Day 20 / Dec 3

Moulin de Lucy – Soissons (55.8 km)

22 riders. Average speed 16.2 km/h. Time pedalling 3.5hrs

It was pleasure to see the Moulin de Lucy in daylight. Our arrival in darkness last night meant we could only imagine much of it´s appearance, so walking out in the morning was marvellous. Hubert and Evi gave us a tour of their place, told us about the river, how the basin behaves and how good for them it was that it was raining so much upstream the day before. This meant a lot of energy generated by the mill and that equates to lots of hot water and plenty of electricity. They are such a sweet and welcoming couple, both taking pictures and giving out daisies Hubert pulled from the lawn. It was entirely possible to imagine the entire scene as an impressionist painting. We peddled out of Moulin de Lucy in extremely high spirits, having had exceptional hospitality there. Some of us hope to return…

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The navigator today was Arnaud, member of the “Le Forum du Vélorizontal, vélo couché et autres véhicules à propulsion humaine”, who was cruising in front of the group in his Velomobile, a 3-wheeled enclosed recumbent (you can spot it on the far right of the picture above!). Often “day-riders” give us the self important feeling of being in shape, as they often tell us how exhausting even one day of cooperiding has been for them. Not so for Arnaud, who quickly earned the nickname “speedy”. The Velomobile is rather robotic and futuristic; it is enclosed and has a battery to boast speed; it is as aerodynamic as a bird; and fast as hell. In his Velomobile, Arnaud can maintain a cruising speed of about  50 km/h on flat, with a maximum of about 75 km/h downhill. The acceleration in comparison to a bike is insane. It looks as if it was from the future and is in fact it is an example of what low-carbon mobility may look like in future.

The route today was along pleasant small but paved roads that made it much easier to stay in formation and created a nice cycling experience in general. This has been a rarity so far in France where our encounters with bicycle paths has so far has been pretty limited. Many of us found it extremely relaxing to not be surrounded by cars all the time – car exhaust and noise pollution can be exhausting. Speedy normally does this trip in a couple of hours, but he was gracious enough to let us take all day about it.

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We had another impressionist-painting-moment when we took lunch at the Coucy-le-Château-Auffrique. The weather was warm and sunny as if it was September and the view was great. However, as true environmentalists we had to remark that it is quite unusual to be able to take a nap in the sun without a blanket on the 3rd of December (as are December-Daisies and Cherry Blossoms, by the way)…

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Arnaud is a resident of Soisson – he works at the university building
prototype Velomobiles – and a couple of us (Theo and Phil) were lucky enough to see his garage in order to fix a problem with the tandem´s hydraulic breaking system. Thank you again for your great help and generosity, Arnaud!

We spent the evening in a sports hall belonging to the University of
Soissons (via Speedy) and discussed practical issues regarding our time
ahead in Paris, as well as a peculiar thing some of us noticed on the
ride: Being part of the Cooperide means giving up personal freedoms by
behaving in accordance with the group, but at the same time it allows
you the extraordinary freedom to cycle from Copenhagen to Paris in the
first place. Freedom through sacrifice, you might say. No doubt in
this there is a lesson to be learned for climate policies…

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