Brent & Claire

Author: Brent Ruru (Page 2 of 13)

27/9/23 Saint-Florent-Le-Vieil to Nantes 65.65 kms – Where The River Flow Meets The Sea Tides

An unexpected ending to the day awaited us as we climbed on board the bikes and let the short descent roll us towards the Loire and back onto the EV6 cycle way heading west.

Sub-consciously, the body just does its thing. One leg up, one leg down, the other leg up, the other leg down giving momentum forward. The right hand fingers clicking a top lever to change the bike chain up the back cog and then the bottom lever to change the chain down the back cog. This welcomed resistance provides the legs some additional power for speed at pace on the flat or less power for less speed but faster rotations to help with ascents.

Eyes look up and out at the landscape and awe and then down a metre or more infront at the cycle line being ridden to navigate where the front tire will follow. So as not to ride over anything that will result in a flatty or loss of balance and kissing mother earth herself or squashing other life treading the same path or riding through manure to flick up and hit the one behind … like it did today! The manure bit. Ops!

We have certainly been impressed with the bikes, they have done us proud and touch wood, they hold out just a little bit longer. As much as the mind, body and soul as weariness is on the fringe a little more. Elasticity in the apparel that held everything in or up has stretched somewhat. We are having to pull up the bike lycra more with the our lard arse, hip tubes and fat guts shrinkage. And have to write, the calf muscles are the best they’ve looked in a long while!

We can eat what we like knowing we will burn it off and therefore ode into a smaller village to park up and have morning tea with cake. Here we met two young Germans with fuller laden bikes than ours. They left Hamburg a month ago and are cycling around the continent for a year. I asked where they ride during the winter. Southern France and northern Spain mostly. It was quite inspiring to watch them bungy half a dozen baguettes onto the bag of their bikes, turn grin and wave us goodbye.

We too were in admiration for the few on coming cyclists. Knowing we are nearing the end, most of them must have been starting as bike clothes and attached panniers looked new and clean. Some didn’t look up when passing with uninterrupted focus on keeping their bikes upright looking for the line. So as not to run over shit that might flick up onto the one behind. And, they smelt so clean! The sense of smell is sharper to perfume after living wild and rustic for so long!

The countryside housed a heap of plots for growing seedling plants By the acreage. At different plant growing cycles as well. Rows were near perfect. Thoughts drifted home to our little vege garden and what we will ramp it up with on our return. Little Claire (daughter) has managed to purchase the courgette plants in readiness for an upcoming season of pickles and spaghetti.

Crossing the Loire, there was some indecision as to whether the exposed riverbed was because of the low water level or because of it now being tidal. A boat sitting high and dry had very moist deep green looking algae as if the water shrunk but would be back on a tide. We flavoured it being tidal.

We arrived at the city of Nantes and it’s hussle and bussle, following the EV6 signs into it’s heart. It was just heaving with population, cars, trams, and airplanes under bellies flying over to land somewhere in that direction. Eventually, our untangled confusion had us pull up by the chateau. We thought this was a poignant “X” marks the spot of making it to Nantes.

A lot of the literature about the Euro Velo 6 has this as the starting point for many heading eastwards. And some has the beginning another 60 odd kilometres further eastwards and starting at the Atlantic Ocean itself. Which for us it our true end destination, the smell of salty sea breeze.

A lady approached BClaire to play the victim of having arrived into Nantes escaping from her husband and needing help because she’d been raped by him. Mention Police help and scammers like this tart exited left. Or was it right? Our alertness for like minded shit bags elevated as standing out like we do can make us for easy targets. “Here honey, let me give you a hug with me stinky manky smelling bike top for a wiff and some comfort.” Begging is an industry here too.

We plugged in our hotel location into google maps and followed the blue line and dot riding the 6 kms to our awaiting room, shower and bed. Cleaning up, we reached out to another fellow traveling French nomad Dorian as there was a high likely of us connecting whilst we were in the area and he was going to be traveling through.

Who could have ever imagined that the three of us would be having a drink and dinner together a short time later. He’d arrived by plane, picked up his van and came straight on over.

We first met Dorian in 2013 sitting down beside him at a Star Bucks café at Bangkok airport to discover he was on the same flight as us to Kathmandu, Nepal. What transpired over the course of a week was that we eventually trekked with him and his friend Eric together, doing the Annapurna Circuit and thus cementing a global friendship. Dorian visited New Zealand during 2014 and camped out with us as back then, BClaire and I were living in a caravan at a holiday park in Christchurch. Now, here we were all sitting at the table again rubbing noses, sharing a meal and reminiscing.

