The Dordogne river valley from D50

I experienced a wide variety of riding today: some of it unpleasant, some of it on very small roads,some of it on expressways, some of it very frustrating, some of it dangerous, and, of course, some of it quite lovely. I started the day on D60 with very little traffic, gentle hills, and a big smile on my face, then I rode north to the beautiful Dordogne River valley and east along the river with, sometimes, too much traffic and dangerous riding , and then I headed north from Souillac on N20, a major road paralleling an autoroute, rather like US 11 in Virginia, then, ten miles later, rode east on roads so small that I had trouble finding them, then north-east on bigger roads to east of Brive (the big city in this part of France) and finally I rode east on E70, a major expressway to Tulle.

Looking across the river from Domme, a major tourist stop in the Dordogne River valley

The weather was cloudy and damp at the start of the day so, fearing rain, I didn't mount my camera for first two hours of my ride. I left Villefranche on D660 and a mile later turned north on D60. I knew, from my mapping software - and from looking at the countryside <grin> - that there was a big hill between Villefranche and the Dordogne river valley, and I was expecting a hard climb. Instead, I had a really nice ride winding along valley bottoms followed by a long gentle climb over that ridge and a great long descent into the next valley. I was passed by a local rider on that stretch. We both had big grins on our faces.

At Daglan I, reluctantly, turned north on D57 which follows a river to the Dordogne valley. Nice riding. When I reached D50, I turned east to ride to Domme. That meant climbing a 100 m+ hill and then descending Domme. Since it was such a famous place, I then climbed 150 m+ up to the medieval village of Domme. It was neat, but too touristy for me, so I headed back down and crossed the river to D703. I only rode four miles on that side, but it seemed much longer - and it was because I missed a couple of badly marked turns - and it was the worst riding of day. There was way too much traffic, and the worst drivers I have experienced in France.

The castle where I almost got run over

I was put into danger by an idiot who passed cars stopped waiting to tun left into the parking lot of a castle - I did say this was a major tourist area - I don't know if the driver was drunk or just a jerk or both, but that large mini-van came speeding around those cars, which had their left turn signals on, in a corner, in a no passing zone, right into me. I went into the castle parking lot entry to avoid being run over. If I hadn't been able to get out of the way, I would have been hit.

I did meet a couple of German tourists in that section, which was nice, and I could have taken a bike path to avoid the worst of the traffic, so perhaps it isn't as bad as it seemed at the time, but mainly I just wanted to get out of there. I was able to do that when I went back across the river at Grolejac. It was now 12:30 - I'd spent about an hour on the other side of the river - so I stopped for lunch and to clam down at the Dupont (The Bridge) hotel/restaurant on the south side of the river. I had a very pleasant, hour long - that is fast food in France <grin> - lunch then took D50 down the south side of the river. What a different riding experience!

D50 with bicyclists

D50 was everything D703 was not: small, quiet, and peaceful. I rode it, then D43, then D255 - on this side of the river the turns were clearly marked - to Souillac. Nice.


N20 at Souillac

I was hoping N20 would be like US 11; the old main road that now has little traffic because the new interstate (autoroute) parallels it. It was. It was also quite hilly, climbing several hundred meters before settling down to rolling hills. Good riding, except when large trucks needed to pass me, but there weren't too many of those.

I rode north past Cressenac, looking for a small road that would take me across the autoroute to roads that I could take north-east to near Brive. I couldn't find the road. When I entered Limosin province, I was running out of N20 - it joins the autoroute, so I took D19e, my last chance to go east, at Nespoules. It worked, but took me out into the woods where I rode on , hoping that it would reach D8 as my, not completely trustworthy, software showed.

In the wood on D19

Heading north on D8

After reaching D8, it was fairly easy to make my way north to E70, the expressway that runs east from Brive. Fairly easy meant I only needed three stops to check my mapping software and figure out where I was and how I should proceed.

Brive, off to the east, from D162

E70, the expressway

I wasn't sure about riding E70, but I really didn't have another choice, so I rode east on it from near Brive in heavy traffic. A couple of policeman smiled at me as I rode past them, so I figured it would be OK. Traffic got lighter and riding condition were better as I got farther from the big city. Then I came to the first tunnel. In the US, I would not expect a tunnel on an expressway to provide for pedestrians and bicyclists. In France, I did.

In the second tunnel

I rode through the first tunnel on its sidewalk. That was a bit tight on my loaded bike, so in the second and third tunnels, I walked through. There was about a foot of clearance between my bags and the wall, and the air blast from big trucks passing me made it dangerous to ride, but OK to walk. The longest tunnel was about 400 m.

Except for the tunnels, riding was OK, and fast. I reached Tulle about 7 PM, stopped for a quick supper at McDs, and rode into town. Tulle is a decision point on my routing, so it is a good place to stop for the night.

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