Well what an adventure today was. Over 6 hours on the saddle to get from one side of Paris to the other and on into Provins.
Before I get into the details on today’s ride I thought I would do a post script on Bam Bam who I reported went missing yesterday out of our group. Our theory was that he would get picked up by the next group coming through. Wrong. He rode in without route instructions and ended up on a motorway heading to Paris. The gendarmes pulled him off into their van and took him to a nearby town. He arrived into Poissy quite late having ridden around 150 km (40 plus more than us).
Also on a sadder note, we are down to 21 riders as one of the ladies came off her bike yesterday and broke her wrist. She is still with us travelling in the van and husband is continuing with the ride.
So back to today. We chose to leave with Steve from Bike Adventures who offered to lead a group into Paris and then out. Given Steve did the reccy for the trip that seemed a pretty good option as it was to be a difficult day navigationally. The only requirement was that we were to travel at the slowest riders pace.
So we left Poissy heading out along the cobblestones of the main shopping strip. The only shops open were the butchers.
At the 5 km Mark we entered St Germaine-en-late which is a large park with a huge chateau ( or as Steve calls it, shadocks).
We then scooted around the side streets of the neighbourhood.
We continued to wind our way through suburbs, up and down, and overall it was quite sleepy.
That all changed once we got to Bois de Boulogne ( 22.0 km). We were calmly riding along a nice section of road when a peloton of cyclists came around the bend in the opposite direction shouting and wildly gesticulating at us. I don’t think they were saying ” Welcome to Paris”.
It appears we were caught in a cycling race so quickly altered our course.
A few km before the Eiffel Tower our instructions were to turn left and cross the bridge. However there seemed to be some other event on and the road was closed. Walkers were crossing but the officious gendarme would not allow us to push our bikes across.
So Steve weaved us around and we crossed another bridge. It then became apparent that we had another issue. The Paris marathon had just started with an incredible number of runners. We needed to cross over to the other side to get to the tower and decided it was too much hassle. So we all took photos.
As we rode/ pushed our bikes along the side of the course it became apparent that the marathon start was in waves every few minutes. The course was lined with an incredible number of gendarmes, many with some serious looking weapons.
There was a spot that people were able to cross briefly so four of us made it over, with the getting caught up in the next wave start.
Eventually we wound up at the tower and took the usual assortment of tourist photos.
We rode past the Louvre and stopped at a riverside cafe for coffee and a pit stop.
I wandered over the road and took a few photos. The bells of St Chapelle were tolling.
The forecast was for rain at midday. At 11.50 am it started to spit so the jackets went on. Within 5 minutes it was pouring and this continued unabated for an hour or so. It was not that pleasant and one of the guys in our group came off his bike in the slippery conditions.
We pushed on heading out of Paris, still at painfully slow speeds. We headed to Choisy passing close by the Charles De Gaulle airport. At 52.3 km we arrived at Villeneuve. Certainly this is a very basic, run down area with cheaper accomodation. Notwithstanding we had lunch here. We were all wet and dirty and chose to buy food from a local supermarket. First time I have ever eaten a meal in a supermarket.
We then proceeded to a steep little climb with cold legs. Nasty.
Steve then left us as navigationally the rest of the day was straight forward. We were able to pick the pace up and hit the open road passing through predominantly agricultural lands.
Just as we took the last roundabout into our accomodation in Provins, the instructions said turn right. Tony took that a bit to heart unfortunately crashing off his bike which went left and he skidded across the bitumen the to the opposite curb. He has skin missing and will be a bit sore tomorrow. His bike has a few scratches. We learned later that another ride fell in the same spot a few hours later.
So after 6 hours in the saddle, 124 km, lots of rain this is what I looked like.