He politely reminded me of our conversation about the All Blacks losing a rugby game against France knocking us out of a rugby would cup years ago; how I had him on about France testing nuclear bombs in our back yard; and the Rainbow Warrior incident where France sent agents down to New Zealand and blew it up, sinking her. Yep, we picked up the conversation where we left off with grins, and laughter, and a plan hatched as to what we might do after this ride finishes.


An unexpected brilliant conclusion to the day.

26/9/23 Anger to Saint Florent-Le-Vieil 67 kms – Owwwwwarrrrrr You Sexy Beast

BClaire was in full flight conversation with a couple from the United Kingdom who were staying at the same place as us, as I fronted up and joined after doing a final departure room inspection.

Happy to report that all the three plugs we have carried since the panic episode of thinking we had left our only conduit between our technology and the continent power grid behind, are all still accounted for!

They were retired teachers now enjoying their later in life years traveling. They were firing off questions at BClaire about our travel. We stood for a good ten-fifteen minutes sharing and contributing to world current events and reminiscing that we had all grown up and lived through the better years of hard graft, respect and how they own the same issues we live with back home – poverty, crime, cost of living, Jacinda Adern legacy as much as Boris’s one. By the time we ended the gas bagging, the lovely lady was going to have her children on about getting a tattoo, will decide on the songs to have at her funeral, and when she looks at her husband the next time in the shower nude, remember what it was like when she first saw him standing there starkers all those years ago (five to six decades) because nowadays, the owwwwwarrrrrr you sexy beast had washed down the plug hole long ago!

We ventured to the Chateau d’Angers for a gawk. The walls rose high up. It’s just hard to imagine how they crafted such splendor. We rode up and around to it’s entrance. It had a draw-bridge with tourists pouring in and out. Ironically, we bumped into the three cyclists whom we met yesterday on route to Angers. From England also, a married couple of the three had lived for two years in New Zealand. We exchanged chat like speed dating before they had to leave to catch a train and we had to get back on the road. Cycle path.

The plan was to ride back to our point of right turn yesterday (6kms) to pick up the cycle way however, we spotted an EV6 sign that pointed in the opposite direction. Deciding to take that one, we went past the chateau again and where a photo was taken looking up, to cross the Maine River. A little further, we began to lose confidence that it wasn’t going in the direction we wanted to magnetise towards and so we halted and swung the bikes around to back track. Therefore, by the time we arrived at our actual starting point which was yesterday kind of finishing point before riding into the city centre, it had gone 12.30pm with 11 kms chalked up.

Lunch time already!

We again accidentally lost signs today and went off track, back on, off again and thank god, back on. Just on the outskirts of Savennieres, we arrived at a dead end scratching our heads as to where the hell the cycle trail went. Surely we didn’t miss another sign? Bikers appeared out of the brush to say they too were all over the place lost and advised us not to go the way they had come. It wasn’t pretty. We back tracked to Savennieres proper and yep, missed a damn sign. All was good in the easiest gear to hump upwards for 150 metres before road works meant diverting without any formal directional alternatives. After a scout to determine where we should divert too that had us all over the place, again, we decided to push through the road works, never saw one workman and happily picked up the signs beyond. Boy, were we now attentive reading every thing that looked like a sign, even if it wasn’t our signs, and hugged them for the remainder of the ride today.

This structure was used for raising coal up 75m for the kilns in the area that turned limestone into lime.
Not too sure why this farmer was ploughing the dry riverbed!

It was a day for experiencing insect nature on the move. Firstly, hundreds of web strands were being carried like hot air balloons to float freely with the current of the breeze blowing. They glistened in the sun. They attached to our hats and backs and bikes and just about anything. Most likely young spiderlings leaving home to go make a name for themselves in the world.

Secondly, trillions of a the same type of insect in swarms, doing circles going round and round in mid-air. We wondered what they see which begged the question, do they ever get dizzy? They were a pain as we had to look down and keep the gobs closed for a good part of the pasture passing riding. Just hordes of the things. There is no taste to them and not wearing sun block meant none of the bastards free loaded.

It sums ups today riding ironically, how we went in circles for parts of it and used the word “Bugger” a number of times.

That last bit is a mistruth.

Stronger terse words were more appropriate. When losing signage and the fkn bugs themselves!

25/9/23 Saumur to Angers 54 kms – 99 + 12

We did it again!

Here we were standing in front of tow directional signs at a junction after leaving Saumur. We had options to either go left, and stay left of the Loire or go right, ride over a bridge, around and under to follow the right side of the Loire.

