Versailles was quite enjoyable, and the place I stayed was large and had room for the bike inside without having to carrry it up any stairs. I got a reasonably early start this morning and was loaded and riding shortly after 8:30am. After getting clear of Versailles, there are quite a few up and downs along the way. Mostly up, as the forest of Rambouillet and the approaching towns seems to be on a slight plateau. A few things to think about on this second day of the Veloscenic:
1. Signposting is ambigous and erratic.
2. Be sure you have a functioning off-line GPS program and download the tracks from the web. Without these two things, you will likely get very lost as mentioned by Tracy in her blog. In fact I wouldn’t even attempt this without the GPS tracks. Unfortunately, none of the various guides books, and I bought all I could find, contain verticle profiles. When you are bicycling, altitude gains and losses are way more indicative of how hard a day it will be than distance. Be sure to bring a back up battery for your phone, GPS eats battery life.
3. Be flexible: I had planned what I thought would be a decently long day from Versailles to Chartres. It quickly became apparent that it wasn’t going to happen, but I’ve realized that most towns along the Veloscenic have a train station. Voila! Instead of rearranging hotel reservations and taking a penalty, a quick stop at the station, and there is a train in about an hour and forty five minutes.
4. Bicycling in France is not like the Camino de Santiago. Many of the small towns in France have no sign of life, no stores, no cafes, no restaurants and often not even signs of living humans.
5. When in doubt and while waiting for a train, have a crepe and some cider. Definitely improves the mood.
6. I love google maps, and I find the driving times and walking times to be generally accurate. The bicycle times must have been recorded by Tour de France riders. I’m finding that they need to be doubled for me.
So, I’m sitting at Creperie du Roi in Rambouillet writing this as I wait for my train. I keep thinking “when you’re up to your ears in alligators, remember whose idea it was to drain the swamp.” Might just have been easier to rent a car or motorcycle to do this trip! The hotel I’m planning to stay at tonight in Chartre, the Grand Monarque, was reccommend to my by a friend in Paris, who knows the owners. The reviews suggest that it is probably a touch more luxurious than I usually book, but the price was reasonable, so how could I resist? Further report later.