Loire a Velo with Friends

2019-05-02 : Re-Arranging Flights Home
When we were initially booking our flights, Ann chose a specific flight from Calgary, connecting through Halifax, because it was the same flight number (her bike wouldn't have to come off the plane and get back on the plane). Brent and I didn't have that kind of an option from Edmonton, so, since connecting onto Ann's plane in Halifax was an option, we chose that option. Return was the same way.

Turned out that our flights (specifically our return from Paris to Halifax) were affected by the global grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes - WestJet has suspended all flights between Halifax and Paris, effective June 3.

Ann called WestJet right away (a few days ago) and they said we'd be contacted in turn for a resolution. I vowed to be patient.

Today I checked the WestJet web site and my flight from Paris to Halifax was missing, and the web site said "all affected customers have been re-accommodated". Well, I haven't been re-accommodated! So, my patience ran out, and I called WestJet to find out what was going on.

I spoke with a lovely customer service rep who assured me that we would get a resolution, but they were working their way through everyone according to how soon their flights were. I told her that we were going on a cycle tour and I wouldn't be able to deal with resolving the flights after we'd left at the beginning of June. She said they were figuring out how to get everyone to Halifax without having to come all the way to Calgary to get there. I said... wait a minute... there's no reason for us to go to Halifax - our final destination is Edmonton (and our friend is Calgary).

She put me on hold and came back momentarily to say that she could put Brent and me on "Flight 3" direct from Paris to Calgary on July 1st and then a connecting flight from Calgary to Edmonton, arriving YEG at about 9:30PM. I told her that we'd be traveling with our bicycles, and I was concerned about our bikes being able to get on the flight at Calgary because the planes they use for that short commuter flight are often very small. She went away and came back again, having moved us onto a larger plane, arriving YEG at about 9:45PM. I gave her a "Hero Cookie" for all of her assistance.

I told Ann about everything, and Ann called them and got booked onto "Flight 3" on July 1 as well. I booked the three of us an extra night at the hotel in Paris. Our "Room for Four" wasn't available for the extra night, so I booked us a "Room for Three", so the three of us will have to change rooms once Laura has vacated.

I'm glad to have this little hiccup resolved... and I'm glad it doesn't involve me riding in a MAX 8 aircraft! If/when they go back into service, I'm not sure I'd want to be one of the first people riding on one.

2019-05-11 : Training: Highway 66
A group of our friends, including Geoff and Ann, who are also training for France, came out to ride Highway 66 today. The highway is closed to vehicular traffic until May 15th. We love doing this ride just before it is re-opened. It was warm today - short-sleeve weather, to my surprise.

I was very happy with how both Veloria, and my flag assembly fared in the wind and on the fast downhills. We reached 62km/hour downhill in the wind. The bike is awesome. It's a smidgen harder to ride than Dewey, but I love the more upright posture.

Relive 'Highway 66'

2019-05-16 : Packing Party
Laura is in Calgary this week, so tonight she got together with Ann, Lynn and Geoff for a "pizza and packing" party, specifically to teach our "newbs" how to pack their bikes up. Lynn and Geoff practiced, but kept their bikes out for riding over the next couple of weeks. Ann's bike is now packed up. Good job, Ann!

2019-05-29 : Don't Miss in the Loire

2019-05-30 : Group Messages - Planning

2019-05-31 : Planning and Prep
I started a new blog this year, called "Self-Supported Cycle Touring for the Faint of Heart". It's mostly for me, but maybe someday someone else will get some value from it.

