Thursday, July 10, 2008

July 8, 2008 – The Grottos

I started at a slower pace today, visiting with Wes, Ian and Luke. We rode together for 6 kilometers until we arrived in Le Bugue when we came upon a very large market. I stopped to take photos; they continued on their way.

Finding my way out of the town was not easy. The street I was instructed to take was blocked by the market. So I got off my bike and walked it through the pedestrian filled street. Finally I saw the sign to Rouffignac, and I turned right. The road was a narrow, winding road through the forest. I was concerned I took the wrong road. I stopped a passing jogger and asked, “Rouffignac? C’est la? (Is Rouffignac this way?)

“Oui,” he answered and I continued on my way. When I finally exited the scenic byway, I realized that I had taken the wrong road, and I was about 5 miles away from my planned route. I had a choice: I could either take the shortcut to Rouffignac, or I could make up the 5 miles and get on the marked road. I opted to take the long way.

Today we would be passing through cave country. Some of the caves are ancient pictograph caves. The one in Montignac is the oldest known cave dwelling. I planned on touring the cave, and when I arrived in Montignac, I found some food – pain chocolat (a heavenly sweet roll with chocolate chunks), two nectarines, two bananas and a diet coke.

After my lunch, I waited in line for the ticket to the cave. After 15 minutes, I hadn’t made much progress in the line, so I decided to skip the tour and head to Sarlat – our destination for the night.
On the way, I saw a geese farm. I stopped to take their pictures, and another woman soon was there taking photos. She spoke to me in English - not just English - American English! Judy from Minnesota was in France having toured Spain and Portugul before. We talked for a while, and I left on my bike and she in her car after snapping photos of one another.

When I got back on my bike, my legs were fatigued. (My bottom had also become quite sore.) I had some hills to climb, and I didn’t have much stamina for climbing. I am not used to four long days of riding in a row, and I probably didn’t eat enough for lunch. But I continued on, and bypassed a detour to see a castle and took the main road to Sarlat. The road had a gradual climb, and I had a bit of a head wind. But I continued forward and gritted out the last 12 kilometers. That is only 7 or 8 miles, but it felt like 50. I was never so happy to see the houses on the hill indicating I had arrived in Sarlat.

Sarlat is a larger city than many I have passed through. It includes a Medieval section with narrow streets that is now a pedestrian mall. I rode my bike slowly through the streets, looking for a bar that would have the Tour on and serve food. I found an uncrowded place and ordered a ham and cheese sandwich. It was very large – served on a whole baguette. I never thought I would eat the whole thing, but I did with no problem. I sipped wine and watched the time trial of the tour for an hour.

I headed for my campground, which was up a steep hill – and was not easy to find. I stopped halfway up one hill to ask a man walking by if the campground was up the hill. Yes, it was, but the hill was so steep where I stopped, and my legs so tired, that I couldn’t make my legs start pedaling at that point. I walked my bike a couple of blocks until the road flatted, and then I started biking again.

I entered the campground, not sure if I was in the right place. Then I saw Luke, Ian and some other cyclists from the group. I was glad to be done with the ride.

Total miles: 67

No comments: