Travel challenge: Night (riding in the inky dark!)

About half way through our cycling trip in France in 2009, we left Pellevoisin on a chilly morning and headed for the Brenne National Park. This is a large park, which is characterised by many hundreds of lakes in a relatively flat landscape.

Ailsa from “Where’s my backpack” has set a challenge for a travel theme of “night”. This post is a bit out of the ordinary, but describes one of the most memorable nights rides I have done!

One of many hunting/holiday lodges near the lakes

Brenne National Park is a bird watcher’s paradise – this being one of its main attractions. We were told that it is also a favourite place for hunters!

However, we were here to explore the area from a cycling perspective and had not brought our binoculars! We did, however, manage some shooting – with our cameras! It was interesting comparing the different lakes (size, surrounding vegetation and depth of water) and the types of birds attracted to each. Some of the lakes were quite small and others were really huge – all having been constructed at some stage (ie none were naturally formed). Some were also quite full, while others were nearly empty.

Cycling around the lakes during the day

The cycling was easy as there were no hills and we were able to explore the area quite extensively as a result. We covered about 80km for the day – one of our longer stretches in the saddle (but also one of the crusiest!).

Clouds reflected in the water make a lovely image

We were headed for a fabulous B&B about 5km north of Rosnay – it was an old 19th century school house which had been beautifully renovated. On arrival, we were greeted and spoilt with tea and cake by our lovely hosts. My French was getting reasonable by this stage, and the discussion was animated and a lot of fun.

The one thing we were not able to get at this B&B was dinner. Knowing this, we had spent some time during the afternoon finding a suitable restaurant which served meals. It was about 4km away on the shores of Etang de la Gabriere (Gabriere Lake) – a very large expanse of water when full (which is wasn’t, so we did not get to see it in all its splendour). Our plan was to cycle around to this establishment later that night to get our evening meal.

Every lake was different – the trees around this one were so beautiful

The lakes had a shroud of mist over them in the early morning

The weather had warmed up considerably and it had turned into a very pleasant evening – just right for a night time ride. We left in the daylight and had no trouble navigating our way back to the restaurant. I doubt that the locals had ever had anyone arrive for a night time meal on bicycles, because we were certainly a topic of conversation and amusement. Perhaps it was the combination of the cycling gear, helmets and Australian accents!

It was dark when we left – really, really dark! There was no moon and since we were out in the countryside, there were no streetlights either. The road back to our B&B was quite narrow, only a single lane, but the thing I had not noticed on the way over was that it also had no markings on it. No lines or marker posts anywhere!  It was also a very quiet road – we did not meet a single vehicle on our return trip.

The result was that we were riding completely in the dark! The bikes had their headlights, but these were like small torchbeams bobbing about in the intense inkiness. Because there were no lines or guideposts, it took quite a lot of concentration to make sure the bike stayed on the winding, narrow road! It was one of the most fun and memorable experiences of my life!

I would include a photo, but since it was so dark, there would be nothing to see!

(Follow this link for the itinerary and details for our Tour of France)

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4 responses to “Travel challenge: Night (riding in the inky dark!)

  1. I have never ridden in darkness like that – it would be so cool to be able to do that without fear of being run down.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Brave stuff, Madoqua, cycling in the pitch black can be scary! That shot of the misty lake is really wonderful.

I would love to hear what you think....

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