Three fellow cyclists came up the path from behind us and went left without hesitation. At the same time another solo French cyclist came off the bridge close enough for me to ask if he spoke English. “E lyttol.” A young fella wearing sandals carrying a long stick woven onto his bike, possibly for his tent or tarp. “Yis, zere iz a pethway wiz smull tewns yu rede thru.” Innocent enough we thought and so pointed the noses across the bridge to follow the right side of the Loire.

Innocent enough where the pathway after the underpass bit evaporated and became a two single tyre lanes similar to a railway line, and then a gravel single lane track. We bumped along the perpendicular tree rooted direction swearing and laughing and cursing some more how we had done it again, put trust in a French froggie! We looked across the Loire to the other side and wondered how the other three cyclists who had passed us earlier were doing.

Found out a little further along that they went well as they crossed at a bridge to our side ahead and when we stopped to ponder if we should continue on our side, their comment (speaking proper English) was that it was all road, smooth and lovely. We swapped over and soaked it up.

We either learn from a lesson or, keep taking the lesson until we learn from the lesson! Doh!

There was a another crossing back onto the right side and we followed the tar seal all the way into the outer suburbs of Angers. The Loire did have water in her however, it was prominent that it had receded somewhat. There was an information board outside a property that shows it being under water from flooding some years ago. Hard to imagine this happening again with the patched riverbed now housing greenery out in the middle. You knew it carried water flow with old logs lying dormant baking in the sun.

The unexpected sign that read Nantes 99 was a milestone emotion to see. It hammered home that in two days, we’ll only have the bit between Nantes and the Atlantic Ocean to ride. The irony was that our accommodation was city centre in Angers and so we had to cycle a further 6 kms into the thing. It took the number back up over the hundy that we’ll retrace back out tomorrow.
This city is worthy is certainly worth a stop over and look around and were rewarded with some beautiful sight seeing tiki touring of the place.

The Saint-Maurice d’Angers Cathedral with its 75 metre spires and elaborate rose stained glass windows was a definite positive ‘Monika’ visit. You just wanted to yoodle to see how the echo would bounce off the walls and mighty high ceiling. I didn’t!

Immediately out its front was the Montee Saint-Maurice steps down to the Maine River. Hesitation was momentarily as you just knew that if you went down, there would be an up in the equation. It was worth the descent to look back up at the towers of the cathedral.

The Maine River housed a suspension bridge once. Constructed between 1836-1839, sadly on the 16th April 1850, a storm blowing through was strong enough to have it collapse as a French battalion of soldiers were marching across the thing. It killed 200 of them (Wikipedia).

There is also the Chateau d’Angers that houses the Apocalypse Tapestry, the last surviving set of medieval tapestries in the world. We’ll head there tomorrow to check out the chateau’s prowess. Take our time to fill in time as we want the time left to slow down, before our time is up.

What’s another three or four kilometres before making our way back to the true EV6 cycle way route.

The end is nigh!

24/9/23 Tours to Saumur 85 kms – We Plateaued Today


Ireland beat South Africa in the pool play of the Rugby World Cup. Absolutely brilliant. Not because we sat beside two South Africans watching the AB’s lose to France to weather directed banter that SA have an “A” and a “B” team here, so pretty much the writing is on the cup! But more the fact, we wondered how those Irish riders that we met a week or so ago hooning along the Loire for a jaunt before heading to the game to cheer their Peppercorns on against SA. I mean Leprechauns. And how their heads must be feeling!

The Irish team had based themselves in Tours and one of the team borrowed a bike and managed to have it stolen in the split second he left it unattended. Made the news back home in cloverland as everything trivia does nowadays in the media. We’ve read about other nomads like us having the same happen so we are pretty vigil to ensure they’re securely disabled, locked or one of us stands with them to look night club bouncer staunch. Usually me, puffed up chest, gut sucked in, scanning for deviant looking locals.

A marathon was in full swing by the time we departed Tours. Streets were blocked off and traffic in, around and out of the city restricted with marshals ensuring runners having right of way. Bands playing music were scattered across the route and we could hear them jamming away with gust.

It took a little bit to get out of down town and unintentionally, a slight detour that had us pass how the other half live. Quite eye opening with caravans and tents amongst strewn rubbish, garbage and graffiti covered ablution blocks. It was the same ute that passed us earlier not giving a shit for space between us and him that we saw pulling donuts out in the neigbouring paddock to the habitation.

