Fri 3rd May.
Leaving Tours, joining the Loire river.
Sebastian had given me some good directions to get to the river smoothly and offered to cycle with me, although I ended up leaving too late for that to occur.
As well as the directions and map copies for the route to Nantes and towns to visit, he gave me some good bike wisdom, something I haven’t had enough of. He recommended having each pannier for a purpose, saving time while searching for specific items.
He also advised using the small plastic brackets provided with the panniers that sit under the clips, attaching the bags to the bike, reducing the rattling of the bags while cycling. Luckily, I had packed them. I attached them to different sizes for different racks. It was much more enjoyable and cleaner to ride. Ingenious German efficiency.
He also predicted my stand was going to break, which it did a day or two later. He recommended replacing it with a large stick from the woods, that’s what he did on his travels around South America. I tried this for a few days, but it got in the way and I opted to go without a stand.
On joining the Loire river, I was also joining one of the many infamous velo routes of France, depicted by a little logo like man riding a bike on a green background. Initially I thought these were great and summed up one of several things that put France ahead of the UK for outdoor activities and such. However, France has it’s imperfections, as these velo routes are often poorly coherent in their signage, leaving you to get lost, join main roads, leave main roads, then re-find the signs for the route again.
In short, it’s good that they exist, but they aren’t always there when you need them and they’re also geared towards Sunday riders, not tourers, opting for dirt tracks and long detours rather then the quicker routes, which is fine, but usually the dirt tracks aren’t that nice. Trust your instincts.
Although, eventually, I was on the river. No cars, just cyclists and people (and tiny lizards). After two weeks of sharing roads with cars, lorries, motorbikes and tractors, I was finally tapping into the gems of the cycling haven.
What was quite convenient about the river route, was there were several minor detours to really beautiful small medieval towns and villages spaced out around 10km from each other along the river. So you got to mix up river cycling (beautiful, but dull at times), with town visits.
Sebastian recommended that I leave the river and head south to see the town of Chinon, a particularly beautiful medieval part of France, famous for its own wines. I stopped off in a little shop, picked up a wine and entered the town.
There was a nice descent into Chinon, that shot me into the centre and from there I was on the Vienne river which would reconnect with the Loire about 15km to the west.
I had a look around at the city, crossed the river to get a better look at the side I came in from, then recrossed the river and continued to a recommended area to camp, again by Sebastian.
I got a good distance away from Chinon, then started to look for a spot for the night. I found a quiet road with a nice row of fields to the left, found a good quiet spot, set up and popped the wine and tasted my bottle under a nice sunset.
I thought the wine was white on purchasing. I was very glad that it was red. It was light, fruity and from Chinon.