12: Vineyards and Sunflowers

Breakfast at Hotel Henry consisted of dry-as-a-bone bread, packaged jams and mass-produced croissants. Oh well, you can't win 'em all…

We didn't get away until 9:15 and with stops at the boulangerie for water & snacks and a photo stop across the bridge out of town, it was nearly 10:00 by the time we started our ride.

Until noon the heat wasn't too bad and the scenery was fantastic. I made Werner stop several times so that I could photograph the rolling vineyards of Vignoble de Cahors (we passed by the winery of D. Henry that we'd drunk the previous evening) and fields of corn and sunflowers. (Werner is so patient with my photo stops - I'm very thankful!) The smell of freshly irrigated corn fields brought back memories of Turlock and the farm.

There weren't really any hills to speak of but a few slight ascents. The ascent at about kilometer 42 (of 50) was a killer - a very slight gradient over the course of 1km in 35 (95F) degree heat. My favorite part was the sound of the big truck roaring behind me, waiting for me to go around a curve so he could overtake me. Ugh. The reward for our labors was a sprinkler foot and leg bath in a prune orchard (and the prunes were good too!).

We rode pretty much straight through, only making one short 20-minute stop after Fumel. When we reached Penne d'Agenais we rode across the river to the town of St. Sylvestre and had drinks and ice cream at a restaurant overlooking the river.

We reached the Domaine de France (our chambre d'hote) at about 3:30 and first just collapsed on the terrace for half an hour then played a round or two of ping-pong, after which we ascended to our room, showered and changed to pool attire. The next 2 hours were spent in and by the pool - bliss!

Soon it was time to consider dinner options. The obvious choice was to go into the town and check out the restaurants. Well, a small point that had not seemed obvious to me when I had checked the location of our accommodations on Google Maps turned into a major deal-breaker. We were situated on a very slight rise 2 kilometers out of town but the town itself (and this is what I had not seen in a bird's eye view) is situated 2.5 km away at the top of a 600-meter hill, about 450 meters above our location. We both looked at the hill and said "no way". It was times like these when the 400km we'd traveled took their toll and you realize you're not 30 (or even 40) anymore.

In the end we rode back to the restaurant where we'd enjoyed ice cream on the way into town and had a lovely meal (I had slices of roast lamb with green beans provençal - yum, yum, yum!), accompanied by the romantic sounds of a young man sitting on a nearby bench strumming his guitar.

By 10pm we were riding back to the chambre d'hôte and soon after it was lights out.

Day 12

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