We came up on a group of Americans who were cycling from Orleans to the Sea. They were a retired bunch, mostly from Pennsylvania who had were friends since school, some 45 years in the making. We rode with them for bit, sharing the conversations around and were enlightened to hear about a 750 km tourist ride that includes some of the Appalachian Trail. The heckles rose with interest.

The flip side to a chilly morning temperature wise is that the stillness reflection on the Loire is stunning. As evidenced as we came up on Savonnieres – it too was share beautiful looking at it rounding the bend. And a nice stop to chomp a banana down and disposing skins into proper litter receptacles. And de-cloth the woollen under garments as the ball of yellow boomed stronger heat faster than it did yesterday.

We rode with another young French fella who was just starting out from Tours. Fifteen days on the bike seat and will head south and around the bottom before returning back. We admire solo travelers for their attitude to just get out and do it. Early stages though and a couple of times I witnessed him spreading his legs whilst riding, obviously adjusting to seat comfort as he wasn’t wearing any padded lycra. Must have a leather under carriage.

Lunch Break.
Roll and red wine go well together.
Disneyland lookalike.

Then we rode for part of the ways with another Irish cyclist we met at the hotel as we were leaving. A retired physiotherapist CEO who found his passion again for riding again a couple of years ago and holidaying across parts of the continent with his wife. He did day rides and his wife was support driver so met him at a point on the map to return back to their caravan parked up at a camp ground. They had stayed at our hotel to enjoy watching the rugby at a pub for the atmosphere. He was riding with a hangover. If we had of met them the night before, before the game, we imagined we too would have celebrated with seediness today. And a shame she wasn’t riding as having been a support driver before, the experience is quite dramatically different.

We acknowledge that as a couple, we are fortunate to share the same aroha (love) for the type of adventures we do. Many a time we have received compliments to the like. There has to be a balanced give and take and we need to play to each others strengths and abilities. We have learnt to travel slow because as someone commented on a post, it’s not the destination that matters most, it’s the journey. It is so true. All the magic happens doing the journey between.

We got another dose of that as we though we had a few kilometres to go when the signage had us take a left away from the Loire and lift the noses up. We’d already achieved 71 kms on the speedo and the bodies did feel the weariness because yesterdays was also a humdinger distance wise.

So up we rode. More cave enclaves of suburbia, art studios and even a restaurant with a door frontage leading into the cliff cave. That was mouth watering. More up and then we evened out and had arrived onto a plateau. HF! It was hard to fathom how we had climbed up and were now faced with what we saw, grape vines adorned the landscape for as far as the eye could squint. We snaked amongst them, purples and florescent greens by the acreage. A cross roads had us have to make a choice, go back down to the Loire or stay up on the plateau – both distances about the same to Saumur.

We stayed up. And when the plateau crest started to descend, we reached Saumur from it’s elevation to look down over the Loire and township. And then we came upon the Chateau from above. Again, wow. A stop and pause and just ponder in awe before we had to use two hands on the brakes to not to break the sound barrier getting down to the lowlands.

Over looking Saumur.
The Chateau.

We made time to ride just a little bit more and out onto the bridge we viewed from up there to look back up at the Chateau from down here.

And allow us as a couple to reflect on a days journey and destination that’ll take your breath away.

23/9/23 Blois to Tours 79 kms – “Ooooootttttaaaaaaggggggooooooo”

The changing of the seasons are facinating.

Sure, it’s obvious with the leaves changing colours from green to orange to brown, or because of the gravitational drop. Or is it pull? Same with walnuts and chestnuts. Grapes are being harvested because they have bulged to their firmest, and here in France, we haven’t seen wineries use netting to protect them from alcoholic birdlife. In fact, bird life has been extremely sparse cycling across the continent. Bees too. They say it’s because it’s the type of insecticides contamination. A change in the extinction of life season!

This morning though, it was still dark at 7.00am. Just like that. Although the ball of yellow would have gradually gotten lazy and we have been too pre-occupied with our daily preening and packing up routines. And, there was an autumn coolness feel when we exited the warmth of the hotel.

I remember discarding my long-sleeved polyprop top in the heat of the moment when the heat was in the mid-thirties way back at the beginning, believing the short sleeved one will suffice. I missed it this morning. BClaire looked warm in hers, pffffft!

Yep, it was a sure seasonal change observation this morning.

The shadows from the building we navigated through didn’t help the goose bumps much neither. A fellow cyclist over took us as we searched the screen for some directional assistance. She looked warm, and also 14 years of age! We walked through a Saturday market. Jeez the produce looked so fresh and succulent. No room to add anything to the stolen buns from breakfast taking up room in the panniers.

We go that way following the arrow …
Market food look scrumptious.

