June 3, 2016:
Much of our trip so far has been wonderful, despite being a bit clueless at the beginning. The learning curve is slowly getting less steep, our navigation skills are improving incrementally, and our bodies are gradually getting in shape for this endeavor. Even my butt isn’t hurting quite so bad, as long as we avoid bumpy dirt roads, don’t ride too far, and take a rest day every few days.
So, generally speaking, it has been enjoyable. Unfortunately for us, however, we happened to begin our cycling adventure in the midst of record-breaking rains and flooding in France and central Europe. Luckily, except for one minor incident of manmade flooding in a motel room, we’ve been safe and sound, and have not been threatened by any of the flooding.
Even so, we’re just not used to being wet. And cold. Coming from the land of eternal sunshine (aka: Sacramento, California), this weather has been tough on us. Riding in the rain, surprisingly, isn’t too bad. We’re usually pedaling hard enough that we still manage to work up a sweat.
It’s camping in the rain that is getting us down. Everything is muddy. The last many mornings (and evenings, for that matter), have been at best drizzly, and at worst steadily raining, which means tearing down camp in wet, cold weather. At the end of the day, every item we pull out of our panniers is clammy and damp. We’re cooking and eating in the rain, trying to huddle under overhangs, or if we’re lucky, getting our morning or evening chores done during a brief lull in the weather.
Day after day of this weather has been demoralizing. We finally reached the coast on June 2, yet we couldn’t enjoy it or the seaside villages because all the color, sparkle, and joy of the places was washed out. Everything is so grey that the landscape stops being compelling. Even the locals were bundled in what we Sacramentans would consider winter clothes (light scarves, gloves, jackets).
And so, we decided a few days of rest are in order. We will take some time off in Boulogne-sur-mer to get out of the elements, dry out, and warm up.
We’re learning from the locals that rain is inevitable in northern Europe. Hardly a day goes by that doesn’t have at least one rain shower. (I guess there’s a reason why everything is so green.) But having said that, this much rain, and temperatures this cold, are very unusual in June. So, while we’ll have to adapt and get used to rain, hopefully it will be warmer soon.
And when we just can’t stand the wet anymore, we’ll find a Warm Showers host, or a youth hostel, or some other accommodation to dry out and recharge our batteries.