Day 16: Peronne to Ognes - Grampies Cross Europe Germany to Spain Fall 2023 - CycleBlaze

September 11, 2023

Day 16: Peronne to Ognes

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Greg Garceau pointed out yesterday that the poorest French breakfast could still be pretty good, compared to a typical U.S. motel offering. That is quite true, but the observation "it could be worse" is not taken kindly by my body when I ask it to cycle long distances in the heat here. Today at Auberge des Remparts it looked like the "jammer" rating would bottom out at a "one", but then we found a small plate of sliced cheese in the fridge, rocketing the rating to a "two".  So that made it bread and jam, yogurt, coffee, Tang, apples, and ...cheese! It's a two!

Fueled up on our level two breakfast, we made our way through Peronne.  There was no bike lane on the main street and fairly heavy traffic, so the shot below is the best I did, to show what the town looked like to us.  Of course, I could have stopped and made a proper photo, rather than riding down the street waving a camera, but that seems to be a bit beyond me.

One view of Peronne.
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We set off once more along the Somme, or at least a canalised version of it, and immediately dove in to the main fun activities on offer. The first is the often frustrating sport of racing barges. It's frustrating, because we are about evenly matched with barges in terms of basic speed. But we stop, to look at birds, drink hot chocolate, or talk to people along the way, while the barges just keep barging on.

The canal and the path for the first half of the day.
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We can catch this one, easy!
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Another activity was testing the hearing or general alertness of herons. All along the canal they were standing by the shore, presumably emulating the French fishermen, watching for fish. As we would approach, we assume they first heard the crunch of our wheels on the gravel, and they would fly away before we were about 300 feet away. The game was to find the more and the less alert ones.

This was the position taken up by dozens of herons.
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Got one!
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Scott AndersonNice shot. This is a grey heron, the European equivalent of our great blue heron. Keep an eye out though, because the purple heron looks similar but is darker colored.
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10 months ago

The barges probably were the source of piles of sand and gravel that we found by the canal. Our game here was to assess which pile would be the best material for maintaining our driveway. Is this evidence that the ride was getting a little boring?

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There was a ditch on the non-canal side of the path, and this contained a lot of Coots, but another type of bird that always waddled under cover a we approached. Here is our best shot of it. Any ideas?

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Bill ShaneyfeltMoorhen

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moorhen
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10 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Bill ShaneyfeltAha, a relative of all the Coors we have been seeing. White face patch, it's a coot, red face patch it's a moorhen. Got it.
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10 months ago
Pigeons were also in evidence, sometimes in great numbers on roof tops. This shot shows just a few of the ones that had chosen one roof.
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Our route took us off the river and onto some rural roads. These were fine for cycling and also featured wind turbines, which we always find to be elegant and pleasing.

A quiet rural road
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There were only about a dozen turbines in this area.
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We returned to the river around the busy town of Ham. As you see from the photo, there was not too much to recommend it.

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In fact, just outside of town, a local resident took exception with our very existence. We are sorry to report this was a "Canada" goose.  What this thing did not know is that I have a lot of experience with birds this size, and it was risking getting its neck wrung.

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Bad attitude from a Canada Goose
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Much more pleasant was this duck in the river.
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One good thing from our stop in Ham was a sandwich from a local bakery. With the eggs and ham, lettuce and tomato and cheese, it was good fuel for the rest of the day.
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Patrick O'HaraA 'Ham'-Sandwich?
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10 months ago

As we started to get closer to our destination at the hard to pronounce Ognes, the way became rather convoluted and the traffic rather heavy.  A cyclist with a quite fast road bike joined us at a red light and exchanged some greetings with Dodie. She asked him something about were we going the right way, and he volunteered to guide us the rest of the way. Dodie warned that we go very slowly, and as always happens in these cases, the man assured her that he can go slow. In practice Dodie had to fight to keep up, and the cyclist - no doubt used to peletons - was riding within just inches of Dodie's mirror. I was impressed with Dodie hanging in with the man, not crashing, and also chattering in French the whole way.  Meanwhile the three us had enough mass to fend off cars that tried to bully us in roundabouts or shove us to the side of the road. Our cycle guide showed no fear of such aggression at all.

Surprisingly as soon as we arrived at the Ognes sign, our guide after chatting for so long, just said a quick "Ok, bye", turned around and was gone.

He had in fact left us almost directly in front of the Air BnB type place we had booked. Called Le Charme d'Ognes, it was very large, and importantly featured air conditioning. So we are happy and cool, except that we received a message from our place in Reims cancelling out. We used up most of our cool trying to re book, but it seems we may now be ok!

Our guide to Ognes
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Today's ride: 80 km (50 miles)
Total: 768 km (477 miles)

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