I left Florac, France and continued on my route East to get out of the Chevennes Natural Park. I was tired from the day before and there was a bit of wind in my face. Weaving up along the mountains following a river coursing the other way. It was another 65 kilometer day with around 1,200 meters of climbing in total.
I arrived in Genolhac, France around 7 p.m. and was ready for a nap. I had planned on just sleeping outside of the town before I got in but didn’t find any comfortable stealth spots. I also was thinking of getting a hotel room due to some major chaffing. However, I couldn’t find a hotel room because they all looked closed. Decision made, I continued on the road to Villeforte in hopes to find somewhere just outside of Genolhac to sleep.
Rounding a corner on an uphill I spotted somewhere along the highway that I could set up a tent. I went and asked the two people standing at the end of their driveway if they minded. They didn’t. While unloading my bike the man I had asked came up to me and asked if I wanted to sleep on some property of theirs in the woods. Yes.
He told me I could leave my bike or I could follow him to the woods 2 kilometers away. I said sure, I will leave my bike and took the offer of the drive. He introduced himself as Jean Luc and offered me a Panash, a French beer made with sugar. I, of course, took the offer.
While sitting and chatting with Jean Luc the magic of the moment began to whittle the atmosphere into shape. Jean Luc and his wife Ingride offered me to have dinner with them before I went out to camp. I replied with a yes, of course. While dinner was being made they offered me a shower or bath. I think it was 7-8 days since my last shower, hence the chaffing and my horrid smell. The offer of the shower grew blossoms of joy in me. The night turned from tired and worn to wonderful in one question of sleeping on the roadside.
Talking with Jean Luc about life, it became apparent why he had began offering me these things. We talked about how life isn’t about how fancy of a car you drive. It’s not about how much space you have for all of the things you own. Life isn’t about being more than your fellow man and woman. Life is about love, family, and being true to oneself. The moments that are unforgettable, like that random guy on a bicycle asking if he can sleep next to your driveway and what becomes of it. Life is about being happy with those you love like your family, friends, and random cyclists.
I cannot express my gratitude for the small amount of time I got to share with Jean Luc, Ingride, and their beautiful daughter Eleanor Rigby. The universe tilted just enough in my direction that night when I met them. I left their place the next morning with a lungful of oxygen and the power of purpose. The 70 kilometers I cycled that day were a breeze because I was high on life. Perhaps the universe will again tilt in the right direction and we will meet again. If not, I give all of my thanks.
Travel is a passion of mine. Not because I am a tourist. More because of the magical moments that happen. Where, instead of being a traveler, I become a friend. Instead of being foreign, I feel at home. The world is full of unimaginable comforts, you just have to step outside of your comfort zone to find them.
Donate to the Arthritis Foundation at the link below. It goes to the over 300,000 kids living with Juvenile arthritis in the U.S. alone. It goes to finding a cure for this debilitating disease. The money goes to events like summer camps and national conferences where kids get to meet other kids with arthritis. If you’re broke and cannot afford to donate, that’s fine. Give a homeless man an orange or chat with him for awhile and make him feel human again. Help that old women across the street. Give that touring cyclist a place to sleep, a shower, and some food. Donate your kindness and make the world a better place.