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    • Day 38

      A Glorious Ride to Champtoceaux

      September 27, 2019 in France ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

      We began our current French adventure five weeks ago, at the end of a long hot European summer. Our first week in Caumont Sur Durance gave us an idea of what the locals had been suffering throughout the previous several months. When our cycling began in Avignon, we could see that the lack of rain had caused the countryside to become parched and brown. Of course the lack of rain, while no good for the locals, had actually made our cycling much easier.

      We then transferred to Nevers to begin our ride along the Loire. Although the temperature was markedly cooler, we enjoyed an unbroken sequence of sunny and dry days. Of course nothing can ever halt the inevitable progression of the seasons and the telltale signs of autumn are now appearing all around us. The trees are starting to change colour to the delightful yellows and browns of autumn, and the bike paths are beginning to be carpeted with fallen leaves. This is a particularly beautiful time to be cycling in Europe, where the seasonal transition from summer to autumn seems to take place in front of your eyes.

      The local weather bureau had warned that today was going to be cool and rainy. During the night I could hear the sound of rain falling on the roof of our hotel. It was looking like our run of fine riding was about to come to a dramatic end. You can therefore imagine our relief when we emerged after breakfast to find that the rain had stopped and most of the clouds had blown away. It actually looked like a lovely day for riding.

      The first few km of the day's ride took us along an elevated road that obviously served as a levee bank in much wetter times. However, in the middle of the current drought, the water of the Loire was too far away for us to even see it. With the low, early morning sun shining through the broken clouds, the lighting was absolutely amazing. I thought it was pretty enough to be an oil painting. It was a slight pity about the head wind, but sometimes you can't have everything. It certainly was a good time to be enjoying life.

      Maggie and I had remembered a fantastic boulangerie in Saint Florent Le Vieil, and we were thrilled to discover that it was still there. The riders stocked up on baguette sandwiches and cakes for a picnic lunch. We also remembered that there was a good TABAC just around the corner - an ideal place for coffee.

      In an uncanny example of perfect timing, the rain started just as we entered the TABAC. It gave us an ideal opportunity to spend a while chatting and drinking coffee, while the rain fell outside. Although the cakes had been intended for lunch, some of the team could wait no longer and decided that there was no time like the present.

      By the time we were finished our coffee, the rain had also stopped and we were able to resume our ride with dry clothes. That made for a very happy peloton.

      About 45 minutes later we were able to stop by the Loire for our picnic lunch. Baguettes were unpacked and eaten while we watched the water flow past nearby. A local resident poked their head out the window and shouted "Bon appeitit" to us. Another magic moment.

      The remainder of the ride took us through some absolutely beautiful shady paths. Cycling does not get any better than this. We even saw a few squirrels scurrying across the road. Unfortunately one of the little creatures was not fast enough to make it across the road and was killed by a passing car. It was the only bad part of a lovely day on the bikes.

      Champtoceaux is a small town, located on an elevated position above the Loire. This meant that, in order to reach our hotel, we had first to pedal up a substantial hill. It was amazing to see how the fitness of our riders had now improved so much that all were able to reach the top without too much difficulty.

      After checking into the hotel we were able to walk to a nearby lookout to gain a magnificent scenic view of the Loire Valley. We now have only three days of cycling remaining. I wonder if our luck with the weather will continue ?
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    • Day 25

      Übernachtung in Oudon

      October 15, 2023 in France ⋅ ☁️ 15 °C

      In diesem kleinen Ort direkt an der Loire haben wir auf einem großen, kostenlosen Stellplatz einen Platz gefunden und freuen uns nach einem abendlichen Spaziergang durch das Städtchen zur Burg und dem Chalet auf eine ruhige Nacht.Read more

    • Day 23

      Angers - Oudon

      July 7, 2023 in France ⋅ ☀️ 31 °C

      Ein Blick zurück zum Château d'Angers und los geht die heutige Fahrt. Die Landschaft hat sich verändert, es ist zunehmend flach, nur noch wenige kleine Hügel sind in der Ferne auszumachen. Die Loire hat immer mehr und grössere Sandbänke, und mit den sehr warmen Temperaturen fühlt es sich wie im Süden an.
      Wir trampen gemütlich vor uns hin, ab und zu gibt es einen Kaffeehalt um unsere "Batterien" zu laden, im Klartext - unsere Beine auszuruhen.
      In Montjean-sur-Loire fahren wir an einem Gebäude vorbei, können aber nicht einordnen, was genau es ist: eine Brücke, eine Burg? Google hilft uns einmal mehr: früher war es ein Kohlebergwerk.
      Nach 70km erreichen wir Oudon.

