• Day25

    In the City of St Jeanne d'Arc

    September 14, 2019 in France ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Ever since we first arrived in France, over three weeks ago, one of the main topics of conversation has been the lack of rain . Paris has had no rain for almost a month and large areas of the country are suffering water restrictions. In a country where floods are far more common than droughts, this has created some degree of anxiety among the locals.

    The lack of rain might not be so good for the people of France, but it has certainly made our cycling easier. We have not had a single wet day, and it is looking like there will be no rain for at least the next week. This is a huge contrast to the last time that the Ghostriders were in this region, back in 2015.

    On that ride we endured one of the toughest days in the saddle that the Ghostriders have ever suffered. The rain started before we rode out of our hotel in Orleans and continued unabated for the entire day. The temperature was in the single digits, meaning that we were all in danger of severe hypothermia. I remember that David Yate's face and hands had turned an interesting shade of blue and we all began to wonder whether he would actually survive the day.

    The most memorable event occured when we were gathered in an open cornfield, trying to repair one of the many punctures that were also part of that incredible day. We heard a noise coming towards us like the sound of a hundred speeding locomotives. It was a most dramatic squall that was cutting its way through the field and heading straight for us. We were already as wet as we could possibly be and about as cold as a mountain climber on the summit of Everest, but the approaching storm filled us with dread.

    Riders huddled together, trying to find protection from the sleet and freezing wind, as the storm front roared right over our heads. It was something we will never forget. When we arrived at our hotel, we all sought any means possible to restore some warmth to our bodies - sit in the bathtub, stand under the shower, cuddle the radiator, etc, etc.

    It is clearly obvious as we ride alongside the, greatly reduced, Loire River, that we are are in no imminent danger of saturation or frostbite on this ride. The fields are much browner than usual and each day the sun shines from a cloudless sky. Any form of rain seems a very remote possibility.

    Yesterday we rode from our overnight stay at Sully to arrive at the major city of Orleans. Although it was long ride, the favourable weather conditions made it not as tiring as it should have been . The day was also notable for the fact that I made the bold decision to put the leadership duties in the hands of two women - Sam and Kay. I would have to say that they actually did a great job, and we found that we got lost no more frequently than we did when a man was leading.

    Carol and Maggie took on the role of "tail end Charlies" and seemed to spend most of the ride laughing together and taking pictures. They did observe that Vicki was the best behaved rider when riding in heavy traffic. She was awarded a special "safe rider" award at the evening meal.

    Orleans is a large city of around 400,000 people. It is most famous for being the home of the famous Joan of Arc. Nowadays her name and image is everywhere throughout the city. This is where we will also have our first rest day during our Loire Ride. I have well learned how p[opular and vital these rest days are to restore morale and energy during extended rides.

    In the evening we dined at the L'Ardoise Restaurant. We had been allocated an upstairs room, presumably to stop us disturbing the other diners. Our waitress was a lively young lady who was wearing a very short skirt which amply revealed a pair of very long shapely legs. The men folk all began wishing they were fifty or so years younger. That was until we heard the way she regularly yelled strings of obscenities at her hidden husband in the kitchen. She also spent the entire evening running up and down the long narrow staircase, carrying dishes to our 16 diners and also to the 30 or so downstairs patrons as well. It was a herculean effort in anyone's language.

    Dining in France is always something of a theatrical experience. You cannot apply the same assessment criteria that you would in Australia. Sometimes it is best to just relax and learn to live by their rules and customs. After all, that is why we came to this country in the first place. The food itself was superb, but it was the entertaining performance of the waitress that we will all remember, long after the trip is over.
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