After five weeks here in Europe, the thought first crossed my mind last night: This tour will eventually end.
Coincidentally, this thought was followed by a night of “teacher dreams” involving the usual scenarios K-12 school teachers endlessly go through in this conscious and especially unconscious minds during and especially just prior to a school year.
We’re down to two weeks before I get on a plane in Copenhagen and this is over.
But living in the now, there’s still those two weeks and, as the brief recap shows below, plenty of in-the-now fun and meaning is being had, now with my wife for company. The rides below are shorter, more leisurely and filled with the views of the Morvan, an area not well known outside of France.
Or, as the extremely brief Wiki page in English puts it: “This is a relatively unknown place internationally, so most information is in French.” In short, it’s a very pretty and somewhat sharply hilled rural region, with farms cut from forest along hillsides. Here’s a bit of a look:
This day was actually spent far from hills and forest, instead riding the canals of the Loire. 55 km of flat and generally good pavement in hotter-than-average temps. My wife’s first day of riding went splendidly and she was a real trooper and going the “extra town” to get to the just-right-sized village of Cercy-la-Tour along the Canal du Nevernais.
As expected, the number of fellow bike tourers jumped dramatically from my days riding up to Nevers; in fact, our hotel in Nevers featured six couples from six different countries, half of whom were starting or continuing bike tours. This Eurovelo 6 Loire stretch is well-known and we scratched this one off the “bike touring to-do list.” That makes it sound a lot less fun than it actually is/was.
Stocky Percheron horses escape the heat as best they can
Many French train stations are in various stages of renovation, including Nevers. Noting the dates and the condition of the renovations…it looks like they missed the deadline by just a smidge.
Emily stands before one of the many fine signs for the Eurovelo and “La Loire en Bourgogne.” Getting lost would be quite difficult on this route.
Boats floating the canals dock here (site: I can’t remember, but I do, of course, remember we did have ice cream here) for nine Euros a night.
Planning a two-person bike tour when one person has been “training” for 1,000 miles over here and the other just got off an overseas plane flight is one of logistically and strategic delicacy. How much to push the “newbie”? Stay on the flat canal, or venture off up into the hills? A little bit o’ hills, or more?
I decided against 100% canal for a variety of reasons, centered primarily on the “boring” factor of doing that exclusively. So today was planned to go from Cercy to Poil, about 45 km through some hills, then “re-planned” to bypass some of the hills via a fortuitous train route that quickly shaved off half the distance, too.
Off the train at 12:30 it was already hot, and the decision to train half the distance seemed wiser than ever. We loaded up with groceries at a nearby local epicerie-crushing hypermarche and rode/walked our ways up and down hills into the Morvan Forest.
The hills and ravines were ravishing, and we were filled with good views and steep grades enough in only 20 km before hitting the small village of Poil, a place lucky enough to have had two important businesses start 18 months ago: a really good guest house and a really good auberge/restaurant. We took advantage of both.
The nearly deserted intercity train from Cercy had room for six standing bikes on hooks, or our two loaded bikes. We left just enough room to move through the aisle, if there had anybody to really move through the aisle.
Example of our view much of the afternoon
Sign as we enter Poil mentioning this is a “commune” of the Morvan
Very well rested until 7:00 a.m. church bells that went on much longer than almost any AM radio hits of the 70s, we took a long while before making the short trek to our next two days of lodging, a converted mill turned into a B&B outside of La Boulaye.
We’ll R&R here today and tomorrow before pushing back toward the Loire valley in an effort to mix just enough cycling oomph with plenty of vacation lethargy. In right at two weeks I’m at the Copenhagen airport about to fly home, wondering where this trip went. Time to soak some of it in now.
Getting to the top of the local hill makes for lovely views of the top of the not-so-local hills.
Very tempted to take a dip on the warm, humid day, but we decided to just “sits and think” for a bit looking out across this pond.
Bridge, pizza being offered, but we went with a noon-time coffee here in little (ain’t they all little?) Charbonnat.
A large buddhist temple and retreat center just outside La Boulaye. Here we humbly offer our “bowls,” so to speak.