We missed the sign to turn right after crossing the bridge over the Loire and after backtracking, had added an additional 4kms to the days total. Even before we started. We were going towards the sun and our cock up excuse, we were getting closer to the natural heater! Eventually when the sun did crawl higher, it did radiate some heat which was welcomed in between the shade shared.

The riding was a combination of hub and spoke away from the Loire with quite a heap of undulation over pasture and vineyards. Lot’s of “Bonjours” were extended along a tributary as there was a fishing competition on. It was also cool to see young anglers out flicking their spinners into the flow hunting for the gilled thing below the surface.

We arrived at Amboise high above the city and as we rode down the road to sea level (albeit we have no idea how high above the sea level we actually are), the hillside was inhabited with cave type houses built into the sides of the cliff. They too were unique. And perhaps were where the yesteryear peasants once lived because when we pulled up, we were at the base of the towering Chateau Royal d’Amboise. It was heaving with tourists already seated at the many restaurants along its fortification.

We stopped and had our rolls people watching. Kind of felt we didn’t fit in wearing what were guarding our chariots. We saw the 14 year old cyclist we saw as we were departing Blois and exchanged a few words. She made feel included. And then it was back on the seats and off to ride the next part that would take us to Tours.

The 14 year old wasn’t actually 14. Clore is 25. We shared the cycle way for some of the last part. She was also riding with a couple who weren’t wearing the cyclists lycra but jeans and jackets and had also ridden from Blois. Either tough as nails or extremely novice and were stopping more frequently. Time on bike seat do that, from experience. And hence why we have our Brooks seats that are moulded to our arse cheeks. We may see Clore down under, another invitation extended.

Another bunch of day riders wearing casual apparel passed us. When they learnt we were from New Zealand, another impromptu haka was echoed amongst the grape vines to send them into a frenzy. The day riders that is. Hard to make a firm grape shudder! They were added some wit and laughter.

And then as we rode into Tours and followed our blue dot on google maps, we entered a part that was setting up for a marathon taking place tomorrow. It too was teeming with people with a buzz of atmosphere. We pulled over to watch a protest match walk by yelling and screaming, someone banging a pot lid with spoon to keep the chant in chord. At one part, it sounded like the word “Otago” was being voiced.

And I couldn’t help myself. “Ooooootttttttaaaaaaaaaaggggggggooooooo.” Looks my way had us shuffle along. Smartly. Not making anymore eye contact!

Our hotel was certainly in the downtown part of the old town, wow, it was just brilliant. And we located it after taking pictures of what was the remains of a cathedral where parts of the collapsed building space has had melded into it shops. So one part was there, another over there, and another part over there. And then retail connecting the bits. Now that was well done.

By the time we tuned into the South African and Irish rugby game, the sun had sunk. Saturday night in down town Tours was ramping up and when we ventured out before the game to get some dinner in our shorts and tee-shirts wearing jandals and sandals – the season has definitely migrated to autumn.

The warmth coming from the pizza box felt wonderful, holding it close to the skin.

21/9/23 Blois – Rest Day

We just couldn’t resist it.

We stopped in at a Bistro Bar for lunch while out on a short walkabout, short because it’d been bucketing down and we can easily get cabin fever restlessness with no English on the room tele, so needed to don on the rain jackets and ponchos to take a short walk.

Actually, we went a little further than anticipated. Gawking at the Blois city buildings and gardens and walls and steps and soaked pigeons and dodging puddles all while trying not to let the dripping poncho drip droplets onto exposed skin because we went out with shorts on versus long pants, turning down this cobbled street and then that whereby the map makes the footprint look smaller than it actually is … that did it!

Chateau Royal de Blois.

Getting looks was either because of our exposed thighs, knees and legs, or our white ponchos that now have battle scars taped up with black duck tape in the hope they last until the Atlantic, or both!

The down pour shower was enough to enter the Bistro Bar. You must wait to be seated by the establishment versus just picking a table and seating yourself. We learnt this lesson when we arrived at Sully-sur-Loire and went to another Bistro Bar for a bite to eat. The woman waiter directed us to two different outside tables and then vanished inside. We chose one and sat down as a male waiter came out. He nutted off at us that we must wait to be seated. When we tried to inform him of what the woman waiter had said, he had already started to re-enter the premise somewhat hot under the collar. Short of getting up to leave rather than be spoken at like we had of, we decided to stay put and make his day. I so wanted to remind him of how we had helped his forefathers during two world wars however, reframed from such as that may have instigated a third fisty cuff battle. And we are pacifist now we are aged and mature. Serious! First time of rudeness and so, here we were now waiting to be seated this day.

