D43/N175 to La Lentilliene, France

I'm riding part of this years Tour de France!
I'm averaging just less than 10 mph, so I bet they'll ride it a bit faster...

It wasn't just the hills that slowed me down today
I had a side wind or headwind all day

My mother is dying as I write this. I just found out officially two hours ago, but for much of my ride today, I focused on her life and death. Solo touring gives one lots of time for reflection and death is certainly a good thing to reflect upon, but I'll try to keep it out of the rest of this ride report.

Today, the sun shone and the sky was blue. It was still so chilly that I needed to wear my wind vest and my extra kneewarmer. It was also still windy. The wind was cold and out of the north for the first few hours then gradually shifted to the east and warmed up. I rode east all day. I rode 65 miles in six and a half hours and climbed 3000 feet. Some of that climbing was steep enough to slow me down to less than 5 mph, but the wind slowed me down more.

Early in the day, heading east into the sun

In the middle of the day, When the excellent shoulder was really useful

Loosing the excellent shoulder

The first 22 miles was on a two lane road with no shoulder and light to moderate traffic. Then the road got a shoulder which was very good for a while and then, as I rode into a new Department, no so go, but still usable when I needed it. The shoulder went away again ten miles or so before the end of N 176 in Pre-en-Pail, but traffic was light enough that I didn't even notice it was gone for a mile or two.

I did have one close encounter on the original shoulderless sectiom. I was cranking up yet another long hill - they tended to climb 200 feet or so - when I saw a small white work truck in my rear view mirror. There was no oncoming traffic so I didn't think much about it till it came by, at 80 kph, about half a foot from my bags. Then I reacted by yelling nasty words and raising a finger at the truck as it sped away. No big deal, but way too close for a safe pass and totally out of character for French drivers. I figured either the guy as a real jerk, or he was simply out of it and didn't even see me.

About a mile later, and that was more than 10 minutes because of the hill, I passed a very similar looking truck - and I saw very few of that kind of truck today - pulled over in the next place provided for pulling off the road. I wasn't sure if it was the same truck, but I passed well over from it, just in case it was and he was malicious. After I passed, the truck carefully pulled out and, going entirely into the other lane, passed me. I think it was the same truck and its driver was making sure I was OK and letting me know he didn't mean to do it.

Looking across ridges

I started at about 50 feet above sea level today and, fairly quickly climbed 700 feet. I ended the day at 1050 feet, but most of the day I was between 300 and 700 feet. The road seemed to follow ridges and, of course, regularly go down into the valleys where the towns were. That made for a lot of climbing, and for some very nice views looking across to the next ridge.

The church at La Tellieul

Another thing that I enjoyed today was the churches. The cathedral at St_Hillarie-du-Harcouet is magnificent. I was there around 11 AM, so, after enjoying the cathedral, I stopped for a beignet - loaded with about 4 onches of chocolate spread and petite baguette. The beignet became two snacks - it was too much to eat at one sitting - and the baguette became part of my supper.

After my big snack at 11, I wasn't hungry for lunch at 12. By about 12:30, I was looking for lunch. At 12:50, I found it just before a small town. As usual, the sign was a small restaurant with a lot of trucks parked next to it;-}. This time I was seated across for a fellow - the driver of a big truck - who was not depressed and spoke some English, so lunch was more enjoyable than yesterday. It also cost a bit more 10.50 E complete and was quite good.


The next big excitement of the day was Domfront, a spectacular medieval town with a wicked climb up to and through it. Just after Domfront, I saw a sign that said N 176 would be closed on July 6th for the Tour de France. I've seen signs of past Tour de France routes on some of the roads I've ridden on this trip, but this was the first sign I've seen for the 2006 tour route.

Part of the tour stage on July 6th

The hills at the end of the day were shorter, but steeper

N 176 ends at Pre-en-Pail, some 20 km before Allencon, my planned destination for today. I was feeling kind of down and a bit sluggish, and the hills, although shorter, got so steep I was doing less than 5 mph cranking up them. The were were signs every few km counting down how much was left of n 176, and the last 10 km seem to last a very long time!

At Pre-en-Pail, N 12 continues on to Allencon. It had many times as much traffic as N 176 and didn't look like much fun to ride, so I stopped at the hotel in Pre-en-Pail. They were full - a big local wedding - but the woman there volunteered to find something for me. The first thing she found was a B+B that was 7 km back on N 176. I said I was not going to ride back up that very hilly stretch of road, so she called the next hotel on the way to Allencom. They had a room and, after climbing for another four miles ;-}, I'm in it.

Last night, at the Brit Hotel, the room was very nice, the breakfast was very good - and expensive! - and the service at the desk was lousy. I think the woman that checked me in was the daughter of the owners, because her parents were also there and her two kids. Her attitude was 'don't bother me.' The woman in Pre-en_Pail - at the Hotel-Bar-Restaurant de Bretagne - was exactly the opposite and much more typical of the people I've dealt with at hotels in France

A cow - I saw a lot of them today!

The road with a cool shadow from the power line and a nice climb ahead

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