My body is out of whack! I awoke at 4 am again! I wandered out to the lounge room and looked out the windows to see what was happening in the streets. All quiet but I did see a bloke sleeping across the road outside the closed pub. Sad that he has nowhere to go.
Thankful that I did have a bed, I tried to sleep again and blow me down, it was 8.10 am before I knew it! We had wanted to be on the road by 8 am. Dang! So the first lesson is we are setting our alarm for 7 am tomorrow.
Walking out the front door on the ground floor I somehow managed to walk straight into a bollard, corking my thigh! I felt that all day with each push of my right leg. So the second lesson is, look out for bollards that came at you from nowhere!
The weather was rainy so we started off with rain jackets and headed slowly down Rue de Victor Hugo in slow traffic.
We needed to cross the Garonne on one of the bridges but wow they were busy so we walked our bikes around trying to figure out the best/safest plan of attack. It was hairy and slow going, needing to backtrack and walk our bikes over numerous roads before identifying the correct route
We were on the look out for the cycle track as we had planned to ride this particular path to Creon. Ah, the heavy machinery had dug it up and it was blocked by bollards! Note to self, be careful near bollards!
Finally we found this.
Great cycle path on a disused railway line, with a number of intersecting roads but nowhere near as frequent as yesterday. Arrived in Creon to discover their market was in full swing.
After Creon we continued on the bike track and entered an amazing rail tunnel. It was pitch black upon approach and you could not see ‘the light at the end of the tunnel!’ However upon entering the lights came on. The tunnel would be some 100 plus metres.
We had decided to aim for coffee at Castillon-la-Bataille named after the decisive battle fought between the French and English in 1453. The French won marking the end of the Hundred Year’s War.
The town is also on the banks of the Dordogne, last visited when we rode from Calais to Carcassonne. That was a memorable day as we completed a TDF climb Puy Marie.
Upon leaving the town, we entered a climb that has had TDF activity, judging from the names painted on road. The most frequent names were Bardet, Barguil and Roche. I saw one Froome! I am not normally fussed with Strava cups but was quite pleased to score one on this climb as I lifted my pace out of touring mode, motivated by the signs! I think from memory it was a 1.4 km km climb at a tad under 5%.
We weaved up and down and around a number of villages and vineyards of Saint-Emilion. A very scenic area.
A few km out from the town of Saint-Emilion a hirsute young fellow came flying past me on a really crappy looking bike! So I decided to get out of touring mode pace once more and have some fun trying to draft off him ( as we had been riding into headwinds for some distance now).
After a few km the hairy guy turned left and we needed to turn right. Within a km or so we came across a motor vehicle accident. This is the next lesson of how not to drive in France!
As we entered Saint-Emilion it started to pour with rain. As we climbed up the road to the older village section the surface changed to cobblestones. Now I find them a bit tricky at the best of times, let alone climbing a steep, but short section wet and slippery packed with aimlessly wandering tourists. I felt like shouting ‘ move your arse!’ as I weaved around them still climbing.
In the 8th century a hermitage was set up by Emilion, a monk from Brittany on the northern slopes of the Dordogne Valley. Fortifications began in the 12th century. Today the place is a tourist Mecca, with very interesting architectural heritage surrounded by a plethora of picturesque chateau’s and wineries.
Once at the top we rested at a bus stop waiting for the rain to ease. The following are views from the bus stop!
Heading out of Saint-Emilion we headed to Libourne, a very busy town with crazy traffic. We crossed Le Dordogne again.
To avoid the really heavy traffic we deviated 11 km back towards Creon to rejoin the bike track in safety.
We ended up back by the Garonne.
So before I finish up I need to come back to my title, what not to do. I have two more.
Crossing the Garonne I could hear screaming from water level. I jumped off my bike and was astounded with what I saw. Look carefully at the next photo and you will see that there is a steel cable to the left hand side of the small boat. It would appear the boat has been caught up in the very strong current and is effectively trapped by the cable and strong current pushing it into the same cable. The cable is one of two securing the larger work platform.
The lady kept screaming ( thankfully also putting her life jacket on) as she watched various items of their belonging enter the river.
I qualified as a rinky dinky Aussie surf lifesaver a few years back and there was no way I would jump into that water with the torrid and swirling currents. They needed a tug boat and maybe a jet ski to rescue them!
As we left a car full of gendarmes arrived. Would have been interesting to watch but by now we were both very hungry. So this is a lesson on where not to take your boat in Bordeaux!
So with only one km remaining after having ridden a total of 137 km, peak hour traffic, crazy French drivers and one crazy Tasmanian chick what could go wrong?
Well Tassie girl misjudged a car, left with an almost impossible riding gap of about 30 cm. Not being Peter Sagan resulted in me choosing to ditch my body away from the car and onto a ledge… yes that same leg that was already caning, the one with my ‘bad knee’.
Ouch! But it could have been worse. My bike is fine and the nice young Frenchman stopped to ensure I was ok.
So what a day. 137 km done and dusted. Frustratingly slow in the cities, but ever so pleasant in the country.