Royan to La Rochelle, France

Here I am, in web page creation mode in Royan. You can just see the corner my PDA
above my left hand in this image. My hands are on the small usb keyboard I use.

It was a pretty good day of riding, but it was cut short when I finally got an internet connection - sitting outside a hotel - and learned that my mother, who is in her 90s, had fallen and broken several bones. That happened six days ago - just after I left Santander, Spain.

One of the scary things about my kind of touring is that I sometimes go a long time without being able to check in at home. Under most circumstances, I check in every few days, but sometimes it is more than a week. Usually this is no big deal and, in this situation, my being cut off likely had little impact on what happened. However, it is hard on my wife who, until one of my sisters can get there, has to deal with what should be my responsibility.

Now I'm waiting to hear what the current situation is. Since my wife hasn't sent me any email in the last four days, and things were going well at that point, I hope that mother is doing OK.

The seashore in Royan

A beach in Royan

Last night, in Royan, was hot and humid. Because of the ferry delay, I ended up working later than I should have, and I woke up late and feeling groggy. Breakfast was good and two cups of coffee really helped my disposition. When I left the hotel, I headed down to ride along the waterfront, but rain was threatening, and the road along the waterfont was too bumpy,so I headed north from Royan towards Rochefort.

Heading north turned out to be a bit problematic since the road I wanted to use was closed. I was left with little roads that weren't on my map, so I picked one and compass navigated my way north. It turned out to be a delightful route through neat villages and beautiful countyside.

This is a road, not a bike path!

A round church in Suplice de Royan

After half a dozen mile of compass navigating, including one stretch where the road was closed and I used it anyway, I found myself on the main road north to Rochefort. That was faster, easier, and less fun that my compass navigated route. More importantly, it gave me a chance of getting to Rochefort in time to find an open bike store and buy some gloves, so I pressed on pretty strongly.

Art, at a roundabout before the D road became an expressway

This is a bike lane

And here I'm coming down the other side of the bridge going towards Rochefort

The road to Rochefort got more and more expressway like and my speed got faster. I was cruising over 20 mph on some parts. Coming into Rochefort, I saw a big bridge ahead and worried that it might be a problem for me. I forgot I was in France: The big bridge had a bike lane! Rochefort was having its Saturday fair, which was fun, but I still managed to find a bike shop before noon. Just before noon. He had gloves. None were my size ;-{. He closed his store and I rode on.

This a path of bike path from Rochefort to La Rochelle

I compass navigated my way north out of Rochefort, and then found that there was a bike path to La Rochelle. It is, according to my map, 27 km from Rochefort La Rochelle. It is 40 km on the bike path. The only alternative to the bike path was an autoroute. I eneded up, at first by accident and later by intent, riding some on the autoroute. I could cruise at 12.5 mph on the bumpy bikepath. I could cruise at 16 mph on the autoroute. Putting the difference in cruising speed and the difference in length together, I figured it took twice as long to get to La Rochelle on the bike path as it would have if I could have ridden it on an expressway.

I stopped for lunch - I got on the auto route to get to the restaurant - which, except for the noise level caused by a bus load of French tourists, was very good. I swear all 40 of them talked continuously when they weren't stuffing food in their mouths!

I abandoned the bike path at Angoulins - it was easier and faster to figure out my own route - and rode though La Rochelle intending to stop in a small town north of here. There are no big towns north of here for quite a ways. As I rode past a hotel, I though, for some reason, it looked like it might have net access. I rode on., then turned around and rode back. While waiting to ask about a room, I saw a 'wifi gratis' sign, so I got my PDA and it connected to their wifi. I was logged in and checking my email before I got to talk to the clerk. He told me they didn't garage bicycles (or cars) but that that was irrelevenat since they were full.

I thanked him and continued to check my email. The signal strength was very good, so I went outside the hotel and, sitting on the concrete, checked through several hundred messages. When I discovered that mother was injured, I started looking for net access and a room.

I talked to my older sister tonight and things, although not good - mother has gone through two surgeries - are at least OK for now. I will continue heading up the coast of France.

Oh yeah, 61 miles, 700 feet of climbing in a little less than five hours of riding..

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