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.

Lons-le-Saunier 130/82*

europe2003 PII, Day 3
16June03, 130km/82 miles**
Lons-le-Saunier, FR

Charles R. Walker, aka “Charlie” arrived Sunday night and started off fresh with us on Monday. Our goal was to get out of Lyon before rush hour traffic built up. We followed the west bank of the Sonne north and then took the big climb out of the valley and into the countryside. Here’s Charlie and Bob trying to determine the route.

The 63km ride to Bourg-en-Bresse was unremarkable except for the traffic. N83 is a two lane regional road of good quality, not designed for bikes. We rode unsupported, as Sylvie and Susie drove ahead to get Susie a new bike seat. Our morning break was at a grocery store, where Lisa and Charlie enjoyed some shade, cherries and conversation.

Then it was into Bourg-en-Bresse, where the plan was to meet at the biggest church. Bourg is more a city than a town, and it had at least two large churches, which confused things a bit. We stopped for a snack at a strategically McDonalds, and tried to figure out how best to connect with Sylvie and Susie.

After B en Bresse, the we continued N-NE on the N83, but now, on the edge of the foothills of the Alps, the hills became significant. Long, strong climbs and fast smooth downhills.

The group split up, each according to their own pace. I rode this 60km mostly alone, through cultivated and uncultivated fields, all of a much more “human” scale than in the US.

Up close the crops, mostly corn and wheat, seemed quite vibrant, and it was a pleasant ride.

That’s French corn, or should I say Freedom corn, and some Freedom wheat.

Coming into Lons-le-Saunier, we passed a “Luughing Cow” plant. I’m not sure if this is “the” or “a” Laughing Cow plant, but I like their cheeses and we’ve been snacking on Baby Bel on the ride.

We then rode a circular route around city center Lons, and just north of town at the 80 mile into the ride point, took a right up a very steep hill for the last couple of miles to the Hotel Parenthesis. I asked Lisa to sit by the pool (of which many of us partook) and take pictures of the riders as they arrived.

I think just Steve and I rode the whole way today. Charlie stopped in a little café for lunch, thinking everyone would join him, but apparently we just rode past, so he took a little catch up ride. Dave and Susie paced themselves as their bodies began to understand what hills and distance really mean.

At the end of the day, Sylvie’s parents arrived. Her father joins us for the ride tomorrow. We drove back into city center Lons-le-Saunier, where Bob played in the fountain wondering why we never come across these things during the hot days.

Sylvie found a nice restaurant where we tried the Jura wines. Just the opposite of the Rhone wines, in this part of France they make good Freedom white wine, but not even a passable red. Then it was off to sleep with the flies in our un-air conditioned *** countryside hotel.

Bio of the day: Steve is “The” gardener. He spends his workdays outside taking care of flora. He knows (it seems) every plant, and can identify them by their roots. The outdoor conditioning, and his array of other healthy habits has him naturally prepared for the ride, and he’s made it all the way, every day except for the 99 degree day one – which shows his intelligence more than his conditioning. He understands and empathizes with people as well as he does with other growing things.

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