During my preparations for this trip, I wrote a few posts:

2019-06-01 : Head to France
Brent and I got up at 1am today. I’ve been slowly moving my body clock up so that I’ll have an easier transition to France time when we get there. Brent had thought about maybe doing an all-nighter, but then instead slept for a few hours and got up with me at 1. We had a leisurely breakfast and did some last-minute prep and cleaning. Tannis showed up, as planned, at 4am to take us to the airport. Previously our stuff boxes have gone on the belt with other luggage at the airport, and only the bikes had to go to the oversized screening, but today they made us put everything through oversized. Not sure why. They weren’t oversized and nothing was overweight.

checking in was amazingly easy and pain-free, so... we ended up having LOADS of time waiting around at YEG before our first flight. The flight to Halifax was only about four hours, but it was kind of tough because we were both struggling to stay awake. We planned to connect through Halifax so that we could connect with Ann, and that resulted in us having a seven-hour layover at the Halifax airport. We walked some ‘laps’ of the very small terminal, had dinner and some drinks. In the interest of maintaining my body clock momentum, I commenced with napping at around 7pm Halifax time and got about 1 or 1.5 hours of sleep before Ann showed up on her flight from Calgary.

The flight to Paris was about six hours, and Brent and I slept through pretty much the whole thing. We arrived in Paris at about 10AM on June 2nd, and so far no one feels completely wretched - we’re all doing pretty good.

2019-06-02 : Stay Hotel Le Vert Galant
Category Type Name Description Service Provider Cost Kms To Date Total
Activity Cycle CDG to Villepinte
$0.00 14.00 14.00
Brent, Ann and I landed in Paris. We had to wait in a super long immigration line, but by the time we got out to the luggage area, our luggage was all sitting there out in the open waiting for us. We assembled bikes while Laura waited for us at the Brioche Dorée café outside of Arrivals (she’d gotten there an hour before us, assembled her bike, and made her way to our terminal to meet up).

I really needed something to eat, so we had a quick bite at Brioche Dorée and then came the challenging part of the day. We chose to ride from the airport to our hotel, which is about 14km - easy distance, but... a lot of it at, and near, a major international airport. Thankfully I had found a great blog that describes, in tremendous detail, how to ride from CDG to downtown Paris, with the route taking you right past our hotel. The blog said traffic on the route was not bad, and we decided to go for it. It turned out great — I’m glad we rode and would definitely do it again.

In addition to riding from an airport, something that was even more challenging for me was to keep my nose out of the route-finding. Brent and Laura are the trip’s navigation team. I am the absolute pits for navigation, especially in towns and cities, and especially if I’m tired and/or anxious. So, I did my best to keep my nose out of everything and Brent and Laura did a stellar job of navigating us to the hotel where we met up with Geoff and Lynn.

2019-06-03 : Travel to Nevers
Category Type Name Description Service Provider Cost Kms To Date Total
Activity Cycle Villepinte to Gare de Bercy
$0.00 26.00 40.00
For a day spent on logistics, today was a pretty awesome day. Everyone was up and ready to go at our chosen time. Geoff and Lynn already knew the way to the Canal D’ourcq, so they led us over there. The ride down the canal was easy and lovely. When we reached the end of the canal, Brent and Laura used their stellar navigation skills to take us nearly directly to Gare de Bercy where we arrived about 30minutes before the Rhonda/Brent/Lynn/Geoff train departed. The train station was on one level so there were no ups-and-downs to get onto the platform. An easy load onto the train and the four of us were off, with Laura and Ann following on the next train. At Nevers, Lynn got directions to the campground and we had an easy ride over. Upon getting our campsites arranged (at the only ‘zeltplatz’ I’ve seen so far in France), Geoff and Brent dumped their gear and headed back to the Gare to collect Laura and Ann while Lynn and I put up our tents.

The campground has great washrooms, free WiFi near the reception building, a laundromat (which we’re not ready for yet), free showers and taps for potable water.

2019-06-04 : Ride to Beffes
Category Type Name Description Service Provider Cost Kms To Date Total
Activity Cycle Nevers to Beffes
$0.00 39.00 79.00
Off to a really slow start today, but still ended up doing 40km which is awesome for this early in the trip. Today was a day of escapes:
- the air from THREE tires (fixing flats was our biggest delay)
- the ukulele off the back of my pack
- Brent’s rear wheel (yikes!)
- my flags off the back of my bike and Geoff’s flag off the back of his - neither was lost, unlike Laura’s which escaped for good yesterday. Thank goodness for Lynn and her maps app as it knew there was camping at Beffes (which my maps didn’t show) and knew that there was no camping at two places that my maps said there was.

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