Sunday 22nd July
Gannay-sur-Loire to Blanzy: 8 hours 10 minutes, 130km
“I think I may have solved my dew issues. By pitching under a shaded area (where it seems the dew strikes last) and waking up early enough to avoid it setting in, I was able to pack up a dry tent.
I was to push for a place called Montceau-les-Mines, or there about. Having set off early I had already covered a good 60km by lunch time and the day was looking promising. I decided to avoid riding during the hottest part of the day and pulled into a nice looking pizzeria on the river, in a town called Paray-le-Monial.
Feeling well satisfied after a pizza, I pushed on lazily. Stopping by a lake to read for a bit in the shade. I figured, I had more than enough time to get to my destination and find a campsite along the way.
I don’t know what happened from that point on but my legs were just sapped of all energy. I had sipped my last bit of water a while back and was now starting to feel very tired indeed. I had slowed to snails pace, when I came across a cemetery. I remembered reading somewhere that in France, all cemeteries have drinking water. Unfortunately, this one had a huge chain lock around its gate. Out of disappointment and possibly exhaustion, I lay down on a shaded bench next to the cemetery, where I rested. About 30 minutes later, I groggily got to my feet, knowing that I had to push on. I looked back at the cemetery gates as I got on my bike to leave. That’s when I noticed a button embedded in the wall. I pressed it and the gates buzzed open. How could I have missed that? I wondered, as I helped myself to the fresh water from the tap.
Although the sun was still high in the sky, it was now evening and I told myself I would pull into the very next campsite I came across. Unfortunately for me, there was no next campsite. I sat outside an extremely busy McDonalds and considered my options. I had reached my destination town. My phone battery had just died and the campsite search I had done on google maps moments before, had yielded no results for the area. I knew there was a hotel nearby but was not so happy paying those prices. I thus decided to continue on, following the canal blindly in the hope of stumbling across a campsite that was not registered on google (the chances were slim).
After about an hour more of cycling, I realised I was not going to find a campsite. I always knew there was a third option and that was to stealth camp (or wild camp as its known), but never thought it would come to this. Now I had never done this before, but had read online about other people who did it regularly. The main thing is to make sure you cannot be seen from any roads.
I climbed a steep hill to get a good vantage point, in an effort to find a good spot. It was farm country and on this hill one of the gates to an open field had been left open. I knew that technically it was trespassing but there seemed to be a well hidden spot in the corner of the field behind a hedge where I would not be bothering anyone. I set up my tent on the flattest piece of ground I could find which was amongst some long grass. The sky was clear so I did not expect it to rain. Leaving the bright blue rain cover packed away so as not to draw too much attention, all that was protecting me from the elements was a thin mosquito net.
I was nervous that I might be discovered, but once I had settled and it started to get dark, I had a front row seat to the most amazing sunset. I wish I had photos to show of this spot but alas my phone battery was dead. Gazing up at the stars through my mosquito netting, I fell asleep, vowing that I would wake up at the first rays of light (i.e. before the farmer).”