Saturday, 3 September 2016

Riding 85 km into Sainte-Menehould ( or The bicycle advances to 40 km before Verdun)

Someone at Google Maps should really TEST all their bicycle routes with a modern bicycle that goes faster than 10 km/h.  I mean, come on, I can WALK further than 10 km in one hour!  But then no one does that anymore, do they?  How many people actually know how far they can walk within one hour?

Anyhuu, those gravel roads with big pot holes and too large rocks lying around are not the worst of Google's deficiencies.  

Since the hard landing in Siem Reap, I know better than to hang out  BELOW these things

ride towards the light !

a nice paved road ....

.... can quickly turn into  a high-speed gravel road

... then into a low-speed gravel road  .... and then into NO ROAD.

Coming back to Google Maps:  In this picture, there is supposed to be a road in the direction that the front tire is pointing.  And there are NO other roads drawn in.  What to do? Turn left or right and hope for the best;-)  

But after a bit of zig-zagging, the road re-appears and the quest continues ..

It is as rough as it looks

When I finally get onto pavement again (I take a detour to spare my butt more punishment), the strangest thing happens. Imagine the road in the shape of a T.  I’m coming from the top left and stop right in the middle of the top bar on the side of the road to check my GPS and to make sure I’m going the right way.  An elderly man is coming up along the bottom bar of the T and he stops at the stop sign.  And stays there.  I move my bike into the grass area on the side, just in case he is a timid driver afraid of flattening this German cyclist.  Back to checking the route. Next time I look, he is STILL there, his car right in the lane, stopped at the Stop sign.  But he got out of his car and he is waving the cars behind him past him.  Then the older not-skinny man (Imagine Chef Paul Bocuse, including that strange mellow smile) starts waddling across the road towards me.

I suspect he thinks I’m lost (HOW, with a cell phone in my hand?) and wants to help. I show him Google Maps on the phone, and he starts pointing into a direction that I’m not going to go.  Strange but lovely old man. I point in the direction I’m going to take and thank him profusely.

Not even 5 minutes later, it is now 10 to noon, I’m stopping again, and find that I’m stopped right in front of a Golf Course with restaurant.    Perfect timing, in particular since I just had to swap batteries 6 kms ago.  Eat, recharge, rest, type, breathe, think.  And the reason I found the place is that I refused to continue along yet another gravel road that Google wanted to send me on and used the Map to get me onto a main road with a name (D9something).

The place is packed (not the restaurant, the golf course). Must be because today is Saturday. OMG, did I send the translation to my client on Labour Day? LOL, no wonder they were pissed and didn’t answer ;-) But then their attitude and ethics shouldn’t be my problem!  It’s them who are sitting in cold and rainy Vancouver, not me ;-)

The owner (restaurant) carries in one of those huge blackboards on an easel (They actually do that for every table ;-) but I decide that now is NOT the time to be fussy and just order Le Plat du Jour.  Good decision, because it consists of rump steak with rice and ratatouille.  Ha!  No wonder people here are skinny. Nothing deep-fried, nothing processed, just real food like your mom made. 
Too bad my mom (who is 1/2 French) never cooked this good ;-(

I also notice that I’m the only person sitting inside.  But then I still have about 30 km left on my bike ride (I’ve conquered 57 kms, not bad between 8:30 am to 11:30 given the nature of the paths I was riding on). So I prefer to be in the shade for an hour.

Normally it's only 1 or 2 cows in a herd that show an  interest.  I must be looking good today ;-)

 Even those 30 km come to an end; I've chosen to ride on numbered roads to get off those gravel roads.

 When I get to Sainte-Menehould, I collapse onto my bed after check-in and sleep for one hour
FINALLY, someone remembers the RED CARPET !


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