Things go Downhill RapidlySeptember 12 in France ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C
I suppose that there are several ingredients for a great ride. These would include favourable weather, amazing scenery, good friends to share the ride with, an absence of punctures and a glorious downhill. Today's ride had all of these things. It also had another ingredient that I would rather we had gone without. That unwelcome ingredient was a crash. To make matters even worse, I was the one that crashed.
The day began well enough. We left the hotel and climbed back up to the main sqaure of Sancerre where the cafe had agreed to make us baguette sandwiches for lunch. When the whole peloton had obtained their lunch supplies, all we had to go was head down the same very steep hill that had almost done us all in yesterday.
At first I started walking the bike, but I am not the most patient man in the world and thought it would be better to ride instead. I started to scoot the bike and tried to throw my hind leg over the seat. It was at that point that my life started to flash before my eyes. I managed to get the leg partway over before the seat of my cycling knicks caught on the saddle. With the combination of the very steep descent and the fact that I was involved in some sort of macabre embrace with the bike, things quickly escalated. Although I tried to maintain some sort of dignity and control, after a period of bicycle contortions, I fell over the handlebars and crashed heavily to the road. It was not my finest hour.
I lay on the road for some time, trying to disentangle my arms and legs from the wheels, chains and handlebars of the bike. Somehow we seemed to have become fused together. Gradually I staggered back up to my feet and examined the carnage. I had taken a large impact to my left knee and managed to collect some of the road gravel in it. The rear of my right thigh was also scraped and I had other assorted cuts and abbrasions over the rest of my body. Not such a bad result under the circumstances.
The bike had also taken a hit and the front light had been smashed right off its bracket. We managed to secure it witgh a motley assortment of bandages and tape. I tried to assure the others that it was "only a flesh wound" and that I was fir to continue the ride.
I did manage to complete the rest of the ride, but by the time we reached our hotel in Briare I was conscious of the fact that my left knee had completely stiffened up. This is the same knee that had given me grief in the Baltics and it had taken several weeks to get better again. It now appears that I am back to square one.
Apart from my unfortunate early malfunction, the rest of the day's ride went without a hitch. The cycling was some of the most delightful any of us had ever experienced. The early focal point was the huge nuclear power plant that we had been able to see from the hilltop of Sancerre. One of the massive cooling towers was blasting a continuous jet of steam high into the atmospehere. No matter how you feel about nuclear power stations, the jet of steam was certainly an impressive sight.
The towers themselves were so huge that it was very hard to tell just how far away they were. It seemed to take us most of the morning to reach them, but we finally reached the power plant surrounded with heavily armoured perimeter fencing. Large signs warned that taking photos was prohibited (but we cheated ever so little on that point).
We also managed to find perfect spots for morning tea and lunch. Even more remarkable was our find of a lovely little cafe for afternoon tea. The owner had obviously been celebrating for most of the day and seemed more interested in dancing to his loud music than in serving us. We also discovered that he could not speak French - only Spanish. He did manage to rip me off for about twice the normal rate for a bottle of water and a coke. Such is life.
Late in the afternoon we reached the beautiful town of Briare, best known for its elevated canal over the Loire. We also discovered that the streets and bridges of the city are liberally decorated with lovely flowering plants. Since I cannot keep any plant alive for longer than about two weeks, I was amazed that the flowers throughout the entire town were all flourishing.
In the evening we all dined al fresco at the Le Clos des Aromes restaurant. This is one of the very best restaurants in the town and we quickly learnt how they earned that coveted accolade. Their food was simply divine.Read more