Loire a Velo with Friends

2019-06-25 : Day in Rennes
Category Type Name Description Service Provider Cost Kms To Date Total
Activity Cycle Around Rennes
$0.00 23.00 23.00
The four of us followed the Velo Tour de Rennes from the campground into downtown Rennes this morning. We had an interesting poke around the old town and had some lunch. Then Laura and Ann went one way to see more stuff in town while Brent and I went to run errands and finish the Velo route.

We went to the Gare and found out where to catch the bus to Mont St Michel tomorrow, and looked into the Velo parking for the day. We had to make a couple of trips out to see the parking guy who was never there, and I was disinclined to push the ‘call’ button to try and talk to a disembodied tinny voice speaking French to me. We asked the terminal info lady who told us we had to talk to the guy. We poked around some more, and while we were stalking the Velo cage a guy came in and he confirmed that the Velo parking is free and always open. Score.

We then tried to finish the Velo tour and discovered they beyond where we had ridden to the signage was poor, removed or damaged, and we couldn’t follow the route. Three lovely French people came by to try and help us interpret the map, and one of them did advise that the south part of the route would suck anyway. So we turned around and retraced our steps back to the campground. Oh and that was when I got yet another flat.
Ohhh life is good. We managed to arrange ourselves to be in Nantes at the same time as Hellfest. Then we managed to arrange ourselves to be in Rennes at the same time as the women’s World Cup with all the revelers from the Netherlands (who especially like to revel in our campground), and, bonus, we’ve managed to arrange ourselves to be in Paris for the next round of Women's World Cup! Who planned this trip!!??

2019-06-26 : Mont St Michel
Category Type Name Description Service Provider Cost Kms To Date Total
Activity Cycle Transit
$0.00 14.00 37.00
We rode our bikes into Rennes today and Ann wiped out from expecting a slight curb to be flat (it wasn’t). But we continued on and took the bus, as planned, to Mont St Michel. The bus worked out so much better than a train to Pontorson followed by a shuttle! Mont St Michel was just as amazing as I remembered, but the crush of humanity there today was overwhelming. It is a month later than the last time we were here, and the weather is nicer.

2019-06-27 : Train to Paris
Category Type Name Description Service Provider Cost Kms To Date Total
Activity Cycle Transit
$0.00 6.00 43.00
Brent and I left the campsite first thing this morning to catch the 9:30 train to Paris. Laura and Ann followed two hours later. We all walked over to the RER B station together and went to check in at our hotel at CDG. Who would have guessed that there would be two IBIS hotels beside each other!!?? We started off at the wrong one but the helpful desk lady quickly helped us to correct our error.

We then went to the airport terminal, per Ann’s suggestion, to see about sourcing stuff boxes there. The luggage storage guy didn’t sell boxes but he advised that there’s a Safebox in each terminal (the guy who wraps luggage). We found a Safebag guy and he sold us two boxes. Laura and I are pondering having our panniers wrapped instead of getting boxes.

2019-06-28 : Prep Day and Steph visit
Brent and I headed out bright and early this morning to go meet Steph (Young) and her fiancé, Diego for a lovely lengthy brunch. Doug, I know you read this page - Steph and Diego would be interested in joining us on the Bike ‘n Barge if their life at the time permits. Laura and Ann went shopping and sight-seeing for the day.

After brunch we went in search of bubble wrap and packing tape. We were nowhere near Cartonland nor a DHL so we just started wondering in a direction of interesting sights and a DHL. We randomly found a place called Fly Car that was closed for lunch but listed prices for bubble wrap and tape. We had a beer down the street until they opened again and then went back but apparently they don’t sell that stuff anymore. So, we assessed and decided to take the Metro to a DHL. We went to the closest one and although they sell that stuff, they don’t sell it separately - only if you’re shipping with them. But the guy was friendly and helpful and recommended an Office Depot down the road (who knew France had them!?) where we were successful in our mission.

Returning to the hotel, we took the tent out on the grass and dried it out so that I could re-pack it dry.

In 2015, Brent and I bought rechargeable Paris Metro pass cards that are good for five years. We brought them back with us and charged them up yesterday for the rest of our trip. Laura and Ann had to pay €40/ea for transit until we leave. Brent and I paid only €20/ea thanks to the rechargeable passes. Yay!

2019-06-29 : Prep Day 2 and Ian visit
We’ve always used packing boxes for our stuff. This time I’ve decided to try wrapping from SafeBag. Looks pretty awesome.

