A wonderful nights sleep for me, but everyone else seemed to be kept up by dog fights, cat fights, dog & cat fights and the trundle of the harvest being gathered all thru the night. Excellent! Less chance of me being droped on the 90 miles into Versailles.
After little more than 5 miles I had another rear blowout, again blowing the tyre off, at the bottom of a steep hill……me thinks I could be over inflating. Whilst liaising with the van to bring the spare tyre – as I reckoned mine was shot – as well as gathering some more spare inner tubes, a very sprightly old gentleman emerged from the adjacent farm, showed us his ID proclaiming him to be in the 90’s and then showed us a hole used by the resistance in WW2. Not sure if he was involved but wow! How lucky was that?
We met the van a few miles on and I swapped the tyres, then we headed onwards. This was quite a challenging day with a number of steep & long climbs, hats off to Bob who struggled on manfully with his limited gear selection until at yet another steep little number caused his chain to commit hari kari by throwing itself into the gap between rear cassette and the wheel, snapping 2 spokes in the process. Thank goodness. ….a rest for all whilst the support team of Leslie, Bernie, Joc & Ann, which we had not long left after lunch in a small market town square. …literally, a selection of ribs n chicken bought from the market stalls and consumed on the steps of the town hall, which I don’t think was quite what they were expecting when we arranged to meet for lunch!
"Bill" pose post Mkt square scoff
Anyway, with a few extra tools Nobby was able to bodge – with much verbal assistance from the rest of us – Bobs wheel back together with a couple more gears and so onwards we went.
This was the last 25 mile push into Versailles, Dave the Map brought us in around the outskirts of Paris by a most excellent route…thanks once again for all your work mate!
Then suddenly. …another blow out, only this time it was Bobs front tyre being blown off and spreading green slime allez uber! I think your bikes trying to tell you something Bob.
Fate however was smiling down on us as only 10yds up the hill was a cool shaded pool/washhouse that you find spotted around, so we all- except Bob – took shelter from the blistering sun and dipped our feet in the cool waters….Bliss!
Dave had explored somewhat further up the street and had found a small bar where he got a round of coke in, and they also happened to be showing the last 13ks of that days tour (the one with the big crash 2-3ks out) won finally by a french chappie….vive le french!
Once we were all suitably refreshed we restarted our tour into Versailles. Dave somehow managed to bring us in via cycle paths, green lanes and royal parks right to the RV in the Palace gardens next to the Waldorf hotel where we met the “cherie’s” and Jennie and Clare….Pete’s (the dastardly front wheel knocking out from under buggers) wife and daughter. Oh…did I forgot to mention how Pete…..after having accepted my last fruit pastel, then despicably contrived to do a 90° turn to the left directly in front of me from the rhs causing me to fall in front of a rapidly approaching juggernaut (ok I made that bit up). And he wouldn’t return my pastel. …I’m sure he’d only been sucking it for a minute or two!
So Hoo to Paris completed, a number of incidents but no casualties and a fine time was had by all!
Our planned accommodation for the next few days was to be the campsite we had stayed at last year….but it was gone! So we stayed at the Ibis in St Cyr along with Dave. 1st night on the 2nd floor, which was a bit of a mare with the bikes, next 2 in the disabled room on the ground floor (yes yes, thank you, but please try and refrain from any so called humorous comments. ..thank you!) which was excellent.
Sat 26th – Sun 27th
On Saturday me n the boss went shopping in Versailles- spare tubes, Co2 regulator and bulbs…I am converted! and another tyre to match the rear one (from Bob) now fully treaded out with Schwalbe Marathons plus….which is my 1st choice of tyre. The only reason they weren’t fitted is I was using what was already on the Surly.
Then seeing as we’d done Versailles last year we went around the more remote parts of the gardens
on our bikes before meeting up with everyone in the German restaurant of the Hotel Paris Versailles……what?
Still an exceptional traditional German bit of scoff
-altho the staff were typically french, no lederhosen to be seen- followed by a small medal presentation and a very bright pair of shorts for Pete I can’t remember exactly what they were for, but Pete with great regret (sic) declined them and allowed me to commandeer them for various photo opportunities around Europe,
so here’s me in the “Bill” pose (as taught to us all by Bill…..apparently it makes you look….thinner?)
The colonials, along with Dave & Nobby took an early start so as to cycle, into on and back from, the Champs Elysee before the tour arrived. Me n the boss declined on account of having to put the bikes and gear together into ‘touring’ mode. This also allowed us a cheeky lay in!
