Day 3: Country, suburb, city (Moirans to Lyon)

The morning was cool and clear, with a light wind coming from the south. I was heading north, so this would be my first real tailwind of the whole trip! After the (bad) hotel breakfast, I went into Moirans and has a couple of great pastries (Eclair au chocolat et tarte frambroise). The patisseries were part of what had charmed me about Moirans the previous evening, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Moirans to Lyon

Properly fueled, I headed north. The elevation profile showed me picking up about 400 meters of altitude, but in waves. After a very little bit of city riding, I was out in the farms, with riding conditions a bit like Croatia (all up and down). When I saw this area on the train south from Lyon, I thought it reminded me of eastern Washington near Walla Walla, and riding through it, the analogy felt apt, and it makes some geologic sense; both regions are agricultural foothills below major mountain ranges.

Moirans to Lyon

Ride With GPS had found a pretty solid route, almost all on quiet farm roads, with only one unpaved section that was totally rideable. I had just one disappointment, which is that the towns were so small that there were no open cafes or glace shops.

My right Achilles was sore, from a combination of having to hold my foot on the platform, and getting whacked by the pedal itself repeatedly while standing over the bikes. It was nothing too terrible, but I was taking it easy on the riding.

After reaching peak altitude, the route continued to roll over hills and dales, so while I was starting to get back some of the potential energy I’d earned, I wasn’t moving super fast. No worries though, I had plenty of time and was feeling good overall.

Moirans to Lyon

Finally I crested a ridge and could see Lyon. This was the beginning of the sustained downhill on the elevation profile, leading all the way to the city. Or so I thought. Things all went well until I hit Mions, a depressingly American-style suburb, which started with a few Ks of ugly burbclaves, and then spun me into a set of roundabouts near the expressway that led onto narrow, frightening roads with heavy truck traffic.

I was still doing fine on time, so I shot off one of the roundabouts at a tangent and decided to find my way through on quiet streets. The map showed a parkland in between my location and the city, cutting through there put me back on unpaved farm roads. They were pleasant enough at first, so I kept going as the track went from groomed to rugged to wild. I was worried I might be making the same mistake I had made leaving Grenoble, so I parked the bike and walked ahead a bit to see if it the path went through. It looked promising so I went on ahead.

Moirans to Lyon

As I got to the bottom of a gulley I saw a path with a staircase off to the side leading up to an apartment complex. I hauled the bike up the steps and wound up back on the road in Vénissieux, a banlieue with modernist apartment blocks and layout.

I had a bit more climbing to do, but after that, some real slopes down towards the central city. Once on the outskirts of downtown, I began to find semi-dedicated bike lanes and paths, not entirely consistent but mostly OK. I found my hotel, stripped my stuff off the bike, got a nice hot shower, and headed back to the shop to return the rental. Voila!

Musing: Completion

Dave and April had mentioned that their Croatia trip didn’t have the same feeling of accomplishment as the tour we’d done together in Italy a few years previously. Their comment got me thinking about the idea of completion. Even though this tour was only three days, the trip felt complete to me. Returning to Lyon was a triumph. I think part of the feeling comes from its narrative, the hero’s journey. It requires an element of struggle, having to overcome an obstacle, whether that’s a mountain, an illness, or a mechanical issue. (Or all three). Then there’s a part about returning to refuge and safety, having survived the wilderness. Though it was short, and though I only bagged one of my two trophies, this little trip felt complete.

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