April 29th, 2011. Epernay - Brusson (Canal de la Marne au Rhin), 85km, 15kph
Grey skies and rain in the morning; sunny afternoon.
Via Dizy, Bisseuil, Condé sur Marne (beginning of the canal that runs alongside the Marne -Canal latéral de la Marne-, Châlons en Champagne, Omey, Soulanges, Couvrot, Vitry le François, Canal de la Marne au Rhin, Bivvy in Brusson, on the bank of the canal, below the lock.
Acceptable sleep but early wake-up due to birds and rain. Folding sleeping bag, etc, and packing everything on all fours inside my very small tent was quite an exercise !
But it's the only way to keep things dry ! Tent folded and packed still dripping !
Experience comes quick: just need to make sure that everything is in the right place the night before, just in case !... and no need to remove all the bags from the bike either: a tarp cover is quite enough.
Back to the canal for a long ride to Bisseuil. Early morning mist hovering on the water, birds , flowers, reeds... and midges by the mouthful...
Second breakfast in Tours sur Marne.
Continuation on the D1 road, drenched all the way to Condé sur Marne. By the time we got there, the bikes, the bags and the riders were white from being sprayed by each truck that had overtaken us along the road.
In Condé we finally reached the "Canal Latéral de la Marne". Long sections of excellent towpath that could sometimes get boring when too straight...
Approaching Châlons en Champagne: time for the midday break. Weather improving !
Taking advantage of the dry weather we unpacked everything and spread clothes, tents and bags all over the grassy picnic area. Not very classy but every bit of sunshine counts !
Repacked bags, reloaded bikes and off towards Châlons along a magnificent cycling path. The cathedral was closed (opens only week-ends, not enough business during the week). There, we came across Jean-Claude, walking from his home in the centre of France, all the way to Holland to see his son. Good luck Jean Claude!
Continuation to Vitry le François where the canal splits. "Our canal" was the Canal de la Marne au Rhin, that we would be following all the way to Strasbourg. Got the water bottles filled on a construction site. The guys working there were a little surprised when we told them where we came from and where we were heading.
Drove our bikes into the local Leclerc supermarket where the guards agreed to look after them while we did our shopping for the evening.
Back over the bridge to the right side of the canal. A few more kilometers to Brusson where we decided to stop. After checking with the owner, tents were erected on a grassy bank just below the lock. The weather had steadily improved during the day and the tents were dry in a matter of minutes. Warm and pleasant evening.
After the usual ritual, we 'retired'to our respective tents for some well deserved sleep!
Good day ! Nice location for a bivvy ! Evening mist now hovering over the canal that had taken on a pink hue.. all conditions seemed to be met for a super night of solid and powerful snoring..
Alas... a stupid bird had decided that it would not be so and sang ALL NIGHT !!
Too lazy and too whipped to get out of 'bed' and chase it away !
Result: awake at day break; cyclist tired; bird happy !
Heavy dew; once again, tent folded wet; quick breakfast and off at 07.40; a bit late.. !