   – Curiosity might have killed the cat, but it enhances our journey.
   – Are comfort zones boring? (This question applies to attitudes, opinions and mindset (think of the latter syllable of this word) as well as activities. What about the BIG questions: religion; politics? Thank you Greg for challenging my mindset. Challenge adds some spice to life.
   – Look and listen deeply. Whilst on the journey try to move from knowledge (easy and accessible) through understanding (requires effort) to wisdom (the holy grail)
   – Sometimes, choosing to believe the apparently unbelievable can enhance the journey. A wild card, but explanation and examples (both from life and cycling) available on request.

Whoops – I’ve just noticed that’s fourteen!

Every one of these “pillars” I can relate directly to experiences on my long-distance cycling. Elaboration available.

But what about today’s journey?
Well, it won’t surprise you to hear me say it was near perfect. Hot, sunny (but with a light haze protecting me from its ravages) and little or no wind.
A gentle “up-and-down” to Seillans, on a quiet, inevitably scenic road, sets the tone. This is followed by a long but friendly climb to Bargemon. On the way I encounter a lone “sports cyclist” who looks at me quizzically as though to say “who on earth is this aged guy on a folding bike with none of the gear?” He does, however, give a friendly wave.
A wonderful long descent commences, but yes – I know this will be followed by another climb. Bring it on!

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In Bargemon I enjoy a grande creme and an Ice The. I realise I’m sitting next to an English couple. On enquiring, I learn that they’ve travelled 926 miles from Milton Keynes. “Oh, the place with the plastic cows and a ski-slope” I retort. For this stereotype I am roundly (and rightly) told off.
From Bargemon, I climb up a quiet road labelled “Route des Gorges a velo”. Sorry Mary! I quote this from memory. The spelling and syntax could well be wrong. But it does illustrate that the whole area is riddled with wonderfully scenic gorges. Clearly a feature of the underlying geology. Gorgeous! (Sorry)
Another climb and long descent between banks awash with wild roses leads me to Ampus and then to Tourtour where I stop for lunch.

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A short post-prandial foray leads me to Villecroze and then Salernes, a bustling, attractive small town – and my intended stop for the night.
A visit to the Tourist Office confirms …….. there’s no hotel in Salernes!
Following 20 minutes of phonecalls I retrace my steps 7km to Villecroze, where I check into the best hotel I’ve encountered in all these trips.
A perfect ending to a perfect day.

Distance travelled            41.2 miles
Elevation gain                         5,362 ft.
Moving time                            4:31:59
Average speed                       9.1 mph

13th May 2015

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