To Bouzies - Three Seasons Around France: Autumn - CycleBlaze

October 10, 2022

To Bouzies

Not long after breakfast I packed up my half of our modest load and headed downstairs about a half hour earlier than our planned departure time, intent on matching my impressive mechanical skills against our two bike issues.  I did well enough to earn a passing grade, but barely.  First, I fairly quickly succeeded in adjusting my front brake.  It just needed tightening, and after testing it out with several runs up and down the street it seems perfectly fine.  So that’s good of course.

Next, Rachael’s rear derailleur.  I quickly verified that she’s been describing the symptoms reasonably accurately, in that her derailleur will upshift into exactly the lowest four of the eleven sprockets in the cluster.  She’s wrong though in saying that the front shifter will not shift onto the largest chain ring.  It will, but not easily.  It takes a lot of pressure, and more than her hand and wrist can muster.

I pulled up and studied a video on adjusting her Shimano 105 and concluded (correctly, would later be confirmed) that the problem was not in its adjustment or range of motion.  It appears to be a cable problem, and when tension is released the chain will not drop through the gears.  Maybe it’s gotten corroded inside, so the plan is to get a penetrating lubricant and see if lubricating the cable will loosen it up.  If that fails, the fallback plan is to bike in to Cahors on one of our layover days and stop in at the bike shop there.  If that doesn’t pan out we’ve got a problem on our hands because there’s not another one on our itinerary for the next two weeks.  

On the road, I spot an Intermarche as we’re leaving town, stop in, and a few minutes later re-emerge with a small can of 3-in-1 oil in my triumphantly upheld hand.  I’ll try lubing the cable this evening when we reach Bouzies, but in the meantime Rachael will get by in the gears she has.

A few miles later Susan calls out from the rear that we’ve just passed an open bike store, well out of town.  I shrug it off at first - we’ve already got a plan, is my first thought; but maybe fifty yards later it sinks in how nutso that is.  We need a bike shop, one is unexpectedly at hand, so of course we should stop.  I holler ahead to Rachael and we all turn back, hoping for the best.

We get the best.  It’s an excellent bike shop.  It’s still early Monday morning but the mechanic is on duty, working on a bike on his stand.  I do my best to communicate the issue and he immediately takes the bike he’s working on off the rack and throws Rachael’s up and starts spinning through the gears.  The diagnosis comes quickly - broken cable.  Twenty minutes later we’re on the road again, Rachael beaming with happiness.  

What luck!  It’s a mystery why we couldn’t find this shop when we searched for one - maybe because it’s four miles out of town - but everything about it is fortuitous.  It was coincidentally right on our route, it’s open, they’ve got the time and the skills, and we had sharp-eyed Susan with us to notice it.  Without her along we’d have just biked on by and never been the wiser.

Heart 7 Comment 1
Bill ShaneyfeltI was going to say change the cable! My Shimano brifters had a similar problem and I kept messing with them, lube, adjust, etc. till it broke. Then tiny pieces of cable wire had lodged somewhere inside the brifter and prevented proper shifting. No amount of effort could fix it. I googled and read everything I could and they all said not fixable. I said to myself, I'm going to fix it... So I spent about 6 months messing with it between studying it before I concluded I'd just need to bite the bullet and buy a new brifter for something over $120. If I ever encounter that symptom again, cable gets changed!
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1 month ago

Today’s ride to Bouzies was one of the easiest of the tour, and also one of the best.  Those two facts are only loosely related.  The ride would have been brilliant even if there’d been some climbing involved, but it did contribute to our enjoyment that it was an easy downriver glide along the Célé the whole way.  We barely broke 200’ of elevation gain in over 35 miles, with nothing along the way that qualified as even a modest climb.  So it definitely was a plus that we had an easy ride; and that the weather was gorgeous; and that we pretty much had this quiet river road to ourselves the whole way; and especially that Rachael had all her gears back at her command again.

The main thing though was the spectacular beauty of the land we were cycling through.  For mile after mile we passed beneath stunning limestone cliffs that just seemed to grow more dramatic the further we went.  Unbelievable.  Wow.