I hemmed and hawed about including the tailbox or using it as a second carry on. Decided on carry on, but it would have been easy enough to include if I’d wanted to.
Maps.me has been a very valuable addition to my touring toolbox. We have not been using it for choosing where to go like some folks. We’ve only been using it to supplement our normal process, but it’s been really great for two things:
1. Showing us exactly where we are. Our paper maps are great for helping us figure out where we want to go, but sometimes we’re not sure where we actually are at the time. Maps.me does that and has prevented a few ‘Rhonda detours’ on this trip.
2. Finer details for how to get someplace specific when the paper maps aren’t detailed enough.

One thing that surprised me was that it still knows where we are even if I haven’t connected to WiFi since the last time I switched the phone on.
One thing I’ve really enjoyed about having Ann along on this trip is her ability to interact with bipeds, which is something some of us other introverts struggle with at times. Ann is a very warm, friendly, engaging person who can easily establish a rapport with just about anyone. She doesn’t have very good French, and she often accidentally throws in Spanish words (and English) words but she always achieves very positive responses and interactions. When she is speaking her mish-mash of French, English and Spanish, I say she is speaking Annish. I think I need to learn some Annish. It seems to work very well for travel.
We spent more days than I would have preferred on transit and logistics on this trip. We left home on June 1st and are returning on July 1st. ‘Lost’ days:
- June 1: flying to France
- June 2: airport to hotel
- June 3: train to Nevers
- June 23: planning/logistics in Nantes
- June 24: train to Rennes
- June 27: train to Paris
- June 28, 29: prep in Paris
- June 30: lost to Max 8 aircraft issues
- July 1: fly home

Ten days for a 31-day trip. One of them was my own doing to make sure we could get our stuff packed at the end. Transit to and from the tour is unavoidable. But ten ‘lost’ days is too much. I will consider this in planning future tours.
Brent and I went on a random walkabout today and saw Notre Dame with some spectacular scaffolding. Later on, we were going to meet Ian for an afternoon beverage near Gare de Nord. When we got there, though, we realized that GdN was the epicenter of a yellow vest protest that was just getting started. There were protesters, cops in flak jackets, police vans and busses and cabs blocking every intersection. We tried to go down the street of the intended establishment, but it was right in the middle of everything, so we deked this way and that, texting Ian the whole way, until we found a little establishment in Indiatown that seemed off the protest route. Some excitement for the day.
Holy heat wave! Temps higher than 30 for several days in a row now. I’m dyin’! Glad we were finished riding on the 23rd. Today was close to 40 in Paris, and much higher than that in the subway trains!

2019-06-30 : Laura Leaves France Boo Hoo
Today we helped Laura get all her stuff to the terminal and pack up her bike. Then we went off to meet Ian for Indian lunch and went walkabout. We saw some arch and a tower. And then, just like that, this vacation was over.

2019-07-01 : Leave France Boo Hoo Two
The moment of truth today - how would we make out with the Wiggle bags for our bikes? But first...

We had a very leisurely morning at the hotel today since our flight didn’t leave ‘til 2:20pm. At 10:00 we started moving out, starting with bringing the three bikes down to the lobby. We took the bikes over to Terminal 1 and left them there with Ann to guard. Brent and I went back to the hotel and used a cart to bring their stuff boxes and my stuff... bundle to the terminal.

We then commenced with preparing the bikes to go into the bags, turning the handlebars, adding some bubble wrap around the dérailleurs, etc. A WestJet agent approached us right away and insisted that we had to have boxes for the bikes. We insisted that their web site says bags are ok. He left to find a supervisor. We kept preparing the bikes. He returned and said the supervisor confirmed that we had to have boxes. Again I countered that the web site states otherwise but he was insistent and told us we had to get boxes from Air France upstairs. Brent went to look for Air France, but it turned out they’re actually in a different terminal. Then the supervisor showed up and confirmed that the bags were fine. WHEW! Crisis averted! We finished prepping the bikes and put them into the bags, and on our way we went.

All we can do now is hope that the bikes arrive safely in Edmonton. Geoff has his bike in a box and Tristan, the French traveler on his way to Calgary to cycle the Great Divide Trail has his in a self-constructed styrofoam, bubble-wrap and tape construct. We’ll see on the far end how everyone made out.
Happy Canada Day! We woke up in Paris and flew home to Canada, making for a 32-hour Canada Day! Woo hoo!

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