No matter how well you plan your tour, there will be moments when nature is calling and public facilities are not available. Although getting lost in France near the “pre-Alps” west of Grenoble can be a lot of fun, you may push your limits like I did. Or you may find yourself in Italy passing through tiny communes with no accessible restrooms but a nice large forest. Where do you answer nature’s call? What can you learn in these situations?

When I was lost and confused in the land of the Vercors and the Rhone in eastern France, I had an issue that needed immediate attention. The small roads of France often lead through small villages or settlements where a WC is accessible. Not on this day. Circling past intersections which were becoming more familiar by the minute and passing private residences I could now recognize, I realized a need to answer the call of nature was imminent.

Sadly to say, there was no viable solution other than to stop under the nearest trees. The relief was welcomed but short-lived. Seems I had squatted too near some stickers in the lovely green pasture. While I was busy with my business, the stickers managed to attach themselves to the insides of my cycling shorts. Once the shorts were replaced, yowwweeee. 

Lesson Learned: Inspect the selected area carefully to avoid painful results. Remember to look for plant or other material that could possibly attach itself to your gear before venturing into Mother Nature’s lavatory to avoid their painstaking bit-by-bit removal.


Rencurel in the French Vercors

Another day on another tour found me riding with a group of cyclists. A fair number of men and about six women were in our group. Not a single one of us had spied available toilets for miles. We had stopped at the SAG to replenish water bottles and eat. This left us all in a needy situation. As the murmurs of “I’ll need to stop” and “Where’s the next town?” increased in our small grupetto, the urgency was building. A solution was soon agreed upon. 

At a nice sized pull-out, all the women dropped the bicycles at the side of the road and dove into the woods. The men continued up the road a bit. In our group, each individual searched out a particular appropriate pine on the side of a hill and proceeded with business. Before we were able to complete our tasks, down through the forest comes a local Italian. He skirted our group as quickly as possible as we all burst into gales of laughter. Giggles continued as we considered what he must have been thinking about the six full-moons on display. 

Lesson Learned: Even if you find a private location, results may embarrass you and may embarrass unintentional onlookers as well. 

Earlier this spring I happened to be speaking with a local resident cyclist of a popular climbing route. She’d recently attended a “how does the neighborhood resolve the cycling issue” meeting. Some of the residents had valid complaints about cyclists using their yards as port-a-potties. Really? Most of the homes are within 5 miles of a parking lot with a real port-a-pottie.

Lesson Learned: Since you wouldn’t want your property disturbed, be considerate and don’t “disturb” others’ property.

Each of our lessons have a common theme and a common solution. Plan in advance. Stop well ahead of time in appropriate locations. Take the time to plan and understand when and where to take a break. Our non-cycling friends will appreciate it and may be more understanding of the times when things work out differently than even the “pro” travelers planned!

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Tail winds and thanks for reading !

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