This was meant to be the 127km ride, it was rainy and I was prepared with plenty of food and water, even using my back up camera so I could leave my phone in the waterproof bag. It rained before I even left the apartment, but it couldn’t be worse than the stinking hot days. It was a bit tricky navigating my way out of Paris, but I just kept on going anyway.
After two hours of being soaked, I was relieved to find a McDonalds for some shelter and comfort food. I flipped open my phone and the screen was black and it definitely didn’t want to turn on. I plugged in the charger and it had 80% battery, then it kept restarting over and over. I found some other cyclists who were going from Cambridge to Paris and managed to borrow a phone to find the address of my accommodation.
I had 90km to go, most of it was through a national park, which wouldn’t be smart to go through alone and without any contact in case of emergency. I reluctantly quit the ride and headed to the train station, where one of my rear brakes fell off. I couldn’t find the bolt so I just put it in my pocket.
I arrived in Rouen after moping around in my wet clothes for four hours. I vigorously vented my frustrations on paper during the train ride and I was ready to just settle into warm clothes. I stood confused at a large map and a local tried to help me, but when I mentioned the suburb I was staying in, he said it was impossible to cycle there. I was irritated by being told I couldn’t do it, but I nodded and smiled out of politeness.
The receptionist, at the hotel across from the train station, kindly printed out some directions for me and I headed off on my uphill ride. Cycling on the slippery roads without my rear brakes was a little risky, but I just tried to be more careful and stuck to the cycle paths. Along the way I saw the massive cathedral and I was bummed that I was missing so many nice sights. Rouen is known for its history and arts, it has plenty of gardens, manors and museums too.
I finally made it to my accommodation, an Airbnb place, which was run by a lady who really likes cats. I saw at least four different cats and in hindsight I think I may be allergic to them. At least the cat smell drew attention away from my smelly shoes. I had to venture out again for dinner and it was crazy how cold it was compared to two weeks ago.
Before I went to bed I wondered what I’d do without my phone, obviously I can live without it, but what about navigation or if I get in an accident? Luckily I backed up all my photos this morning, but I didn’t have back up things like paper maps since they would be too expensive and cumbersome to carry for the 16 countries I’d travel through. While there was free WiFi everywhere, internet cafés are non existent and all the shops close tomorrow because it’s Sunday. Man, I’m in a pickle…