When the real world looks like Zwift. Crossover cycling?

The approach to the Soulor, on our way last Friday to the Aubisque during the Tour de France.
One look at this photo and you can, or you should be able to, see why I spend so much time in France. What I’d be missing out on if I didn’t go nearly every single year, during July, for 10 days. This photo actually looks fake, like a Zwift screenshot, but it’s very real.

Yes, I want to believe that West Old LaHonda is one of the world’s most-beautiful cycling roads, and it is up there, but much of its status is “relative.” As in, it’s a real standout when you consider the normal roads we ride.

Is every road in France like this? No, certainly not. But the traffic is far less than what we see here, the surrounding much less developed, the driving more civil to cyclists (they even have a 1.5 meter passing rule, which is about 5 feet!!!), and the food… oh my, where do I begin? An assortment of pastries with almost & chocolate & multiple-layers of butter-laden flaky crust, taken with either a double espresso or Orangina or preferably both. That’s breakfast. For lunch, it’s a baguette, typically ham & cheese & butter, sometimes just ham & butter, and why they are so good when they’re so simple remains strange. You might have your choice of 4 or 5 different types of sandwiches (the others being chicken or “vegetarian” which would be egg, lettuce & tomato). And that’s it, no Togos, no Subway made-to-order sandwich. No choice of 24 toppings or 8 dressings or 7 different types of bread. And of course a coke or orangina. Why is it so good?

In the countryside, if you’re lucky, you find a roadside stand selling a Saucisse baguette. With the right hot mustard, they are to die for. These are obviously hot off the grill, so not something you’d find in a patisserie (what we might consider a bakery/delicatessen). Any time you see a stand selling Saucisse, it is required that you stop and have one. It will be a local product, with its own special taste, but always good.

Think I’m going to be putting up a post just about French food and nothing else!

Oh, and by the way, Kevin and I did arrive home last Monday night. I rode Tuesday morning, Kevin slept in. This morning’s ride report coming shortly! –Mike–

How can you be in two places at once, when you’re not anywhere at all?

Interesting final full day of this trip, to say the least! Today we were supposed to be taking the train from Lourdes to Paris, giving us a change to take a nap or review photos and at the very least update the diary entries here a lot better! But when the train was cancelled we were left scrambling for alternative means to get to Paris, settling on a 145 Euro cab ride to the Pau airport and three $300 each one-way tickets to Paris. That cost will be partially offset by the expected refund of $125 each for the cancelled train; sure wish I could get something more from the train cancellation because it would have been a lot less expensive had we made plans to fly earlier!

No problem arriving in Paris and taking a cab to our hotel except our driver decides that 4 or 5 blocks is close enough when he encounters a bit of construction work. Really? This was a new one for me. Still, we got to the hotel before 2pm, at least an hour earlier than we would have had we actually arrived by train. And, good news, our room had been upgraded! Bad news, it had just one large bed. Umm… no, Kevin needs as much distance as he can get from me, to mute the sound of my snoring. Not a big deal, Lee, our friend traveling with us, had no similar issues with his room so we stored out luggage there and headed off to see the race!

If you haven’t done a Trek Travel gig, let me tell you, they do it in style. For $525 for the day you have the Paris Auto Club at your disposal with food to die for, anything you might want, probably the sort of thing that someone might spend $100+ for at a restaurant. But what you really get is behind-the-lines access to the final stage of the Tour de France! No standing for hours 5 deep behind barriers, wishing you had a ladder. You are literally on the tarmac!