Now turn left onto cow path

Pete again…

If your trip through Europe doesn’t include the GPS directions lady saying “now turn left onto cow path” you might be doing it wrong.

Today we woke up and had a big breakfast. The biggest yet. Our bnb hosts went out of their way to accommodate our crazy diets and we had also shopped for breakfast for all four of us, so by the time we were done eating we were stuffed. We said goodbye to our new friends in Guignicourt and headed for Compiègne about 60 miles away.

Today’s route took us through parts of France that few tourists and perhaps few locals see. At one point we were riding across fields on the paths the farmers use for their farm equipment. Another time we popped out of some trees on a non-trail behind some workers running heavy equipment loading barges. In all cases we’d wave as of to say “Yeah, we know where we are and we belong here.” There were some confused looks today, but none were on our faces.

The poor GPS directions lady had to keep saying “the tour is being adjusted, now make a u-turn.” She said it at least 50 times and somehow always maintained her composure, repeating that phrase kindly in a clear but authoritative voice. We hope to be as level-headed in the face of disobedience someday. We’re hoping she doesn’t call in sick tomorrow — we certainly wore her out.

When we weren’t on the less-traveled paths we tended to be on busy roads with no shoulders, fast cars, and puddles. Natalie was splashed several times. We remained calm, rode on, and looked for cow paths.

It rained several times today (thus the puddles) but now when it would start to rain we’d think of our bnb host Jean-René and his crops and yell “hooray for Jean-René.” We of course realize that is silly, but mentally it changed how we processed the weather. Once we are far enough away from Jean-René’s farm we’ll revert to hoping for sun.

The view from tonight’s bnb window is crazy good — right in the middle of the city across from a cathedral. It is a small apartment to ourselves with a modern interior and an old exterior. It has a full kitchen which we put to good use for dinner tonight. It has a safe place to store our bike in a small interior courtyard, but it was super tight getting it in. Our bike is over 8 feet long. Years of elders quorum moves, slogging pianos through impossibly tight stairwells, have prepared me for this very moment.

After showers we walked around Compiègne. We just missed visiting the palace museum by an hour. We needed to ride faster on the cow paths. We bought dinner and breakfast at a grocery store and headed back to our apartment to rest and cook.

Tomorrow: Paris!

Getting breakfast ready
Minimal path
“trail” came from the left and ended toward the right
Single track on a recumbent tandem!
View from our window
Eating dinner with Natalie

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