September 4, 2011

Pyrenees Tour: Getting There, Planes

I'm headed back to France, again with my bike, Papillon, this time riding from Bayonne/Biarritz on the Atlantic through the French Pyrenees and their foothills, then across the Corbières and finishing in Narbonne on the Mediterranean ... The tablet will let me upload as I go.

France is, I believe, the best place on the planet to combine cycling, eating, mountains, beaches, art, architecture, history and culture. That's an unbeatable combination for me, though not necessarily in that order.

Sitting here at the gate in Logan, my bike is in its box on its way to the hold, panniers with me as my carry-on luggage, and I am thinking of all the people to thank. Short form is: Roy, for getting me through the last week, which has had its little dramas -- as anyone who read my Greylock post knows -- and for driving me here. We both prefer to get to airports early, especially when they are not close to home.  Especially when they involve a large cardboard box with my bike in it. After some point, all that's left to do at home is fret about what I might have forgotten to do, or pack. And fretting is pretty useless in my book. Early enough today that no one else was here.

Karen whose suggestions and emails were a huge help. If you like bike racing, touring, Colorado or France, take a peek at Pedal Dancer. Gerry Patterson, whose Cycle Languedoc blog is loaded with useful info and links. If you're dreaming of, or better yet, planning, a tour in France, don't skip either site. If you're a racer, or want to travel in France, visit Gerry's other site: Mr. Patterson goes to Languedoc.   Both writers were generous with advice and thoughts.

I fly into Paris, connect to Toulouse and take a train to Bayonne. Air France will move the bike as luggage, without surcharges, which is important to me. It must be pre-registered, though, including the weight of the box. I only have two panniers, one inside the other and am using it along with my handlebar bag as my carry-on luggage. Tonight is on the plane, the next two nights in Bayonne, and then I'll head east on the bike.

The flight from Boston allowed me to sleep some, and the 90 minutes allowed to make the connection to Toulouse was, today, more than adequate. Today there were no crowds at CDG, customs was routine and security fast, though it's always a bit of a panic. The last time I transferred to Toulouse at CDG the plane left without me, and many hundreds, probably thousands, of other travellers who also missed connections. There was ash in the air over the Atlantic then. This time I rushed, with no need. My bike never appeared at this luggage delivery carousel, but was at the oversized luggage in the next room with international arrivals.


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