Getting home is half the fun (NOT)! - What to do between doctors visits - CycleBlaze

July 6, 2019

Getting home is half the fun (NOT)!

In the language of Molière, “galère” means an onerous task. The word is derived from the same root as galley and the implication is that the task is as bad as rowing in the galleys, the ancient form of criminal punishment under the ancien régime . And so it would be for me as I made my way home via the SNCF. In the end what should have taken me six hours took thirteen, and I finished riding through the darkness down deserted roads to get home.

The omens were not auspicious in the morning as I was awakened before the alarm by a thunderstorm. I had to wait a bit for the restaurant to open for breakfast, which was the usual French fare of croissants, coffee, and fruit. I changed into riding clothes and packed the rest of my things up for the trip home. I got to the station early and bought a ticket on the intercities train to Châteauroux. I learned from this that unlike on the TER trains bicycles cost extra, 10 euros regardless of distance, which doubled the price of my ticket. All went smoothly enough, though I did have a wait of about an hour at Châteauroux for my next train. I got a cup of coffee in the city, which was in full market day mode. Lots of traffic, both automobile and pedestrian but the city was as a whole not too crowded.

Châteauroux has a gothic cathedral which I admired over my coffee cup.
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Back at the station I got a sandwich for a little early lunch before boarding the train to Vierzon.

Arriving in Vierzon in good time, I saw that the connection to Nevers was 30 minutes late. On the platform waiting for the train I encountered two other cyclotouristes, Thierry and Dominque. They were very overloaded, but talking to them I found out that they liked to travel by bike and didn’t mind the weight as long as the route was relatively flat. Their plans were to join EuroVelo6 in Nevers and meet a friend in Besançon a few days later, so fair enough.  We chatted as the platform grew more and more crowded. Then the train was announced with a new delay of one hour. When it finally arrived, there was no room for anyone to board, and certainly not three loaded cyclists with their bikes. I had only vaguely remembered that today was the day of the Grand Depart, the first day of school vacation and all of Paris was leaving the city. Every train coming from the capital was packed, and getting on would be difficult, at best, especially if the final destination of the train was somewhere in the south as was the case for this one. We were asked to wait for the next train, which ended in Nevers, and would therefore be less bonde´. It would only be a twenty minute wait, we were told. Except that it was not. From twenty minutes it soon became an hour, then an hour and a half as the delays on the system continued to pile up. By now, any chance of my making the final connection at Nevers were doubtful, so I went to the information booth to find an alternative.

The nice young lady in the information booth found one option that was still available: Take a train into Paris, and then go to Dijon from there. Checking schedules, I could get the next train north and change to the last train for Dijon. This would require riding across the Seine on my bike to get from the  Gare d’Austerlitz to the Gare de Bercy, but its not that far. I did have an hour and a half to kill in Paris, but I could grab some food and eat a light meal before getting my last train. And that is what I did. I ate my packaged salad in the park by the river near the Quai Bercy and was on the train for home at last. The ride was mostly uneventful but there was one fellow who got into the seat next to me and twice fell asleep falling into my lap. Luckily for me he got out at the first stop. I arrived in Dijon at 10:33 at night and after donning my fluorescent vest and getting my lights on, I rode home in the dark. I arrived safe and sound, but covered with sweat as it was still hot. A shower, some cold drinks, and the was it for the tour.


Today's ride: 21 km (13 miles)
Total: 328 km (204 miles)

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Scott AndersonThanks for taking us along, Keith. We’ve never biked in quite this part of the country, but I’ll have to look at it. We plan on coming back to France next fall and are laying out some options for coming north through the center.

And best of luck with the procedures. Looking forward to Part II.
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4 years ago
Scott AndersonIt took me awhile to recall why I was familiar with this river, but it just came back to me. While I was attempting to learn to play the piano as an adult decades ago, Cesar Franck’s Chant de la Creuse was one of my practice pieces. Another reason to check out the region.
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4 years ago
Rich FrasierHi Keith - I’m really enjoying these journals! They’re inspiring me to explore areas of France that I’d never considered before. Hope I have enough years to to do all this exploring. Hope to see more journals from you in the future when life gets back to something more normal.
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2 years ago