Appropriately enough for a July meeting while the 2019 Tour de France is ongoing, Ron Kaminecki was the speaker at the Earth Rider Cycling Series on July 10th and gave a talk about a bike ride of the Loire Valley in France which ended with a viewing of the final stage of the 2017 Tour de France in Paris.
He booked a tour with Two Bicycles and a Map which started in Blois, France and went along the Loire Valley, visiting chateaus, castles, forts and caves along the way over a week and a half. French aristocracy had been establishing chateaus along the meandering river valley and some of the properties were hundreds of years old. Admission costs were reasonable ($7-12) and each varied quite a bit from overdone ornate bedrooms to bare walls.
“Being on a bicycle made it easy to go to several chateaus a day because the distances were not great and the bicycle parking usually put us right at the entrance gate,” Ron said. Buses and automobiles would have to park long distances away and with the traffic in mid-summer in France, their bikes were able to slip through the jams easily. They visited thirteen different chateaus, plus a few caves, including one that is used to grow mushrooms. They rented Trek hybrids that were equipped with a handlebar bag, a map and a cable lock. They did lose the key at one chateau but were able to use sign language to convince the staff to contact the ride organizers who had a local bike shop dispatch a biker with a clipper and a new lock. Rides ran from 15-30 miles per day with one or two longer optional rides. Typically, they would ride to a town where a hotel was waiting, their luggage was transported from the last hotel, and they met the rest of the riders for dinner. They would then loop around the town visiting sites for the next day or two and then proceed to the next town.
- Watching the dogs get fed at the Chateau de Cheverny where one handler had over 70 large hunting dogs wait until he gave the word (in French, of course) for them to feast on the meat laid out in long trays;
-Visiting the Chateau de Chinon which got started almost a thousand years ago;
-Seeing the Chateau Usse which is thought to be the model for the Disneyland castle and the resemblance is very close;
-Walking through the massive gardens of the Chateau de Villandry; and
-Actually feeling the riders zoom by on the final stage of the Tour de France in Paris.
Overall, the trip was memorable and using bikes to visit these sites was a great way to cover a lot of ground with minimal hassle.
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