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On the long trip home we spent some time talking about what worked, and perhaps what didn’t. We were captivated by the Champagne country, Luxembourg, Strasbourg, Alsace, the foothills of the Alps, and in particular the Col de Tourmalet.  That covers most of it.

As always, I love the serendipity of things, riding into extraordinary places I have never heard of or finding history I vaguely knew located right were we happen to be.

The rough bits were the weather, which was mostly threatening and cool, and perhaps some of the riding between the Pyrenees and Paris.

We had designed this trip in our usual way.  We picked out places we wanted to see, and then simply connected them. When we left the Pyrenees there was no obvious way for us to ride to Paris other than plotting a straight line and going for it.  This usually works.

However, in combination with the weather, this led to some unexpectedly hard riding through the Midi and Limousine country that persisted for the better part of two weeks.  It also led to us passing through some more achingly beautiful country.  By the time we came to this part of the ride we were into our stride, and let that stride persist for a bit too long.  Perhaps we did not take enough time to smell the flowers.  The weather did not help.  Whenever we stopped on the road it was cold, and after a quick snack we got going again to avoid getting chilled.  Anyway, by the time we reached the Loire River a few days from Paris were very travel weary.  It is difficult to know, even with hindsight, what we might have done differently in this unusually cold European summer.  Our usual strategy is to get on a train and go somewhere else, but there was nowhere to go that was any warmer, so we persisted.

This is all not a big deal and should not overshadow the trip, but the purpose of this diary is to help other riders, and it is important to understand that while you have options, if you want to get off the standard tourist trials there will be some hard bits.

Our bikes worked perfectly.  We didn’t even have a puncture.  The major problem we now have with our bikes is rough handling by the airlines.  When we got home my bike was unrideable. A brake lever had been snapped and the adjacent gear change damaged so it no longer worked at all.  Both wheels were slightly damaged on the way over.  We were lucky that the fatal damage occurred on the way home and not on the way to France.

We rode pretty much the rough plan we had.  The only substantial changes were a shortcut to our approach to the Rhine River that we approached at a point further south of our plan, and the addition of Luxembourg.

My test for these trips is to occasionally reflect as we ride along on whether there was anything else I would rather be doing right now, and I can honestly say that there was not a point in this trip where I could think of anything at all.

The map below shows all of the places were we stayed a night. The placemarks give the town names and stage of the trip.


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