Along the Célé - a brilliant ride that began beautifully and grew more so with every mile.
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No, I don’t remember just why Rachael’s biking back our way. Maybe she wants to let us know that there are views ahead; or she wants some head-on video of Susan and me; or maybe she’s trying to pad her mileage; or maybe she’s gotten lost again. All are possible.
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Did someone say Wow?
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Passing through Corn, a pretty if strangely named village that disappoints us by not having an open bakery.
Heart 5 Comment 5
Keith AdamsHaving read Susan's account first, I made my obligatory Corny remarks there. Nothing left for you. Sorry. But if something crops up you'll be the first to know.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Keith AdamsDisappointing, but I can always hope there’s some last kernel of wisdom that makes it this way.
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1 month ago
Keith AdamsI'll keep an ear to the ground, but don't go stalking off in anger if nothing takes root.
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1 month ago
Suzanne GibsonPlanting a-maize-ing thoughts!
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1 month ago
Keith AdamsTo Keith Adams(Imagine this being read in a husky voice, not a silky one) I'm still cobbling a suitable response together.
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1 month ago
Did someone say Gadzooks?
Heart 5 Comment 0
Did someone shout OMG, look at that color?
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Stopping off at Espagnac-Sainte-Eulalie. Maybe they have a bakery?
Heart 5 Comment 0
Nope. There’s a lunch on, but it’s a private event. They were kind enough to offer us some bread and water if we needed it, but we were content with admiring the 12th century priory - originally a stop on the Way, now a gite.
Heart 7 Comment 0
Is this Brengues? Maybe.
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The cliffs on the opposite side of the river seemed whitish, and on our side golden. Maybe just a trick of the light?
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Did someone say Cowabunga?
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A fine day, fabulous scenery, a working derailleur, what else could a young girl need to make a perfect day?  Oh, I don’t know - maybe another chance encounter with her current heart throb.

Again? Jean-Luc, is that you? Hey, wasn’t there something I was supposed to ask you?
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Approaching Sauliac, we start seeing houses built against the rocks halfway up the cliff.
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Near Soulliac. What a place to call home!
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Mile after mile like this. Phenomenal.
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Wow!
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Wow!
Heart 5 Comment 1
Beth ArtHow do they gain access to those houses? Amazing.
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1 month ago
Wow!
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Wow!
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Video sound track: 

So that was all very nice.  Capping it all off though for me came when we rounded the bend coming into Cabrerets.  The instant I saw the bridge, I recognized it.  I was certain of it, from its distinctive flattened arch shape, its color, its stonework.  And I was right.

The image of this bridge has been lying around in the back of my head for the past 22 years, from when I took a photo of it on our way from Clermont-Ferrand to Biarritz.  I lost my note on where this bridge was, a photo I was taken enough with that I even had an enlargement framed and hung in the hall of our condo.  I’ve made several serious searches trying to figure out where it was but could never tell for sure and finally guessed on it being somewhere along the Lot, where we would have passed it on our first ride to Figeac.  

The bridge across the Célé at Cabrerets: October 10th, 2022.
Heart 4 Comment 0
The bridge across the Célé at Cabrerets: September 21st, 2000.
Heart 5 Comment 3
Patrick O'HaraVery cool juxtaposition!
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1 month ago
Rich FrasierIsn't it nice how some things stay the same?
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Rich FrasierYes! It’s one of the wonderful things about cycling the small villages and backroads here.
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1 month ago

So is that finally all, for this most perfect of days?  No, not quite.  But we’ll save the tail end of the day’s tale for tomorrow.

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Ride stats today: 36 miles, 300’; for the tour: 781 miles, 50,800’

Today's ride: 36 miles (58 km)
Total: 782 miles (1,259 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 10
Comment on this entry Comment 3
Patrick O'HaraI must go to this place! Incredible scenery on incredible roads! Thanks for sharing.
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1 month ago
Jacquie GaudetI think we rode the same route or very close, except that we carried on to St-Cirq-Lapopie that day (https://www.cycleblaze.com/journals/france2019/figeac-to-st-cirq-lapopie/). It looks just as fabulous in the fall as it did in the spring and I want to see it again!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jacquie GaudetSuch wonderful cycling country. This is our third time down here, and I’d be happy to return some year. You should come in the fall. It has a different look but this late in the year it’s very quiet. I think the weather is generally drier and more settled too.
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1 month ago