Today was all about the love of cycling.
That’s something you can forget sometimes about with all the hustle, bustle and to-do lists of bike-touring in the Bordeaux region.
Enough already with all the tourist stuff: The famous vineyards, villages and chateaux and collecting information for my eBook on Biking Bordeaux. Enough with all the tourists who come to see these famous tourist attractions … and the buses and cars they use to see them.
Today was all about me, my bike and the ride: From Pauillac on the Gironde River all the way across the Bordeaux Peninsula to the Atlantic Ocean and back: 71 miles. I imagine this would be a route the members of the local velo clubs do.
Text from a member of the local bike club (the Medoc Cycling Club, perhaps?): “Bonjour everyone, let’s meet at 9AM in Pauillac, in front of the Logis, and do that really nice ocean loop to Hourtin-Plage, down the path to Carcans-Place and back. It’s one of my favorite rides. Then drinks at the café.”
It was a great ride, 71 miles, almost entirely on either small, rural roads with minimal traffic, or on the amazing network of bike paths that crisscross this area. The only tourists I saw were on bikes, and I saw several. Along the Atlantic is prime bike-touring territory.
But first, before I describe today’s ride: Today marked a few biking milestones. I went over the 1,000-kilometer mark on this trip and the 5,000-mile mark for the year. And, according to my best estimate, hitting the 5,000-mile mark this year puts me over the 100,000-mile mark since 1990.
That’s a lot of miles. And memories. And amazing rides with great people.
Appropriately, my 100,000-mile-mark ride came in France, as all this cycling started as part of a Paris-to-Nice trip back in 1990. That’s what got me hooked on cycling, bike touring and bike touring in France. The adventure, the challenge, the freedom, the thrill of flying down a hill and the sense of accomplishment from climbing a mountain. All the people I met and have ridden with, all the lessons I’ve learned along the way about myself and the world around me.
Here’s the bottom line: Cycling is fun.
I’m not sure if I have another 100,000 miles left in my legs … but I’m gonna try. And I’m not sure if I can afford enough trips to France to get it done.
As you can see from the map way up above, I headed due west from Pauillacon on the D205, a very rural road. For the first 7 or 8 kilometers: vineyards. Lots of famous Medoc vineyards. Then they stopped. I guess the soil and climate are no longer conducive to making Medoc wine.
Don’t think I stopped for 30 kilometers (18.6 miles), rolling along at about 28 or 29 kilometers an hour. It was nice to just ride and not have to think too much about what I was seeing, take photos and notes. I’ve never ridden these roads before, but they felt familiar.
Outside the city of Hourtin, I had some problems finding the start of the bike path to the beach.
“This looks like it,” I said to myself. “But there’s no sign. Should I just go?”
A gentleman walking his dog saw me studying my map … and, in pretty-good English, told me that yes, this was the path. His dog agreed.
Whew, that’s a relief … and one of the only sections of the extensive bike-path system along the coast that isn’t well marked with signage.
Followed the path to the beach, where there’s a sweeping view of the dunes, the sand and the water. This is supposedly great surfing territory, and there were several surfers out in the water. And several cyclists gathered at the edge of the beach, taking photos and chatting. Lots of people ride up and down the coast on the paths, and a lot of them were on bike trips. You can tell because they have panniers.
Then, due south along a really great bike path (well paved and wide through a forest), all the way – 18.6 kilometers – to Carcans-Plage, which is another beach and popular surfing spot.
BTW: Plage means beach.
Then it was back to Pauillac.
I don’t think I saw a single tourist attraction the whole day (other than the first and last few Ks), unless, of course, you count the Atlantic Ocean. I guess it’s kind of famous.
There you go, my great day on a bike. Now it’s your turn: Go on a ride and have a great time … even if you’re not in France.