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Published: June 20th 2017
This entry by Tom.
Today was always going to be a long day with a lot of things going on and that’s what happened in some expected ways plus some unexpected ways.
Caroline and I had a plan to re-visit Guédelon for the first time since our first trip six years ago. I planned to leave early and meet here there as soon as I could, at or not long after 10am when it opens. Luce and Donna would drive her there in the van, we‘d check out all the changes and progress on the site since 2011, and we’d ride the final 60 km or so of today’s route to Vézelay.
It was going to be another hot day. After breakfast at the Campanile, I got rolling at about 20 minutes after 8am with most of the rest of the gang. After a few minutes, it was just me, Michael and Linda tapping out a good rhythm, with our average speed reaching 28+ km/h. We reached Rogny-les-Sept-Écluses in good time. We stopped for a break and also to see it again, and soon enough the others arrived as well. The only problem was that the bakery there
was closed one day a week--today.
Michael, Linda and I pushed on towards Guédelon and although we kept up our swift pace we weren’t going to make it there by 10am or even 10:30am. However, we did alright and I ended up arriving shortly after 11am, which actually worked out as Caroline, Luce and Donna showed up only 5-10 minutes after that. Despite being later than we wanted, we still bought tickets and went in for about an hour. There was much progress on the main building including the front wall which hadn’t been started when we were last here. This being the 20th anniversary of the start of construction, it was now possible to see what the end product would be. But just the same as last time, the place was jammed with kids on school trips.
Due to the 30°C+ heat and the later start than we’d planned, it was decided that Caroline would be dropped off at Sanpuits, about 45 km from the end in Vézelay today. The ladies would grab a bite there while I made my way on my bike. Then we’d ride the rest of the way together.
I hit the
gas and was moving well until just past Perreuse, probably the highest point on today’s route and several kilometres away from Sanpuits, when I caught up to Caroline and Nora. It turns out Steve was having a tough day on the bike so Donna and Luce picked him up at Perreuse, where he was riding with Nora, and dropped Caroline. The three of us were riding together now towards the finish, nearly 50 km to go.
Things got off to a good start despite the heat because we were mostly going downhill, albeit modestly, with a bit of a tail wind. Since lunch in Sanpuits was punted, we were keeping our eye out for food and water. We stopped at a service station and tabac in Étais-le-Sauvin where Caroline was only able to get a Kit Kat bar plus the fellow there filled her bottles. Good enough for now.
In Andryes we found a small shop selling snacks so we pulled in and sat down with a bottle of Orangina, a few slices of ham, a small bag of potato chips and a dark chocolate bar. It all hit the spot.
Shortly after we got rolling again,
things got tuff. The road started tilting up around Avrigny and it didn’t help that there were a bunch of loose chips on the road. Caroline slowed down--we all did--but after a few minutes, when it became clear we were not going to make it to the end like this, the van appeared. Luce and Donna had come back after dropping off the bags to check on us. Caroline packed in and Nora and I rode the final 6 km or so together. About 2 km from the finish, Vézelay appeared in the distance on its hilltop. Very impressive.
After checking into the very comfortable (and not cheap) Hôtel de la Poste et du Lion d'Or and cleaning up, we all climbed the main street--the only street, really--in town to the abbey. Along the way Caroline and I picked up some very good ice cream, recommended by Steve, just a few minutes before the shop closed.
The abbey in Vézelay is similar to Notre Dame, very impressive with a history going back several hundred years. Some of us had the good fortune to arrive just as a mass was wrapping up at about 7pm. A priest and a
nun greeted us; that was pretty cool.
There was really only one spot in town for dinner, the very pleasant patio at Le Dent Creuse. All 17 of us came in eventually. I had a big glass of cold 1664 and a bolognaise pizza and Caroline had chicken in mustard sauce and apple pie. A good time was had by all.
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