Headwinds for Champagne

Leaving Chateau-Thierry we decided to take a larger and relatively straight road to Epernay so that we could arrive in time to find a dentist. (Despite lengthy check ups and X-rays prior to leaving London I lost a filling on day 3 and need to get it sorted before it becomes problematic-we also left our emergency dental kit as a care package to be sent to us once we exit Europe.)
The road was at first unremarkable, industrial, with the whoosh and whirl of overtaking trucks and farm machinery including the odd vehicle looking more like a giant praying mantis than something fit for the road.
The wind was fierce and unrelenting, hitting us head on so that we pedalled with all our might even on the down hills. Until I took up spinning I had never been much in touch with my body and only my thighs seemed to hurt on long cycles. Now all my muscles seem to work and on this day, thighs, hamstrings and calves all screamed in harmony. Li was finding it tough also contending with sore throat, eyes and chest infection, we discussed calling it a day at a mere 24km.
With the trickery of the wind and thoughts that it had abated, in the relative quietness of villages with high walls we chose to continue.
The vines appeared in the bleak grey landscape, gnarled and stretching to the horizon in all directions. Labourers were dotted about, backs bent tending to ever single vine, infinite tendrils , twigs really, being attached by hand to wires one by one. Occasionally someone would look up I would wave and receive a wave, bonjour in return. This picked up my spirits and slowly I sensed the history, the tradition seeping out of the soil and admired the opalescent green waters of the Marne that dipped in and out of view. I ignored my legs and let emotion and imagination take me where I hope to go. Nearing Epernay we were tickled with a fairy tail chateau to spurn us on the remaining 10km. Finishing around the 58km mark with undulating hills rather than steep inclines we had expected to finish this stretch in half the time. We met a the first cycle tourists on the road returning from Georgia and 7 months on the road. Today’s wind was no hindrance to them and relatively easy. I am curious as to my body’s reaction to such challenges months from now. In the mean time the camp ground is closed and thus we are wrapped up warm enjoying champagne, a hotel and the delights of Epernay, content with achievements so far.

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