Day 1: Sarlat to Domme to Beynac (40 miles)

“Where are you headed?”

I was at the hotel in Bordeaux, it was 9AM and I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of my rental bike. You can’t go on a bike trip without a bike.

“I don’t know,” answered one of the five Brits on bikes in front of the hotel. “The route’s in his Garmin.”

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I asked the guy with the Garmin.

“I don’t know, I just follow the Garmin. I think southwest.”

“Oh.” I don’t know how or why cyclists can do that. Even British ones. I need to know where I’m going. I love mapping out routes. Anyway…

My bike arrived a few minutes later, and half an hour later I was on the train headed to Sarlat. And, let me tell you: Carrying a fully-loaded bike down a flight of stairs and then back up another flight of stairs at the Bordeaux train station to get to Track 9 was tough! My legs are strong … my arms, not so much. Between jet lag, all the lifting and 40 miles of riding, including way more climbing than I expected, probably about 9 or 10 kilometers of steep ones, I’m pooped. So, I’ll let my photos tell today’s story.

They make it really easy to load your bike onto the trains over here. One of the cars had a bike drawing on it, and inside was a row of hooks to hang bikes.
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I arrived in Sarlat at 12:48 and thankfully there weren’t any stairs to climb up or down at the train station. But still, it took me 30 minutes to get everything loaded onto my bike. And about 5 seconds to remember, hey, it’s really hard to get on and balance and ride a bike loaded up with about 35 pounds of stuff. It kept wanting to tip over. Man, gravity is a bitch.

There’s a nice bike train heading south out of Sarlat…

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Then it was onto the D703 and D46 to Domme. I’ve been to Domme before, back in 1997, and remember it as a really cool old stone town on top of a hill. My memory of the hill was a little hazy, and it turned out to be quite a long, steep hill (maybe even a mountain), about 3 Ks of a 5-percent or 6-percent grade the whole way, including one S-curve. I think maybe back in 1997 we did Domme as a day trip and weren’t carrying panniers.

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You go through the gates into Domme and think you’re at the top … but you’re not. Still more climbing through the narrow streets. But the view from the top made it all worthwhile…

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Instead of heading directly to Beynac, where I’m staying tonight, I decided to cross over the Dordogne and see the sights on the other side. I’ve never been over there. There’s a great view across the river of Beynac and the castle way, way up the narrow cobblestone streets…

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I headed over to the Milandes Chateau where the famous African-American actress/dancer/singer Josephine Baker (1906-1975) once lived. She was huge in France, back in the days when African-American actresses/singers/dancers didn’t have much opportunity in the U.S.A. It cost 12 Euros to get in and it was getting late … so I kept on riding. Usually, when there’s a big hill, the Michelin map marks it with a >, or a >> when it’s really, really steep and a >>> when it’s crazy steep. The climb to Domme has one >. I headed along the D53, to loop back to where I crossed the Dordogne, and climbed and climbed and climbed. Despite the fact that there weren’t any >s. It was 5 Ks up … and then 5 Ks down. I was a little nervous on the downhill, what with my loaded-up, wobbly, unbalanced bike, but handled it pretty well … and topped out at 52 Ks. I think muscle memory has kicked in and I’m getting the hang of riding a heavy bike. Stop very carefully!

Back over the Dordogne River to Beynac, where I saw this…

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Now that’s a great way to end a great day of riding. FYI: The French invented hot-air balloons.

Tomorrow: South to Fumel on the Lot River. 

2 thoughts on “Day 1: Sarlat to Domme to Beynac (40 miles)

  1. Although you were tired, it certainly seemed worth it. Wonderful pictures.
    Hope you had a good night’s sleep to prepare you for the next adventure.

    Like

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