Heard from Kerrie a couple of days ago, she and Jack had just done the 21 switchbacks that make up Alpe d'Huez and were soon to be heading to meet the others.
Got this from Andy today....
Not had much internet access or time for that matter. Early Monday in Saint Pourcain sur Soule, charging the phone and garmin while someone is using a hair dryer to dry his shoes. There has been a lot of rain last week and daily storms the last few days so the massive camping area we are in is still a bit wet underfoot.
Paris was warm when we arrived and it was nice to have Pete and meg meet us at the bus terminal with a trolley. A typical small apartment but with a terrific courtyard. Our second night saw us on a bike tour through Central Paris, an experience to follow a couple of Irish historians through the French traffic. Still we made it in one piece.
Packed up and headed to Austerlitz station to check times for a train to Orleans and didn't have long to wait after getting through the queue. In Orleans just after 2.Coffee near the gare to wake us up and then on the road. Couldn't find the bike path that I didn't realise was there so used a combination of roads, wide paths along the Loire river and narrow tow paths beside the canal. Not that easy, it wasn't until finding the path and direction signs the next day that the real joy of touring in the Loire valley was apparent. We had done 32 k to the camping ground at Chateauneuf by the time we stopped. Dinner in town and an early night - we still had a fair way to go to meet the Burridges in Moulins and get to SF.
Up at 6.30 and away by 7.50, ahead of our ordered baguette- breakfast on the road suits me better anyway. Stopped at Sully for bread and jam but couldn't find what passes for coffee over here. Fifty kms done by lunch - a ham and cheeses baguette had while watching Gien across the river. My first ever puncture in France caused by a piece of glass gave Glo a chance to stretch her back. Her shoulder has required some medication so far. Stopped for a pickmeup at the wonderful canal bridge over the river at Briare -Peter had told me about Briare but didn't mention the great macaroons or coffee at the little cafe at the end of the canal. Five o'clock saw us parking our bikes in the camping ground at Cosne with a century under our tyres. Even with the lack go climbing a useful start. Stroll around town and thence to another good meal.
Nobody stirring when we rode out of the camping ground. Made good time until we were led away from the river at Sancerre but did enjoy the small amount of climbing. Turns out flat days coincided with Kerrie riding Mt Ventoux! Averages out they say....
Baguette with jam for petite dejuener along the bike path watching all the cyclotourists go past. Mostly they ere riding downstream, a few like us heading to S Pourcain going the other way. Lots of youngish rides and lots of family groups. Had a coffee in the square in front of the old monastery at La Charite surrounded by book shops. Tempted by a Conrad paper back, less tempted by Joyce's Ulysses -far too heavy.
Getting hot again and Language Services decided to join Navigation Services in using a soft helmet for the bike path. But don't tell anyone. Ran out of water mid afternoon but I managed to communicate enough with an old French chap out in his garden to fill our water bottles. Found a hotel shortly there after for a cold beer to help with re-hydration. Apremont sur Allier was described as the prettiest town in France so not much point looking at villages now we have seen the best! In to the municipal camping ground in Mornay sur Allier (not the prettiest village in France) about 4 having knocked over nearly 90k. A snooze in the sun before the facilities were unlocked did me a world of good as did the meal which came with a litre of red wine.
A slightly later start because we had plenty of time to get to Moulins to meet the others. Navigation was now getting a bit harder but having the map in view in the handlebar case and mapme on the phone made life much much easier. We hit Moulins for morning tea after the storm hit us unfortunately. Some food, a new data card (travel sim phone cards have not been a universal success!) a couple of churches and we were ready to meet up with Mad Dog and Pierre.
They had just come out of the station as we rolled up. Without much ado we headed to Saint Pourcain. Well Lyons actually, but after this small navigational error we did head to Saint Pourcain. Temperature dropped as the clouds came over and opened up. Great road through the forest despite the conditions. We found a small bar further on that produced some coffee and lollies while the sun made a return. Another cyclist in the bar was wearing a SA tour down under jersey - she had no idea about it but just liked the colours. Ah the English!
Lost Pete in the last section into S Porcain but eventually found Ken and him at the Permanance. Another 90 ks, I'm glad we eased into the touring.
Ken and John had a handy camping spot near the trees (for afternoon shade) along the edge go the camping area. Camp ground is huge, quite the opposite to lovely Bessines two years ago. First person I talked to about sf 2012 said he remembered an Australian and his daughter. Well there you go.
Kerrie, Craig and Jack arrived late on Saturday after criss crossing France and hitting alpe d'huez and Ventoux from all three sides. Craig was happy to do it in the car!
S'all for now hope you are not suffering too much in the cold