      Hier übernachten wir einmal mehr in einem Château - wir haben sogar ein Turmzimmer mit 2 Türmen! So lässt es sich gut den Nachmittag ausklingen.
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    • Day 33

      Ron Gets a Belly Full

      September 26, 2015 in France ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

      Day 34 – In Which Ron Gets a Bellyful

      The road away from the hotel was smooth, flat and almost deserted. On our right hand side was the mighty Loire River. With another clear sky overhead and no rain predicted for the next few days, it should have been a perfect ride. It wasn’t. A bicycle is meant to be quiet. Mine wasn’t. For the past few days a small click had been growing somewhere in my bike’s nether regions. By the start of today’s ride the click had developed in both volume and regularity so that it now accompanied every damn turn of my cranks. Click….Tick….Click.

      A similar irritating and entirely unwelcome noise had become my companion for most of the Italy ride, and I had loved the sensation of riding in quietness for the first few days of this ride. My nemesis had now caught up with me and looked like it was going to be with me all the way to Le Croisic. I tried tightening the pedals. If anything it seemed to make the clicks louder. I tried kicking the bottom bracket. It didn’t get rid of the click, but it did make me feel a bit better. Short of chucking the bike in the Loire, there was not much more I could do. Perhaps I was being taught a valuable lesson in patience and long suffering. If so, I was obviously a poor student, as all it succeeded in doing was make me cranky.

      Apart from my own on board symphony of sound, the rest of the ride went exceptionally well. Everyone was in high spirits and we were making excellent progress. If anything, our progress was actually too excellent. If we kept this up we would be at our destination at Champtoceaux far too early. We had plenty of time to fill and needed something to do with it. I came up with an idea.

      The first likely looking opportunity for a coffee stop was at Saint Florent le Vieil. I decided to turn from the bike path and explore the town. My first effort led the peloton up a hill and straight into a dead end (en impasse). I tried to look like I had planned it and instructed the group to turn around. We then proceeded up another hill and discovered the town centre, complete with large coffee shop and, not one, but two Patisseries/Boulangeries. This was just what I had been hoping for, and revealed my plan for the day.

      “Let’s buy lunch and then make a picnic by the river”, I suggested. Ever since this ride had begun we had learned to make sure we “bought enough food for Ron”. Whenever we had the chance to buy lollies or baguettes, we had to make sure that there was also plenty for Ron as well as ourselves. And who was this mysterious Ron ? Of course it was the legendary “Later Ron”.

      Although the first patisserie was a complete disappointment as they didn’t sell sandwiches and their cakes looked second rate (some even went so far as to classify it as a rubbish cake shop), the second one turned out to be a veritable El Dorado. It had enough tooth rotting cakes to satisfy even the hungriest pelotons and the cooler was piled with freshly made baguettes with a delicious range of fillings. We really had struck it lucky this time. Some time later we all staggered from the shop with large bags filled with more than enough for us AND a whole army of Rons. There was no chance that Ron would be hungry today.

      Since it was still too early for lunch we walked to the nearby coffee shop, ordered our coffees and then sat in the warm sunshine chatting and drinking coffee. This cycle touring can be highly demanding at time, but today was NOT one of those times. It was just plain good fun.

      We managed to lose half the peloton on the way out of town, but that was not a serious matter as we did find them again later. Our next task was to find a place to enjoy our picnic by the river. When a suitable place was suggested a few kilometres later, there was no argument. Everyone was hungry and this was deemed a great time to share our lunches with Ron.

      Another extended time was spent sitting in the sunshine, watching the river, wondering if the swans would swim our way and munching on our baguettes. It will remain a treasured memory of this trip, but when someone threw a banana peel into the undergrowth, I warned that could be dangerous as someone could slip over on it.

      Reluctantly we remounted our bikes and rode for a few minutes before the women starting asking for another toilet stop. We managed to find a lovely opportunity (the location, not the toilet) by a series of green lagoons. The ladies lined up, the men waited. And waited.

      The remainder of the afternoon’s ride was warm and easy and put everyone in a lovely mellow mood. When we were about 4 km from the hotel at Champtoceaux I stopped for the final rest break of the day. At the time some may have wondered why we stopped so close to the hotel, but the reason was answered when they turned the corner and saw the road reaching up to the skies. The hotel was situated on the top of a hill. Gears clicked down, heads dropped and the climbing started. If this hill had been encountered two weeks ago, it would probably have caused a riot. Now that all the riders are stronger, it was fascinating to see that most actually enjoyed the challenge. Even with the heavy bikes and loaded panniers, it was a strange sort of fun. The views from the summit certainly made all the effort worthwhile. The so called “Promenade of Champalud” rewarded us with the finest views of the entire ride. Standing at the lookout we could see up and down a huge section of the Loire Valley.

      After dinner we all climbed back to the lookout. The experts had predicted the best full moon of the year – the so called “Blood Moon” and we wanted to experience it from the best spot possible. As we stood and gazed at the twinkling lights of the scattered villages and the enormous full moon overhead, I am sure that we were all satiated. And I am sure that Ron slept especially well that night.
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    • Day 38

      J+36 les bords de Loire

      September 23, 2016 in France ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

      Session route entre Oudon et Ancenis

    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Oudon, Uldo, Удон, 乌东

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