To Tréteau - Skipping About the Continent - CycleBlaze

May 14, 2022

To Tréteau

Today I bade farewell to the Parc naturel regional Livradois-Forez and headed north to the small town of Tréteau. I had mapped out three different routes to Tréteau and there was much discussion after breakfast as to which was the best option. The most challenging route headed east through the Parc before turning north; the second, most direct route took me through Vichy on a fairly high-traffic road; the third and easiest route headed back across the Allier River before turning north along small quiet roads. Franny and Didier confirmed that the direct route would have a lot of traffic on Saturday with folks traveling to Vichy. I really wanted to try the first option, to see more of the Parc, but my body was tired after successive days of climbing almost 100 ft/mile, or more. So, I opted for the easier day on low traffic roads and headed for Vichy where I planned to stop for a leisurely lunch.

 It was a nice sunny Saturday, with many cyclists out for their morning ride. I stopped to chat with a small group from Vichy, who told me how nice it was to cycle along the river. I made a short detour to the river as I approached Vichy and enjoyed watching the amateur scullers heed the bellowing of the coxswain. The bridge into Vichy was very well designed for cyclists, with separated lanes for both bikes and pedestrians. Vehicular traffic was bumper to bumper but the bike lane was clear. It was just past eleven when I crossed the bridge over the Allier River, a bit before the cafés started serving meals. I checked out a bit of the Napolean III park along river before venturing into the city proper, but my only food options were coffee and ice cream. I finally settled on a large restaurant in the Parc Des Sources where I was able to get a charcuterie board, filled with paté, ham, sausages, cheeses and cornichons. I ate about a third, made a couple of sandwiches to go, and still left almost half on the plate.

Vichy turned out to be a little too big for me as a midday stop - too much to see spread out over too far a distance.  I packed up my sandwiches and headed north to Tréteau.

Good-bye to Parc naturel regional Livradois-Forez
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On the way to Vichy
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On the way to Vichy
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Two of the many friendly cyclists out for a weekend ride
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Three cyclists from Vichy who clued me in about riding along the Allier River
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Rowing on the Allier River
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Bridge into Vichy
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Palais des Congrès de Vichy
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In Vichy
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After leaving Vichy, I passed through the neighboring town of Cusset, with an inviting square and Saturday morning market-oh well, I had my sammies!

The route toward Tréteau was largely agricultural, with an occasional wooded section. The woods provided a nice relief from the sun, as it was warming up quite a bit. Towns were small and infrequent so I took advantage of topping off my water bottles when I passed a cemetery in Seuillet. It turned out to be an unneeded precaution as I found an open Tabac in Saint-Gérand-de-Puy where I downed a cold Fanta orange. I don’t know what it is about carbonated orange drinks and summer cycle touring, but I often find myself craving a cold Orangina or Fanta - something I would never have otherwise.

Cusset looked inviting
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The wooded sections were clearly inviting
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Treeless stretches were heating up as the day wore on
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Surrounding hillsides
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Seuillet Cemetery
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Water spigot and jug - with warning to not remove the jug
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Heading up to Saint-Gérand-de-Puy
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Site of the disappearing Fanta orange
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A pack of about 20 youngsters on mountain bikes were out on a guided ride - “Allez, Allez” the guides shouted as they tried to herd the kids safely across the National road that ran thru Saint-Gerand-de-Puy
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Well, the excitement of the day was at hand. If you’ve not noticed, I have a soft spot for cows and other farm animals. I was cruising along when I spotted a small herd of Charolais cattle shading  themselves under a grove of trees. Thinking “photo-op”, I crossed over to their side of the road, unclipping as I came to a stop. Or at least I tried to unclip - my left shoe remained attached to the pedal. By this time, all the cows had come over to enjoy the spectacle of me removing my foot from my shoe. It wasn’t a graceful exit, and I did managed to sneak in couple of cow photos. 

I rolled Vivien George back across the street, laid her down, and tried to unclip my left shoe. With some effort I got it off, and discovered that one of the cleat screws had loosened, twisting the cleat about 90 degrees. Instead of doing the sensible thing and securing the cleat to the shoe, I set the shoe down at the side of the road and went over to get more cow photos!!  Seriously!! I did that. And even better, when I finished with the cows, I casually picked up the shoe and turned it over. Not surprisingly, the screw had fallen out and, despite my efforts, was nowhere to be found.

