Someone had asked that I write some posts journal-style, with day-by-day ride notes, so here it is. Part 1 is Wiesen to Paris. I have a few blanks to fill in later, which I’ll hopefully get around to, including kilometer counts.
6/4 – Ochsenbuch 159.02
We had visited a bike shop in a nearby town the day before to get my bike in touring shape. The front rotor and brake mechanism were replaced with Shinamo, as they had no Avid rotors. We loaded up our panniers the night before as well, mostly, and we were off bright and early. Unfortunately, we had intended on staying at a hostel, but they were booked up. We called another place, but on the night watchman was on duty, and he spoke no English.
Chris’s “breadcrumb” navigation on his Garmin worked well. He had placed little waypoints that we were to navigate through as we went. As the afternoon wore on, we called both the booked-up hostel (in case of cancellations) and the other place, to no avail. Afternoon became evening, and we started asking people if there was a campground nearby. We got the tip around 6 or 7pm that there was a place not too far, and it was on our breadcrumbed route, so we headed over. An old rusty sign pointed the way in.
When we arrived at the gatehouse, the employees were just leaving. They said there was indeed a campground and that there would still be time for us to get beer and food at the chalet. We biked down and were greeted warmly by one of the owners, a Dutchman who spoke English fluently. He and another Dutchman had purchased the campground (it had been in bankruptcy) and reopened it only two weeks ago.
We set up camp and showered, then went to the chalet for some Grolsch and cheese toasties (grilled cheese). We talked to a group of German recumbant bike tourists as well. They were quite impressed with the distance we were covering – they were doing 80-90 km per day, and they had only arrived at the campground an hour or before we had. We talked about biking on the roads and on paths in Germany (we told them we had given up on paths after one path took us up and down very steep hills before deviating us from the road we needed to get onto – we had to drag our bikes across a ditch and road barrier to get back). It was a good night, and we very much enjoyed our stay at the campground.
6/5 – ? france 166.5
Our second day was warm and partly cloudy. Again, we made good distance despite the hills. Crossing over into France, the sign indicating a different country was less impressive than the signs in the U.S. indicating a different state – it was a very plain highway sign marked “FRANCE” with default speed limits for various road types listed.
Again, we weren’t quite going to make it to the campground we had wanted to get to, so as it became later in the day, we started asking people for campgrounds. Neither Chris nor I spoke French, however, and no one seemed to speak German, let alone English. We finally found a man working in his backyard who spoke English. We got directions from him for a campground not too far away, so we headed there. We made a pit stop to get dinner, but no one there spoke German or English, so it was a lot of guesswork and pointing to get what we wanted.
When we arrived at the campground, there was a wall and a sealed gate, along with a “no trespassing” warning in four languages. It was getting dark now, too, so it wasn’t feasible to go out into the French countryside looking for another campground. We were almost ready to stealthcamp in a field across the way, but, luckily, Chris found an unlocked pedestrian gate. We walked our bikes in and made our way to the campground.
It was mostly a campground for caravans (RVs), and it looked like most everyone was asleep. We found a couple of youngsters hanging out and tried to ask them if it would be okay if we set up camp, but they had no idea. We eventually found a Dutchman who was camping there, who thought it’d be no problem. We picked an empty spot close to the showers and made camp for the night.
Notably, the toilets had no seats (bare porcelain) and no toilet paper. The lights were activated by motion sensor, so if you were sitting still for too long, you’d be in darkness before too long. Good times!
6/6 – Ste Menehoulde 123.4
We woke up in the morning and went to the campground office. It was no problem at all. There were two goats at the side of the office. The brown one only wanted to sit in his chair, while the black one wanted nothing in the world but to get petted by me. He followed me as I walked to the office door, and then watched sadly as I rode off.
We rode against headwind through lots of hilly country (not to mention some rain, but it wasn’t quite so bad), so we didn’t make it to Ste Menehoulde until just before 9pm – we got there as the campground keeper was leaving. I learned later that Ste Menehoulde is significant in French history. When King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette fled Paris after the revolution began, Ste Menehoulde was where they were recognized – they were later captured and brought back to Paris.
As we were riding through the main drag to get dinner, some jackasses dumped a bucket of (what I will continue to assume was) water on us from their 2nd story apartment. Oh well.
Chris told me that Ste Menehoulde was famous for le pied de cochon, where you eat the whole thing – including bones, so I went to the Cheval Rouge [check] to check it out. The locally made pied de cochon was 9.50, whereas the imported stuff was 5.50. Like as sucker, I got the local stuff. It was good, but I couldn’t quite choke down all of the bones.
6/7 – Reuilly-Savignon 112
Our last day before Paris went through beautiful Champagne country. We passed by many vineyards, including Moet & Chandon. Unfortunately, not only the terrain against us, it rained on us all day. This was the day we stayed at Bill & Meredith’s B&B – take a look at Paying It Forward for the rest.
Okay! That’s all I got for today. Next time (whenever I get to internet again), I’ll post my notes for Paris.