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Cameras: Canon 70D DSLR, iPhone 4 and GoPro Hero.
The big handover – thank you Kona!
Tipsy & terrified
Blending with the natives en route to Dieppe
First hill spotted
Camping spot #: nail it.
Rest en route to paris #productplacement
Camping spot #2: hunker down in weird suburban communal gardens for the night, overlooked by giant Virgin Mary statue.
Wolf Creek-esque abandoned farm I wish I had never watched wolf creek, I really do
I love my bike, but fear it doesn’t give me the respect I deserve. Am I in an abusive relationship? #warwounds
My good friends Lauren and Michel, who feed, water and shelter me in Paris. The best hosts a bummler could wish for.
Stand of satan: L&M do sterling job helping me attach stand to avoid further injury when loading / unloading bike – but sadly it’s an impossible task. Bike rejects it just a mile down the road as touching gear cables. Half a mm the other way and it’s touching the chain. Abuse looks set to continue.
Camping spot #3: beady eyes spot this from down the river. Truly wonderful, until almighty electric storm hits during night and almost washes me away.
Just one of dozens of closed shops, cafes and restaurants as I pass through the country. Where is everyone? #frenchapocalypse
This motley crew – including a lovely Saudi couple who invite me to stay with them in Riyadh (right) – take me under their wing in Sens after a very long, hot day’s cycle. Very kind people.
Sweet, soulful ‘nature morte’ Bruno Bonnet with his poor, dying dog Rocky. Gives me a bed and the best breakfast of the bummel so far.
Bruno’s studio Emanating overpowering, nostril-stinging scent of oil paint and dog urine. Imagine sex panther for OAPs.
Best loo roll sheath so far. Bruno’s house is wonderland of eclectic paraphernalia.
A little Gaelic spirit: as luck would have it, Bruno transpires to be a great whisky enthusiast. After kicking off with a dram of Bowmore 12yo, he opens cabinet to reveal this little number. What a guy.
Bruno’s boat painting
Breakfast of champions, which sets me up up until dinner.
The French put flowers everywhere, even in random hedges. It’s rather lovely.
Just impossible to find any decent wine around here.
I start to flounder ten miles from Chablis. Thermometer hits 37C at one point (though it only cost me about 40p so could be wildly off-base)
Can I make it? Hit the wall at 41-mile mark. Il fait trop chaud!
Doused and delirious: nearly drown in two inches of water when get overexcited by fountain inside abandoned farm. Is it portable? Let’s hope so.
Celebratory Chablis: finally pull into Chablis and allow myself little indulgence. One glass for now, the rest squirrelled away in thermos for later.
And the leftovers went into my panniers
Camping spot #4 beside an official campsite in Chablis. Beautiful, serene, empty – and free.
Camping spot #4 – again
Trees and tractor
Camping spot #5 beside another campsite in Avallon, across the road from the hemmed-in hoi polloi. Wonderful and peaceful.
I call this: Camembert in grass
Kona resting by Tumtum tree #productplacement
Unreliable thermometer tells me it’s nearly 30C at 10pm. Camembert is consistency I’ve never seen before. No PJs for me tonight.
Friday temperatures soar and I suffer. I really should have trained.
Deer me: knock on door for water refill and old man answers, with this poor beast lurking behind. Make hasty retreat.
Road to Autun: I make it 43 miles outside Avallon and crumble. The heat. The hills. My poor beleaguered limbs. Defy all rules learnt in school and flag down pick-up truck for final 15 miles. A glorious, bumpy, speedy ride into town. #carswereinventedforareason
I make sure I only flag down trucks driven by semi-naked men.
The Autun marching band celebrate my birthday with a medley of big band classics (they don’t realise it’s my birthday but it still counts)
A mystery birthday gift from a secret admirer, going under the pseudonym ‘Monsieur Joyce’. Who could it be?
Camping spot #6: my first time in an official campsite, in Chalon-sur-Saone. An extortionate 15 euros for a measly patch of grass in a canvas housing estate. I do feel safer, though.
Big cheat #1: am behind schedule with almost completely useless right hand that I fear may require amputation, so decide to catch 6.20am bus for 50-mile journey between Chalon-sur-Saone and Bourg-en-Bresse. By time have unloaded and reloaded bike, I may as well have cycled.
Camping spot #7: one of best so far, methinks: a secluded stream hidden from main road in misty Oyonnax. Finish Chablis in serene bliss – until horde of skunk-smoking teens tear up alongside. Scowl and waft underarms at them until they leave.
Beautiful views on winding hillside passes towards Geneva. Mainly downhill after tough first stretch, thank god.
My friend Kiran very kindly invites me to stay and I snap off arm in eager acceptance. Lake serene yet lively – exactly as I’d imagined.
Lake Geneva: serene, yet lively (yet another of the city’s many paradoxes)
The lovely Clement from Bike Passion who fixes up my bike to stop me permanently disabling myself. Gives me 20% discount for no reason at all. What a star.
Alps loom ominously, like the planet in Melancholia
A patriotic panorama
Scenery ever-more picturesque as Alps edge closer
A very unfriendly fishing association
Villages shrinking as I head towards the mountains
Graves and peaks
Mont Blanc itself – my view from the campsite
Mont Blanc magnified
Ok, enough mountains now (ed)
Enough, I said!