On of the classic images of France: the old bridge at Cahors

I was headed for Domme, about 20 miles north east of Villefranche, today, but things, as they often do, didn't work out. I made a wrong turn, ran into rain, and my rear rack broke - all within about a hour. Since my rack breaking made my rear fender rub my tire, when I finally figured out what had happened, I stopped at the next town with a hotel to deal with the at problem. The fact that there was intermittent rain and gusty winds may have had something to do with that decision <grin> So it goes, and actually not badly - I'm in an inexpensive hotel which provided a good place to work on my bike, my bike is fixed and inside next to my room, and I just had a very nice supper which won't give me indigestion. Life is good.

My day started with the realization, that I wasn't going to find anything open in Carjac at 7:30 AM. Oh well, I went back to my room and finished yesterdays web page. Since I spent most of the evening with my French friends, I had only gotten it about half way completed last night. When I finished it nearly an hour later, I packed my bags and headed downstairs where, I discovered, breakfast was now being served. I joined my friends for breakfast, got some parting hugs and was on my way towards Cahors at 9:30. I made it to Cahors, 50+ km, before noon, averaging 14.5 mph. That is an exceptionally high average speed for me on loaded bike, but the riding was easy and I felt like getting on down the road. This section of the Lot valley is quite popular with bicycle tourist. It is almost as easy a ride as the Danau Radweg and quite scenic.

The Lot

Scenes from riding on D662

A town across the river from D662

At Vers, the road becomes D653 and gets a little hillier. There are a few hills on D662 where the road gets 100 feet or so above the river and then comes back down, but most of the time the road is flat and runs near the river. D653 climbs a bit , then descends into Laroque des Arcs, yet another medieval town. Cahors itself is one of the most spectacular medieval towns in France, which is really saying something since there are many spectacular towns here. It is built on a piece of hard rock that caused the river to form a big U. Cahors is in the U. A nice place from which to control traffic on the river and I assume Cahors started out with a fortress for that purpose.

Coming into Cahors on D653

A traffic circle with fountain near the old part of Cahors
This is a pretty town, and a very alive place

I stopped for lunch and a little shopping in Cahors, then, about 1 PM, head on down the river on D8. D8 seems to be the main route in this section, but it does not follow the river closely and it does have some reasonable climbs on it. These are not the hard climbs with 10% grade for hundreds of meters vertically, but rather 3 or 4% grade for 50 or a 100 meters vertical. I saw some tourists in this section as well, and some of them were having a hard time with the hills.

D8 leaving Cahors, yes, it is climbing at 2% or so

D8 crosses the Lot at Luzech - it runs on the other side from Cahors - becomes D9 and follows the river more closely thereafter. At Castelfranc, I left the Lot and headed north on D45.



By this time, around mid-afternoon, the sky ahead had become threatening. As I rode north on the very bumpy D45, it looked like I was going to get rained on soon. It is hard to judge weather in a place you've never been before, but those clouds looked like afternoon storms were building. I stopped for a Coke break - one of the things I bought in Cahors - and headed on north. I came to a clearly marked intersection where D660 intersected D45. The only thing that wasn't marked was which way D45 went. In fact there were no markings for the next major town on D45. The only thing that was clear was that the right branch headed back to Cahors, where I didn't want to go and the left headed north. I stayed heading north, hoping D45 was now subsumed by D660. All I knew was that the road was headed in generally the right direction. It turned out that that wasn't enough. I should have gotten out my computer and figured out what was going on at that intersection.

Then my rear fender started to rub. I put new fenders on the bike before this trip, then put on bigger tires. The combination has been a pain. I stopped to figure out where it was rubbing, but, just as I stopped, big drops of rain started falling. Rather than deal with the rubbing, I dealt with putting away stuff that might be damaged by the rain and getting on my rain gear.

I rode on in light rain up a 2% grade. It started to get warm in my raincape, but then the rain slowed down, and I was able to take the cape off. The tire was still rubbing. I was on a hill in Goujounac - they like -acs around here - I stopped repeatedly to adjust the fenders, but nothing worked. I rode on into Aquitane - a new province for me - with the tire still rubbing. It was hilly riding with hundred meter climbs at 5% or so grades. I stopped at the top of one of the hills to look at my rear fender again and finally saw why it was rubbing: A weld had broken on the rear rack, weakening it at the right rear. The middle stay on the rack was pushing the top of the fender gently into my tire. That rack has seen at least 30,000 miles of loaded touring and the weld that broke is one that connects the stays that were bent when I was hit by a car near Charlotte NC five years ago. I think that rack has done really well, especially since I only paid $12.50 for it!

The rain was light but the wind from the storms was gusty as I rode on towards Villefranche-du-Perigord only a few km away. Uphill, of course. When I got there, I stopped at the first hotel to ask about rooms and about a place to work on my bike. The room, with shower, was cheap - 30 Euros - and the place to work was excellent: off the street, sheltered from the wind and rain and very near my room.

I 'fixed' the rack with 16 ga steel wire and Goop - using this neat little plier/wirecutter I bought in France after I lost my Leatherman - then re-fixed my fender stay that is held on by Goop because that clip disappeared in Hungary. I remember that I had a small hose clamp (actually I have three different sizes of hose clamps with me] and added it to the repair. My repair was now stronger than the weld it replaced. Finally I put some Goop on the part of the hose clamp that my pannier will rest against to prevent abrasion and methodically checked and tightened the rest of the bolts on the bike. Then I took my bike inside and went to my room to clean up.

After I cleaned up, I used my mapping software to figure out where I was and how I got here. At that intersection with D660, I should have headed across the river like I was going back to Cahors. On the other side, but not visible or marked at the intersection where I went wrong, there is another intersection where D45 heads north. If I had known that, I'd probably be in Cazals or Salviac right now. I'd have avoided some climbing, but, other than that, I have no way of judging if that would have been a better route. No big deal.

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