A blackboard menu was brought over and under the starters, snails were mentioned right at the top. In garlic butter we think. It was the item underneath that caught our attention and we just couldn’t resist ordering it – Wild Boar de Chambord. We didn’t know what to expect joking that it might come out with an apple stuffed in it’s mouth? Nope, it came out as a paste you spread on buns and consume with midget gherkins. Tasted more like tuna but hey, when in France etc, etc, etc.

Wild Boar du Chambord – it was delicious!

Wondered how the wild pigs from yesterday are surviving?

The waiters were great. Our faith in the French manner restored. And the main dish was enough to keep us athletes going for another day. Which included a little more walking and then back to the hotel to dry out external apparel and wet shoes. And thighs, knees and legs. Room looks like a Chinese laundry after yesterdays massive bathroom hand basin wash and rinse.

We made the decision to take another day off here in Blois. Perhaps it was the comfort of waking up this morning and being able to lie there, scratching, then rolling back over for some more shut eye. Body sure lapped it up. The weather is supposed to improve tomorrow so todays taste of what is about, we’ll be able to explore some more.

Looking up the Denis Papin steps …
Looking back from the top.

We are also nearing the end of our riding. We estimate approx. under 400 kms to go and that includes cycling back to Nantes from Saint Nazaire after dipping the toes into the Atlantic. Mixed emotions are stirring as is always the case when an adventure comes to its conclusion. The mapping out of what happens beyond that is on the radar. No doubt it’ll gain clarity over the next few days.

Still no luck in convincing BClaire that we should bike home to New Zealand!

Today, I just happened to look at the speedo to check the accumulated kms ridden so far. We haven’t been keeping a track of the bigger number, but more the daily numbers.

Quite freaky that the number looking back read exactly 2500.

Yep, the mixed emotions are stirring.

20/9/23 Orlean to Bloise 79.5 kms – What Pigs?

It’s that way up the Loire today.

A stop at Beaugency resulted in a start up conversation with a retired couple who live in Paris and were on holiday with their campervan, heading south to Spain.

He’d noticed my New Zealand cycle top and made comment that New Zealand is the most beautiful country in the world. They’d lived in Whangarei for three years after sailing there. In fact, they’d sailed around the world and only last year swapped out the wind in the sails for a bedroom with four wheels.

Of course, rugby flirted into our chat. The French have a sincere passion that the only team worthy of playing have always been the All Blacks. You could see it in his facial expressions.

But what was more humbling than that was his wife who spoke extremely limited English and wanted us to have their phone number in case we needed any help for the remainder of our cycling, regardless the problem. So we exchanged phone numbers. It was their pay it forward for receiving the same hospitality down under on the land of the long white cloud.

We parted company with heart felt confidence that such unsolicited interactions like we’d just experienced are alive an well.

There was another purposeful deviation off the EV 6 a little further along the cycle way.

After hanging a left, we rode our way towards the Chateau de Chambond.
A high walled fence had us in awe. The google blue dot still had some distance to scroll before reaching the castle icon on the screen. Your guess was as good as ours as to what lay beyond it as we rode through an entry point. Signage heightened our excitement with pictures of deer and wild pigs having the right of way. So the search was on riding the long stretch of road with forest either side and evidence of rooting beside the tar seal, trying to keep the bikes centred even if we were riding to the right side of the road, so as we didn’t venture left and become road kill by passing traffic.

Now riding inside the chateau fenceline.

To see a wild pig had us quickly pull up and stop. Trying to shuffle the camera out, we caught the mother and about eight younglets scooting off on a diagonal path. We’d seen the papa one and hadn’t spotted the missus and kids initially. He more meandered following and I managed to get his back and rump. Thinking that made our ride, we pushed forward some more, eyes still flicking right to left and left to right.

Papa boar on the run …

And rounding a roundabout, to the left, the forest was cleared and boom, the chateau came into view. That was enough to nearly have us arse off our bikes trying to find an exit off the round about alone. From that google maps blue dot, it just looked phenomenal and spectacular.

What pigs?

And so, we cycled towards the thing.

The Chateau de Chambord.

It is one of the most recognisable chateau in the world because of its very distinctive French Renaissance architecture. It was build for the King of France, Francis the first between 1519 to 1547 and is 57 metres (184 feet) at its highest point. It was built to serve as a hunting lodge but Francis I only spent 7 weeks there in total. After he died from a heart attack in 1547, it wasn’t used for almost a century. Today, it’s a major tourist attraction and it’s image is widely used to sell commodities, from chocolates to alcohol to porcelain alarm clocks (Wikipedia).

