Monday, July 7, 2008

July 6, 2008 – The Tour Begins!

This morning my tour group left Bordeux for our first day of riding. Our goal was to make it to Cadillac for lunch and to St. Emillion for the night. We started out as a group (see photo at the start of our hotel in Bordeaux).

I soon found the pace of the group a little slow, and so I sped ahead, and Shane joined me. I was so excited to see the sites – every village offered a photo opportunity. We made it to a little village before Cadillac, and we took photos of the old church (one of many old churches in one of many amazingly beautiful villages). I took the time to look at my map, and when I looked again, Shane was no where to be found. I waited for about five minutes, and when he didn’t return, I continued up the hill on the route.

On my way, I saw an old cemetery, and I was curious, so went inside to read the tombstones. Many of the stones were crumbled, and dates on the older ones were difficult to read. A man walked toward me, and I said, “Bonjour.”

He returned my greeting, and in my broken French, I told him I was American and cycling in France. His name was Bord – like Bordeaux – and he was there visiting his cousin’s grave. Bord, like Patrick the day before, wanted to talk politics with me. He couldn’t understand the war and why the American people had elected George Bush. He thought the first President Bush was fine, but this one – and the way – was “tres terrible!”

I said goodbye to Bord and continued on the road to Cadillac. The sun was shining, and the temperature moderate – 65-70 degrees. I was really enjoying riding on my own through the French countryside.

As I was riding about 20 miles per hour, I heard a something falling off my bike or something I hit on the road – and I panicked. I reacted without thinking – and slammed on my back brake. The result was that I started fishtailing, and I realized that I was going to crash. I looked at my possible landing places. To the right was a ravine with a cement embankment. I looked up the road and saw a gravel driveway. As I was toppling over, I managed to slide into the red rock gravel. I landed on my knee and elbow. As I got up, I saw that my elbow was dripping blood. Behind me was a car, and a woman got out of the car. She asked me if I was OK – in French – and I told her that I was. She lived in the house up the driveway, and she invited me in to tend to my wounds.

The woman was ready for injury care. She had me wash my wounds, and then she put on antiseptic, a bandage and fishnet gauze to hold it in place. She gave me a pain reliever and two glasses of water. Her name was Aurora – and she was my French guardian angel. Aurora and her husband, Eric are pictured on the photo.

I continued on my journey, and met up with the tour group at Cadillac. (Someone took a photo of me with my scrapes and bandages.) They had wondered what happened to me, and they were surprised by my injury. We lunched at a crepe restaurant, where I had a ham and cheese crepe – which was similar to a ham and cheese sandwich. We ate outdoors at the restaurant.

Next door was a man standing by a pig sign. I pointed at the sign and said piggy. He thought it was funny, and he hugged the pig for a photo. His name was Joel.

As I looked across the square, I noticed a sign that said Centre de Resistance. I wondered why the town had such a claim, so I asked Joel. Joel said that there were people in the town who died in World War II, and he showed me the monument in the center of the square. Then he asked me to follow him, and he showed me a square in the street that said the town was formed in the 1200s, and he explained that they had fought for independence against England. Throughout the day, I saw quaint villages and vineyards. Every few kilometers was Chateau this or Chateau that – famous houses of Bordeaux wine.

We continued on our journey after lunch, and I rode with Shane and Luke. They were riding fairly fast, and toward the end of the ride, I dropped behind them on the hills.

Our stop tonight was a campground near St. Emillion. This wasn’t like your ordinary U.S. campground. It was like a resort with tents. There were showers, a restaurant, pool, washer and dryer, and Internet. I set up my tent, the small Wal-mart tent that my daughter bought for me a few days before I left. It went up easy, and I unpacked my air mattress and sleeping bag, then showered and put on sweats.

This night we had a group meal at St. Emillion. We had some time before dinner, and I sampled the region’s wine at a wine shop with a few from the group. St. Emillion is known for its Merlot. The wine was excellent, and the wine shop sommelier, James, was incredibly knowledgeable.

St. Emillion is a very popular tourist destination. The streets were crowded, even at night. The views reminded me of the village in the movie Chocolat. It was truly spectacular!

After dinner, it was time for sleeping in my tent. My first night, I slept restless. I inflated the air mattress too much, and I felt like I was sleeping on a board. I also heard everyone’s noises and movements in the tents near me. I awoke every hour or so, shifting to try to find a comfortable position. Finally, I figured out that I would be more comfortable if I let some air out of the air mattress. I slept until 6:45 – that is the earliest I have gotten up since I have been here. Despite my restless night, I am glad that I am getting accustomed to French time.
Total miles: 55


gstone said...


So glad you are finally rolling down the road of your dreams!

I had not checked into your blog for awhile now, but my tireless checking paid off in big ways with your multiple blogs. You are doing a great job writing and sharing your experience with your home-bound support group. You are still the Montana Queen of the Magic City Monthly (dailies).

I will ride the rest of the way with you from my seat in this rather hot western outpost on the Columbia River.

Try to keep your steed between the fence posts!

Best wishes & onward!


gstone said...

Opps forgot to add...

Why don't you upload your bigger picture files? I did that on my blog without a problem and it allows those of us whose eyes are challenged by time to be see you and the sites.

Crush a grape for me!