About : Europe

There are 3 very different parts to the ride. In Portugal, Spain, France, Switzerland and Germany you’re in modern western civilization all kinds of amenities and support – fine dining and **** hotels to budget inns. You ride on nice, paved secondary streets, and especially in Germany, on a lot of spectacular bike paths. Crossing into eastern Europe, (Czech Republic and Poland) the roads are about the same, but the seleciton of accoodations goes down outside of the major cities. In Belarus and Russia the road selection and hotel selection outside of major cities goes way down – get support or bring camping gear.

Avignon 64k, 36m**

On leaving the Novotel Hotel in Nimes, we first rode by the famous Roman arena in that city to add it to our picture file.


It was a bright, cool morning, with a very crisp wind coming down from the north – the direction we were headed. We managed to make it the 30km or so to Pont-du-Gard with only one break. We stood beside a closed restaurant for a few minutes to get out of the wind.

Pont-du-Gard is another UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s on the 10 Euro note (paper money) and in relatively current Volkswagen advertisements. The Roman’s built it as part of a 60 km aqueduct to bring water to Nimes. It’s the largest (highest) of the Roman aqueducts, and has developed a curve after 2,000 years of the sun shining on only the south side.


The darn thing was closed for the day for repairs, so we couldn’t get close. That’s Bryan from a distance.

Pont du Gard is halfway between Nimes and Avignon. We expected to be in the great walled city by 11AM or so. While we were able to ride into the wind, we were not able to ride crosswind. There were no shoulders on the high speed two lane road leading to Avignon and there was no safe way to cover the last measly 30 kilometers. We rode al the way (and very quickly) back to Nimes, rented a Hertz car there and drove to Avignon where we got rooms in the **** L’Europe hotel.

That afternoon we went to the SRAM (www.SRAM.com) OEM bike camp outside Avignon, saw the new products, talked with world champion downhill mountain biker Greg Herbold and other SRAM folks. We then had the best dinner of the trip at a small Avignon restaurant (how many times have we had the best dinner of the trip on this trip?).

Our last day in Europe, Friday the 21st was a sightseeing day, starting from the view from my hotel window. They’re setting up a street market at around 6:30AM.


In the morning we toured the papal palace. (Avignon was home to the popes in the 13th century.) Here’s a last shot of Charlie listening to the audio guide in the main courtyard.


We then went down to St. Remy de Provence for lunch, over to the rock-top medieval fortress at Les Baux for a tour, and back to Avignon for yet another world-class dinner. Did I mention that wines here are maybe half price of what they charge in US restaurants?

The next morning Bryan headed to the airport while Charlie and I caught the TGV to Paris for our return to the states. We’ll be back in Avignon in June to continue the ride to Moscow.


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