I was standing there on the side of the road contemplating my next move when a cyclist rode towards me. His glance asked if I needed help and when I shrugged my shoulders he stopped and came over to offer assistance. As I was explaining/demonstrating the problem, another cyclist rode in from the opposite direction, also stopping to offer assistance. No traffic for 20 minutes and two cyclists appear almost simultaneously from opposite directions- what are the odds!

When it became clear that I needed a cleat screw and not an Allen key, the first cyclist (Teddy) said he had screws at his house, just a few km down the road. Because he was in the midst of his ride, he instructed Lauric, (the second cyclist - who he did not know) how to find his house and get the screw from his mum.  Then Teddy took off to continue his ride. Lauric tightened the remaining screw on my left cleat, I clipped in, and followed him over a “few ups and down” to Teddy’s house.  Not too fast - I pleaded. 

We arrived at Teddy’s house and his mother Stephanie was outside, a screw in hand. I tried to get it to catch, but no luck. Lauric gave it his best effort but the replacement screw was too short to thread. Several more screws were retrieved from the house, and they also were too short. We stowed the cleat and the good screw in my handlebar bag and after introductions and photos everyone went on their way. 

My problem wasn’t solved but it didn’t matter - I was able to continue on using the flat side of my pedal. It was the collaborative effort of strangers willing to help a cyclist in need that was so uplifting - yet is not so remarkable, as evidenced by a recent Forum thread.  The Good Samaratin ethic runs strong in the cycling community.

Curious.cows converging to check out my cleats
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No sense crying over a lost screw
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Scott AndersonGreat cow shot! Totally worth it.
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2 months ago
Susan CarpenterTo Scott AndersonThanks Scott
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2 months ago
The road of happenstance and collaboration
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Lauric trying his best to secure the cleat
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Lauric and Stephanie (Teddy’s mother, I think)
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I was staying in a small gîte that was part of a château and had given them an arrival time between 2-3 pm. However, it was just past 4 pm when I rolled down the gravel lane, through an imposing gate and up to the château entrance.   All the doors to the interior were wide open, so I entered. On finding no one around, I wandered through several rooms and the outdoor garden, calling out as I went. Still, no answer. It was only after I telephoned and left a message that the owner appeared, a nicely mannered elderly French gentleman who gave me a tour of my little house. It was so calm and peaceful, a perfect end to a somewhat roller coaster day. 

The small commune of Montaigu-le-Blin, home of Teddy and Stephanie
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Vivien George at the château entrance
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My very own little house
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Today's ride: 42 miles (68 km)
Total: 843 miles (1,357 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 13
Comment on this entry Comment 10
Kathleen JonesI also think Charolais are worth stopping for at the expense of a cleat screw. What an adventure, and people can be so nice.
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonIf this is still an issue when we get together, I carry spare cleats and screws that we could try out.
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2 months ago
Suzanne GibsonI see this adventure was on Saturday, and no map. The suspense mounts - will Susan make it all the way to Beaune by next Wednesday?
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2 months ago
Jacquie GaudetFirst I checked my own cleat screws (solidly tight) and then made a note to add some to my bag of small parts before my next tour.
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonHey, you’re getting close! Where are you planning on staying the night before Beaune?
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2 months ago
Rachael AndersonWow, what an adventure! It definitely renews your faith in people when you run into such kind people!
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2 months ago
Susan CarpenterTo Scott AndersonThanks Scott - I think I’m set but today will tell
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2 months ago
Susan CarpenterTo Scott AndersonStaying in Nolay tonight so short day tomorrow. Should arrive in Beaune pretty early, though check-in is not til 4 pm
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2 months ago
Susan CarpenterTo Jacquie GaudetGlad I could offer an ounce of prevention by example!
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2 months ago
Susan CarpenterTo Suzanne GibsonFingers crossed - I’m doing my best and am pretty sure I’ll make it. Safe travels to you and Janos
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2 months ago