Friday, July 4, 2014

Stage 10: Nogent-le -Rotrou to Versailles


Today's ride was the longest ride of the trip, 144 km (~90 miles). Last night we had dinner at Buffalo Grill, it was next to our motel and easy to walk to, but of all the wonderful food we've had on the trip, this dinner reminded me too much of a copy of Sizzlers.

For the past couple of days we've all been realizing that the amazing bike ride is coming quickly to an end and today will be the last picnic stop of the ride and it's all kinda sad to see it all end. The morning's sky was bright blue and promising a sunny day and as I was putting on the sun screen I noticed some clouds creeping across the sky. We've been extremely fortunate during this entire ride. Many days rain was predicted, but in each case we managed to avoid anything greater than a sprinkle. Weather reports for today says that we have 100% chance of showers. Doug, one of the riders, has a special set of rain booties that whenever he wears them, the rains stay away. Today he's wearing them again. We'll see what happens.

Philippe typically has selected routes that keeps us off the busy roads and on the quiet back road and today was no exception. Until the last 15 km or so into Versailles, we had some gorgeous road to ride on.

The rain held off until lunch when we had some light showers which cleared up by the time we were back on the road.  The skies cleared and we finished the ride under blue skies and white puffy clouds.

We came into Versailles during Friday evening during rush hour and had to push our way through the heaviest traffic on the trip. Up a couple of hills along marked bike lanes as the traffic zipped by on our left.  Busy and noisy, but only for a short distance. As we were only a couple of kilometers from the end, we had one more flat. We stopped for a couple of minutes and on the sidewalk quickly replaced the inner tube, then off of same hotel that we started from.

Philippe and Agnes had arranged for Pizza at the hotel so that we wouldn't have to all find a restaurant in the evening and that we could all enjoy the dinner together.




if you can't view the slideshow below, chick here
 

Stage 9: Mayenne to Nogent-le Rotrou

Long day ahead with the most climbing of the trip, 2089 meters (~6853 feet).

The hotel last night was called the Grand Hotel and it really was pretty grand. Nice large rooms, good food and fast internet. I think that you might be able to stick me in a one star hotel and give me good internet and I would be happy. When I'm trying to blog and upload photos, a slow internet can really be annoying.

Oh well back to the trip. Beautiful day as we left the hotel. As we weaved our way out of town, the morning traffic had begun, but we we soon out on the country roads again.

As you can see in the map below, the elevation for the day was constantly varying with a couple of steep long climbs, but the elevation keep accumulating. It also was pretty warm as well, getting warmer as the day went on.

The entire day was on the back roads, but toward the end of the day we started to ride on roads that recently been resurfaced with chip seal. Chip seal is simply tar spread over the road and gravel applied top of the tar. When fresh, the gravel is loose and can cause problems for bicycles. In our case, one of the riders had some of the gravel bounce on to his chain then jamming his rear derailleur and bending it, which ruined the unit and he was unable to continue. We called the van and we was picked up. As a group, we decided to get off the chip seal and headed toward the more busy D955 and finished up the ride fairly quickly.

Except for the last part with the chip seal, it was a great day, if not a bit exhausting.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Stage 8; Mont Saint Michel to Mayenne


Had a great ride today and it wasn't too long. We're now at a hotel with good wi-fi, so the internet isn't dribbling at a character by character rate. Even under the best conditions, it can take 1 to 2 hours up upload the photos. Under bad conditions, I have to delay the uploads to another day.

For the past couple of days the terrain has been fairly flat, but today we had some nice hills, accumulating about 4000 feet of climbing for the day. For the past couple of days, we've been riding in the footpath of Patton's 3rd Army. Seems that each town we go through say's something about how Patton's 3rd army passed through the town on it's way to Berlin in 1944.

We visited two cemeteries today. One German and One American. It's a very sobering experience to tour the cemeteries and read the names of the solders that died in the service of their countries.

Tonight we're in the town of Mayenne. The last couple of kilometers have been through city streets. With the beautiful quite country roads that we've been on for the past week, it's unnerving to get bike in the busy streets, but we got here pretty early and had a happy hour before checking in and having a shower


Monday, June 30, 2014

Stage 7; Granville - Mt St Michel

Typically I ride with a with a professional tour company that takes care of the transport of the bags and the arrangement of the rooms and meals and too many small details to mention that makes each trip successful. This trip is with the Lafayette Riders who for the love of riding volunteer to their own time to put together each ride.

For this ride we have two vehicles, a passenger van and cargo van. This morning it was my turn to drive one of the vans from the ride start to the lunch stop. The Garmin map below shows where I started my part of the ride after lunch.






