I get out of Laguiole in the afternoon, well rested after a great time in Laguiole at Dany & Georges. The wind blows, very strongly. I follow their route suggestion to reach the Tarn River Gorge through the Aubrac plateau. The tax to pay is a 300 meters ascent from 1000 m to 1300 m, but the weather is warm, blue sky, the slope is gentle and my muscles have recovered well.
The road just before Saint-Urcize is absolutely nice. Over the quite high plateau of the Aubrac, my little road takes me quietly through this “little Mongolia”, one farm at a time. The sky and the landscape are very nice. Even at some times, I have a tailwind and I don’t even have to pedal, just to enjoy the scenery.
Because I go mostly through small roads to avoid traffic, I am also making a Tour de France of the “white zones”, i.e. the remote areas where only one network operator is present, and shares its network with the competitors (it must be under costly conditions (for the customer in the end)). As a result, I was roaming in the Jura, in the the Cantal, and now again in the Aveyron. I’d need one SIM card from each operator if I want to get a proper local coverage.
Around Saint-Urcize, I am within a few minutes crossing 3 departments, and also 3 regions: Midi-Pyrénées, Auvergne and Languedoc-Roussillon. With an estimation on this rhythm I should be in Cape Town by tomorrow.
The wind pushes me sometimes, but overall it’s against me. It’s a Midi wind from the south. And I am going straight south from now on. I am in low gear, reaching an average of 7 km/h (even less than against the strong Icelandic wind), on paved road. This is ridiculous, my back hurts, I am doing a lot of efforts to make a way through this invisible and ubiquitous force and barely see the kilometer counter changing. The wind even forces on my mini rear mirror and changes its angle. This mirror is a genial invention plugged at the bar-end, so simple but really helpful. I can see who is overtaking me and how much space the car/truck is about to leave me, at a glance and still with the eyes on the road.
There is nothing around me. It’s beautiful but quite unwelcoming with this strong wind. The few trees are harnessed on slopes and there is no inhabitant, practically no man-made structures around. I continue until 17:00 and decide to take the chance of the 2 little houses made of stones to build my tent behind, hopefully protected from the wind.
One appears to be unlocked and I can shelter inside. I have no phone network at all, but also no wind at all. The gods of the last-minute accommodation have rescued me again, I have a wooden plate on bricks for a bed, the same for a table, 3 candles and a cross. The candle flames burn vertically, I am sheltered from the strong wind that I hear blowing outside, whizzing and grunting.
When I get out of my refuge, on this Sunday morning, the atmosphere is very humid. It doesn’t rain, but the mist and water particles are strong competitors. I have to go anyway, and hope that once out of this Aubrac plateau (I am still at 1300 m high), the sky will be clearer.
I reach Saint-Germain-du-Teil, where I can pack food at the shop opened on Sunday mornings: 2 x bread + 2 x local cheese (1 pair eaten directly), and I’m set for the day. I leave the Aubrac instantly, in the steep descent from to La Canourgue. I am now “down” at 500 m and am excited to get to the canyon of the Tarn river, strongly advised by Laurent 4 days ago.