The plan, as agreed the night before, was to RV at the Arc d Triumph at 1400hrs, but because they dithered and gushed so much they didn’t actually make it back to Versailles until 1330. Still…we were there and were very happy to ogle
C no hear no...bugger not enough hands
and take in the woman’s race- won by Marion Voss, quelle surprise!
Lizzy Armistead fell quite heavily.
Then we soaked up the atmosphere. …which was electric
The closest the English came to cycling Champs E
Next year we’re going to bring, hire or buy step ladders so as to see more of the action
Once Mr Nibili had been crowned victorious we declined going to a Parisian restaurant with the guys as we needed to get an early start, Dave joined us as his Paris transport map skills were sadly lacking and we headed back to St Cyr, stopping off in the St Cyr station Kebabery for 3 very good burger and chips avec coke total cost €18.
Then back to the Ibis to finish packing and hand off the now unwanted gear to Dave who would pass it on to Nobby -lighter is better! – for collection from Hoo at a later date. Everything packed n loaded it was off to bed!
Mon 28th. Start of “Our” Tour
A very quiet breakfast sans the gang at the Ibis, cheese but no ham, they’re budgeting! then down to St Cyr station for the journey into Paris Mont something or other. Oh the joy of heaving the bikes up stairs to the platform. …it was a bit of a bugger getting them onto the train too cos the train was leaning away from the platform on a quite steep adverse camber….at least 2ft step…..hey ho!
Once we got to central Paris it was a gentle 2 mile bimble to Gar d Austerlitz, a 10min Q for our tickets to Orleans ‘avec velo’ then a quickish jog to platform 21 where after another brief struggle loading we settled comfortably before departure for Orleans. …our start point. (Again as we did last year)
We’ve changed our plans a number of times (and to be honest they’ll keep changing) but for the moment we’re now going to cycle down the Loire to St Nazaire then up towards the Hook of Holland, altho we still haven’t decided how/which route to take from St N.)
So….back to Olivet, 11ks south of Orleans apprez a quick tour of Orleans centre ville
(very European) for a bit of grocery shopping & a drop of fuel before the big off tomorrow.
Whilst in the campsite I found a brochure; A Loire a Velo that advertised an App….so lazy bugger that I am I thought I’d download it to save on some map reading, route planning campsite finding etc & blow me down but it works….& is even in English.
The only downside is the lack of gradient indicators on the route map…..which has earned it a stern talking to by the boss! Now cycling down the Loire you’d kind of expect to be going downhill. ….however I think the french Loire a Velo (LaV) route planner has a great respect for the TdF chap and in his honour has followed his lead by adding a few category climbs (and they’re definitely category climbs if you happen to be loaded down with luggage, children and trailers) each stage.
Our daily target is 40 ish miles per day give or take, so not quite trusting the LaV app & in truth not having fully investigated all its glory, I used Google maps & we headed of to Blois to a campsite at the top of a hill that doesn’t actually exist. The silver lining was a Carrfor supermarche where Ann did the shopping whilst I guarded the bikes and hastily investigated the ‘points of interest’ function that pinpointed an existing campsite at a grand total of only 55 miles for the day!
It was a large sprawling campsite “go where you wish” with all the facilities, right by the river and only €8.40. WIFI by the office & not too bad really
Oops...wrong leg forward
I cooked scoff whilst Ann preped the next days cheese n ham roles…..we just got pitched and settled in before it started raining
Eye of newt etc etc
We’ve now gone back to the 10-12 miles before breakfast routine which works for us!
Chaumount sur Loire to Tours via Amboise. A short day today in lieu of the extra miles yesterday and so we can do a bit of sightseeing in Tours. That was the plan soon fubar’d by a late ish start but horrifically compounded by a mountain stage by the LaV route planner.
Seriously, altho the route is on the quietest of roads, if its taking you away from the Loire then by definition you’re going to be doing some climbing. …and the sad thing is there’s no need cos the D roads running along the Loire are so busy NOT! I’m not sure if its cos of the time of year, but after 20 miles of a few deviations into ‘them thar hills’ I ignored the Col d Up a Hill sign and stayed on the roads where, if we were lucky we were passed by 20 vehs per hour.
Point of interest function found us a very nice camp for €13, again the facilities. …with Yogi bear tables to hand were very good including loo role wifi and a bar. The beer was a tad expensive at €9 for 1 large & 1 small…but hey…..only 28 miles covered (including trip to Le Clerc Supermarche) but metres climbed….lots!