2000 Cycling Season, May 16 - 18

Trip From Beaune to AIX-en-Provence

May 16,2000, Tuesday - Travel to Lyon (part 1)

Today we packed up and headed for our first day of cycling with the entire rig headed to Lyon. Unfortunately we miscalculated a bit which made this a bigger adventure than we had planned. Getting out of Beaune with the loaded trailer was our first challenge. Beaune has a little town center that is enclosed by a big one-way circular route around it. Of course our road out of town was of the way around the circle, so we decided to go through town to avoid the heavy traffic on the circle. What a zoo!!

We did finally make it to the open road and had a great ride except for the rolling hills, and the headwind, which killed our speed for the day (15.8kph or 9.8mph). In the late afternoon about 80k (50 miles) into our ride we began to worry about our progress and tried to pick up the pace. By 6:00pm we stopped and called our hotel to say we'd be late. At about 8:00 we finally gave up and called our hotel to tell them we wouldn't make it to Lyon that night. We had covered 116k (72 miles) in 7:18 minutes of riding and after studying the maps again we had discovered that we still had another 70k (43 miles) to go to Lyon. It turns out we were off by a factor of 2 in our original distance calculations. We thought we only had an 80k trip, but it was actually 160k (100 miles).

After a few frantic moments we found a little roadside hotel in a village called Cormoranche. Even though they were closed for holiday they let us stay the night. I think they took pity on us standing there near dark, obviously tired, with the next nearest hotel miles away.

All in all other than going further than we would have liked on our first day out, it was a pretty good day. Messing up our itinerary wasn't any big deal because there wasn't anything to see in Lyon anyways. It's just a big town that we were going to stay the night in. Instead we stayed in a little village in the country.

May 17,2000, Wednesday - Travel to Lyon and then Avignon

This morning we got up for an early ride only to discover it was raining and very cloudy from horizon to horizon. Boy am I glad we found a hotel and didn't camp out! Because we were already a day behind, and the owners of the hotel had left on holiday with instructions for us to lock-up on the way out, we put donned our rain-gear and headed out for Lyon. The rain here isn't cold like the rain in Colorado, so riding in the rain isn't too bad. We also have lots of special gear just for rain. We each have Gortex rain suites, the bag for the trailer is waterproof, and we wrap the suitcase we carry on top of the trailer in a rubberized rain pancho, and our REI panniers are also fairly waterproof. After 4 hours of riding in the rain the only problem was that my camera case got a little damp, but not enough to damage the camera. So the only thing we need to change is to ensure that everything in the panniers are in plastic bags.

After arriving in Lyone we "jumped" a train to Avignon to catch up with our itinerary. "Jumping" on a train may sound like the easy way to go, but imagine putting an 18-foot long tandem bike and trailer rig onto an RTD bus. That's not counting the stairs and the tiny, crowded passages in the stations.

When we got to the Lyone station it didn't look too bad. It's a nice modern station that looks very effficent for moving lots of people carrying no more than a briefcase. To get to the stairs you ride up an escalator, work your way through a crowded little hallway, down a flight of stairs to the crowded platform. Since our rig rolls well and is very self contained when it's put together I decided to take the entire rig - trailer and all - up the escalator, through the hall, and down the stairs to the platform. What an adventure!!! I only wish Dorothy could have taken a picture of me, and the reaction of the people around me. However she was helping with crowd control, and acting as a backup to manage the speed as we went down the stairs.

Then we had to get on the train! First we unhooked the trailer, unloaded the suitcase and the panniers. Dorothy then loaded the bags, and I stood watch. Next I loaded the bike standing it upright on it's rear wheel so it only takes about the space of one person. I also discovered that bungee cords help fasten the bike to the anything near the ceiling of the train, so I don't have to hold it the entire trip.

Once we got to Avignon and found our way to the hotel, we ran into another little adventure. We had a beautiful room on the second floor of an old maze-like hotel with a very small lobby, and no storage who's entrance was on a steep cobble stone hill with lots of traffic. It would be very quaint and nice if we didn't have an 18 foot long rig with us! We ended up unraveling all the gear across the street in a little plaza, and making a bazillion trip across the street, and up to the room, as one person stayed with the stuff on the street.

After a long hot shower, we had a very nice dinner where we met 2 very nice American couples. We ended up talking the night away with them because they were the first people we had found that we could hold a decent conversation with in two weeks

May 18,2000, Thursday - Avignon to Aix-en-Provence

After sleeping in late, we got out and made a whirl wind tour of Avignon. If we return to this region, this is the city we will make our base. There are lots of things to see in Avignon because it was the Pope's home for centuries before the Vatican moved to Rome. Avignon is also in the heart of the cool mountainous part of this region.

View from Papal Palace in Avignon
John at Papal Palace in Avignon

However instead of staying in Avignon, decided to stick to our itinerary, and head for Aix-en-Provence. With the last few days of adventure, and the long distance we had to cover, we took the day off from cycling and "hopped" on another train to Aix-en-Provence where we will stay for a few nights. In Avignon Darlene our travel agent put us into a wonderful four-star hotel that has a garage to store the bike!!! When we got in we wandered the hotels gardens and bounced into town for a quick bite before settling down to read and write for the evening.