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  • Day34

    Troglodytes and the Prime Meridian

    September 23, 2019 in France ⋅ ☁️ 15 °C

    One of the problems that you face when travelling through this part of France is that you are daily faced with an embarassment of scenic riches. Time after time, when we apporach a new town, we are blown away by the sheer beauty of the place. Just when you think it could not possibly get any better, there is another impossibly glorious village just around the next bend.

    Although we were not so sorry to escape from our cramped rooms at the Hotel de France, we were all a little sad to be saying goodbye to this lovely city so soon after arriving. However, we have a schedule to stick to and our journey must continue.

    It was a relief to see that the wet weather appeared to have passed by. When the new day broke it revealed a cloudy sky, but with no imminent sign of rain. Gordon and Sue somehow managed to manhandle their luggage back down the winding staircase, without destroying either themselves or the hotel in the process. Maggie and I similarly managed to haphazardly jam everything that was scattered around our room back into the ever expanding cases, and stumble our way back down to the reception.

    Although the rooms were tiny, the location had been exceptional and the breakfast was also one of the best we had enjoyed for some time. We climbed back on the bikes and headed out of Chinon for the final time.

    Ever since we began our journey along the Loire from Nevers, we had been working further and further westward. Today we were due to reach a significant milestone - the crossing of the prime meridian. This is the line of longitude that passes through the Greenwich Observatory and which denotes the reference point for all other meridians on our planet.

    With the aid of our GPS units it is possible to determine the exact location of the prime meridian to within a few metres. The last time we did this ride in 2015, we stopped to mark the position on the road and to take some group photos. I figured that we should repeat the process in 2019, just to see if the prime meridian had moved. It hadn't. The location was exactly where it had been back in 2015.

    On that occasion our festivities had been interrupted by the owner of the house whose driveway we were blocking. He did not seem to appreciate that his house was in such a strategic geographic location and seemed a bit put out that we were creating a scene. In truth, we probably were, but we had ridden a long way to reach this point and felt that we had some entitlement to celebrate.

    This time we were able to draw the chalk line on the road without disturbing anyone. We fooled around for some time taking pictures and then resumed our ride.

    The other major highlight of the day's ride had been passing through the region of the Troglodytes. These people built their homes right into the sides of the rock and reminded me of similar rock dwellers I had seen in Turkey.

    The rest of the ride could be described with a single word - delightful. We enjoyed a wide variety of quiet, shady paths, challenging climbs, expansive views, vineyards and historic villages. After riding every day, the team is obviously getting fitter and the kilometres seem to roll by effortlessly.

    Our destination for the day is the historic city of Saumur, dominated by (yet another) huge castle. The council seems intent on tearing up every street in the city and replacing them with cobblestones, so it was a bit of a challenge to reach our hotel.

    One thing that was a relief was the size of our rooms. We discovered that they were all a bit larger than the ones we had at the previous hotel. They even had put all our bags in the rooms for us - something that is very welcome after a day in the saddle.
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