Blois to Loches - Melo Vélo Meanderings - CycleBlaze

June 8, 2018

Blois to Loches

Today was a day of navigation hiccups, chance encounters and a birthday celebration.

Shortly after departing Blois, I made the first of my navigation miscalculations.  My planned route directed me to a riverside cycle path immediately after crossing the bridge over the Loire.  However the entrance to the path was barricaded with a large sign indicating entry was forbidden.  Just then, a young lad slipped through the barricade and onto the path - and I followed right after. I surmised that the barricade was related to possible high water/mud from a couple of days before.  Not so. There was repair work on the section of path the leading up to and across the main road - where the cycle path then continued to Amboise.  Since access to up to the Amboise route was roped off, I continued down the riverside path looking for different access point - this seemed reasonable as I had spotted another cycle group heading that way.  Unfortunately, the path quickly deteriorated and provided no alternative access to the  La Loire veloroute to Amboise.  After a mile or so, I waved the white flag and retreated back to the repair area where I slipped under the barricades, walked up the newly dried cement, and was soon on my way.  Lessons:  1) Obey signs; 2) Don't follow other cyclists just because you think they are going your way. 

My plan for today was to stop by Chenonceau Castle, which spans the Cher River south of the Loire.  Along the way, I passed the Chaumont Castle at Chaumont-sur-Loire. Shortly thereafter, I bid farewell to the Loire and headed south toward Chenonceaux.  The ride went smoothly, and I stopped for lunch at a small cafe on the Cher river, a few kilometers from the castle. I encountered my second navigation kerfuffle when I tried to find the castle itself!  After several navigation hiccups and route retracings, I finally arrived at the castle entrance. Unfortunately, it was not possible to view the castle from the entry point, and I was reluctant to go full tilt with the entry fee and tour as it had taken so long to actually arrive at the castle.  As I was contemplating my options, I recognized a pair on a tandem just arriving - I had spoken to them shortly after lunch as we waited at a stop light.  They informed me that one could go down a path across the river and get the "classic view" of Chenonceau castle spanning the river.  It seems that I had gone down that road, but obviously not far enough. With a nod of thanks, I head back over the river and took in the grandeur of Château de Chenonceau from the freebie seats. 

Chaumont Castle overlooking the Loire River
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View of the Cher River while lunching at a trailside cafe
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Chenonceau Castle Spanning the Cher River
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As you head south through the Indre-et-Loire department of the Loire Valley, the landscape is dominated by agriculture - long vistas of the road ahead winding through fields of wheat, corn, beans and rapeseed.  It almost feels like Iowa, but not!  Along one such small farm road I spied another biker in the distance.  I soon caught up with Caroline, riding her e-bike in cut-off shorts and a cotton blouse - swaying her head to the music emanating from her Beats-like headphones set.  She was on her first bike tour, traveling through France for a project on older woman who have recently made a big change in their lives.  She was quite interested in my story and, as we were both heading to Loches, we rode together into town. She needed a place to stay in Loches, and my WarmShowers host family graciously welcomed the both of us for the night.

Corn and beans - feels a little like home
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Caroline in Chedigny - home of the Festival of Roses held in late May
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Our WarmShowers host in Loches was a remarkable bike touring family of mom, dad and four children.  They are incredibly thoughtful, generous, and adventurous and it was great fun to be part of a family for the evening.  As it happened, we arrived on Mother's birthday and so participated in the festivities - from cooking to eating to opening presents.  I helped with dinner preparation - peeling and chopping zucchini, but no burning  - and the children all helped make chocolate mousse for dessert.  After dinner, we were treated to a brief clarinet recital by the oldest daughter, Esther.  The children dispersed to watch movies and the adults enjoyed lively conversations - in French and English - covering doctor shortages in France, the American health care system, and bike touring.

I am not sure what will come of Caroline's project, but I wish her all the best.  I am especially grateful that we all shared a special night with a special family in Loches.

Birthday celebration with (from left) Caroline, Samuel, Augustin, Eleonore (Birthday Girl), Guillem, Heloise, and Esther
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Augustin and Esther helping to "clean up" after making the chocolate mousse
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Samuel and Augustin ready for their bike tour in England later this year
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Today's ride: 57 miles (92 km)
Total: 354 miles (570 km)

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