Saturday, June 28, 2014

Stage 6: Omaha Beach - Granville


Today we left Omaha Beach to head south to Granville. We took some very quiet roads as we wound our way south and to the west. About 35 km into the ride, we entered a hard packed bike path that we followed for 20 km or so until lunch. The skies were threatening us all day with rain and if it opened up on the hard packed dirt, it would have really been very messy. But we were very fortunate, though the skies were overcast all day, the rain held off. we only got one or two drops occasionally.




Stage 5: Omaha Beach



Photos and ride description to come





Thursday, June 26, 2014

Stage 4: Caen vers Omaha Beach

Today is our introduction to the beaches of Normandy; Sword, Gold, Juno and Omaha.  In the next couple of days we'll be adding Utah. It's so strange to be be zipping by these beautiful beaches with the knowledge that 70 years ago these beaches were scenes of savage battles of inch by inch fighting.

Our hotel for the next three nights is located on Omaha Beach. It's so strange to be enjoying good meals and nice beds knowing that soldiers had die on this spot.

Tomorrow we'll visit the American Cemetery.

Till next time,

Brian







Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Stge 3: Honfleur - Caen


Today was a day to ride, coast and stop. No need to rush. It was a fairly short day. The entire group left from the motel at about 9 AM but four of us quickly dropped behind when we stopped in town to see a wooden church was built by ship builder a long time ago. When entering the church, the vaulted ceiling looked like the hull of a boat turned upside down. The smell of the church was different that the stone churches that we had been in. No surprise, it had a rich smell of wood, very warm and inviting scent.

It was the time to head out along the ocean. We spent almost the entire day within sight of the ocean with the cool breeze washing over us as we biked along.

About 10:30 we stopped near the ocean for coffee and pastry and watched life go by. Got back on the bikes and weaved through town stopping at the white beaches and fish market, then continued ago the coast following the beaches as we went. About 12km from the end of the ride we found the rest of the group at the picnic stop. They had placed the stop at the site of the Pegasus Memorial. The Memorial is at a bridge that was featured in the movie "The Longest Day", where as one of the first actions of D-Day, a group of 90 British solders landed in 3 huge gliders and took the bridge from the Germans in the dead of night. The bridge needed to be taken intact to support the landings that were to occur later that day, June 6th 1944. We toured the Memorial that included a movie, the relocated bridge and a full size mock up of a glider.

As I said earlier, we were only about 12 miles from the destination, Caen. We took a bike path for several kilometers then through busy streets to our hotel in town.

 Brian







Monday, June 23, 2014

STAGE 2; LE NEUBOURG - HONFLEUR


Wow what a wonderful day on the bike. After some snapshots of the group at the hotel we headed out on a rails to trails bike path. I guess I could look it up, but must have been 30 kms or so. The bike path followed an abandoned train track line through a forest. The former train stations, space apart by 10km have been converted into homes, but the town names were still displayed on the buildings.

Right off the bike path was the Monastery of Bec. On the grounds was a bell tower built in the early 1000's. The Monastery is still in existence and they have a boutique with many items that they make including pottery and china.

Lunch was the high point of the day with stop a a friend of Philippe and Agn├Ęs who's thatched home was a beautiful setting for a picnic lunch.

The rest of the ride when fairly quickly with the wind to our backs and a slight downhill. We arrived in the Honfleur and enjoyed a cool beer before exploring the town a bit then heading to the hotel to shower up before dinner.

Brian



Sunday, June 22, 2014

STAGE1: VERSAILLES to LE NEUBURG

Nice start for the trip. Blue skies and a tail wind in the late afternoon makes for a very pleasant ride. The ride was 135 km (84 miles). Being the first day, we were a bit slower than expected and didn't arrive until about 6PM. A quick shower and some time uploading photos and GPS data and soon it was time to head out to dinner.

It's now 11:30PM and time to head off to bed. I need to get up by 6:30 to get ready for the ride tomorrow.  I'm sure that it will be lots of fun.

Happy Trails,

Brian Cox


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Last night we had the trip briefing. We have 35 riders in all on the trip. The briefing covered new riders to the group, including me, a and bit about riding groups. To start out with, the plan is to have three different groups of riders; fast, medium and slow. Each group is to have a captain in the lead and a sweep as the last person of the group. The intent is to keep everyone together and not drop any riders from the group. We'll see today it works out.

It will be a bit busy leaving town so we'll ride out together, all 35 riders until the roads become less trafficked, then break into the smaller groups.

Well it time to depart. I'll be blogging later today.

Have fun.

Brian