We rode around to view it from the back. Cripes, that lawn spewed outwards for as far as the eye could see. We decided not to go in, one hour wouldn’t have done it justice. Easily set aside two to four hours. Instead, we were happy to park up and just gawk at the beast licking a two scooped ice cream each. That and the fact we still had some distance to ride to our hotel in Blois.

The back of the Chateau de Chambord.

It is absolutely stunning and the diversion was worth it. Tomorrow the weather is supposed to turn foul again so coming back wasn’t an option. Reconnecting with the blue google map dot, we traced our way towards another exit point. Reading the signs was very important because one wouldn’t like to be lost inside the fence line on the 5,440 hectares or 134,000 acres or 21.0 square miles. With wild pigs with tusks.

Once last glimpse back …

Fly spray just wouldn’t cut it!

We arrived into Blois crossing over the Loire. We’ve ridden twelve days in a row and because the forecast isn’t blue sky but grey, we’re having a rest day to give the mind, body and soul some recovery time.

Arriving into Blois.
The Chateau de Blois.

Walking around Blois exploring is kind of like a rest isn’t it?

19/9/23 Sully-sur-Loire to Orleans 58 kms – “I So Miss The Feijoa’s”

We only saw the group of olds for a split second.

As they cycled passed our hotel front door whilst we were eating breakfast. Left to right! They didn’t see us. We were another hour by the time we headed off so the chances of us catching them was minimal. And we didn’t.

We navigated a different route back down to the Chateau de Sully-sur-Loire, the intent to take another crisper photo with the phone and fingers crossed camera, hoping that I’d resolved my grainy debacle. A pathway alongside the moat had a barrier gate similar to how you separate stock in a farm yard, that we’d never seen it’s type before. Managed to get the bike fully kitted and me into it. But not out the other side. BClaire standing there pissing herself laughing didn’t help. Any closer to the moat and she would have tumbled into the thing. After carefully reversing out, BClaire just walked her bike through the side of the thing without pannier width issue. WTF was I thinking?!

Keeping the bikes upright, we had to walk the bikes over a wobbly floating pontoon bridge to be on mother earth proper in front of the Chateau. Then bugger me, with all the emotion exhausted on the camera setting situation, I forgot to charge the camera battery. It’s battery icon flashed red in the top right hand corner of the screen when I turned it on. Oh well, the phone camera was it for most of the day.

The first movie using the mobile was on a caged like covered bridge crossing over the Loire. The river from bank to bank is quite wide and the water flow is extremely low. Large patches of green stained riverbed are blotched prominently everywhere from where algae has been left high and dry to parch in the sun.

The Loire Festival is held every two years in the old port of Orleans, our destination for today. It brings together hundreds of thousands of visitors, more than 200 boats, 700 sailors and 500 artists. And explained the little boat craft beating the same direction as us on the actual Loire, picking the deeper parts of the flow so as not to run aground.

After arriving into Orleans early afternoon, we crossed back over onto the city side and rode through all the preparation being constructed for the festival. Tents erected, electrical cables everywhere to charge the fridges being filled with bottles of booze and all the different cooking food equipment. We couldn’t go this way, or that way being directed by Security however, successfully ended up at the Cathedrale Sainte-Croix d’Orleans, a gothic cathedral.

Another huge feature looking up, we took turns standing with the bikes to go in and have a squiz. Again, magnificent like the ones before. We were sitting out front people watching when the two cyclists that we’d passed and then they passed us happened to come our way. They stopped and we started chatting. Maggy and Hanna were from Germany and like us, cycling to the coast. Maggy had lived in New Zealand (I think it was back in 2017) and just raved about our country. “New Zealand has a piece of every place in Europe and I so miss the feijoa’s.” Made me homesick as they must be cropping about now back home and I’m missing their succulent sweetness. Not BClaire though, hates the things! Another invite extended so we may end up with them on our doorstep in the future.

We also found the actual city centre. Orleans is classified as a World Heritage Site and was an important river trade port. Perhaps explains the historical festival purpose. A statue of Joan of Arc is erected smack bang in the middle. It was during a battle on 8 May 1429 which allowed Joan of Arc to enter and lift the siege of the Plantagenets during the Hundred Years’ War (Wikipedia). 3-Dimensional plaques beneath her erection of her holding a sword on top of a horse, tell the story. Some of the heads on the plaques were decapitated and headless. Obviously someone else had fun as executioner. One of Europe’s oldest universities created in 1306 resided I Orleans here, and explained the number of teenagers walking about the streets near the thing. Although tempting, we never took one out dodging them which at times was a chore.

