Just in with 73 miles on the clock. I suggested that we should go back 15 miles and so bash through the 100 but I was told that a glass of rose was our target for today. Slightly concerned to hear that there's no table in the restaurant until 8.30pm. So the Camembert from yesterday will go very well with the remaining stale roll as a starter, possibly with an added squashed banana topping. However, I suspect that my glamorous companion is more interested in that glass or two of rose.
So, back to the beginning, we had a good night's kip at the Campanile in La Ferte Bernand's industrial zone; the steel shutters kept out both the burglars and any mozzies. I say industrial zone but actually I didn't notice any other zone in what seems to be a big industrial town... But I may be wrong, I confess we didn't do much sightseeing.
As we knew today was 'The Longest Day', we set off with military precision at 0900hrs. By 0905 we were, with military indecision, lost.
By 0915 we were back on track and steaming away from La Ferte. The first hour was very pleasant and then we started to undulate. By mile 9 we were definitely climbing and then it was distinctly up and down until around mile 24. The advantage of this was the view, much like the rolling parts of Wiltshire along the Mere stretch of the 303.
Emma commented that I have a heart monitor, a speedometer, a mile-ometer but we lack a drip-ometer to record the amount of sweat. Actually today was cooler and so a drip-ometer reading would have been on the amber part of the scale, rather than bright red.
Yesterday I mentioned (complained) that there was a dearth of food and water. Today looked like panning out the same. We had decided to break the day into 15 mile or roughly one and half hour bits, and to refuel appropriately at each pit stop. A good plan but not easy to put into practice. We hauled into the first cafe/ restaurant/ tabac that was open and we're told with a suitable shrug that they sold coffee but no food, of course, silly me. Fair enough but the food shop next door was shut. Someone is missing a trick here methinks. So two coffees each, because they come with a tiny but sustaining biscuit on the saucer, and then off again.
In Mondoubleau, a biggish place, we at last found both coffee and a pain au raisin; morale was restored. Just as well really as we had a few more undulations to tackle before the route became more level.
We had a great ride along the D151 and then the D357. On the latter there is an old road that runs parallel to the truck laden big daddy which is to be avoided. Please note. Being passed by a truck going a good 70 mph, at about 10 inches, can cause a cyclist to wobble.
We arrived at the outskirts of Vendome and I'd plotted a route straight through the city. It looked logical on the map but in reality that's similar to trying to find Swindon. It's there somewhere but it's surrounded by flyovers, dive unders and all sorts of alarming roundabouts with big trucks spinning around. So we followed our noses and behold, found the Gare (railway station) on an industrial estate. Never ones to miss an opportunity, we seized the day and had lunch there rather than in the city centre; historic and famous though I'm sure it is. I can highly recommend the railway cafe and we had delicious pasta and Creme brullee, turning down the hugely amusing offers of champagne and brandy from our witty host.
Refuelled, we headed south again, more lorries, roundabouts and inclines until we turned off towards the optimistically named Pray en route for Herbault on quiet roads. When we got to Pray, we did. Then, as it was so quiet and enthusiasm for the Longest Day was waning, we rigged up an iPod to a speaker and set off blasting out Queen's greatest hits.
The overcast day turned to rain but it was kind rain, wet and refreshing but not cold, so we powered along to 'Fat bottom girls' and 'I want to ride my bicycle'. We got to Herbault and after some recconaisance, finally found a route to Onzain where I planned to cross the Loire. The big bridge across the huge river simply can't be missed, but I did. I couldn't find the road to the bridge. Clearly the locals assume that everyone knows where it is and so haven't bothered to make much of the signage.
After heading a few miles east towards Blois, on the northern side of the Loire valley, I consulted a Dear Old Thing, " Excuse moi Madame, mais nous sommes perdue le grand pont de Chaumont" and she put me right, or to be accurate, gauche, left. It's easy once you know where it is.
The Loire river is huge, you really can't miss it. The bridge asks cyclists to dismount and trottoir across, so we did. Halfway across we met an Austrian cyclist on his way to 'the Atlantic'. I hope he finds it.
So, some gentle cycling along the south bank and hey presto we got here at 5pm. 73 miles is excellent training and helps build a healthy appetite, always a concern on this trip. I'm actually quite glad that we have some time to relax before dinner.... Only another hour and a half to go....
... Right, so where's the stale bread and cheese?