LOIRE VALLEY (FRANCE) TOUR, SUMMER 2002
For over two weeks in July, a dozen intrepid Knickerbikers joined
together to ride in one of Franceís premier cycling regions, the
Loire Valley. On the trip were Marshall Moriarty, Ralph Peterson,
Rona Djeddah, Ken King, Stogs and Susie Stogsdill, Mary Ann Hautman,
Doug Paulson, Walter Schmitt, Jean Monfort, Joanie Mahoney, and
Helen Santospago. As we cycled downstream within the Loire river
valley, we had a little rain (or a lot of rain, depending on whom
you believe), very few hills, and plenty of time to visit many chateaux,
vineyards, orchards, manors, gardens, churches and patisseries.
People ask about the favorite part of the trip, and thatís a tough
question. Without a doubt, though, some of the highlights were the
chateaux at Chenonceaux and Chambord, Le Clos-Luce (last home of
Leonardo da Vinci, in Amboise), and the gardens at Villandry. Le
Croisic, the beach community where our trip ended, was a special
place as well.
When we were tired of touring chateaux, the charming villages with
the shops for coffee and pastries beckoned. The forests, gently
rolling terrain, light traffic on small country roads all made the
area just about perfect for cycling. We even cycled off the pastries.
The trip was specifically designed for us: 10 days of riding, three
rest days, two nights in Paris, and a couple of travel days. The
riding days ranged between 30 and 50 miles. The rental bikes were
new---heavy but serviceable. Our rooms, breakfasts, dinners and
luggage transportation were all paid in advance, so all we had to
buy was lunch, extra chocolate and wine!
Our trip started in Blois, about two hours from Paris by train,
and ended in Le Croisic a couple of weeks later. Le Croisic is on
the Atlantic coast, and is reminiscent of Northern California, with
its rocky coastline, punctuated with small sandy beaches.
Since all twelve of us ate together every night, we could compare
stories of our daily adventures: we had maps and detailed instructions,
but they were not always accurate. Some errors were minor (a stop
sign replaced by a roundabout), but others (turn right instead of
left!) were of more significance. Nevertheless, everyone found his
or her way to dinner every night.
On the day it poured, most of the people opted to ride to the nearest
train station, but as luck would have it, the train schedule just
didnít work out. So they chose to ride in the rain. Fortunately,
the rain stopped by 12:30.
We had a mix of very modest hotels (tiny rooms, most of which
were upstairs with no elevators), and fancy ones. One, in fact,
was a chateau complete with a private dining room just for us! Most
everyone agreed that the food was uniformly excellent. This was
France, after all!
Following the tour, the organizer, Ken, was presented with a fancy
jersey depicting the route of this yearís Tour de Franceóthe OTHER
Tour de Franceówhich was taking place at the same time. Then, most
of us took the high-speed train back to Paris, and spent an extra
day there enjoying Bastille Day. Thanks, everyone, for making it
such a special trip!