We had to cross back over the Loire to where our accommodation was and used the Pont George V. The same type of boat craft we passed earlier in the day were roped up along the bank. We stood and watched one with a full sail using mother nature to navigate the shallow river towards us. Similar to Venice punting, two crew stood at the bow with poles pushing the nose towards the deeper parts. Everyone clapped when they got through the rapids without grounding or capsizing.

The place was buzzing and you could sense a party atmosphere in the making.
The forecast tomorrow is for fine weather, then two rough inclement ones. Do we stay or do we go?

Over thinking was an oxymoron dilemma, both the for and against were a split decision.

Sometimes changing a subject helps. I wonder if my photos that I did take on the camera today before it conked out worked?

Or not!

18/9/23 Briare to Sully-sur-Loire 41.5 kms – Damn, We Have To Go Back And Ride This Part Again

We never know what is ahead of us, apart from the place we are going to ride to on google maps and the approximate distance to be ridden.

Oh, and the name and address of the hotel – that’s our ‘X’ marks the spot to end at.

We don’t research anything in advance as far as attractions go neither. We’ve enjoyed being surprised at what has appeared on the other side of the eyeballs as we’ve virtually rolled with the landscape. And today, we were extremely blown away.

After riding across the Briare Aqueduct at 662 metres (this was very cool), we followed the EV6 signs from then on. Before now, we have been extremely lucky with the topography being mostly flat. Today however, we encountered a little thigh and calf burn with some rolly pollying ups and downs.

Riding across the Briare Aqueduct

A group of older grey cyclists who stayed at the same hotel as us last evening were sharing our route today, and riding as far as we were too. We enjoyed playing cat and mouse over taking and then being over taken. One of the wives was driving their life belongings forward, if only we had of negotiated the same before our first pedal rotations. The other wife was riding solo ahead of us and off her bike and when we pulled up alongside, her chain had come off and she was trying to ring her husband ahead to come back and fix. Being the gentleman I am, I was able to sort and when we caught up to the other two, the conversation that ensued ended with a haka being performed for them in a quiet little village. Dogs for Africa started up and echoed after the “Heeee.” They were so funny, chatty and our best friends for the remainder of the distance to Sully-sur-Loire.

At one part reaching the Loire River, the town of Gien came into view on the opposite side. Wow, it was just breath taking. Unfortunately, a thunder storm was predicted for mid-afternoon and we didn’t want to get caught out in it so had to by-pass exploring such stunning beauty. There will be others we assured ourselves.

Gien – this was an absolute “wow” view.

Then we rode under an archway of the Viaduc Ferroviaire de Gien. Another wow, even this was just amazing. It’s 1,832.2 metres long so could be seen as far as the eyes could see in both directions, and was constructed in 1893.

The Viaduc Ferroviaire de Gien.

We knew they were cooling towers by the vapour rising up and drifting away from the Loire, this time there were four of them doing there thing. We were now riding kind of side on into the wind that had notched up somewhat. It darkened for a bit where we thought we may have to adorn the ponchos however, it just teased us to pedal a little faster.

And then we came up on the Chateau de Sully-sur-Loire, it had us stop in our tracks and be gob smacked even more! It just kept getting better as the day went on. We bid farewell to the group of olds but bumped into them again closer to our hotel. They had over ridden where they were staying by three kms so decided to re-book and are just around the corner. And, will be riding to Orleans like us in the morning.

The Chateau de Sully-sur-Loire.

To see what we did from the bike seat today was awesome. We are loving the French countryside, cuisine, culture, citizens, the connections and pigeon English conversations so much, that we believe that we have cycled the EV6 in the better direction. Just our opinion.

Once at the hotel and chilling out to transfer the photo’s onto the tablet, that’s when an “Oh no” moment was experienced. Somehow, I’ve changed a setting on the camera which has resulted in pictures being captured with a lower pixel setting and has made todays one’s grainy. Bugger. One had to breath deeper after the puffing up hills and inhale the sapping panoramic views!

It’s supposed to be a point and shoot for easy use and yes, I know, it’s the operator and not the equipment. I hope I’ve sorted it before we honk into tomorrows ride. I have the phone as a back up. And I’ve been working through when to suggest to BClaire that we could bike back to Gien if we leave a little earlier and ride this bit again – yeah nup, that ain’t happening!

A situation of just rolling with the landscape as we rolled with the landscape today.

The group of fellow cyclists we met, rode, chatted, laughed and haka’d with today.
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