To Gramat - Three Seasons Around France: Autumn - CycleBlaze

October 6, 2022

To Gramat

The day begins with a startling surprise when we enter the bike room and discover that our New World Tourists have multiplied overnight.  At first I suspect the usual hanky-panky in the dark, but these other bikes seem too experienced to be newbies.  Someone else must have arrived on them overnight.  Four bikes in the bike room and they’re all New World Tourists.  What are the odds?  Thinking back, I’m not certain we’ve seen another Bike Friday of any model on the entire tour.

They’ve multiplied!
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Bruce LellmanNice! If I were to get a new Bike Friday I'd get yellow.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanReally. That’s the color my friend Frank down in Salem opted for also. I thought it was a terrible choice and tried to talk him out of it. If you decide to buy a new bike let’s discuss it over coffee first so I can set you straight.
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1 month ago
Janice BranhamGood lookin fleet!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Janice BranhamHooray! I was hoping we’d be hearing from you again. Welcome to the site!
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1 month ago

We’d like to meet up with their owners before we leave town so I check the bikes out for any identifying information.  

Sure enough, I find an identification label on one of them: Barry Branham, with his phone number and email address.  I take a photo of it and then when we turn to our bikes I find a note has been left in my helmet inviting us to contact them.  Too bad we missed them last night or we might have shared a meal.

Out on the street, Rachael tries several times to call up the number provided, but without success.  But then at the last minute as we’re about to bike off Barry and Janice pop out of the hotel and introduce themselves.  Great timing!  We stalled around just long enough.

We stand around introducing ourselves and chatting about our stories - ours the one you’re well familiar with and maybe sick of hearing about by now, and theirs of their first bike tour in Europe.  In the course of the conversation our winter sojourns in Tucson comes up, and they starve us again by telling us they’re headed back to Tucson this winter ourselves. So maybe we’ll run across them one of these winters.

Finally, as we’re reading to leave we mention that our lives are being blasted out to the world on CycleBlaze.  It’s a site they hadn’t heard of before but they ask if we’ve ever heard of That Other Site, where they’re blogging their own tour.  So that’s a whole third conversation to have.  So watch this site - we might have a new pair of converts coming our way before long.

In Gramat, expounding on the excellence of the CycleBlaze website to Janice and Barry.
Heart 6 Comment 2
Janice BranhamWe're thrilled that our photo of the Bike Friday herd made it into your journal. By the time we met you I was over a week behind on ours at the Other Site. Seeing how easy and clean Cycle Blaze is liberated me from any remaining desire to try and catch up on the old site. Now that we're back home I'm deep into posting it all here. Stay tuned.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Janice BranhamI’m glad to hear that. I checked in on your other journal a few times and was a little concerned when I didn’t see any updates.
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1 month ago

So we’re off.  The first ten miles of the ride are the easiest of the day as we join the Voie Verte a mile out of town and follow it all the way to the Dordogne.  Just the way we like it - use up all the easy miles while the legs are fresh, and save the pain for later when they’re beaten down a bit.

Leaving Sarlat on the Voie Verte, the same route we biked home from Domme on two days earlier. It makes for a delightful start of the ride, continuing on like this for about five miles.
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Crossing the Dordogne on the Voie Verte.
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Our last look at the Dordogne for this tour.
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Across the Dordogne, the day’s work begins.  There’s a fair amount of climbing in the day but it’s nearly all well-behaved as we gradually ratchet ourselves up onto the western edge of the Central Massif, topping out at about 1,100’ on the Causse de Gramat.  It’s a peaceful, increasingly scenic ride as we climb through oak and chestnut forest and past acres of cows.  Toward the top the landscape takes on the look of the Causse, with lanes lined with stone walls and colorful scrubby oaks, vine maples and shrubs blanketing the course broken limestone soil.  It’s one of my favorite cycling environments, one we’ll be spending a lot of time in during the next few weeks.

