Another early morning start, and despite having done a lot of miles already the group were ready to go another long day. It wasn't cold when we set off from Chalon-Sur-Saone, we have an organised method of travel with the bikes in a string behind the leader. The roads today took us down by the Rhone river, which was very impressive as to it's width and we crossed over it a few times on some of the smaller roads.
The only trouble with travelling on a motorbike is that you have to pay attention to where you are going, to what is happening all around you and you have very little time to look in great detail at the scenery surrounding you.
We stopped for a break in Montelimar, to get a snack and to refuel. You cannot go to this region and not buy some of the speciality so a bar of pistachio and almond nougat and a bottle of wine made it's way into our bikes for consumption later. The temperature by mid-morning was pleasantly warm, finally we were beginning to get a feel for how hot Southern France would be.
Part of our route took us through Mondragon, I particularly noted the name as it has an impressive fortress both on top and built into the cliff-sides. With regret we could only pass through it but many of us spoke in the evening of wishing to have made a more leisurely journey which would have permitted us to stop and take photo's during the ride down (or even just to enjoy what wonderful locations we were missing).
The fields of sunflowers were mostly finished flowering and those that remained looked quite dry and dessicated, but occasionally a yellow flowering head could be seen; I was reminded of the Van Gogh painting of sunflowers and perhaps this gave him his inspiration.
It got hotter as we rode Southwards, and navigating through Orange the bike felt very hot and it was a relief to hit some open roads after the town which allowed air to cool both me and the bike but every hold-up in traffic after this point became a nightmare of heat being applied from both above and below - my thighs were almost al dente by the end of the day!
Our stop for the night was at Salon de Provence, it was the best hotel we had on the trip so far for views; our room overlooked the river and a Le Clerc supermarche. We had lost contact with one of our group (the one who filled his bike up with diesel) on route to this hotel, one moment he was following us through the town and the next he was gone - we still don't know what happened to him.
We booked in and peeled (quite literally) out of our bike wear and after a shower we felt more human. We walked about 50 yards to the campanile which was adjoining our hotel and had dinner with lots of drink and chat so much so that the hotel manager had to come out and tell us to be quiet.
Chastened we adjourned to our rooms, tomorrow would be a shorter ride so we decided on a later start.. this was a big mistake as we would learn later.
Daily Mileage : 267
Total Mileage to date : 782