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Published: June 17th 2017
Breakfast of Champions
What a grand day! It started with an improvised breakfast as we again chose to pass on the expensive hotel fare. Since my spoon was in my bike bag, and the latter was downstairs on my bike in a locked room, I demonstrated to Mesfin my roommate - who like me had bought some yogurt - how to improvise one from the plastic cups that came with our hotel room. Once outside, we discovered another cool morning - this time complete with a somewhat brisk wind which fortunately was not (yet) in our faces. An then we were off, en masse.
Following a brief section of squirrely fresh gravel on the way out of town we emerged into what is now my preferred area of France, with rolling terrain (my favorite) covered with generally smooth pavement that wound through agricultural areas and saw very little traffic. OK, I did almost have a head-on collision with a tractor, and on one descent nailed a pothole that was hidden in the shade pretty hard, but other than that - and with a bit if a tailwind - it was absolutely sublime. Unfortunately, however, although my computer seemed to be registering speed properly,
Waiting to get going under the watchful gaze of King Kong
I soon realized that it was not tracking distance correctly - something pretty much essential for navigating here. So I hung with the others until eventually I stopped at a store to pick up some fruit for the day and resolved things by resetting my computer. That necessitated adjusting my directions to match what would be indicated on my odometer, which was again starting at zero, so now you know what your GPS unit means when it says "recalculating". I wasn't really sure how much distance I had covered before that point, hence the "+" designation in today's title.
At about the 50km mark there was the option to continue on the 95km nominal route or head off in the other direction and complete the 123km alternate one that featured 588 more meters of climbing. Since I was still feeling pretty good and knew I should probably continue training for the tougher climbing days to come, I opted to go for it and immediately found myself heading off into the wind. This was somewhat of a mixed blessing as it made forward progress difficult, but also offered some relief from the sun on the hot climbs to come.
Quiet but smooth farm roads
Of course there can be no climbs (well, there could be just one, but that wasn't the case here) without a descent, and the one into Lusigny-sur-Ouche had a sign indicating a 10% grade, something that gave me some hope that (on the off chance that at least some hills were symmetrical) I wouldn't have too much trouble later in the tour, since the ride down didn't feel that much different from others I had already done. As a bonus, at the bottom I even got to take the perfect photo - one with a sign indicating where I was, and with an easy spot to set up my camera to take a timed self-portrait.
Of course nothing comes free, and immediately thereafter there appeared a long, straight climb that seemed to account for 500 meters of the added climbing this route had all on its own. Blissfully, though, just over the top was the start of a full 9km descent, the first part of which was on new, smooth (North American style) pavement. Since the climb up had been only about 5km long, this seemed like a pretty good exchange. For a while.
A few km later
Just prior to the Big Climb
came the long and winding (switch-backed) ascent of one of the rocky massifs that seem so common in France - I never knew there were roads on top, and it was neat to be there and stand on a cliff looking out over the valley from whence I had come. Plus it showed that last night's beer (just 250cl) had not compromised my ability to climb.
And lower down, it was classic Burgundy, with vineyards dotting the south-facing slopes until past Chagny where suddenly it was like Saskatchewan (but with more traffic).
Tot: 3.551s; Tpl: 0.067s; cc: 9; qc: 49; dbt: 0.0405s; 3; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 3;
; mem: 1.4mb