Great riding day

Wow, has today been one of the best riding days ever, or THE best riding day ever? Sixty miles down the upper Loire, through stunning volcanic gorge after stunning gorge, from Le Puy north towards St Cyprien near St Etienne and my old university friend John.

For those with a technical bent, 60.24 miles, av speed 10.3 mph, max 32.6 mph, total trip so far since Cirencester on Easter Sunday 706 miles, time riding today 5hrs 47mins.

A quick blog before I get there, to note the fantastic view from where I'm sitting, looking down from Chambles along the dammed Loire. Without an N. And with thanks to Geraldine and Chantal who make France's best chocolate drink (mine was with mint…) at the Comptoire de Zanzibar by the local Eglise. See photo…

The highpoint of the past 24 hours though was an evening and night with the Confraternity of St James in Le Puy, where Isidore (sp?) extended a most generous welcome and bed for the night as part of the hospitality that awaits pilgrims setting out on the 1600km foot trek to Santiago de Compostela.

I felt a bit of a fraud at a surprisingly moving pilgrims' Mass this morning, taking the easy seated option on Raven, and also intending, despite a brief dalliance with going some way SW towards Pamplona, to do the Other Half of one Camino option backwards to Budapest. Bit hard for my fellow pilgrims (for mine is also very much a pilgrimage) to grasp.

But then Marlies from Germany (see picture of Isidore, me and Marlies grinning against the background of the hostel door with its St James shell marking it out) is also now going backwards. Walked all the way to Santiago from Berlin, arriving just before Christmas last year, and now she's walking all the way back.

Hochachtung to a real pro. And thanks too for the great spaghetti last night.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

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