Suddenly Summer

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When summer finally arrived, we felt more like riding than blogging. After all, you take your opportunities where you can when you live here.

The weather doesn’t do things by halves in Normandy. May was pretty good, mostly very Spring-like. Then June arrived in a bad mood. It was grey, it was grumpy and worst of all it was cold. Well, not cold, but not nearly as hot as it should have been.

Then someone flipped a switch and suddenly it was 29ºC. And then more. Naturally, we got on our bikes.

We’re very lucky. The Orne département of Normandy, and the northern Mayenne department of the Pays de la Loire, which is where we do most of our riding, is very quiet. Even in high summer and the traditional holiday month of August (during which France closes down), the roads are mostly empty around here.

Indeed, on a recent ride, partly on voie verte but mostly on the road, we encountered more cyclists than cars.

Over the past seven or eight weeks, the landscape has been through many changes. At the start of our summer cycling binge, for example, the maize was still low enough to see over.

Barley, my favourite of all the crops, was ripening fast.

And we made sure to stop off and smell the roses.

It has been a good year for wild flowers, including poppies.

Our trips out naturally included some of our favourite voies vertes (greenways). The one that runs north from Mortain (EV4 provisoire) is great because it provided deep shade from the blistering heat.

At the same time, it still has some great views.

The new route running from Domfront south to Céaucé, part of the V43 Vélo Francette, has become somewhat overgrown already. The nettles and brambles are impinging on the track a little, with long strands leaning out across the path, many at handlebar level. So you have to be careful. At the same time, having such a narrow path heightens the sensation of flying as you barrel down the greenway.

While on one of our regular routes, we spotted this beauty.

It’s a Dunelt and in good condition, but just being used for decoration currently. Trish has since made the acquaintance of the owners who are e-bike enthusiasts, which is presumably why this machine has been put out to pasture.

Now we’re at that stage of the year when the fields are emptying out. The wheat and barley are gone.

But this is one of the things I love about cycling (and I’m trying really hard to resist a pun here). It helps you appreciate the natural cycle of the year and how mankind works with it. In Normandy, we live inside a giant food factory – but a beautiful one.


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