Yesterday afternoon/evening I wasn't feeling too strong. The effort of the climbing had gotten to me, and I had made a mistake in taking a lunch that was a bit too light, followed by a late afternoon binge on crisps, a banana and a liter of fruit juice before dinner. I decided to follow the advice of Joop Zoetemelk, that the Tour is won in bed, went to bed early and slept for about 9.5 hours. This morning I felt good and set off early after breakfast. It was cold (I could see my breath as condensation) and so I donned extra sleeves and a windvest and set off. Of course I immediately had to climb, but it was a nice climb and I reached the highest point I will reach in France, at 746 m above sea-level. No sign or anything, just a line on the road with markings for the TL (tour de Limousin?) that I have seen a lot over the past two days. At least someone recognized it as a climb ;-)
Even though there was some tiredness in the upper legs the rest of the day went great. The sleeves came off at some point but the vest stayed on for the descents and before I knew it I was in Chambon sur Voueize, where I had lunch in the restaurant of a lovely hotel called Les Estonnieres. I talked to a French (f)-Italian (m) couple who offered me a glass of wine from their bottle which I kindly refused - Dutch courage is not something I need on the bike. They divided their time between Le Creuse and Charleroi in Belgium, where he (had) worked. She was a languages professor and an Esperanto enthousiast. It would be nice if it caught on - but I think it won't - as I have some difficulty juggling languages on the trip. The conversation was in French by the way.
The last 27 k to Montluçon posed no big problems (like French drivers returning home after sunday lunch with a little bit too much wine) and I finished feeling good after 109 km and over 1100 m of climbing (with a net descent over today's ride).
Checked in at the hotel; washed my cycling clothes and myself and had a quick lie-down on the bed. Not exactly the pro lifestyle as there is no-one to do the laundry for me, or wash my bike, or give me a massage, but then again I can stop whenever I feel like it and am not subjected to gruelling stages and the risk of pile-ups etc...Now it's time for some quick sight-seeing, dinner and another early night - recovery is something I take very seriously.