We crossed this short variant of the route from Le Puy to Compostela shortly after climbing away from the Dordogne. This spur passes through Rocamadour (the Roc of Amadour) to see the relics of Saint Amadour, supposedly stored there.
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For several miles we rode empty lanes like this, accompanied by the soft percussive sound of acorns crunching beneath our Schwalbe Marathons.
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Still climbing away from the Dordogne. In the coming miles we’ll transition from the Dordogne’s watershed to that of the Lot and climb up to the western edge of the Central Massif.
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Crunch, crunch, crunch.
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Passing through Le Vigan, I think. Not much here, but still it’s the second largest community we’ll pass through all day.
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Red pencil collection.
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Keith AdamsPencils scaled for use by Paul Bunyan. Was Babe around somewhere?
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Here’s the big action for the ride - Saint-Projet. Its 341 inhabitants are called Saint-Projetois or Saint-Projetoises.
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In bustling Saint-Projet.
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Climbing toward the high point of the ride, on a steady 5% grade. A beautiful ascent climbing up to the Causse de Gramat.
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It’s starting to turn into a brilliant autumn.
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Oh my Lot, we’re in the Lot! At the high point of the ride we briefly follow stage 20 of this year’s Tour de France, the individual time trial from Lacapelle to Rocamadour. Couzou was one of the intermediate time checkpoints.
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Almost there! The time trial was the pentultimate stage of this year’s tour, and the Champs-Élysées is just around the corner.
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David Gaudu from Finistère has his fans encouraging him on. He did pretty well this year, finishing fourth.
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We arrive in Gramat around 3 and check in to our apartment for the next three nights.  It’s a very strange welcome, to say the least.  Our host unlocks the gate to let us in accompanied by Bonzai, his energetic, boisterous, undisciplined black retriever.  All the while we’re walking our bikes up the driveway Bonzai is having his way with us, leaping up on us (an 80 pound dog, and nearly Rachael’s height when he stands erect) and incessantly licking both of our legs - it’s clear that poor Bonsai doesn’t get nearly enough salt in his diet.  Our host observes all this as he’s talking at us, but apparently doesn’t see any need to curb his dog.

Ralph is more than a notch on the peculiar side, and must be just a tad lonely because fifteen minutes later he’s done telling us everything we need to know about the apartment and has moved on to his life story and the extreme difficulties he has trying to get his new home and the apartment renovated.  He doesn’t seem like he’s winding down at all when Rachael finally interrupts to say she’s leaving for the store.  He offers to show her the back way out and save a few steps, and she earns my gratitude when she quickly accepts and frees me up to finally go to the bathroom.

Rachael comes back the usual hour and a half later, elated to have finally found a pair of white shoelaces.  If that doesn’t count as exciting news, what does!

Rachael found her white shoelaces! Not that she cares, but which do you prefer?
Heart 5 Comment 3
Keith AdamsI think she's right, but hot pink would be a good option too.
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1 month ago
Kathleen JonesI agree with Keith.
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1 month ago
Jacquie GaudetIf they were on my shoes, they wouldn't be white for longer than a week, I think.
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1 month ago

And if new shoelaces aren’t enough to straighten your socks, there’s this small bit of news: Susan Carpenter has just arrived in Gramat to join us for the next several days.  She arrived in town too late for dinner so after she’s checked in to her B&B I walk over to the market square to meet her and walk her back to our apartment where Rachael scrambles her up some eggs and we spend the next hour catching up and talking through the coming days.

And there’s a lot to say about how Susan managed to finally get here.  It’s a good story, but its hers to tell so be sure to hear it first hand as she continues Skipping Around the Continent.

Somehow I failed to get a photo of Susan that was in focus, but I did get a photo of Rachael reflecting on her interesting experience getting here.
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Ride stats today: 38 miles, 3,100’; for the tour: 650 miles, 44,100’

Today's ride: 38 miles (61 km)
Total: 651 miles (1,048 km)

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