Continuing through the Juras

It fair rained all night, but somewhere between being semi-conscious it was raining I managed a fair bit of sleep. Pleasingly, the rain abated just at the time I emerged to another day and decamped. But when the rain set in just as I departed for the day it looked like it would stick around for most of the day. After Tuesday’s climbing and distance I decided an easier day on the road was in order – plus, if the state of the forest was anything like where I camped, I had best stay out of the mud.

Having just missed out the day before, I almost immediately passed through 1000 m. A nice little milestone to finally get. All too quickly I was on a fairly busy road to Morteau plunging down the valley to the Doubs again. Deciding that I’d certainly under-eaten for the previous day’s efforts it was an early stop at a Tabac for a Snickers. Taking the road following the river up was easy – but a bit busy (although drivers here are all courteous and give plenty of room when passing cyclists – & the occasional toot of the horn). The river has slowly worn away the limestone plateau either side, so the cliffs and overhangs gradually became bigger.

Looking for somewhere to buy food I found a rail-trail that had joined the river’s general direction so I got on that for the final ten kilometres to Pontarlier – a nice old town that still had some fortified walls and gate to pass through, one of its claims to fame seems to be as a centre of absinthe distilleries. The sun finally made an appearance, so after having full wet-weather gear on all morning it was a relief to take them off and get a bit more air flowing over the limbs. A large lunch consumed, and second-lunch bought for later there was time for a couple of photos.

Somewhat sick of the busy road, I thought I could see a path through the forest on my GPS to the lake and some quieter roads. This proved to be a fairly decent climb, but it was quiet and it did actually take me where I wanted to go! Also, the downhill was on less well-made trail so that was more fun.

Also, there was this to spy through the trees.

When I reached Lac Saint Point, the walking trail I’d been following diverged from my intended direction so it was nice quiet roads to take me south-west. Here’s some general photos from the valley riding.

Cow picture for Dad – this seems to be the dominant breed here.

A more unusual church from afar.

Cows have had bells around there necks for some days now – these bells are getting a bit big I think. Also, goats, sheep and horses are prone to having bells attached

While on the subject of animals: all through this tour I’ve noticed many lone cats just roaming the countryside. They must be pets – but they pop up in the strangest places. And slugs – for a couple of weeks now I’ve seen large brown slugs just hanging out on the road, always about a foot from the edge; perhaps none of them make it further than a foot. I always try and avoid them as I’m not keen on a squashed slug being flicked up by my front tyre into my face (always ride with your mouth closed); I’ve not seen any flattened slugs, perhaps they reform.

Just another WWII bunker in a field – for once I bothered to take a closer look. Not sure why this one was here – it’s only the Swiss border a few kilometres east.

It commanded a good view of the valley.

If it’s fun to pass roadies on a single-speed mountain-bike, it’s even more fun to pass them on a loaded touring mountain-bike with big knobbly tyres. It doesn’t happen very often obviously – but the couple I passed today were quite chatty and I got some tips on the best route to get me wherever it is I’m going. It did involve a bit of a hill – but at least it was more peaceful. Around the small villages I’d passed through then I’d noticed MTB trail maps – so once I’d climbed my final steep road climb of the day I took off to the right and went for some more climbing. It began with a big rocky double-track, nice technical climbing before degenerating into slippery muddiness and then onto a long-ago sealed forestry road. The signs said there was a look-out off a spur to the right, this was properly steep and took me through 1250 m. Unfortunately, the trees were too tall so I couldn’t really see much of the lay of the land.

But the downhill more than made up for that disappointment. It started out steep and rocky and just got better – it became a case of it shouldn’t be possible to have this much fun on such a loaded mountain-bike. By the time I rolled into a slightly larger village (cross-country skiing is popular around here in the winter), my easy day had ended up being 109 km with about 1500 m of climbing and some significant off-road bits; oops, again. I was hungry, but the promised restaurants were hard to find. The one I settled on, part of a small hotel, didn’t serve dinner until 7.30 so I had to wait. The owners didn’t speak much English and I speak just as little French, but despite him continually speaking to me & me answering with blank stares, I managed a nice dinner. And they let me camp in the back garden – score, especially after that carafe of red wine.

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