Why We're Doing This, and How You Can Help

What would inspire two men, ages 65 and 59, to take on 11 racetracks in 21 stages and 25 days over 1,000 kilometers...on their bicycles?

The way we see it, Thoroughbred race horses have contributed to the very meaning of life, so they too deserve to retire with dignity and not be sent to the slaughterhouse just because they now do six furlongs in 1:16 instead of 1:12.

As American expatriates living in Paris, we have decided to ride our own Tour de France--riding from racetrack to racetrack across France--during the 'real' Tour de France to raise money for Thoroughbred retirement. But we need your help.

We invite you to follow our journey, and if you'd like to sponsor us, just click on www.firstgiving.com/trf or on the Sponsor Us link below.

The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation currently cares for over 1200 unwanted horses. When you sponsor us, we are helping them in their mission to save ALL unwanted racehorses.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

ROAD STAGES 16 and 17

Stages 16 and 17
From internet café, and have to catch train. Please excuse typos.
Stage 16: 20 km from Saint-Clement-de-la-Place to the medieval city of Angers, huge stony fortress castle next to medieval village with cobblestone streets; and then 50 km, much of it along the Loire (very hot but manageable thanks to the beautiful farm roads), and then the magical river, the ONLY RIVER IN EUROPE THAT DOES NOT ALLOW COMMERCIAL TRAFFIC; so its clean but unmanicured, thousands of islands, most of them untouched by humans, sand bars, exceptional marshland, here and there a beach, and often thick woods along the banks. I am in love with this river, almost as much as with my wife. We reached the castle town of Saumur: huge castle on a limestone hill, viewed magnificently from an ancient stone bridge over the Loire. It was 50 more km from Angers to Saumur, which brought us from 728 to 798 km. We wanted to get up to 800, so we dumped our backpacks at a hotel and went for a spin around town. There are two bridges to cross to cover the town bacause there's a wild island in the middle of town.
Alan got a Paris-Turf to keep us up to date, in preparation for our upcoming afternoon at the Vichy races.
So now we are up to 800 kilometers, or 500 miles.
Stage 17: we need to get to the train station in Tours, 84 kilometers up the river, where we can catch a train to Vichy.
Dear friends, the Loire will make you strong. This was my best day, both in terms of cycling and aesthetics. Alan now looked more like Alan than like Lance Armstrong, as I was able to keep up with him.
The whole Loire territory is bicycle country. Hotels call themselves "vélohotel" (bicycle hotel) and aside from the vast network of Loire bicycle paths, nearly every road and street in the region has a bicycle path.
Saumur is literally embedded in high limestone cliff, and there are dwellings dug into the cliff, wine cellars carved into the cliff (with wine tasting) and of course the castles and old stony villages with roofs bending and sinking. Then, along the bike path to Tours, there are fields of shiny yellow sunflowers with grey stone farmhouses in the background, and the yellow is magnified by the grey behind it. There are vineyards in front of the cliff, and up above, caves and dwellings carved into the cliff.
And of course, there is the river, the great river, an understatement, not raging but slowly carving out its unique identity.
Martha, my wife, plays hard to get, but I will try to convince her to come here with me in late August. Maybe we'll do only 10 km per day, so we can stay at the beautiful Bed & Breakfasts along the way. This is a place were for the slow bicycle movement.
Bicycling here is certainly better than seeing things from car, but Alan and I have gone through this great country too quickly, even if we did stop to admire the castle town of Villandry (renaissance castle on a hill, brilliantly complex gardens).
It was 80 km from Saumur to Tours by the winding bicycle path, and before that, 4 km from our hotel to where the path began. Total km for the day: 84 (helped by the cool, overcast weather and occasional little showers with the feel of riding through a garden sprinkler).
That brings us to 884 kilometers: 552.5 miles.
If you are considering a vacation of either cycling or walking, tasting wines, maybe wading in a truly wild river and watching the herons on the islands within the river, and experiencing ancient villages, then I recommend this spot.
Stay tuned for tomorrow's racing at Vichy.mc

No comments:

Post a Comment