August 31, 2014

Joigny to Vézélay

Today's ride started off quietly enough, and actually it was, in the end, all pretty quiet. I left Joigny before 9:00 for the 82k (51 mile) ride to Vézélay. At least that's what Ride with GPS told me to expect. Hoping to arrive early afternoon to visit the basilica and the town, I kept my feet on the pedals. It's Sunday, usually a quiet day in France with restaurants and stores closed, so I was a bit anxious about finding somewhere open to buy some food. I stopped quickly at a boulangerie, where I bought, a pastry I hadn't seen before. When I ate it several hours later at the side of the road,I discovered that not just was it was cheese, and cabbage inside puff pastry ... and it was certainly the most delicious savory bread ever.

After about 20 miles I reached Auxerre, a city of some size, where, predictably I suppose, I got turned around. Some might say lost. In any case, I had no idea which direction to turn. This is a historic city, with a sizeable medieval center, which I did indeed want to see. Ever been in a medieval city? In my experience, one of the wonderful things about them is that when you start down a a 700 or more year old street, you don't quite know where you will be on the other end. I rode a few. One of the frustrating things about them is that it is soo easy to get turned around, lost. Confused, I pulled out garmin.

What follows is a story. Not Perrault, but nonetheless, it has the good, the bad, not the ugly, and a moral.

The good: My husband Roy gave me a GPS as a present several years ago now, for just this situation. Lost in a city. Regular readers know that I am inept with it, stupid even. But today I discovered something new, and this GPS led me to my route. Success! Excellent! And I must admit, some people who know me have suggested that I have control issues. Hmmm, who me??. It was v.e.r.y. difficult to give over control and blindly take directions from an inanimate object. But, hurrah!! It worked. Here are a few photos of the streets it led me through:



The bad: Just two short blocks away from the intersection with my planned route, I was riding with the GPS unit tucked into my hand, not looking at it. It was a congested urban street, cars coming and going, bumper to bumper, a Sunday morning farmers' market open, and shops busy. (In my experience this is unusual here.) As fast as I could yell NON! a car door opened and I ran into it. Or maybe it opened on me. My head hit the car, along with my shoulder. Wrong. My helmet hit the car. I was glad for that.

The man in the car told me a few minutes later that he had no idea what had happened. He didn't look. He was as apologetic and concerned as could be. I was too close and admitted it. He insisted that I wait, sit down for a few minutes, saying he could see I was still rattled. Miraculously, and to my great pride, my French didn't desert me. He went off after a bit at my insistence, and my promises to rest, to buy his bread. He was right to insist that I sit still. Soon enough I realized that my chain was thrown, and that my GPS had disappeared. A woman had seen the accident from her window, came down to offer me something to drink, to make sure I was ok. We searched for the GPS. Didn't find it anywhere. He returned. We found my GPS in his car. We all three went on our way.

So, no ugly.

The moral: GPS is good backup but it should be attached to the bike. More importantly, and I knew this, on busy urban streets, we cyclists should hold the middle of the lane, even if we sometimes slow traffic down a little, even if the cars get frustrated or angry with us, even if it feels stressy ... we should not ride in the dangerous area between moving car and parked car. Not only is it dangerous for us, it is dangerous for the cars around us.

Leaving Auxerre, I saw a cycle path headed south, and grateful for the brain and stress rest it offered me, I took it. It followed the Yonne River, but not for long.


Then through the Morvan, it was beautiful, rolling, country, with some lovely long descents. This is great terrain for cycling.



I arrived in Vezelay in time to visit the famous, and beautiful, basilica, which, in about 1945 a team of monks from the nearby abbey and monastery La Pierre qui Vire helped to bring life back into.




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14 comments:

  1. I am so glad you are alright. Please be careful. VIM is in Gt. Barrington, NOT France !! I will now include you in my prayers for a safe trip. Geeeeee.

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    1. I am fine...and thank you for including me! Be well. It's dumb ... I am a cautious rider, but also too polite I suppose. I should have been in the middle of the car lane.

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  2. It is nice to hear, after all the trips you've carried the Garmin on, it got one successful work out...and when you used your head, it was in a helmet. The rest of the trip should be more scenery and culture, and less drama.

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    1. You will be glad to know the Garmin has been out quite a bit. It is quite useful for urban navigation.and of all people, you must surely be glad I have finally used my head ... albeit in a helmet.

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  3. I was so very happy to see you're writing again and on tour! Then I was distressed to learn of your accident. But then I was happy to see you came through that ok. So on the whole I'm quite happy! Thanks for sharing your adventures - it's always a treat to see a new post from you.

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    1. Hey Steve, And for my part, I'm quite happy you are still reading! Haven't been posting from home .. possibly for similar reasons to yours. BTW, I noticed a new reply you made to a "comment" on your blog. That gave me some hope you might take it up again...:-)

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  4. I hope that you really are as all right as you say you are. Banging one's head is no laughing matter. Other than unexpected car doors, you seem to have chosen a good route.

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    1. Thanks Tom! I am, in fact, as well as I said. Only a little bruised, and that will disappear soon enough. So far, it is a bit more urban/exurban riding than I would ideally choose, mostly because route finding is so darned difficult and time consuming. But I think I'm south of most of it now.

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  5. I'm glad to hear your learning experience was a relatively painless one, Suze. Keep up the good work on the blog (and on the ride). Now that I'm back home I've got plenty of time to follow along ;-)

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    1. You know, the stupid thing is that I really did know not to ride in that area of the road, I ever do at home...my low speed helped. Glad you are back here!

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  6. Ride safe Suze. Glad you came through your crash reasonably unscathed. Thanks for the blog posts.

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    1. Thanks Rob. I think about you a lot as 60K turns to 80K turns to 100K. It goes like this ... keep that cadence up, circles please ... about that cadence, up ... circles please, legs! All that work last winter helps. Be well.

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  7. Ned - Sorry you got clonked. Love the photos of the wattle and daub buildings again!

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    1. Happily I was moving so slowly there was no damage done ... to me or my bike.

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