My third year of cycling through France, this trip started in Orléans, followed the Loire to Nevers, then switched rivers to follow the Allier, went through the Massif Central, down to the Med and then back inland before going over the Pyrenees and to Roses (pronounced RosAs by the way). 1121km not including 50 or 60 not counted along the way.
The second part of the trip, from the Massif to Spain was largely the route I'd done two years ago and had enjoyed so much. I'd started in Orléans largely because the dates that European Bike Express offered allowed me to arrive in Allègre to coincide with the Human Powered Vehicle Festival (VPH) held there every year.
|date of event:||8th July 2011|
So, two years ago I'd done Beaune to Barcelona (following Paul Benjaminse's book), last year was Auxerre to Agen, this was Orléans to Roses. I'd thought of continuing the alliteration of the start and end point names but the only place near to Roses, where the bus came back from, which began with "O" was Olot, but I really didn't want to go there.
As ever the photos and text is really for me, and perhaps those few friends who might be interested and my parents. I somehow can't imagine that over a hundred photos of roads next to hills, fields, moutains and the like is that interesting to anyone else. But for me the photos are full of those memories and moments that make any ride special, ultimately, on a long ride, it's actually not the landscape that changes but me.
So, here I am, packed and ready to roll. (and what do you think of my new hi-viz flag —thank you Maxine)
By the way, in case you're interested, the two panniers contain my clothes, sleeping bag, tent, mattress and wash stuff. Tied to the top of one of the panniers are the tent poles and pegs. My sandals are just tied to the rack between the two panniers, less smelly that way. Which leaves my rack pack to hold any stuff needed during the day, phone, wallet, tools, first-aid, and spork. Just in front of that and behind the seat is an insulated bag to hold my water pack with the tube fed over the seat to make it easy to drink while on the move. The insulation part is great, it keeps water cool for hours and is well worth the minimal additional weight.
This is the route I took: click on the photo to see a more detailed view or you can go to MapMyRide route to see it in zoomable detail and download the gpx file.
I changed the route slightly, from Allègre to Langogne, in order to catch up the distance because of a day 'lost' because of heavy rain. It was a funny July, apparently the wettest on record in France. The rain on the day I'd planned to leave Allègre was so heavy it would have been ridiculous to try and take the tent down so I stayed an extra day. I'll publish the changed route in detail when I get to that page. I'll also add the extra part, which doesn't feature here, of the route I took in Spain.
Originally I'd planned to simply do the same route that I'd done two years ago, Beaune to Barcelona, I'd enjoyed it so much. However, there was a recumbent bike festival in Allègre, just north of Le Puy, starting on the 16th July, and I really fancied going to that for a few days. To tie in with those dates I chose an Atlantic route out with European Bike Express which ended up meaning I started in Orlèans and linked up with the route I'd already done after Allègre.
I was going to arrive at midnight which was a bit too late to find somewhere to camp and too early to just have an early start so I'd booked in via the Internet with Première Classe Hotel, Orlèans. I'd emailed them to ask in my best French if I could have a ground floor room and take my bike in and they gave me this, fantastic room for the disabled. I don't know if they thought that's what I was with the recumbent bike but it worked out a treat.
Actually it worked out a treat once I got in the hotel. When I first arrived, after 17 hours on the coach, there was a dutch couple who couldn't get in since the large double gates were locked. You have to punch in a keycode which neither they nor I had. They left and I was wondering how to climb over the large wire fence when a french guy appeared. I explained the difficult and he pushed open the little side gate next to the large one... which I'd not even noticed
Sunday 10th July. Orléans to Briare: 99km, avg 17.7km/hr, max 41.6km/hr
Finding the Loire wasn't too difficult but finding the cyclepath which I planned to follow was much more so. At the moment though I'm just happily cruising along at about 8.00am Sunday morning. A cloudy cool start, perfect for cycling.